Sunday, June 22, 2008

History will say that we misunderestimated George W Bush

As the author, one of the preeminent historians of our time, phrases it - the time will come when George W Bush will be able to say what Lord Salisbury called the four cruelest yet sweetest words in the English language: "I told you so."

Told you that this war has been the greatest triumph, with the fewest casualties, in the history of warfare.

That the turning of the drive by press so radically left wing is the untold story of our decade, and has consequences I can only shudder at considering.

That Bush's refusal to fight back against the outlandish charges leveled against him post 2004 reelection (He caused hurricane Katrina, the Iraq victory was a "Civil War", the economy is in "recession" etc..) rapidly accelerated this degeneration to radical leftist press institutions.

That if Obama is elected and the Dem's get to magic number 60 in the senate, then all political dissent will be silenced. The Democrats' have plans to destroy talk radio, not just with the Equal Time Rule but also by requiring liberals to be appointed to station boards of directors and to top positions in station management - Read about them here -

McCain must be elected.

G.W. Bush has been a great, not good president, and will remembered in history for his monumental accomplishments...T

As he leaves the White House at the end of his second term, the President has a poll rating of only 23 per cent, and is widely disliked and even despised. His foreign policy has been judged a failure, especially in view of the long, painful, costly war that he declared, which is still not over.

He doesn't get on with his own party's presidential candidate, who is clearly distancing himself, and had lost many of his closest friends and staff to scandals and forced resignations. The New Republic, a hugely influential political magazine, writes that his historical reputation will be as bad as that of President Harding, the disastrous president of the Great Depression.

I am writing, of course, about Harry S Truman, generally regarded today as one of the greatest of all the 43 presidents, and the man who set the United States on the course that ended decades later in the defeat of Communism.

If the West wins the modern counterpart of that struggle, the War Against Terror, historians will look back in amazement at the present unpopularity of George W Bush, and marvel at it quite as much as we now marvel at the 67 per cent disapproval rates for Truman throughout 1952.

Presidents are seldom remembered for more than one or two things; the rest slip away into a haze of historical amnesia. With Kennedy it was the Bay of Pigs and his own assassination, with Johnson the Great Society and Vietnam, with Nixon it was opening up China and the Watergate scandal, and so on.

George W Bush will be remembered for his responses to 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq, but since neither of those conflicts has yet ended in victory or defeat, it is far too early categorically to assume - as left-wingers, anti-war campaigners and almost all media commentators already do - that his historical reputation will be permanently down in the doldrums next to poor old Warren Harding's.

I suspect that historians of the future will instead see Bush's decision to insist upon a "surge" of reinforcements being sent into Iraq, combined with a complete change of anti-insurgency tactics as configured by General Petraeus, as the moment when the conflict was turned around there, in the West's favour.

No one - least of all Bush himself - denies that mistakes were made in the early days after the (unexpectedly early) fall of Baghdad, and historians will quite rightly examine them. But once the decades have put the stirring events of those years into their proper historical context, four great facts will emerge that will place Bush in a far better light than he currently enjoys.

The overthrow and execution of a foul tyrant, Saddam Hussein; the liberation of the Afghan people from the Taliban; the smashing of the terrorist networks of al-Qa'eda in that country and elsewhere and, finally, the protection of the American people from any further atrocities on US soil since 9/11, is a legacy of which to be proud.

While of course every individual death is a tragedy to the bereaved families, these great achievements have been won at a cost in human life a fraction the size of any past world-historical struggle of this magnitude.

The number of American troops killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is equivalent to the losses they endured - for a nation only a little over half the size in the mid-Forties - capturing a single island from the Japanese in the Pacific War.

British losses of 103 killed over seven years in Afghanistan bears comparison to a quiet weekend on the Western Front in the Great War, or the numbers the Army loses in traffic accidents in peacetime. History can lend a wider overall perspective to what are nonetheless, of course, immeasurably sad events.

History will also shine an unforgiving light on those ludicrous conspiracy theories that claim that the Iraq War was fought for any other reason than to implement the 14 UN resolutions that Saddam that had been flouting for 13 years.

The CIA and MI6 believed, like almost every other intelligence agency in the world, that Saddam had WMD, and the "Harmony" documents seized and translated since the fall of his regime make it abundantly clear that he was also supporting almost every anti-Western terrorist organisation imaginable.

Historians will appreciate how any War Against Terror that allowed Saddam to remain in place would have been an absurd travesty.

When the rise of al-Qa'eda is considered by historians like Philip Bobbitt and William Shawcross, it will be President Clinton's repeated refusal to act effectively in the 1990s, rather than President Bush's tough response after 9/11, that will be held up as culpable.

Judging by the rise in the value of the Iraqi dinar, the huge drop in the number of Iraqi deaths in the insurgency, the number of provinces now cleansed of al-Qa'eda, and the level of arms confiscations by the Iraqi Army in Sadr City, the new American "clear and hold" tactics have succeeded far better than the cynics ever thought possible even 12 months ago.
Give Iraq five, ten or twenty years, and Bush's decision to undertake the surge - courageously taken in the face of all bien pensant and "expert" opinion on both sides of the Atlantic - will rank alongside some of Harry Truman's great decisions of 1945-53.
If that happens, the time will come when George W Bush will be able to say what Lord Salisbury called the four cruellest yet sweetest words in the English language: "I told you so."
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