BlueBloggin

Taking Texas And The Nation Back

Hearing More About The Sad Bush Legacy

Posted by bosskitty on June 6, 2007

Thank to the magazine The New Yorker article by George Packer

Bush’s legacy will be the war in Iraq and, secondarily, the array of decisions on prisoners, alliances, treaties, and preventive war which revolutionized American foreign policy after September 11th. Last year, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked whether Iraq would come to define the Bush Administration, she said, “I think it’ll be bigger than Iraq, I think it will be the Middle East.” This was wishful thinking on the part of the official most engaged in walking the Administration back from its own wreckage: a desire to define the President’s record away from what it has actually wrought in our time and toward a hypothetical future. In fifty years, this thinking goes, a new generation will realize that the war kick-started political change, and forced the Middle East out of its deadly pattern of autocracy and extremism.

This exercise in justification by faith posits a visionary President with the courage to ignore temporary bad news. By this light, Bush’s habit of declaring A to be B—for example, claiming that the surge reflects the public’s desire for a change in war policy, or interpreting increased violence in Iraq as a token of the enemy’s frustration with American success—becomes a sign of clarity and resolve, not delusional thinking. When everything is turning to ashes, take the long view. Last December, Senator Richard Durbin, of Illinois, described a meeting at the White House in which Bush discussed Harry S. Truman and the foreign policy of the early Cold War—initially unpopular, ultimately vindicated by history. According to Durbin, Bush implied that he will be similarly remembered.

Who knows what the world will look like in fifty years? It’s hard to imagine, but perhaps the Middle East is at the start of a decades-long road toward democracy and stability. If so, though, history isn’t likely to find the prime cause of that happy outcome in the Bush Presidency. Truman established the institutions and policies that guided America to victory in the Cold War. The loss of China, the stalemate in Korea, and the corruption and the domestic upheavals of the late forties and early fifties now seem secondary to the international architecture—the NATO alliance, the doctrine of containment, the legitimacy of democracies as a counter-force to Communism—that Truman left in place. Bush will have no such legacy. His Administration—or part of it—is trying to reverse or restrain his farthest-reaching policies without admitting that anything went wrong with them. We are not present at the creation of anything. A democratic Middle East would bear the same relation to the Iraq war as the United Nations does to the Second World War: the salvaging of a tragedy, not the fulfillment of a vision.

Both Liberal and Conservative Historians  have a daunting task ahead of them.

My fear is that the next generation won’t have time to read about the history that put them in harms way.  How they came to deal with world conflict and natural disasters will not be a priority, surviving them will be the priority!

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