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If Le Carre Could Vote

October 20, 2004|John le Carre | John le Carre is the author of "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and many other novels.

Maybe there's one good reason -- just one -- for reelecting George W. Bush, and that's to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions and answer for his own lies, rather than wish the job on a Democrat who would then get blamed for his predecessor's follies.

Probably no American president in history has been so universally hated abroad as Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war -- and now anarchy -- upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship but had no hand in the events of 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the United States in a dirty war against Iran.

Is your president a great war leader because he allowed himself to be manipulated by a handful of deluded ideologues? Is Tony Blair, my prime minister, a great war leader because he committed Britain's troops, foreign policy and domestic security to the same harebrained adventure?

You are voting in November. We will vote next year. Yet the outcome in both countries will in large part depend on the same question: How long can the lies last now that the truth has finally been told? The Iraq war was planned long before 9/11. Osama bin Laden provided the excuse. Iraq paid the price. American kids paid the price. British kids paid the price. Our politicians lied to us.

While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous. He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare.

Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisors promised him he could light and put out like a candle.

Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties that took brave Americans 200 years to secure and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib but at what you are doing to yourselves.

But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. Here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George W. Bush, your nightmares will be ours.

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