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Terrorism obsessed Bush ignored emergence of India, China: Biden

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : A senior US lawmaker has accused President George Bush of ignoring larger forces shaping the world “like the emergence of China, India, Russia and a united Europe” due to an obsession with the “war on terrorism”.

History will judge eight years of Bush presidency “less for the mistakes he made than for the opportunities he squandered”, Joseph Biden, Democratic chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said Tuesday.

After the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US, Bush had a historic opportunity to unite Americans and the world in common cause, he said in a speech on ‘Renewing American Leadership’ at the Centre for US Global Engagement here.

Instead, by exploiting the politics of fear, instigating an optional war in Iraq before finishing a necessary war in Afghanistan and instituting policies on torture, detainees and domestic surveillance “Bush divided Americans from each other and from the world”, Biden said.

“At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the ‘war on terrorism’ that ignores larger forces shaping the world and the lives of Americans in this new century,” he said, citing the “emergence of China, India, Russia and a united Europe” as an example.

Among other factors listed by Biden were the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases, uncertain supplies of energy, food and water, the persistence of poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Also cited were extraordinary new technologies that send people, ideas and money across the globe at ever faster speeds, ethnic animosities and state failures, a rapidly warming planet and the challenge to freedom from radical fundamentalism.

But instead of focusing on these forces, “Bush has fixated on a small number of radical groups that hate America, turning them into a ten-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make”, he said.

“Al Qaeda must be destroyed. Its ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction must be stopped,” said Biden. “But to compare terrorism with an all encompassing ideology like Communism and Fascism is evidence of profound confusion.”

“Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals,” Biden stated, accusing Bush and likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain of lumping together, as a single threat, “extremist groups and states as at odds with each other as they are with us”.

“If they can’t identify the enemy or describe the war we’re fighting, it’s difficult to see how we will win,” he said, suggesting that “Iran is closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq has grown; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and its ally Hamas controls Gaza”.

“Beyond Iran, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9/11,” he said, branding Bush’s strategy as “a failed policy”.

McCain, he suggested, would continue Bush’s policies that had made the entire Middle East “more dangerous” and the US and its allies, including Israel, “less secure”.