Proximity to the 2008 presidential election on November 4, 2008, draws attention to numerous failures of President George W. Bush that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin can deny. The list is long, and it begins with his first two failures, which occurred in the immediate wake of 9-11.
First, knowing that he was on the verge of demanding great sacrifice on the part of our military in operations against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, he failed to call upon ordinary Americans to make belt-tightening economic sacrifices; instead, he urged them to openly and flagrantly show defiance towards the terrorists by continuing to exercise their economic and personal liberties and to help rebuild a shattered economy by going to the malls, shopping, spending, saving, traveling, flying, and building (and rebuilding) businesses, etc. Bush thereby failed to allow the country to sink into defeatism. (At this point in this commentary, die-hard Obama supporters will read no further, but genuinely independent thinkers still considering voting for Obama but not suffering attention-span deficiencies are likely to continue reading to the end -- it's not short.)
Second, Bush failed to ignore the risks that public recognition of Islamic fanaticism as the motivation for the 9-11 attack might spark mistreatment of non-fanatical Muslims; instead, he set an example of tolerance and ecumenicism by including an Islamic cleric to join with Christian and Jewish theologians in offering religious sympathy, solace and inspiration in the memorial service he conducted in the National Cathedral several days after 9-11, during which he lauded efforts by Americans to display tolerance and understanding towards Muslims.
Third, in the weeks after 9-11, he failed to heed warnings of experts confidently predicting that attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan would yield defeat for the United States in a country which had forced a huge and ruthless Soviet military machine to withdraw in defeat. Instead, he ordered our military to prepare a plan for ending al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base of operations against the United States and its allies.
Fourth, but in so doing, he also failedto heed advice from many military experts that such mission could not be accomplished without assembling a massive ground force in a manner similar to what the first President Bush had done in the four-months-long staging operation for Operation Desert Storm in 1991 to reverse Saddam Hussein's August 2, 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Instead, he maximized the chances for cooperation from, and minimized the chances of opposition by, Afghan "warlords," their military forces and the Afghan population by heeding advice of other experts for using small contingents of special forces in conjunction with massive air and naval power to help Afghans defeat the Taliban and destroy al Qaeda bases and operations in Afghanistan. (Critics speciously argue in retrospect that our reliance on Afghans rather than a larger American military presence on the ground appears to have enabled Osama bin Laden and many of his top leaders to escape into Pakistan; however, if we were to have taken the additional time to deploy a large enough force of American "boots on the ground" for the purpose of capturing bin Laden, it seems likely that bin Laden would have moved into Pakistan much sooner rather than simply sitting in Tora Bora to await being surrounded and captured or killed by a massive American military force.)
Fifth, regarding Iraq, Bush failedto heed assurances by many experts that continuing reliance on U.N. sanctions against Iraq could and would prevent Saddam Hussein from continuing or resuming (and improving) his pre-Persian-Gulf-War weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) programs. Instead, recognizing that such regime of sanctions had become rife with corruption, that they would likely continue losing international support (amidst Saddam's propaganda claims that the sanctions, rather than his corrupt diversion to his own use of proceeds from the "oil for food program" intended to benefit the Iraqi people, was "causing" the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children every year), that international support for continuation of the U.S. enforcement of "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq would soon evaporate, and that such containment strategy had not significantly reduced Saddam's extensive support for terrorism against Israel, Bush also recognized that following the inevitable evisceration of such "containment" strategy, Saddam would soon expand his extensive support of terrorism and re-establish his ability to dominate the Middle East by using, or threatening to use, WMDs, as well as following the maxim, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," to covertly furnish conventional and/or WMD assistance to his otherwise natural enemies such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. in their terrorist warfare against the West in general and the United States and Israel in particular. Therefore, he made a strategic decision for removal of Saddam Hussein from power by military force absent failure of international coercion to accomplish same.
Sixth, after assembling a massive military force (nearly 300,000) on Saddam's border as the only means for persuading Saddam to permit U.N. inspectors to return to Iraq, and after concluding that Saddam's behavior was sufficiently impeding such inspections that the U.S. would be unable to confidently deem such inspectors' failures to find evidence of WMD capabilities to be evidence that Saddam lacked such capabilities (or the means to reacquire or reconstitute, them), Bush failed to take a leap of faith that "absence of [such] evidence [being found] was evidence of [their] absence." Instead, Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to topple Saddam and thereby prevent him from (a) threatening to use, or using, WMD's, or (b) covertly furnishing them to "the enem[ies] of [his] enemy" for use against the U.S. or its allies.
Seventh, Thus, Bush thereby failed to permit Saddam's reconstitution of his WMD capabilities and the continuation of his reign of terror. (Regarding Saddam's propensity to support covert operations against America as well as Israel, don't forget that during the Clinton Administration, Saddam Hussein facilitated an assassination attempt on former President Bush. Also, don't forget that before being toppled by Bush, Saddam was paying $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.) Furthermore, one cannot seriously doubt that Bush's toppling of Saddam was a significant factor influencing Libya's Khadafi to fully disclose and terminate his nuclear-weapons program, which had progressed much further (courtesy of assistance from Pakistan's A. Q. Khan) than our intelligence sources had previously believed (and about which our intelligence services learned vital information through contacts in Pakistan developed in part as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan).
