An Objective Look at the Bush Presidency by Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan is a a junior at HCHS; he is a frequent reader of the Professor and has written posts here before. Feel free to leave a comment addressing his thoughts on the Bush epoch.

George W Bush

There is no doubt on my mind that almost every citizen of America today has their own views about the way that George Bush handled his term of presidency from January 20, 2001, to today, January 20, 2009. While each person has the right to their own opinion about how Bush acted during his tenure as the Commander-in-Chief (and the right to share these views with others), it has always been my theory that third party, non-biased historical accounts are what truly define the way that people think because it allows the reader to synthesize their own opinions and possibly even allows that reader to consider ways of improving ideas that may have been glossed over in a positive light in more biased historical accounts (ex: The New Deal). Perhaps it is my right brained tendencies that lead to my preference of objectivity over subjectivity. However, it has been increasingly difficult to come up with a definitive historical account of the Bush presidency that was free from the bias that our media has so readily embraced over the past decade. The following article was written by a historical idol of mine named Andrew Roberts, the writer of many books about the subject of warfare and the leaders therein. I found his article about how the Bush Presidency will someday be remembered to be very well written while also incorporating a minimal amount of bias and so thought that I would share it with you. Here is the link if you want to read some of the numerous comments that readers have left for him.

Here are a few examples:

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.

The first is that history, by looking at the key facts rather than being distracted by the loud ambient noise of the 24-hour news cycle, will probably hand down a far more positive judgment on Mr Bush’s presidency than the immediate, knee-jerk loathing of the American and European elites.

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 Bushafter 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.

Similarly, the cold light of history will absolve Bush of the worst conspiracy-theory accusation: that he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq. History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British Government, Saddam’s own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course SIS and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Mr Bush assumed that the Coalition forces would find mass graves, torture chambers, evidence for the gross abuse of the UN’s food-for-oil programme, but also WMDs. He was right about each but the last, and history will place him in the mainstream of Western, Eastern and Arab thinking on the matter.

History will probably, assuming it is researched and written objectively, congratulate Mr Bush on the fact that whereas in 2000 Libya was an active and vicious member of what he was accurately to describe as an “axis of evil” of rogue states willing to employ terrorism to gain its ends, four years later Colonel Gaddafi’s WMD programme was sitting behind glass in a museum in Oakridge, Tennessee.
With his characteristic openness and at times almost self-defeating honesty, Mr Bush has been the first to acknowledge his mistakes – for example, tardiness over Hurricane Katrina – but there are some he made not because he was a ranting Right-winger, but because he was too keen to win bipartisan support. The invasion of Iraq should probably have taken place months earlier, but was held up by the attempt to find support from UN security council members, such as Jacques Chirac’s France, that had ties to Iraq and hostility towards the Anglo-Americans.

Where Were You on 9/11/01?

I am honestly disappointed that our government (Democrats and Republicans) has wasted money, troops, and efforts fighting a war that has not solved nor worked against the effort of terrorists. I wonder what today would be like if we stayed focused fighting the war on terrorism? Mr. Bush and others would have us believe that Iraq is the war on terrorism. That is simply not the case.

I have decided to focus this blog on 9/11 and not politics. I recall being absent from a day of teaching while at CAC to attend a research committee meeting on race and Advanced Placement. While waiting for a few other colleagues to arrive, I decided to have a cup of coffee in the Hilton Hotel lounge on University Drive in Little Rock. I turned the TV on to see a building in flames; it was roughly around 9:15. Where were you?