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Pundit Roundtable: George W. Bush and history

Will Franklin and Ken McCracken of WIllisms started a program a little while ago they call "Pundit Roundtable." I've been invited to participate since the outset, but never actually did. (And rude lout that I am, never bothered to reply at all -- a dreadful way to treat a distinguished former GuestBanger.) But they didn't give up hope on me, and sent me their latest questions:

Topic 1: This has been a rough last few weeks for the Bush administration. Maybe this is a good time to ask: what will be history's verdict on the Bush administration? Will it be that of a decisive administration that cut taxes and prosecuted the War on Terror, or that of a dishonest regime that lied to get us into a war of opportunity? Will it be seen as a success, or failure? Topic 2: How should the Democrats play the Alito nomination to get maximum political gain? Should they fight tooth and nail and Bork him, filibuster the nomination, or just let it slide? What, if any, benefit can they get out of a nomination fight to go into the 2006 elections?

I chose this week to participate, and to tackle the first topic. I would have kicked around the second, but I am hopelessly outclassed on matters of the Supreme Court by Kevin and Wizbang! Special Correspondent Mary Katharine Ham. Besides, by the time I was finished, I'd put together almost 2,000 words on the first one, and I figured I'd bored everyone enough by that point.

So if you're interested in my take on the question, get yourself a beverage of your choice, put up your feet, and give it a read. Then go over to Willisms to see their roundup of others' takes on the questions.

I have always thought of historians as having a smidgen of a lazy streak, and I suspect that many future analysts of the Bush '43 administration will take the easy approach and draw many parallels between it and the Reagan administration. To wit:

1) The only Republicans to serve two full terms since Eisenhower.

2) Both were seen as intellectual lightweights.

3) Both campaigned on a promise to cut taxes, and did so.

4) Both had undistinguished, easily-mocked military careers during wartime.

5) Both had to deal with a highly-unconventional war against a monolithic opponent.

6) Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and several other high-ranking Bush administration officials also served under Reagan.

7) Both had been governors, as well as dabbling in the business end of professional sports.

8) Both embraced the ranching life, and often retreated to their ranches during their administration.

9) Both strongly espoused family values, yet had "black sheep" relatives they kept at arms' distance (Reagan and his children, Bush and Neil).

But that is, as I said, the lazy approach to the situation. How will Bush be judged by history?

I think it's still too early to tell, but I get the feeling that I will not be allowed to weasel out. So, with the option of simply deferring the question taken off the table, and forced to actually express an opinion, I think that Bush '43's legacy will be much like Reagan's; seen as spotty at best when it ends, growing more and more respected as time passes.

One of the key elements of any president's legacy is the economy. Under Bush, the economy has grown significantly, with most of the indicators showing positive signs. The bubble of the 90's seemed destined to end in a crash, much like an aneurysm keeps expanding until it bursts, often killing the patient, but Bush managed to deflate it
safely and resume steady, sustainable growth.

But the defining characteristic of the Bush administration will be the war on terror.

I've often said that Bush seemed to run for office with no clearly defined goals, just to "be president" out of some sense of obligation or entitlement. He didn't seem to have any single defining issue of his own, no great goal or objective that drove him to seek the office. (It was a feeling I had again last year, in the form of John Kerry.) I voted for him anyway, because Gore seemed even more so, except he intended to drift along in the general direction of Clinton's administration, and I'd had enough.

But sometimes when we lack purpose, one is provided for us. For George W. Bush, that was 9/11.

That attack energized him, gave his presidency something to fight for. (I've seen some people say that God made sure Bush was president because he was best equipped to fight the war on terror. I'm an agnostic, and don't put any stock in Providence micromanaging matters to that degree, but it seems a hell of a lot more probable than God steering hurricanes based on how much money people send Pat Robertson.) He saw the circumstances that over 20 years of appeasing terrorism had left us in then, Alexander-like, took out his sword and unraveled the Gordian Knot. Overnight, he redefined American policy towards terrorism and those who sponsor it, and did what no other nation in history had done: invaded and overthrew the Afghani government. And did it with such efficiency and
effectiveness that the world was stunned.

