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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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History Will Judge

Friday, September 19, 2008; A19

For the past 150 years, most American war presidents -- most notably Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt -- have entered (or reentered) office knowing war was looming. Not so George W. Bush. Not so the war on terror. The 9/11 attacks literally came out of the blue.

Indeed, the three presidential campaigns between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Sept. 11, 2001, were the most devoid of foreign policy debate of any in the 20th century. The commander-in-chief question that dominates our campaigns today was almost nowhere in evidence during our '90s holiday from history.

When I asked President Bush during an interview Monday to reflect on this oddity, he cast himself back to early 2001, recalling what he expected his presidency would be about: education reform, tax cuts and military transformation from a Cold War structure to a more mobile force adapted to smaller-scale 21st-century conflict.

But a wartime president he became. And that is how history will both remember and judge him.

Getting a jump on history, many books have already judged him. The latest by Bob Woodward describes the commander in chief as unusually aloof and detached. A more favorably inclined biographer might have called it equanimity.

In the hour I spent with the president (devoted mostly to foreign policy), that equanimity was everywhere in evidence -- not the resignation of a man in the twilight of his presidency but a sense of calm and confidence in eventual historical vindication.

It is precisely that quality that allowed him to order the surge in Iraq in the face of intense opposition from the political establishment (of both parties), the foreign policy establishment (led by the feckless Iraq Study Group), the military establishment (as chronicled by Woodward) and public opinion itself. The surge then effected the most dramatic change in the fortunes of an American war since the summer of 1864.

That kind of resolve requires internal fortitude. Some have argued that too much reliance on this internal compass is what got us into Iraq in the first place. But Bush was hardly alone in that decision. He had a majority of public opinion, the commentariat and Congress with him. In addition, history has not yet rendered its verdict on the Iraq war. We can say that it turned out to be longer and more costly than expected, surely. But the question remains as to whether the now-likely outcome -- transforming a virulently aggressive enemy state in the heart of the Middle East into a strategic ally in the war on terror -- was worth it. I suspect the ultimate answer will be far more favorable than it is today.

When I asked the president about his one unambiguous achievement, keeping us safe for seven years -- about 6 1/2 years longer than anybody thought possible just after Sept. 11 -- he was quick to credit both the soldiers keeping the enemy at bay abroad and the posse of law enforcement and intelligence officials hardening our defenses at home.

But he alluded also to some of the measures he had undertaken, including "listening in on the enemy" and "asking hardened killers about their plans." The CIA has already told us that interrogation of high-value terrorists such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed yielded more valuable intelligence than any other source. In talking about these measures, the president mentioned neither this testimony as to their efficacy nor the campaign of vilification against him that they occasioned. More equanimity still.

What the president did note with some pride, however, is that beyond preventing a second attack, he is bequeathing to his successor the kinds of powers and institutions the next president will need to prevent further attack and successfully prosecute the long war. And indeed, he does leave behind a Department of Homeland Security, reorganized intelligence services with newly developed capacities to share information and a revised FISA regime that grants broader and modernized wiretapping authority.

In this respect, Bush is much like Truman, who developed the sinews of war for a new era (the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA), expanded the powers of the presidency, established a new doctrine for active intervention abroad, and ultimately engaged in a war (Korea) -- also absent an attack on the United States -- that proved highly unpopular.

So unpopular that Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has revised that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration.

History Will Judge

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 10:46 AM
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With economic collapse looming, the one trillion dollars you GOP morons shit down the Iraqhole will be coming to people's minds.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 10:51 AM
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Yep that was looming but life was good for them so they never gave it a real thought
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 01:38 PM
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Good to see Krauthammer is still trying to quickly rewrite Bushie history.

Hint, it's not working. It's not working now and it won't work in the future.

Failure is just too complete on too many levels, in too many fields, that are too easily metered.

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Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 02:22 PM
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Krauthammer's one of the worst of the tribalist neocons who have backstopped Bush's various disasters.
Suffice to say there won't be statues raised to either of these malefactors.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Bush's Lonely Decision

Now that even Barack Obama has acknowledged that President Bush's surge in Iraq has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams," maybe it's time the Democratic nominee gives some thought to how that success actually came about -- not just in Ramadi and Baghdad, but in the bureaucratic Beltway infighting out of which the decision to surge emerged.

