Sunday, December 14, 2008

Some thoughts on Bush's legacy

I, along with many others, watched on TV the spectacle in Baghdad where Iraqi journalist Muntathar Al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at President Bush during a news conference with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Some find this comical, others find it obnoxious and rude, but I found it to be a perfect example of the freedom and the courage that the Iraqi people have, as they take control of their country and stand up against those who want to destroy it. If Al-Zaid had done this to Saddam Hussein, it can be said with almost absolute certainty that the Iraqi journalist would be bound and gagged in a Republican Guard Compound. Across from him, Uday and Qusay would be blazing up a box of cigars as their Fedyeen minions chopped off his feet and served them on a silver platter to his grief-stricken family. Instead, Zaid had the chance to make a political statement to the world and live to tell about it.

I have given up all hopes that President Bush is going to leave office with a better public image than he’s had these last five years. I think this is very unfortunate, but at the same time, I will never back down from believing he has done the right thing, even though it has cost him the media-touted “approval rating” that far too many of the President’s critics have used against him.

Bush stood against the misguided message an American population swayed by poor media coverage conveyed to him after the 2006 midterm election, when “Bush lied, people died, so get-the-hell-out-of-Iraq” fervor was on a rampage across the world. He wouldn’t give up, he was not going to walk away from his mission to bring freedom to Iraq and forever liberate it from the most horrendous forms of human life. Even as his approval rating was crushed, he sent more troops to Iraq to work directly with the besieged people of Iraq, and they have succeeded. Barack Obama may be the president now, and the genocide-advocating Democratic Congress may have followed suit—but their message failed. The “new direction” in Iraq they pushed for went down in flames as the lions of the Iraqi Army and the Awakening councils drove the insurgency all the way back to the sands of Saudi Arabia and their sanctuaries in Iran. Harry Reid was left looking like an utter buffoon as he desperately tried to prolong the struggle, accusing General Petraeus of being in the tank for the Bush Administration while citing the Pope, who has never set foot in Iraq, as a legitimate source that nothing good was happening in the Land of the Two Rivers. I almost want to say its too bad no one was there to throw a shoe at him back then, but such behavior should be rightfully condemned, no matter how much they might deserve it.

Bush has courage, unlike many other politicians. The Democrats were able to win the election, but this time, they avoided the so-called "antiwar" movement like an infectious disease, choosing to verbally assault the President on the economy instead, a crisis which they are just as guilty for as he is.

Sometimes, those who want to do the right thing don’t receive the response they deserve. Just think of Bob Marley, who tried to bring his message of peace and hope to the people of war-ravaged Jamaica only to be shot for it. Last year, Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan to use democracy as the greatest weapon against terrorism and perverted religious fundamentalism. Even before she landed, the Taliban already had suicide bombers waiting to welcome her in the crowds. President Bush had a very insignificant encounter, in the grander scheme of things.

Bush has given everything he has to do the right thing. He corrected the terrible mistake his father made in 1991 when the Gulf War was abruptly ended and the Iraqi people, who revolted against Saddam in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, were left to die in a scorched-earth holocaust when the Republican Guard came down on Karbala and literally burned it to the ground. Clinton added insult to injury, slapping Iraq with sanctions, which Saddam used to further his campaign of genocide against his own people.

Ten years from now, when Iraq is being led by a well-educated and determined generation shining and bustling with life, the history books may judge Bush differently. I hope so.


Little Penguin said...

I hardly see level-headed people speak of Bush with such stoic terms. It's refreshing. To be honest, I couldn't care less what Bush's legacy is, but I hope human life and dignity is spared further damage.

Touta said...

I find it both comical and rude. It was a perfect example of how people don't have manners, but it was also an example of how to ruin someone's image without actually hurting them. (I dont believe anyone should have been hurt).
But, i still don't think that Bush can be placed in the same page, let alon book as Bob Marley and Benazir Bhutto. They tried to bring peace without wars, and for me, i think that is possible. peace and democracy aren't always at the end of a gun.
Nice post. :)

C.H. said...

Personally, I think that Bush was bent on Saddam because there was some subconscious guilt he felt because of what his father did in 1991, leaving hundreds of thousands of people to do and leaving a madman in power. I don't know...maybe I just want to believe this.

But the truth is, I could really care less about Bush's legacy, too. All I care about is that Iraq will be peaceful and stable, and if Bush's had "listened" to the American people in 2006 I don't believe that would happen. I believe that a civil war between Iranian backed militants and Al-Qaeda would have lead to either one or the other winning, or an Eastern Congo-style failed state.

Bush made terrible mistakes planning the Iraq operation..mistakes that allowed for chaos to emerge. But I put most of the blame on the Democrats, who did everything they could to make the mission fail so they could retake the White House. I also blame the terrorists, who traveled thousands of miles over rugged mountains and scorched-deserts to mass murder innocent civilians and prove to the world that it was all Bush's fault.

I have no doubt that Bush's feels the same pain I feel when I hear about terrorist attacks in Iraq. I would much rather be reading about shoe-throwing incidents and protests than another bombing taking an unspecified number of innocent lives.

You guys would no better than me--both of you, Touta and LP, are Iraqis. But as an American, I can tell you that the President is not an evil man...he really believes that Iraq can form a democracy. He gave everything to make it work...he could've given up when Harry Reid was saying that all was lost, but he didn't.

C.H. said...

I'm not a supporter of using the barrel of a gun to bring democracy, but at times there is no choice. The biggest tragedy the United States ever made was to not keep its word to the Iraqi people in 1991. Hundreds of thousands of lives--both from the past and the present--could have been saved.

At the same time, I believe using military power is necessary. If the international community had used force to confront the Rwandan Genocide when it first started, a million people could have been spared. The same goes for Congo.

Saddam used non-violent means, like the sanctions, to further his campaign of genocide.

I wish that playing "one love" by Bob Marley all across the world would bring everyone together, but infortunately its more complicated than that :)

Ignorant Mouth said...

It is always interesting to see alternative interpretations to any situation. The Bush Presidency was not an easy one - and there are many situations where he could have handled himself better. However, I feel that he has been at the receiving end of some harsh critcism, much of it that wasn't fair. Bush's presidency has seen the return of left-over Cold War issues that have become issues again - Afghanistan is a perfect example - that present a challenge for states worldwide.

I'm a historian by nature, so I will reserve final judgements for the future. I feel that arguments such as this one will play out in the final judgement of this man someday in the future in both a significant and interesting debate.