Then he began the truly revolutionary part of his campaign: he started working towards replacing the Taliban regime with a democratic government. And it seems to be working.

People often talk about democracy as a "tree" or some other form of plant, and I'm going to run with that metaphor for a bit. Tyranny can be seen as a great dam, holding back freedom and staunching liberty. But no dam is perfect, and they all have their tiny cracks. These are not enough to substantially weaken the dam, but they are there.

In this metaphor, democracy is a seed of a tree. The seed falls into one of these cracks, and starts growing. Eventually, it will outgrow the confines of the crack, and widen it. Eventually, the crack will become a crevice, and then -- if all goes well -- will eventually lead to the crumbling of the dam, and the release of the liberty.

(The metaphor falls apart here, as the tree often doesn't survive the death of the dam, but no metaphor is perfect.)

After the fall of Afghanistan, many would have been content to say that 9/11 had been avenged. Indeed, it had. But 9/11 wasn't an isolated incident. It was the culmination of a series of attacks by Al Qaeda, beginning in 1993 with their first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center. More importantly, it was the single most successful of a
long line of terrorist attacks, all motivated by Islamist drives and their desire to re-establish the Caliphate, and to drive out all the unbelievers (meaning Christians, Jews, Animists, Buddhists, and the "wrong" type of Muslims) from the Lands of Islam. That would be followed by the expansion of the Lands of Islam until the whole world was united under Allah -- more specifically, His chosen leaders, the Islamists.

Bush could easily have called it a day after Afghanistan, contenting himself to hunt down the last remnants of Al Qaeda and said the battle is over. And he would have been right -- that battle was won, and won handily and decisively.

But battles are not wars. We never lost a single battle in Viet Nam, but we didn't win the war.

The seeds of democracy growing in Afghanistan were working wonders, but they were too far removed from the center of gravity of the conflict. More seeds had to be planted, in the heart of the Arab world, if the war was to be won.

And that brings us to Iraq.

Much has been made about the "pretext" of our invasion of Iraq. I'm not going to go into that here, but I'm simply going to discuss it in the context of the greater war. The Arab world has stagnated for far too long, a motley collection of monarchies, tyrannies, and other forms of dictatorships, eagerly exporting terrorism and unrest and death around the world, fueled by Islamist radicalism and the great good fortune of sitting atop a huge percentage of the world's oil. It was a status quo that had stood for far too long, and needed to be shaken up -- but no one had had the right combination of nerve and vision to attempt anything radical enough to succeed.

Until Bush.

Iraq represented the "perfect storm," the confluence of events, circumstances, geography, history, politics, economics, and a host of other factors needed to trigger cataclysmic change throughout the Middle East.

1) It had a brutal dictator with a history of initiating wars of aggression.

2) It had repeatedly violated the terms of its surrender from the first Gulf War, giving us a pretext for attacking.

3) It had a minority faction tyrannizing the population, including an oppressed majority and a persecuted minority.

4) It was geographically near the center of the Islamist movement, with borders with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia -- all noted sponsors of terrorism.

5) It had borders with two reliable allies, Kuwait and Turkey.

6) It had significant oil of its own, to fund the reconstruction and development of a democracy, but because of sanctions was not allowed to sell it freely, minimizing the impact on the world's day-to-day oil supply.

7) Its military was still debilitated by its defeat in the first Gulf War, and had not been allowed to regain its former strength.

8) Saddam had repeatedly refused to comply with sanctions, on the one hand insisting that he had no weapons of mass destruction nor programs to develop them, while on the other hand denying inspections and hinting strongly to his neighbors that he, indeed did have them, to keep them at bay.

9) He had long been a supporter and sponsor of terrorist acts and groups. He gave bounties to the families of suicide bombers in Israel, had several training camps for terrorists, and had frequent contacts with Al Qaeda itself both before and after 9/11.


