Mittwoch, 7. Januar 2009


Gestern bekam George W. Bush so in etwa das, was man hierzulande den Großen Zapfenstreich nennt: Die Streitkräfte der Vereinigten Staaten verabschiedeten sich von ihrem Commander-in-Chief.

So unbliebt George W. Bush in den letzten Jahren auch war, seine Soldaten haben ihn immer gemocht. Jeder Auftritt Bushs auf einem US-Stützpunkt war ein Heimspiel. Was die Soldaten Bush vor allem entgegegen brachten, waren Respekt und Anerkennung. Sie wussten wohl, dass ihr Oberbefehlshaber ihnen in den letzten acht Jahren viel abverlangt hat, schließlich schickte er sie in zwei Kriege. Doch sie sahen auch, dass Bush immer eine große Dankbarkeit und Bewunderung für den Job übrig hatte, den seine Streitkräfte in Afghanistan und im Irak machten. Selbst die innenpolitischste Rede nutzte Bush, um den Soldaten für ihre Arbeit zu danken.

So sehr andere Leute die Standhaftigkeit und die Entschlossenheit Bushs auch übersahen, Soldaten sind für so etwas empfänglich und es brachte George Bush großen Respekt ein. Dass er selbst in politisch schwierigsten Zeiten die Mission im Irak nie anzweifelte und nie aufgab, schätzen die Soldaten sehr. Bush ist nicht den leichten Weg eines vorzeitigen Abzugs gegangen, sondern hat den Streitkräften die Chance gegeben, den Irak-Krieg doch noch zu gewinnen. Und durch die Surge ist dies tatsächlich fast geschafft.

Auf einer Internetseite ist dieser Blog mal auf folgenden Kommentar eines US-Soldaten über Bush gestoßen, der eigentlich alles sagt:
"He has a good sense of humor, he is fun to be around, and when it is time for business, he's all business. When it is time for play, he plays hard. And when it is time to go to war, you never have to guess whose side he is truly on, or whether you can count on him to stand by you when the bullets fly. And that's why the troops love him."

Nun also die Abschiedszeremonie, bei der Admiral Mike Mullen, Vorsitzender der Vereinigten Stabschef und Verteidigungsminister Robert Gates (neben Bush selbst) Reden hielten.

Mike Mullen sprach vor allem über Bushs Umgang mit den Soldaten, den Verwundeten und den Gefallenen:
"Always, sir, we felt your unmatched confidence in us, which only made us better. [...] You have proven that how well we care for our wounded and the families of the fallen defines who and what we really are as a nation. You made it personal, and that has made all the difference. There are many moments I will never forget, such as when you, Mr. President, presented Michael Monsoor's family with the Medal of Honor, and how in that very presidential setting you were so visibly moved. We will never know of all the private embraces and words of healing that you provided, but we do know the wholeness they created."

Mullen sagte weiter, man könne über Bush das sagen, was ein Journalist über Abraham Lincoln schrieb, als dieser während des Bürgerkrieges durch ein Lazarett ging, um seinen Soldaten Mut zuzusprechen: "From the outset, he was the personal friend of every soldier he sent to the front, and somehow, every man seemed to know it."

Außerdem zitierte Mullen aus einem Buch, das das Pentagon zusammengestellt hat. Es besteht aus Abschiedsgrüßen von Soldaten:

"Mr. President, thank you and your family for your service. I am proud to serve under you, sir. You are awesome, and made a difference in the world."
Staff Sergeant Ward, Queens, New York.

"Sir, you truly set the standard to uphold the peace and our very way of life so our kids can grow up in a peaceful world. We will always stand tall, one great nation and one great state -- Texas." Sergeant First Class Claude Corey, Waco, Texas.

Zum Schuhwurf von Baghdad schrieb ein Soldat:
"Sir, nice to see that our President is still quick on his feet after eight years in office. Next time, pick up the shoe and throw it back. We got your back."
Master Sergeant Michael Frazier, United States Air Force.

Auch die First Lady wurde gegrüßt:
"Mrs. Bush, your class and dignity were an inspiration to us all."
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rainey, United States Army, Baghdad.

Bezogen auf Bushs Äußerung nach dem 11. September "we will not falter, and we will not fail" schrieb jemand:
"Sir, thank you for your service, example and leadership. We have not faltered, we will not fail. With greatest respect and honor, we serve."
Your Soldiers.

Verteidiungsminister Gates kam vor allem auf die Veränderungen zu sprechen, die die Bush-Administration in den Streitkräften vorgenommen hat, um sie von einer Armee, die den Kalten Krieg kämpft zu einer Armee des 21. Jahrhunderts zu machen:
"On a bright Tuesday morning in September, eight months into President Bush's first term, we learned how dangerous and unpredictable this new era could be, and saw in the starkest terms how necessary was the task of transforming the American defense establishment to meet these challenges. It was a task inspired by the vision of President Bush, propelled by the energetic advocacy of Secretary Rumsfeld, informed by the experience of our senior military leaders, and accelerated by the urgent demands of two unconventional ground wars. The result is an American military that has become more agile, lethal, and prepared to deal with the full spectrum of 21st century conflict. [...]

As this historical institutional shift was underway, President Bush led our military through two major conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a broader struggle against terrorist networks worldwide. He has not flinched when faced with difficult wartime decisions, including the momentous decision two years ago to send more troops into Iraq and revamp our strategy there. Nor has the President ever hidden from the human consequences of his decisions. We have seen this in countless visits with the wounded at Walter Reed, Bethesda, and other military hospitals. [...]

Mr. President, every day these volunteers execute your orders with courage and determination, facing down danger for the greater good of America. On behalf of more than two million men and women in uniform, we are deeply grateful for your leadership and service to America in a time of war."

Zum Schluss verabschiedete sich George W. Bush von seinen Streitkräften. Wie schon so oft in den letzten Wochen sagte er, dass es für ihn als Präsidenten keine größere Ehre gegeben habe, als Oberkommandierender der amerikanischen Streitkräfte gewesen zu sein.
Er nutzte seine Rede, um die Soldaten einmal mehr zu loben:

"The valor of America's Armed Forces have made our nation safer. Because you've taken the fight to the terrorists abroad, we have not had to face them here at home. And the world has seen something that almost no one thought possible: More than seven years after September the 11th, there has not been another attack on American soil. The decisions I made as your Commander-in-Chief have not always been popular. But the cause you have served has always been just and right. The missions you have carried out have always been necessary. And the work you have done has been every bit as courageous and idealistic as that of any generation that came before you. In the years since the war on terror began, America's Armed Forces have led the largest military liberation since World War II. Because of your actions, more than 50 million Afghans and Iraqis have seen the chains of despotism broken -- and are living in the liberty that the Creator intended. The new wave of freedom in the Middle East has made America more secure at home -- because it is undermining the culture of tyranny that fosters radicalism. [...]

So this morning, I cannot accept your kind tribute unless I'm allowed to return the favor. To the men and women of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and all those who serve in the Department of Defense: You have the respect of a grateful nation that you have kept safe. You have the admiration of millions around the world who would have never tasted freedom without you. You have the undying love and respect of a man who has been proud to call himself your Commander-in-Chief."

George Bush wies daraufhin, dass seine Amtszeit zumindest eine Symmetrie aufweise:
"Two weeks from today, Laura and I will take our final trip back to Texas. We have the honor of doing it onboard a 747 piloted by the United States Air Force. This brings a fitting symmetry: The military brought me to Washington eight years ago -- and on January the 20th, the military is taking me home."

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