Sunday, January 25, 2009

The history books give Bush a fairer hearing than the newspaper columnists

It's heretical to say such a thing in the UK, but I don't think the Bush presidency was an unmitigated disaster.
  1. The former president beefed up homeland security, and there has not been a successful terror attack on the US since 9/11.
  2. Although the initial military campaign in Iraq was a disaster, the country has stabilised dramatically since the Surge and the Sunni awakening. The country now has the genuine chance of a future.
  3. Bush took a zero tolerance attitude towards terrorism during his presidency. None of the "good terrorists - bad terrorists" attitude that the Clinton administration displayed towards the IRA. Unlike his European counterparts, Bush understood that you cannot and should not negotiate negotiate with the likes of Hamas and others like them.
  4. And despite all the accusations of racism, he was responsible for giving more aid to Africa than any other US administration (including billions towards aids prevention).
  5. Despite opposition within his own party, he tried (but failed) to reform immigration so that millions of illegal immigrants could be naturalised.
  6. He was an unapologetic defender of free enterprise and globalisation, despite the outight hostility from much of the country towards NAFTA.
The European media have been at times hysterical in their loathing of Bush. Channel Four News reported on Obama's inauguration as though it was ushering in the end of a dictatorship. Bush has variously been described as the toxic texan, a war criminal, a fool, and a retard. He has been portrayed by the Guardian's cartoonist as chimpanzee.

But the reality is that despite all of Obama's gestures (such as the closure of Gitmo) he will not be rushing to pull troops out of Iraq. Neither will he be calling off the war on terror or abolishing NAFTA.

Bush was no genius. That was obvious when he chose to hire the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, but he understood the Islamist terror threat and so does Obama. In that respect, George W Bush has history on his side.