10 Foreign Policy Winners from President Bush


Foreign Policy‘s blog, Passport decided to draw up a list of ten “good things” the President can take credit for in foreign policy in commemoration of his July 6th birthday.
Blake Hounshell suggests this list:

1. Boosting aid to Africa threefold
2. Preventing a nuclear war between India and Pakistan
3. Taking down the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network
4. Getting Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction programs and renounce terrorism
5. Turning independent-minded India into a strategic ally
6. After a rough start, sticking to a pragmatic China policy
7. Getting North Korea to shut down its nuclear reactor … eventually
8. Decapitating some two thirds of al Qaeda’s top leadership and not having a second 9/11
9. Giving immigration reform the old college try
10. Challenging his party over harmful agricultural subsidies while pushing free trade

The only thing I want to add to this roster is that Vice President Cheney, Scooter Libby, David Addington, and other members of their team have been either publicly or privatetely dismissive and unsupportive of this short list of Bush achievements.
Even the point on al Qaeda and stopping another 9/11 ought not go to Cheney’s credit because of the manner in which Cheney-driven policies have helped Al Qaeda recruit a whole next generation of followers disillusioned with the West. In fact, al Qaeda is back, reorganized, and moving to new targets according to many reports. Let’s give the Cheney-Bush crowd a lot of credit for that.
Keith Porter shares his views on Bush’s top ten list here.
— Steve Clemons