With all that, the idea of invading Iraq, removing Saddam, and establishing a democracy in his place seemed the perfect solution. And it seems to be working -- despite the best efforts of Saddam and the countless people he bribed to stave off our attack. (See George Galloway, France, Kofi Annan, Russia, and Germany for examples.)

The invasion and conquering of Iraq, and the beginnings of a democracy to take its place, are already showing signs of progress outside Iraq's borders. Libya's Qaddafi might not have "seen the light," but he felt the heat, and he promptly surrendered his entire nuclear program, kit and kaboodle, to the United States. Lebanon, inspired by the Iraqi people's own efforts towards freedom, started stirrings of their own to remove the Syrian yoke they'd worn for decades. And when Syria clumsily tried to crack down on the movement, it exploded into a full-fledged national drive towards freedom. Syria itself is now finding themselves on the hot seat over Lebanon, with the United Nations coming down on them for their actions in Lebanon. And Pakistan, who helped spread nuclear weapons technology throughout the Muslim world, is now seeing India as less of a threat than its own Islamist extremists, and is starting to crack down on them and ease the tensions with their fellow nuclear power just to their east.

The question remains, though -- will this hold? Will Bush's efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq actually continue to send reverberations of freedom throughout the world, shaking tyrants and dictators out of their sinecures and letting loose the tide of freedom?

I honestly don't know. The critics of Bush's policies raise some valid points -- we are stretched very thin, militarily, and the general sentiment of the world seems to be pretty strongly against his efforts. It's still a very questionable thing, which way the matter will be resolved. It's still questionable of whether Bush's plan could ever have worked.

I sincerely hope it does. And I hope that history will judge it to have been the right action at the right time, and that Bush will be one day regarded with the same respect and admiration as Reagan, both Roosevelts, Lincoln, and Washington.

For while Bush will accept the judgment of history, the rest of us will have to live with the consequences of his legacy. And I would much rather have that be a successful one, than a failure.


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Comments (25)

Nice work. Would like to ad... (Below threshold)
Kobeclan:

Nice work. Would like to add one thing: The real enemy in the GWOT is Iran, always has been, always will be.
I believe Bush's legacy will be determined by his decisions in the next 3 years. Afghanistan and Iraq is only the prelude.The great battles of this war have yet to be fought, but they will be fought, and they will be bloody. Imagine a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran. Scare you enough?
Imagine a nuclear attack on our military bases in Qatar.
Do we respond? How?
The President of Iran has called for the extermination of Israel, and by association, the U.S. The worst is yet to come. Keep your powder dry.

Good post."...the ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Good post.

"...the rest of us will have to live with the consequences of his legacy. And I would much rather have that be a successful one, than a failure."

Not everyone feels like that, unfortunately.
Some of Bush's most strident critics gleefully do their best to undermine his efforts, even though it aids the enemy.

" But 9/11 wasn't an isolated incident. It was the culmination of a series of attacks by Al Qaeda, beginning in 1993..."

Actually, it began when Islam was born. Until Islam has it's own Reformation and grows up and learns to coexist with all of us other human beings living on this planet, we will have war with Islam.

The race is on between those who wish to modernize Islam and some Islamist getting his hands on a deliverable nuke or inventing some new super germ that will kill billions.

Another similarity between ... (Below threshold)

Another similarity between Reagan and Bush: both upset the apple cart.

Reagan took a look at the Cold War status quo: detente with the USSR, a never-ending series of wars by proxy, a perilous nuclear standoff, and said, no, we're not going to do it that way any longer. He put in place policies to defeat the Soviets militarily, economically, and politically. It worked.

