Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making the Case for George W. Bush

In today's U.K. Telegraph, historian Andrew Roberts explains how the departing President got it right, particularly in the areas of homeland security and foreign policy. A few salient paragraphs:

In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of President Bush's legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterised this issue on both sides of the Atlantic.


At the time of 9/11, which will forever rightly be regarded as the defining moment of the presidency, history will look in vain for anyone predicting that the Americans murdered that day would be the very last ones to die at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the US from that day to this.

The decisions taken by Mr Bush in the immediate aftermath of that ghastly moment will be pored over by historians for the rest of our lifetimes. One thing they will doubtless conclude is that the measures he took to lock down America's borders, scrutinise travellers to and from the United States, eavesdrop upon terrorist suspects, work closely with international intelligence agencies and take the war to the enemy has foiled dozens, perhaps scores of would-be murderous attacks on America. There are Americans alive today who would not be if it had not been for the passing of the Patriot Act. There are 3,000 people who would have died in the August 2005 airline conspiracy if it had not been for the superb inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush after 9/11.

The next factor that will be seen in its proper historical context in years to come will be the true reasons for invading Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in April 2003. The conspiracy theories believed by many (generally, but not always) stupid people – that it was "all about oil", or the securing of contracts for the US-based Halliburton corporation, etc – will slip into the obscurity from which they should never have emerged had it not been for comedian-filmmakers such as Michael Moore.

Instead, the obvious fact that there was a good case for invading Iraq based on 14 spurned UN resolutions, massive human rights abuses and unfinished business following the interrupted invasion of 1991 will be recalled.

Read the whole thing; it's an insightful, honest examination of Mr. Bush and his decision-making. Too bad you can't find similar analysis in American media outlets. Predictably, they're capping off eight years of Bush Derangement Syndrome by declaring his presidency an abject failure.

Consider, for example, Bob Woodward's assessment in today's Washington Post. His "10 Take-Aways From the Bush Years" is nothing more than a cherry-picked collection of comments and anecdotes from Mr. Woodward's recent books, designed to cast President Bush--and his decision-making--in the worst possible light.

Clearly, President Bush made mistakes during his eight years in office. His Medicare Prescription Drug plan was an early indicator that Mr. Bush was, indeed, a Big Government Republican. He also deserves criticism for his initial handling of the Iraq War, and his failed immigration reform plan.

But, as Mr. Roberts reminds us, Bush deserves tremendous credit for keeping the American people safe in the years that followed 9-11. That is no small accomplishment, regardless of the decision-making process that led to the administration's security policies.


D. B. Light said...

I, too, am an historian and I concur with Andrew Roberts' assessment of the man. There are few of us in the current generation of scholars who will judge Bush fairly, but as political passions cool, I fully expect his stock will rise significantly.

Paul G. said...

Funny, Mike McConnell said on Charlie Rose that we wouldn't have gone into Iraq if we had the "inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush after 9/11"

We needed to go into the war because Iraq spurned the UN? (right...GWB cares what the UN thinks) Human rights abuses? (right...because the US always invades human rights abusers like North Korea and China) Unfinished business? Well that's actually plausible. But boy there's a long list of US unfinished business.

And blame the Democrats for the mortgage crisis? Not the de-regulated banks and ratings companies focusing on short term profits to make quarterly earnings which is what bonuses were based on.

How about Alberto Gonzalez's politicized Justice Department, or FEMA (remember Brownie?) There's the Department of the Interior's oil-lease for sex scandal. And is it appropriate to leak a CIA operative's name if her husband says something you don't like?

The article should be entitled, "Maybe he's not AS bad as he's made out to be"

But obviously the author has an agenda.