Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Putin and Bush doomed to waltz through history in each other's eyes
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   08/15/2008)

All that was missing was "My Pet Goat"--you know the book George W. Bush continued reading to a classroom of kids after a whisper in his ear told him of the 9/11 attacks.

So it was Aug. 8 and 9, 2008, as Bush continued mugging for cameras so the world could watch him watch the Olympics, even as Russian tanks invaded the former Soviet state of Georgia, land of seaports, pipelines and other strategic riches.

Surprise. The world just took another turn for the worse as our so-called president sat for yet another photo op like countless others the past seven years. It's not like this man got the most votes in 2000. No, that man's gone on to help solve global warming and energy woes. Bush is the one who looked Vladimir Putin in the eyes on June 16, 2001, and "got a sense of his soul."

It's been suggested Bush "mis-underestimated" Putin on that day. Yet the world makes more sense if you take Bush at his word. Their introduction reminds me of lyrics from the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.

But what's puzzling you is…

The nature of my game.

Yes, Putin's someone Bush could work with. Together, they just might bring on World War IV, as Americans introduce ships and planes to Georgia.

Disabuse yourself of any sentimental notions and take a clear-eyed look at Bush. Here's a man who...

Stuffed firecrackers in frogs' mouths as a boy.

Cheered the war in Vietnam, then used his daddy's influence to make sure another father's son went there.

Set a modern record for most executions as governor.

Caused up to a million deaths and 3 million refugees in and around Iraq.

Early in his presidency, I suggested that if Bush's goal was to destroy the world, he would scarcely have gone about his job differently. Among the things he did to prove me right:

Pulled America out of the Kyoto Accords.

Put wolves in charge of all the houses where we store what's precious. Our energy, environmental enforcement, jobs, safety nets, our judiciary, electoral processes, foreign policy, nation-building capacity, emergency response teams, anti-terrorism efforts and more.

Ginned up our capacity to manufacture nukes.

Suppressed evidence of global warming.

Threw out habeas corpus and the Geneva Accords.

Made torture an official American technique of war.

Used dis-information thus obtained from one Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi to start a war.

Planted phony memos and paid stooges in the media.

Honestly, folks, this barely scratches the surface. I could go on to stories of false-flag schemes, secret armies of mercenaries, bribed Sunni terrorists, the debacle at Tora Bora, used depleted uranium, use of illegal weapons and much else that journalists such as Seymour Hersh and Greg Palast have worked to uncover. Because Bush and Putin are bottomless pits of such schemes, I had no problem taking Bush at his word when he said Putin is a kindred spirit.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.

No doubt, Putin saw his reflection in Bush's vacuous eyes, for this is a man who, like Bush, views war as the natural state of humankind. Putin, like Bush, has one foot planted permanently in the shadow-world of his nation's intelligence gathering apparatus, legitimate and otherwise. And Putin, like Bush, is intent on restoring his country's "greatness" at any cost.

Such men have no patience with peaceniks, hippies, humanitarians and others who oppose a Cold War mentality.

In short, they're dinosaurs. Now consider the world they inherited--Bush as the son of a president, Putin as former head of the KGB.

Contrary to plentiful news images, every objective study shows the world growing more peaceful, not less, as the post-modern age rolls. Advances in communications, the icon of the Whole Earth as seen from space, cultural and business exchanges that allow nations to see the world new, cultural relativism, the unifying power of threats such as global warming and species decline, meditation and other sacraments that reveal universal truths have all served to unite many of us.

You can chart the reality on a graph that the number of those killed in wars and at the hands of their own governments has declined steadily since the 1940s. That's nearly 70 years of progress toward peace. In the 1960s and 1970s, forces converged to create visions for millions, if not billions, of a world based on understanding, rational initiatives, intelligent marshaling of resources and preservation of the Whole Earth, so fragile, so small, as seen from space.

This is the vision Bush has done his best to wreck the past seven years. His dislike of hippies, peaceniks, Whole Earthers, and forward-looking scientists and their adherents--such as the late Carl Sagan and Al Gore--could scarcely be more obvious.

The tragedy of my generation--the tragedy of our world--is that Bush landed at the controls of the whole damn planet. His belligerence--invading Iraq, putting missiles in Poland, planning new nukes and so forth--made Putin's copycat aggression nearly inevitable.

Still, theirs are archaic, almost quaint crusades. Like Cheney, Rumsfeld and others who seized on war as means to fortune and fame, Bush will soon be a relic of the past, along with his virtual doppleganger and soul mate, Vladimir Putin.

Together they're doomed to spend that pseudo-eternity known as “history” mirrored in each other's eyes. Generations rejected their war-making ways nearly half a century ago, and they're rejecting them again.

Reason and compassion are emergent in the world, as I can show you on a graph. Yes, it resembles a diagrammed waltz, because Bush is leading us backwards. The only question is, will we step forward again fast enough to take the lead from these relics of a dying age whose skeletal hands grasp desperately at history's levers to bring down the house before turning into dust.