George Bush, as a result of 9/11, was confronted with the Mideast status quo: a collection of dysfunctional regimes ruled by corrupt despots or Islamicist nutjobs, whom no one would care about were they not sitting on a large share of the world's oil reserves. Foreign policy in that region consists of trying to keep the oil flowing by playing one off against or another or making devil's bargains with one because another one is far worse. Bush took a look at this and said, no, we're not going to do it that way any longer. So he first took away the Islamic terrorists' safe haven of Afghanistan and then followed it up by implementing what had been the stated foreign policy of the United States since 1998: deposing Saddam Hussein, who was arguably the worst despot in the region. Bush's idea is that the way to stop terrorism is not by appeasemeent or by throwing Israel overboard, and not just by military confrontation, but by planting freedom and constitional goverment in the region so that the people themselves, and not just their tbug rulers, have a real stake in the political process and thus will be disinclined to pick up a gun or a bomb to destroy what they've paid so much to achieve. Bush is thus doing what his myriad critics claim he is not, i.e. trying to address the "root cause" of terror. He's doing this by upsetting the Mideast apple cart.

Will Bush's approach work? There are three countries in the region that must be dealt with in order for it to succeed: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia (which is officially a U.S. "ally"), all of whom are involved in funding or aiding the Wahabi terrorists to one degree or another. It's going to be a tricky and dangerous business, and more American lives will certainly be lost. But the end result of a successful implentation of Bush's vision is a safer world and millions of Arabs living in freedom for the first time in their history. This is an outcome certainly worth attempting.

For while Bush will acce... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

For while Bush will accept the judgment of history, the rest of us will have to live with the consequences of his legacy
Hoever Bush, by his own admission, according to Bob Woodward his not concerneds with history' evaluation ‘Well, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war,’” says Woodward.

“And he said, ‘History,’ and then he took his hands out of his pocket and kind of shrugged and extended his hands as if this is a way off. And then he said, ‘History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.’”
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So it is 'stay the course' until Doomsday, which Jay Tea rightfully argues will be his testament to history. But in his singlemindnes on this issue, Bush (and Tea) have overlooked the enormous public issues like the billowing defecit, the deteriorating environment, the looming rivalry of China. Bush and Tea are still defining the presidency 4 years later on terrorism, that is the effects of !9 zealots armed with box cutters..I don't know if historians will be so kind to Bush ..55% of Americans believed they have been misled on the reasons for oing to war in Iraq. If Iraq goes badly, as it now appears, this figure will seem generous.

This has to be one of the b... (Below threshold)
stan25:

This has to be one of the best articles on the subject of George W Bush and his place in History. Yes, he has made a few mistakes; haven't we all?

I shudder at what would have happened if algore had been president, instead of Bush on 9/11. The Gore administration would have just tried to jail the terrorists instead doing what President Bush has done.

When the smoke and dust clears after President Bush has left office and the full effects of the war on terrorism is asscessed; future historians will find that Bush was the right man in right time and place. He too, will have his place in history along side of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan

For while Bush will acce... (Below threshold)

For while Bush will accept the judgment of history, the rest of us will have to live with the consequences of his legacy. And I would much rather have that be a successful one, than a failure.

I suppose that is the difference between conservatives and liberals on this issue. Most (not all) liberals want Bush to fail. They are so focused on their hatred of him that they don't care what happens to millions of people all over the world as long as he goes down. "For the children" only matters to them when they can score political points that they can cash in for votes come election day.

They don't care if their wish, should it come true, will hurt entire generations of people. All that matters is that they see Chimpy McBu$hHitler go down - and America with him.

That's a perspective I simply cannot understand, no matter how hard I try. Puts new meaning to the phrase "All for one, and one for all" I guess.

Steve, please don't be any ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Steve, please don't be any dumber than absolutely necessary. It gives me headaches.

It was not just "19 zealots armed with box cutters." Had it been, then any actions would have been unnecessary; they all died in the attacks. It was the CULMINATION of a series of attacks dating back decades (I say since 1979; others say even longer) that is the cause of the current conflict. Radical Islam is a threat, has been a threat, and will continue to be a threat until it is broken. Bush's actions seem, to me, to be the best solution attempted so far, and better than any of the alternatives I've heard.

J.

