There's been some very heated discussion in the comments section. While it's good to see that the blog is generating some interest and controversy, it's time for everyone to take a deep and mindful breath. Some of the posts have crossed the line into wrong speech. I'm thinking particularly of Rod's nasty characterization of Americans.
While it's always wrong to slander a whole nationality, it's also rather nonsensical to apply such generalizations to a country as diverse as the United States of America. It's perfectly valid to be critical of American foreign policy, or the current administration, but America is more than that.
In my opinion, for what little it's worth, this presidency will surely go down in history as the worst and most destructive ever. And one of the most damaging aspects of Bush's legacy is what it's done to America's reputation around the world. Sadly, Rod's views are pretty widespread.
Something to consider; Bush was not fairly elected, either time. The first time, in 2000, Al Gore plainly got the most votes and almost certainly actually would of taken Florida if the vote count had not been stopped. In 2004, the election was shamelessly rigged with touch-screen voting. It is highly unlikely that at any time the majority of Americans actually supported Bush.
Something else to consider; most Americans are fundamentally decent and compassionate. The only way the war party has been able to sell their imperial projects has been to package them as humanitarian endeavours, "to spread freedom" and topple dictators. Even now, the most often heard excuse for prolonging the agony of the obviously failed colonization of Iraq is that an American withdrawal would lead to a "humanitarian catastrophe." If the Americans were really as mean and nasty as some would have us believe, Bush and his cronies could have just told the truth; "We're going in to steal their oil and we don't care how many of them we have to kill to do it."
Yes, there are ugly parts of America's history; the genocide of the natives and african slavery the most obvious, but the same is true of most countries. We should not forget the good things that America has given the world.
Unfortunately, when Americans of a conservative bent think of the good they've done, too often their mind goes immediately to military interventions. "America saved Europe twice." Not only does this miss the point and encourage the worst side of the collective American character, it's also historically dubious. America's importance in both world wars has been greatly exaggerated. (They were barely involved in the First, and Russia won the Second; the western front was a diversion at best.)
What America gave the world was first and foremost the concept of a free nation based on the consent of the governed and with a people holding inalienable rights. Remember the American Revolution predated the French one, and was pulled off without a reign of terror. This was quite an accomplishment, even if all they were doing was taking good old British liberties to their logical conclusion. It would be a particular tragedy if they let their constitution fail; it is on shaky grounds these days with even habeas corpus practically abandoned. (Gonzales partying like it's 1214)
As a free nation with a free and prosperous population, America has been a cultural powerhouse. Yes, I know ninety percent of American culture is crap, but as Theodore Sturgeon said about science fiction, ninety percent of everything is crap. It's the ten percent that is so impressive. America gave us Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Ken Kesey, Walt Whitman. And American cinema, at it's best, has no comparison anywhere. And let's not forget jazz.
And don't forget that when America puts it's technological know-how into something other than killing machines, they can do astonishing things like put a man on the moon. In the sixties. With less electronics on-board than it takes to power up your Nissan.
Most Canadians have mixed feelings about our big neighbour. Best way to summarize it would be to think of a major sporting event, like an international hockey tournament. Nothing makes us happier than whipping the American team, but if the Canadians are elimated we automatically root for the Yanks. Speaking personally, I like America and Americans, I've travelled around the States a fair bit and enjoy their brash self-confident open-hearted cultural persona. (Canadian joke; what's the best thing about Americans? You never have to tell them to speak up.) Which is why I am so troubled by the way the leadership is taking the country.
America is great when it remembers it's a republic, it's horrific when it imagines it is an empire.