Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good-bye, President Bush . . . and thank you.

On Tuesday, President-elect Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. I look forward to it. Tomorrow, Martin Luther King day, is President Bush's last day as the Commander-in-Chief. He's already given his farewell address. My largest hope for Obama is that he will continue to advance the War on Terror (a good sign) but be a better spokesman for it than President Bush.

The Washington Post's David Ignatius interviewed retiring US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, who succinctly sums up the defining event of President Bush's presidency: the 'surge' in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Though I can criticize much else, that one leadership decision by President Bush, in my eyes, redeems his legacy.

I previously discussed Bush's '3 am call' on the counter-insurgency 'surge' in Iraq here.

From "A Farewell Warning On Iraq" by David Ignatius:
The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush's decision to add troops. "In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward."

Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."
Ambassador Crocker's other key point - that President Obama's decisions on Iraq must be made with the understanding that current events are part of a long arc extending into the past and our next actions will shape the future - is worthwhile, too.

Eric

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1 Comments:

Blogger Mad Minerva said...

Absolutely.

My largest hope for Obama is that he will continue to advance the War on Terror (a good sign) but be a better spokesman for it than President Bush.

Too true. I was endlessly frustrated with the inability of the Bush White House to communicate clearly. We can't all be Reagan the Great Communicator, but come on. Admittedly, the media seemed at times to be deliberately muddying the waters.

Bush in his farewell press conference, though, made me think, "Where was THIS man during the last eight years?" If you didn't get a chance to see this last go-round with the White House press corps, try to find it online. Arguably the most piquant statement: all of the bitter political sniping "will matter naught if there there is another terrorist attack. Then the only question will be 'How come you didn't do anything to stop it?'"

I think, in the end, history will be kinder to Bush than his contemporaries.

BTW, thanks for your recent comments on MM Blog -- and nice to meet you!

1/19/2009 11:11 AM  

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