Jay, Yes radical fundamenta... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay, Yes radical fundamentalism is a ongoing threat to the West now..look at France right at this moment.The are facing a much more ominous menace to their society..Bush believes the most intransigent (Al Queda)are irredeemable and is probably correct : that they must be rooted out ,but unfortunately bombing civilian weddings, condoning wholesale torturing of civilian suspects, extraordinary rendition, putting Cheney 's neo-coms cabal in charge of the Defense and State Depts, unleashing a war not only to change Iraq but to change init on American terms, destroys a policy of 'winning hearts and minds' of people that are already unhospitable to our culture, and ends up undermining our influence in that region.

While there are other issue... (Below threshold)
epador:

While there are other issues to consider other than GWOT, there were similar issues during WWII, yet most world leaders from that time were judged based on the war.

The GWOT will smoulder on, flaring up and down, for a lot longer than 5 years, but its course will define the leaders of our time more than environmental, economic or other geo-political issues as well. Iran and other islamic fundamentalist regimes do not just call for the extermination of the US "by association." They clearly see that they must critically weaken if not destroy us before they can incinerate Israel. And they state so directly over and over.

Let's call a spade a spade (at least in this blog) - this is the Global War on Radical Islam and nothing less.

Until the whiney treasons of those who have taken up the battering of our efforts to meet and defeat this threat are recognized globally for what they are (despite the "patriotic" intentions of at least some of the promulgaotrs of this tripe) we fight one more front in this war, a front that could be our undoing. How GWB prosecutes this front may be more important than any of the others.

Steve:1) The "wedd... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Steve:

1) The "wedding" story has been thoroughly debunked, as last I heard. It turned out that every single "guest" at the gathering was a male between 18 and 45. No elderly, no children, and no women -- and since this "wedding" wasn't taking place in Massachusetts, it's safe to say that a bride was missing.

2) "Condoning wholesale torture of civilian suspects?" Haven't seen that one, either. Care to cite a source?

3) It's "neo-con," as in "new conservatives." And putting people who share one's philosophy into positions of authority is practically a mandate of any president.

4) "Extraordinary rendition." Steve, these other nations are simply abiding by their own laws, traditions, and cultural mores. We are returning their own citizens to their own culture, that's all. Are you saying that our culture is BETTER than theirs? What kind of racist are you?

5) Yeah, we're remaking Iraq. That's a prerogative of winning a war. We won that war in 1991, then Saddam didn't live up to the terms, so we won a second time. But we're not "remaking it in our image," or even "the way we want." The Iraqis are taking charge more and more. Besides, there really isn't much of the former Iraqi government left to take control -- and all the better.

6) There's a balance between being "liked" and being "respected." We tried "like." It got us repeately kicked in the groin. Say what you want, but it's indisputable that we're more respected than before. The protests are sound and fury, signifying a decided lack of action.

Besides, France made nice to the Islamists. Worked wonders for them, wot?

J.

these other nations are ... (Below threshold)
Earl:

these other nations are simply abiding by their own laws, traditions, and cultural mores. We are returning their own citizens to their own culture, that's all. Are you saying that our culture is BETTER than theirs? What kind of racist are you?

Way to play the race card, Jay. Sorry, but it's ridiculous to call any criticism of despicable acts by people in another country "racism". By your definition, every time Bush, Cheney, etc. mentioned human rights abuses in Iraq, they were being racist? I don't think so.

I agree with just about eve... (Below threshold)

I agree with just about everything you have said, except for the Both had undistinguished, easily-mocked military careers during wartime. bit.

Flying fighter/intercept jets (and ones with a horrible crash rate yet at that) during the height of the cold war is nothing to sneer at. Beats the heck out of the military record of probably 80% of the population, and is not so easily mocked, IMO.

I agree that the way Bush ended his military career seems a bit odd. But despite unrelenting effort on the part of his enemies to dig up some dirt there, it appears to be nothing less than honorable.

