Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Bush in The Hand (UPDATED)

OK, Life is beginning to resemble (roughly) something normal...ish. Apart from geeking out rather fiercely on my new phone, I might actually have time to blog a bit in days to come!

However, since that time has not quite arrived, it's short and linky again tonight.

Via Tigerhawk, I encountered this editorial from the Telegraph on the prospects of the Bush Presidency's long-term legacy. It is a topic to which I have devoted a good deal of thought, since I spent the first few years of that Administration in the full grip of Bush Derangement Syndrome, whose highly tenacious antibodies still linger in my system. I can still, with very little effort, summon the deep, visceral revulsion I used to experience at the mere sight of GWB, the sound of his voice, the way he steadfastly and maddeningly persists in saying NOOK-ular when he bloody ought to know better. As someone who values rationality and believes that while political judgment can (and should!) never completely be divorced from passion, such judgment must never be permitted to be dominated by it, I am not altogether unembarrassed by this period in the history of my political thought. The cult of personality cuts both ways, and one can just as surely be enthralled by an eloquent but vacuous demagogue as one can be unjustly repulsed by a clumsy but competent leader. I have come to believe that George W Bush falls squarely into the latter camp (three guesses who I think falls into the former...).

This piece is not the first place I have seen Bush compared to Harry Truman (who, as the editorial points out, was also deeply unpopular during his tenure), and I suspect it will not be the last. The Truman doctrine of comprehensive containment of the USSR took decades to prove its mettle, ultimately succeeding in acting as a global poultice which drew the toxins of Communism to the surface, where they were resoundingly outcompeted by Democratic, free-market forces. On those few occasions when a more "enlightened" coexistence policy allowed the pressure to relent (*ahem* Jimmy Carter), the results were disastrous. Similarly, while Bush's stance with respect to global Jihadism has been lambasted for simple-minded manichaeism, its devastating effects on our foes' ability to pursue their ends unimpeded is growing ever more clear, despite the inevitable setbacks and the impatience which they feed.

I have a sneaking suspicion (and enduring hope) that history will, on the whole, be kind to George W Bush. I hope he lives to hear some of its judgments; considering the withering stream of venom he so stoically endures, the guy could use some props.

UPDATE (6/24/2008, 1:54 AM): To the above, I would add this editorial from the New York Times (!!). Key excerpt:

The whole episode [of Bush stubbornly bucking conventional 'wisdom' and implementing the Surge and COIN Doctrine] is a reminder that history is a complicated thing. The traits that lead to disaster in certain circumstances are the very ones that come in handy in others. The people who seem so smart at some moments seem incredibly foolish in others.

The cocksure war supporters learned this humbling lesson during the dark days of 2006. And now the cocksure surge opponents, drunk on their own vindication, will get to enjoy their season of humility. They have already gone through the stages of intellectual denial. First, they simply disbelieved that the surge and the Petraeus strategy was doing any good. Then they accused people who noticed progress in Iraq of duplicity and derangement. Then they acknowledged military, but not political, progress. Lately they have skipped over to the argument that Iraq is progressing so well that the U.S. forces can quickly come home.

But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right. Some brave souls might even concede that if the U.S. had withdrawn in the depths of the chaos, the world would be in worse shape today.

Life is complicated. The reason we have democracy is that no one side is right all the time. The only people who are dangerous are those who can’t admit, even to themselves, that obvious fact.



Trochilus said...

Earlier today, while following up on a comment I had left, commiserating with the reactions of a few other commenters at HotAir, I encountered your short note.

Pleased to make your electronic acquaintance! I was on the comment thread where you left your note responding to Ed Morrissey’s post about the impending turnover of Anbar (the Lost Province) to Iraqi forces. So, I thought I would stop by your website.

As it turns out, we are neighbors, separated only by the Delaware and a short hike. I am based in Lambertville, NJ.

Thanks, by the way, for the hat-tip on the David Brooks editorial column today. As you can imagine, the NYT has more and more difficult for me to even read, particularly during those post-traumatic periods following their too frequent interloping forays, far, far across what I see as an acceptable line of decency.

As an example, consider their Sunday story -- first printed in the Telegraph -- inexplicably naming the successful interrogator of 9/11 mastermind, and self-promoting murderer (by beheading) of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl . . . the (hopefully) inimitable, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Not only did the paper personally name his questioner, they also specifically noted that the man had a family and a child; and, further, they identified the consulting company with which he is currently employed.

I just wonder if there could be a greater example of an almost vicious irresponsibility on the part of a newspaper? What possible purpose could the public revelation of those specific factoids have had, other than to have placed him and his family in danger going forward?

And, from the story, it also appears that another and unnamed CIA officer was quoted, identifying the interrogator by name. Nice!

Noocyte said...

Please to 'meet' you, Trochilus! Lambertville's a nice town (I actually prefer it to New Hope in some ways).

Yah, I'd heard about the latest in a nauseating series of National Security breaches by the NYT. It is, indeed, an extreme outrage! I can only hope that the man and his family are able to stay under the radar of those who might exploit that bewilderingly irresponsibly leaked information for nefarious ends.

The fact that another CIA agent was apparently responsible for releasing his personal info only strengthens my sense that we are seeing the exposed tip of some deep pathology within the Agency. That these career bureaucrats, with their multiple overlapping and clashing agendas are responsible for sweeping the shadows of threats to the American people is a source of deep unease for me. The fact that the "Paper Of Record" could be so eagerly co-opted into such gamesmanship troubles me greatly.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by, and for the comment. Hope to see you around the Nets.