Bush Spotted in Abu Dhabi, Should Be Considered Armed and Dangerous

Federal and state authorities are hotly pursuing an alleged rapist/killer Marine on the run in some southeastern state. Updates on the search crawl under the CNN feed all day. Meanwhile, the screen displays a different sort of heinous American criminal, at large in, of all places, Abu Dhabi. This one, unfortunately, is unlikely to be apprehended anytime soon.

Our Commander in Chief has been striding around the Middle East talking exactly like a man whose opinion carries some Solomonic weight, not like somebody who spent the last four years waging a "war on terror" that killed hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians and displaced millions more.

Dead civilians is the first and worst charge, real felonies if the world justice system worked. Add in the civil claims against him: squandering of international trust and belief in America, domestic economic wreckage, the revolting trampling of civil rights, the thieving of the treasury by no-bid cronies, and the unleashing of a grisly, vicious war that has (read yesterday's gutsy New York Times report) made psychotic killers of our own young men, and we have a world-class criminal, on the loose.

That he chose to hide in plain sight in the Middle East is especially brazen. Working in Jerusalem in October, I drove into Bethlehem. I'm not religious, so I didn't expect to feel any sort of emotion at the gates to the historic city. The City of Peace's façade now looks exactly like a state prison, say in Joliet or Attica: looming, impenetrable gray walls, guard towers, barbed wire, men with machine guns patrolling the perimeter. Did Bush, the self-proclaimed believer, making his pilgrimage to the place of Christ's birth, notice that Bethlehem is a concentration camp? Does he even know that that sad wall went up on his watch, during which Israeli and Palestinian moderates were given no help or encouragement from his regime?

Old habits of giving the benefit of the doubt to national leaders die hard. Much like Napoleon Bonaparte's farcical proclamation of victory after failing to violently force European-style "democracy" on the Arabs in Egypt two hundred years ago (the setting and subject of my new book Mirage), Bush's too-little, too-late activity in the Middle East is a PR stunt that incredibly seems to be diverting the world from calling him out on his crimes.

In 1800, when the great French general skulked back to France, leaving his army behind to fend for themselves against plague, and Ottoman and jihadi sword, there was no radio, no CNN, no satellite phone service to relay pictures of the suffering of occupier and inhabitant alike. The defeated general was able to proclaim victory in the Orient and install himself as pro-consul, to a populace happily unburdened by the facts.

Our criminal suspect swaggers through the Middle East, cameras flashing, shaking hands with oil potentates and bruised and beaten Palestinians alike (those who will shake his hand, anyway) and the press covers it like a meaningful diplomatic victory lap, instead of what it actually is: a loser's PR tour in a part of the world where the absence of civil liberties plays in his favor. With potential protestors clamped down, he can put a gloss on seven years of illegal, disastrous policy and kleptocracy.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere," our suspect opined, in broad daylight, from a podium in Abu Dhabi. Actually, as his audience knew, but for fear of the mighty war machine he wields, could not say, the dubious-looking fellow at the podium has threatened the security of nations everywhere, not least of all our own.

And, no one, but no one, is bringing him to justice.


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