This is all great, I know G... (Below threshold)
George:

This is all great, I know G.W.is God; however, what about the 2000+ American soldiers dead and almost 10,000 injured? For what? Iraq was never a threat and as we learned during the first Gulf-War they are easily silenced with a few missiles. To fight a ground war with insurgents is both foolish and will eventually cost many more U.S. casualties. Either bomb them into submission or get out. They don't want us there and our soldiers lives are to precious-unless of course American lives are worth the oil this administration is really after.

what about the 2000+ Ame... (Below threshold)
stan25:

what about the 2000+ American soldiers dead and almost 10,000 injured?

George, there are more than 2000 people killed and more than 10,000 people injuried in traffic accidents in one month, in this country, than in more than two years of the war. I don't hear any of your left wing buddies kicking and screaming about banning the automobile anytime soon. This howling is just a smoke scream for your side�s virulent hatered of George W Bush and what he stand for.

There were soldiers killed in one day's battle during the first and second world wars. The landing at Omaha beach cost the American people more troops, killed in about the 6 hours before, the troops finally broke out. I think the final toll was about 3500 killed from just battle wounds. There was about 20,000 wounded when the day ended

Geeze George, that's soooo ... (Below threshold)

Geeze George, that's soooo 2003.......

Don't you think its time for a new argument?

You know, something that might give the Dems a chance of winning an election for a change.

I've commented enough on th... (Below threshold)
Chris:

I've commented enough on this blog that it's clear I'm no fan of George Bush. And I think Jay Tea is giving him the benefit of the doubt on way too many issues. First, the constant refrain from the Right that is really offensive is some variation of the theme that the Democrats wouldn't have done anything about 9/11. Portraying Bush as a wise man who looked at 9/11 and decided "Hmm, I think it's time we addressed this issue head-on" is ridiculous. The attack on 9/11 is equivalent to nothing other than Pearl Harbor, and comparisons to any other crisis that Clinton or others had to respond to are specious. Do you think the public would have supported an invasion of Afghanistan after a truck was blown up in the World Trade Center parking garage? Please. I believe that any President, Democrat or Republican, would have invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, and I'd like to hear the reasoning of anyone who disagrees with that. No one accuses Bush of falsifying the reasons to invade Afghanistan, because he didn't have to. He knew he would have the support of the country. He wasn't so sure about Iraq, which is what got him into the domestic mess he's facing. The argument that "Clinton didn't do anything about al Qaeda and Bush did" is simplistic and disingenuous. "Overnight, he redefined American policy towards terrorism?" Of course he did. Suffering a major attack on their soil tends to make a lot of countries redefine their policy toward the entity that attacked them.

I give Bush credit for the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, until he took his eye off the ball because he couldn't wait to go into Iraq. But anyone who truly looked at Bush the day of the attacks, not just during the "My Pet Goat" incident (yeah, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about it, but how can you possibly defend that kind of Presidential inaction?) but in his speech to the nation that night, when he looked like a frightened rabbit, knew that he was in over his head. Sure, he pulled it together a couple of days later and made a decent speech to Congress, but in the midst of the crisis he was wanting. I believe that either Clinton or Reagan would have made a speech that rallied the nation. Instead, we had to turn to Giuliani's performance for comfort.

It's also amusing to see people deride the Democrats as people who would treat terrorism as a legal problem. Other than the insurgent terrorists we are killing in Iraq (some of whom are al Qaeda and many of whom are not) the greatest efforts to destroy al Qaeda are being made by countries other than the US, including France and Germany. I'm sure our law enforcement agencies and the CIA have a hand in much of this activity, but the bottom line is that these terrorists are being arrested and jailed. Here in the US, when we identify suspected al Qaeda operatives, what do we do? We arrest them. That's called treating terrorism as a legal issue. What else are you going to do? If a terrorist cell is discovered living in an apartment building in Detroit, should we bomb the apartment building, to show that we're not dealing with it as a "legal problem?" This is a totally specious argument. It's not as if we're going around the world bombing terrorists wherever we find them.