Eighth, by toppling(and capturing) Saddam Hussein and thus teaching an important lesson to Khadafi, Bush also thereby failedto permit continuation and potential completion of Khadafi's nuclear-weapons program (without military action against and/or in Libya being necessary to destroy such program). Consequently, as a direct result of Bush's failure to allow Saddam to remain in power and for Khadafi's nuclear program to go un-checked, he thereby failed to allow what otherwise would have been the emergence by 2008 (if not sooner) of two terror-sponsoring states possessing (or on the verge of possessing) nuclear weapons in addition to biological and chemical weapons. See "Rewind, Rewrite & Replay" in GoogleVideoformat here or in YouTubeformat here or in Windows Movie Video (wmv) format with accompanying text and linksat http://PoliSat.Com/RewindRewriteReplay.htm. See also "Exposing Bush on Iraq" in GoogleVideoformat here or in YouTubeformat here, but more important, see the "DearMr. Obama" YouTube video here, here,here,here or here.
I digress. In July,2004, when Barack Obama, who has made his claim of having opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom "all along" and "consistently from the beginning" the cornerstone of his claims of superior "judgment" (which claim he lately makes in an effort to divert attention from his demonstrably bad judgment in opposing the "surge"), was seeking election to the Senate, he said this about Iraq: “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position [on Iraq] at this stage." (Hat Tip to PeterWehner.) So much for "all along" and "consistently from the beginning."
Tenth, in the 2004 campaign, Bush failed to aggressively re-emphasize his 2003 warning (through his then-Treasury-Secretary John Snow): (a) that failure to reform the corrupt and irresponsible "sub-prime" mortgage-lending/accounting practices being foisted on the mortgage/banking industry by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would lead to a catastrophe in our banking/financial system (such as that which occurred in 2008-- go here to view video clips on the subject) and (b) that Fannie Mae's/Freddie Mac's political patrons such as Democratic Representatives Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi with the aid of Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd, Harry Reid, Charles Shumer and others utilizing the Senate's cloture rules has blocked efforts for such reform. However, in fairness to Bush, few voters would have applied the attention-span needed to understand such complex mortgage-banking issues, and, in 2004 he had of necessity subordinated virtually all issues to the effort to persuade the country to stay on course in Iraq, which al Qaeda had chosen to make a "central front" in its war against classical western liberalism. To be blunt, if Bush were to have aggressively focused on the need to reform the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fiefdom of the Democrats, their demagoguery not only would have (a) completely obscured the nature of a problem too complex for casual analysis by voters and (b) successfully characterized it as "alarmist" but also would have succeeded in duping much of the public into believing Bush's position to be founded on "bigotry" (i.e., opposition to lowering lending standards for "minorities") rather than sound analysis of mortgage/banking principles. Thus, although Bush's failure to aggressively promote such reform was a genuine failure, but given the fact that the need to cope with a political "insurgency" at home against staying on course in Iraq made it politically impossible for him to have so, it's a forgivable failure.
Eleventh, after reelection in 2004, Bush failed to understand the need to continue "campaigning" to maintain public support for victory in Iraq and to counter the increasingly and relentlessly vicious attacks on him by the Left. He was too content with his belief that having made the right decision (in toppling Saddam) and having then been reelected (with the largest number of popular votes of any president in history), he no longer needed to "persuade" the American people that toppling Saddam had not been a "mistake." He failed to understand how short is the attention-span of the American electorate. He thus failed to aggressively and sufficiently counter propagandistic (and specious) arguments by the Left that we would have been "better off" leaving Saddam in power and that, therefore, toppling Saddam had been a "mistake." (Regarding the "better off" and "mistake" propaganda, see also video-links in the paragraph above on his "Eighth" failure.)
Twelfth, in 2005 and 2006, Bush failed to recognize that the strategy in Iraq was failing more than succeeding in seeking to replace an anti-western, terror-supporting, genocidal dictatorship with non-terrorist-supporting ally against terrorism in the Middle East. His secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who had initiated and presided over brilliantly successful initiations of military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, likewise failed to adequately perceive such problem. When Rumsfeldresigned, he told Bush that perhaps the strategy in Iraq needed the "fresh view" of "new eyes."
Fourteenth (and most important), from 9-11-01 until now, he failed to relax or dilute offensive and defensive strategies against terrorist plots and thereby failed to make it possible for a number of serious, potentially catastrophic attacks to succeed. Stated conversely, by staying aggressively on the offensive against al Qaeda on all fronts, he kept them on their heels and forced them to expend most of their energies and resources on battlefields on which they are weakest and we are strongest. Our military in Iraq took the brunt of the full fury of many thousands of al Qaeda's fanatics in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There can be no serious doubt that our military fighting (and killing) so many thousands of fanatics "over there" has virtually eliminated the risk of our being threatened by those many thousands "over here."
Oh, and by the way, there's one more "failure" that is more significant than all the others: It has been the failure of our military to let the unrelenting criticism of Operation Iraqi Freedom demoralize them or to in any way diminish the courage and skill with which they have risked their lives for the sake of their country, their fellow citizens and our posterity. They have exemplified the very best of the noble ideals John F. Kennedy articulated in his inaugural address (I paraphrase): America will bear any burden, pay any price, oppose any foe and support any friend to assure the ultimate triumph of liberty over totalitarianism. For that, we must say to our troops, "Thanks In Our Name For Deeds In OurName," in YouTube format for highest-speedconnections here, for high-speedconnections here, for mediumspeed connections here or in Windows Movie Video (wmv) format via links at http://PoliSat.Com/Thanks.htm."