Tuesday :: Mar 14, 2006

Bush's Legacy Drowning in Iraq


by Mary

A number of news reports and talk shows are talking about Bush, the lame duck. Today KQED's Forum will have an entire hour devoted to how Republicans are dealing with the problem of being saddled with an unpopular President. As USA Today reports, President Bush has been tarred with people's impression about the war in Iraq. Not surprisingly, as perceptions about the war have gone downhill, views about the President have headed south as well. Yet, his Bush and his apologists still think it is too early to know whether invading Iraq was right or not.

Supporters note that history's judgment will wait for the conflict's outcome and its long-term repercussions — something that may not be known for decades.

"We're in the middle of a struggle that is not fated" to end one way or the other, says David Frum, a former White House speechwriter for Bush. "Depending on whether America does or does not succeed, the president will be judged accordingly. I know many people speak very harshly about him right now. I think that the final judgment is going to be from the result."

At the moment, efforts to form a broad-based government in Iraq are struggling, and sectarian conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites has become a bigger threat than the insurgency, according to Army Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East. A full-fledged civil war would multiply the perils for the U.S. mission. Already more than 2,300 U.S. troops have died there.

Bush's allies compare him to Harry Truman, unpopular during much of his tenure but highly regarded in retrospect. Bush's critics compare him instead to Johnson, a fellow Texan whose presidency was engulfed by the Vietnam War.

"It's going to take us a while to figure out whether Iraq in the long term is a plus or minus for us," Schier says. "Is it Vietnam or something much more successful?" How wise will the doctrine of pre-emption turn out to be? And, in the end, will the war spread democracy or instability?

The lesson from Truman and Johnson: Wars trump almost everything else. Efforts to do other big things often are overtaken by the demands and controversies of war. Since the United States was founded, it has been involved in only four wars longer than this one: the Civil War, World War II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam.

Bubble Boy Bush believes that history will vindicate his war.

Bush seems to be thinking about the history books, too. When conservative commentator Fred Barnes interviewed the president last summer for his book Rebel-in-Chief, Bush noted he had read three new books analyzing the first president's place in history. "He said, 'Even after 200 years, they're still reassessing George Washington,'" Barnes recalls. "'What will they say about me?'"

What do you bet history books will be talking about Bush's War of Choice? About his reliance on an immoral policy of preemptive war when his chosen enemy was not a threat? About his sponsoring torture? And about the lack of planning and the overwhelming carelessness he held the pawns in his war: our soldiers and the Iraqi people who suffered and died for his war? Perhaps decades from now Iraq will pull out of the nightmare in which it has been cast. But no one could be accused of being too cynical if they believe that until Bush is out of power, nothing can get better. Because Bush will continue to be convinced of his righteousness and worry about his own place in history rather than admit the utter mess he has made.

Mary :: 7:50 AM :: Comments (41) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!