I freely admit that I have trouble giving Bush credit for much, both because I don't think he's been a very effective president, and because his administration tends to take credit for anything that happens, and deflect blame for anything that goes wrong (I thought his 2004 campaign slogan should be "It's not my fault.") Jay Tea goes right along with that, basically giving Bush credit for everything that happens in the world. The Lebanese have the greatest democratic tradition in the Middle East, and even though they've been under the thumb of the Syrians for some time, I sincerely doubt that they were "inspired by the Iraqi people's own efforts towards freedom." There are a bunch of dynamics involved. The country was occupied by both Syrians and Israelis for some time, and many Lebanese supported the Syrian presence because it meant an end to civil war and a measure of stability. Lebanon is a mix of sectarian and tribal interests, as well as an evolving demographic mix between Sunnis, Shi'as and Christians, and to attribute ongoing developments there to something as simplistic as being inspired by the Iraqis is quite a narrow view of the world.

I don't know how history will judge Bush, because there are many developments still to happen. I just know that major changes in the world happen gradually over time, and are affected by a variety of elements, some major, some not. Republicans are doing the same thing with Bush they did with Reagan, giving him credit for changing history while events are still unfolding. That's how you get embarrassments like "Mission Accomplished." It ain't that simple.

As a Canadian I can't help ... (Below threshold)
The Geezer:

As a Canadian I can't help but wonder how widespread your collective navel gazing goes.

Frankly your leadership (or current lack thereof) by either of your political parties scares the hell out of many people around the world.

I have long been an admirer of America and its leadership under a number of your presidents (both Republican & Democrat) but the current administration is truly parochial and self-centered in the extreme.

The "Real War" is over and world wide corporate/capitalism won ... the peace however is a chilling repetition of history after the fact (ah the insurgents and insurrection that historically takes form for years after) ... and it is we lesser mortals who will bear most of the negative consequences of the decades to come. The blue marble is being laid waste and the "Fruits" of victory are indeed "Ashes in our Mouths"

History is the product of man and his recollection ... I greatly fear that shortly we may well see the prospect of no one available to do the recollecting.

From Canada ... where we wish you well and earnestly desire that your countrymen (and women) would mind your own health .... to a greater extent than even we could/can wish it.

Heads up your tushes or in ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Heads up your tushes or in the sand, either way, Bush critics minimizing GWOT or GWRI or whatever, or making a stand for further ineffectual sanctions or political fa de rah, the Chamberland wanna-be's of the 21st Century, your diarrhea of words can't make up for failing to address the issue.

GWB may be no Einstein in geopolitics or military strategy, but he's not the Clinton who backed us into this corner after years of wasted or lack of effective effort in intelligence and low intensity operations - the same Clinton who blew up the dot com bubble that burst so soon after his departure.

GWB knows the "real war" isn't over - and never has said it was.

Maybe Chris and his ilk don't have the military background to know the difference between "mission" and "operation" and the larger continuum of this conflict that is expected to last decades.

They do know how to turn phrases at the expense of their opponents. That's the front GWB so sorely needs to successfully confront.

Hey epadorFirst of... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Hey epador

First of all, I'm not part of a "front" that needs to be "prosecuted." And to the extent that you're calling me a traitor, fuck you. I'm sick of you and people like you branding anyone who disagrees with this administration a traitor. You're the fucking traitor, trying to turn this country into a state where people aren't free to criticize the government. Is that what you think our soldiers are fighting for?

Oh, and here's a quote for you:

"Fresh from a ground-level look at the war in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, expressed frustration that the politicians in Washington lack the same confidence in winning the war that he sees in his troops.

"I have never met a soldier in the field who has not expressed confidence about the mission, but I'm increasingly having a hard time in Washington finding people who have confidence," said Abizaid, who is frequently called upon to testify at congressional hearings about the conduct of the war. "We need to have confidence in the mission."

You better get on the phone to General Abizaid. Apparently he lacks your military knowledge about the difference between a mission and an operation. And you know exactly what Bush meant. He was declaring victory in the middle of a fight, because that's what he does. And the proof that he put his foot in his mouth is the fact that he immediately disavowed the Mission Accomplished banner on the aircraft carrier, and tried to say the sailors put it up without authorization. Face it, the guy's blamed other people for his mistakes his whole life.