That's one reason to welcome "The War Within," the fourth installment in Bob Woodward's account of the Bush Presidency. As is often the case with the Washington Post stalwart, the reporting is better than the analysis, which reflects the Beltway conventional wisdom of a dogmatic and incurious President. But even as a (very) rough draft of history, we read Mr. Woodward's book as an instructive profile in Presidential decision-making.

Consider what confronted Mr. Bush in 2006. Following a February attack on a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, Iraq's sectarian violence began a steep upward spiral. The U.S. helped engineer the ouster of one Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in favor of Nouri al-Maliki, an untested leader about whom the U.S. knew next to nothing. The "Sunni Awakening" of tribal sheiks against al Qaeda was nowhere in sight. An attempt at a minisurge of U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad failed dismally. George Casey, the American commander in Iraq, believed the only way the U.S. could "win" was to "draw down" -- a view shared up the chain of command, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Politically, the war had become deeply unpopular in an election year that would wipe out Republican majorities in Congress. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, run by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, was gearing up to offer the President the option of a politically graceful defeat, dressed up as a regional "diplomatic offensive." Democrats united in their demands for immediate withdrawal, while skittish Republicans who had initially supported the war, including Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, abandoned the Administration.

From the State Department, Condoleezza Rice opposed the surge, arguing, according to Mr. Woodward, that "the U.S. should minimize its role in punishing sectarian violence." Senior brass at the Pentagon were also against it, on the theory that it was more important to ease the stress on the military and be prepared for any conceivable military contingency than to win the war they were fighting.

Handed this menu of defeat, Mr. Bush played opposite to stereotype by firing Mr. Rumsfeld and seeking advice from a wider cast of advisers, particularly retired Army General Jack Keane and scholar Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. The President also pressed the fundamental question of how the war could actually be won, a consideration that seemed to elude most senior members of his government. "God, what is he talking about?" Mr. Woodward quotes a (typically anonymous) senior aide to Ms. Rice as wondering when Mr. Bush raised the question at one meeting of foreign service officers. "Was the President out of touch?"

No less remarkably, the surge continued to face entrenched Pentagon opposition even after the President had decided on it. Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went out of his way to prevent General Keane from visiting Iraq in order to limit his influence with the White House.

The Pentagon also sought to hamstring General David Petraeus in ways both petty and large, even as it became increasingly apparent that the surge was working. Following the general's first report to Congress last September, Mr. Bush dictated a personal message to assure General Petraeus of his complete support: "I do not want to change the strategy until the strategy has succeeded," Mr. Woodward reports the President as saying. In this respect, Mr. Bush would have been better advised to dictate that message directly to Admiral Mullen.

The success of the surge in pacifying Iraq has been so swift and decisive that it's easy to forget how difficult it was to find the right general, choose the right strategy, and muster the political will to implement it. It is also easy to forget how many obstacles the State and Pentagon bureaucracies threw in Mr. Bush's way, and how much of their bad advice he had to ignore, especially now that their reputations are also benefiting from Iraq's dramatic turn for the better.

Then again, American history offers plenty of examples of wartime Presidents who faced similar challenges: Ulysses Grant became Lincoln's general-in-chief in 1864, barely a year before the surrender at Appomattox. What matters most is that the President had the fortitude to insist on winning. That's a test President Bush passed -- something history, if not Bob Woodward, will recognize.

Bush's Lonely Decision - WSJ.com

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsden View Post

Those two look strangely like Klinger and Radar from MASH, just older.....

Ross

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 05:06 PM
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hmmmmmm thespians masquerading as world leaders, will I never!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 08:05 PM
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Bush's War on Terror is copy cat of Ronnie's War on Drugs? Is it not?

If history is an indicator, then Bush's "war" will be another blunder.

Can anyone (who still has the right mind) tell me why we used so much military forces to fight criminals? That's what I would categorize terrorists, they are nothing but a bunch of criminals and gangster. Frankly I believe none of them care much about our Super Hornets and smart bombs because when they are not busy killing our boys, they are taxi drivers and waiters.

I don't need to wait for the historians to judge George Bush, I already concluded the mother fucker is an all time fucked up.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2008, 08:56 PM
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Those two look strangely like Klinger and Radar from MASH, just older.....
Radar was way smarter than that ASSHOLE gw. Radar had his shit together. Without Jayhawk's help.
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