Skip to comments.George W. Bush: victor, liberator
Posted on 04/10/2003 6:55:09 AM PDT by hobson
George W. Bush.
To think that as recently as Tuesday last week, The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh -- probably the best connected, most respected military journalist in the United States -- was telling us that the war in Iraq was headed for a "stalemate." Even as U.S. troops encircled Baghdad over the weekend, commentators spoke of the city becoming a "Stalingrad" that would eat up coalition troops. But yesterday -- just three weeks after the war began -- the Iraqi capital was effectively liberated, with the greatest threat to U.S. troops coming from teetering Saddam Hussein statues. (We suppose this is what The Globe and Mail meant with yesterday's bizarre banner headline, "Hussein's regime fights on.") How wonderful it is to know that, after 12 maddening years of watching Saddam deceive the civilized world, his game is up. No more UN resolutions. No more Kofi-brokered compromises. No more phony inspections. Meanwhile, the euphoric spectacle that unfolded in Baghdad's Firdos Square yesterday was as inspiring as anything we've seen since the demise of the Soviet bloc. Indeed, it is not overly optimistic to imagine that the Muslim Middle East might soon stand at the same political threshold Eastern Europe did a generation ago.
The emerging triumph in Iraq is a good opportunity to take stock of what U.S. President George W. Bush has accomplished in the 19 months that have passed since the World Trade Center fell. Two rogue regimes have been wiped out -- Taliban Afghanistan and Saddam's Iraq. As for al-Qaeda, its Afghan bases have been destroyed, its top operational commanders killed or captured -- including both of the main 9/11 planners. According to the U.K. Foreign Office, financial flows to al-Qaeda are now one-tenth what they were two years ago. More than 3,000 people died on 9/11. They are the real "martyrs" of the modern world: Their deaths served to awaken us to the threat of militant Islam and Arabism. But it was only thanks to Mr. Bush's resolve and moral clarity that the West acted on it.
Mr. Bush's accomplishments go beyond the battlefield; they encompass the ideological realm as well. Though he is endlessly mocked as a buffoon by the bien pensants of Europe and Canada, the President has done more to revamp the world's intellectual landscape than any politician of our time. Most importantly, he has dispensed with the conceit that the 21st-century threat posed by the intersection of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and rogue power must be addressed according to the dictates of 19th-century international law. Pre-emption is the only way to deal with the likes of Saddam and Osama, and so Mr. Bush has made pre-emption the policy of the United States. Similarly, while the West's attitude toward the Third World was once marked by cringing guilt at the endlessly trumped up "legacy of colonialism," Mr. Bush properly decided that protecting the world from apocalyptic terrorists is more important than issuing endless mea culpas for what the British and French did seven or eight decades ago -- accusations of "neo-imperialism" be damned. The United Nations, a body that is good at preventing malaria and distributing food, but bad at everything else, has been shown its place.
As for the anti-American activists who took to the streets to protest this war, Mr. Bush has dispatched them all too. They had a few days to crow in March, when the U.S. army was fighting sandstorms and Fedayeen ambushes. But that was their last hurrah. Now that Iraqis are telling their stories of torture chambers and executions, the anti-war crowd has been fatally discredited. Any ideology whose adherents would make excuses to keep Saddam Hussein's acid vats bubbling is not worth serious consideration. In this vein, no doubt the Noam Chomskies, Edward Saids and Robert Fisks of the world -- not to mention Canada's own Kingwells, Kleins and Margolises -- have elaborate theories as to why the jubilation in Baghdad actually masks a larger tragedy for the Arab world. But somehow, we doubt many people are listening.
The amazing thing to consider is that, though Mr. Bush's list of accomplishments would do great credit to any two-term president, the man has almost two years remaining in his first mandate. Even if Mr. Bush resigned today, his foreign policy accomplishments would place him prominently among the most effective presidents in U.S. history.
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President Bush BUMP
"I think it's a big mistake to underestimate him."
( Cough )
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