History will most probably ... (Below threshold)
Doc:

History will most probably reflect favorably upon GWB for many reasons. He does not stick his finger in the air to take a poll to see which way the wind blows as Clinton did all to often (or did Slick Willie do that to dry off his "stink finger... hmm).
Also, I happen to agree with his policy regarding locking up the Islamo Terrorists. I just wish they were locked up in Alaska instead of warm and sunny Cuba. As for whether other countries "like" or "respect" GWB, I could not care less. It's about time we had a president with the guts to take on those devil bastards in the Middle East. You wait and see the hand wringing at the United Nations in the coming months regarding Iran and Syria. Those banana eating appeasement monkeys at the UN have not nor will not do anything except kiss their asses.

There's a MAJOR difference ... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

There's a MAJOR difference between GWB and Reagan where they are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum - communication.

Reagan was beyond excellent at conveying his message. Unfortunately, for GWB and for those of us who believe in some of the domestic policy changes proposed (e.g. Social Security personalization), GWB is at best a unconvincing salesman.

Another key difference - spending. GWB may be a social conservative, but his actions (and those of the Congress) have not been ones of a fiscal conservative. However, I tend to blame Congress for this moreso, because one can only fight so many battles at once.

- MikeB

I just wished they were ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I just wished they were locked up in Alaska
Maybe if Ted Stevens had his way, Doc you will get your wish
" McCain then rebutted Cheney's comments, the aide said, telling his colleagues that the image of the United States using torture "is killing us around the world." At least one other senator, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), supported Cheney, as he has in public, the aide said."
This taken from an article in today's Washington Post frames the debate effectively.
If Bush and Cheney are really the staunch defenders of the rule of law, they and their defenders claim they are, their positions on torture, contunue to be embarrassing. History which will have access to all the memos they have sent or received will not be kind.

So Steve, what law(s) speci... (Below threshold)
Doc:

So Steve, what law(s) specifically are you alleging that GWB has violated? What exact memo are you referring to? I am not an attorney, but I am under the impression that uniformed soldiers are protected under Geneva Convention statutes. Please indicate where "terrorists" are also included. I am bewildered as to the Liberal pathos that finds killing an unborn baby ok, yet go ahead and torture or God forbid kill a terrorist and their panties get all up in a bunch. As for McCain, he should display a bit more concern for U.S. soldiers and their possible exposure to criminal proceedings regarding the care/feeding and interrogation policies, instead of trying to appeal to his political base. A tip of my hat to aceofspadeshq for related info http://blog.mu.nu/cgi/mt-tb.cgi/126511

Hellow wackos out there, he... (Below threshold)
Shak:

Hellow wackos out there, hey jay you really are out of this world, so you guys really think America could take out Iran, a country with overwhelming shia majority population, no major secterian splits like iraq, you really are in dream land, if just 20% of a population of just 25 million can kick your asses so badly what the hell will your coward soldiers manage against a population of almost 70 million and overwheming shia too, you rally think they could handle that.

Think the best you can hope for is some air strikes but m sure in this war even after flattening cities from the sky your soldiers will still not dare venture in...brave brave boys getting wooped by a rag tag arm in flip flops

Thanks so much "conservativ... (Below threshold)
mguyot:

Thanks so much "conservatives" for demonstrating in such detail your total inability to think. Why are you unable to persuade anybody with your nonsense? It's because we all know exactly who and what you are: pawns of the only constituency George W Bush has or ever has had, the major corporations.
I have finally figured out what it is you want to "conserve": your own ignorant bigotry.
George W. Bush will probably be tried as a war criminal before he dies. That's not going to do much for his legacy.
It's amazing that you continue to parrot your banal accusations about those who see through George W. Bush's delusional self-aggrandizing complacency as "blindly" "hating" him. The right wing has a patent on the tactics of hatred, starting with the concept of premptive war. You wallow in it because it's your true identity.




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