21 comments on “10 Foreign Policy Winners from President Bush

  1. Sandy says:

    July 23, 2007
    A Trap for Fools
    Bush’s Latest, Ludicrous Doomed Plan for Israel and Palestine
    In a classic American western, the difference is as glaring as the midday sun in Colorado: there are Good Guys and Bad Guys. The good ones are the settlers, who are making the prairie bloom. The bad ones are the Indians, who are blood-thirsty savages. The ultimate hero is the cowboy, tough, humane, with a big revolver or two, ready to defend himself at all times.
    George Bush, who grew up on this myth, sticks to it even now, when he is the leader of the world’s only superpower. This week he presented the world with an up-to-date western.
    In this western–or, rather, middle eastern–there are also Good Guys and Bad Guys. The good ones are the “moderates”, who are the allies of the US in the Middle East–Israel, Mahmoud Abbas and the pro-American Arab regimes. The bad ones are Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and al-Qaeda.
    It is a simple script. So simple, indeed, that an 8-year-old can understand it. The conclusions are also simple: the good guys have to be supported, the bad guys have to bite the dust. At the end, the hero–George himself–will ride off into the sunset on his noble steed, while the music reaches a crescendo.
    The classic western, of course, does not show us the heroic pioneers stealing the land from the Indians. Or the United States cavalry attacking the camps of the Indians, burning down the tents and killing their inhabitants, men, women and children. Or how the US government, after signing formal treaties with the Indian nations, breaks them one after another. Or how it drives the remnants into desolate regions, long before the term “ethnic cleansing” was first used.
    Denial runs through the classical western like a purple thread, as it does through this speech of Bush’s. This finds its main expression in a simple fact: the occupation is hardly mentioned at all.
    In the Palestinian community, for example, there is a struggle between the “moderates” and the “extremists”. The extremists are killers. Why are they killers? There is no why. They are killers because they are killers. It’s in their nature. They were just born that way. The moderates are moderates because they are moderates. Some people are just born good.
    So the whole problem is a Palestinian problem. They must decide. They must choose between moderates and extremists. If they choose the moderates, they will get everything they can imagine: colorful glass beads and gallons of whisky. If they choose the extremists, their end will be bitter.
    The Jewish Israelis do not have to choose between good and bad. Why? Simply because there are no Bad Guys among them. They are just good. They must help the good Palestinians. “Release” the Palestinian tax moneys and give them to “Prime Minister (Salem) Fayad”. Not to the Palestinian government, but to one specific named person, the darling of Bush.
    What else is required from the Israelis? They must understand that their “future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee–not in continuing occupation of the West Bank”. (That’s the only time the occupation is mentioned at all.) They should remove unauthorized outposts and end settlement expansion. Also, they may “find other practical ways to reduce their footprint (in the West Bank) without reducing their security”. Meaning: the occupation can continue, but it would be nice if we take some steps to make it less visible.
    A long time ago, the United States viewed all settlements as illegal. When the Israeli government continued to expand them, James Baker, the Secretary of State under Bush the father, imposed financial sanctions upon Israel. Bush the son at first demanded that all settlements established after January 2001 should be dismantled. Later he withdrew all opposition to the settlement blocs (“centers of population”). In the “Road Map” he decreed that Israel must immediately freeze the enlargement of the settlements. Now he is satisfied with a sanctimonious request to “remove unauthorized outposts” (with no article)–that’s to say, some of those put up without the official authorization of the Israeli government itself. All this without “or else” or any mention of sanctions.
    In the last few years, only one such outpost, Amona, has been dismantled, and this week Ehud Olmert decided to pardon all the fanatics accused of attacking the police during that event. The Israeli government knows that Bush is only paying lip service, and does not take him seriously.
    In many classical westerns there appears a crook selling a patent medicine to heal all ills: headaches and hemorrhoids, tuberculosis and syphilis. George Bush has his own patent medicine, which appears in the speech again and again. It will heal all diseases and ensure the final victory of the Sons of Light over the Sons of Darkness.
    The label on the bottle says “Building Palestinian Institutions”.
    How come we didn’t think of this until now? Why did we go chasing off after all kinds of solutions, and did not find this one, so simple, lying in front of us for all to see?
    It is an egg of Columbus, with a whiff of Alexander the Great’s sword cutting the Gordian knot. The Palestinians have no institutions. The two good people, “President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayadare striving to build the institutions of a modern democracy.” This means: “security servicesministries that deliver services without corruptionsteps that unleash the natural enterprise of the Palestinian peoplethe rule of law”
    All this under occupation, behind roadblocks, walls and fences, while the main roads are barred to Palestinians, while the West Bank is chopped into pieces and cut off from the rest of the world. By the way, in this matter Bush has another patent medicine: all Palestinian exports will in future go through Jordan and Egypt, not Israel.
    In order to realize the vision of “building Palestinian institutions”, Bush is sending along his poodle. According to Bush, the sole task of Tony Blair is indeed this: “to coordinate international efforts to help the Palestinians establish the institutions of a strong and lasting free society.” (Like which example? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? Pakistan? Morocco? Or perhaps even Iraq?)
    Let’s hope no one is rude enough to mention the fact that the Palestinians held democratic elections for their Parliament, not so long ago, under the strict supervision of ex-President Jimmy Carter. As far as Bush is concerned, that just did not happen, since the majority of the people voted for Hamas. Therefore, Bush mentions only the elections held before that, when Mahmoud Abbas was elected president, practically without opposition. Everything else has been wiped off the slate.
    So this is the up-to-date vision: “democratic Palestinian institutions” will be in place, free of corruption (as in the US and Israel), and “capable security forces” will be functioning, and Hamas will be eliminated, and the armed factions will be dismantled, and all attacks on Israel will be stopped, and the security of Israel ensured, and the incitement against Israel ended, and everybody will recognize Israel’s right to exist as “a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people”, and all the agreements that were signed in the past will be accepted–then “we can soon begin serious negotiations towards the creation of a Palestinian state.” Wow!
    What a wonderful sentence! “Soon”–without a timetable. “Serious negotiations”–without fixing a date for their conclusion. “A Palestinian state” (again, without the definite article, which Bush seems to detest)–without specific borders. But a hint is given: “mutually agreed borders reflecting previous lines and current realities, and mutually agreed adjustments.” Meaning: the settlement blocs and much else will be annexed by Israel.
    It seems as if the speech writers, after finishing the product, noticed that it was pitifully devoid of content. Nothing new, nothing that could cause a self-respecting newspaper to give it a headline. I imagine the media advisor saying: “Mister President, we must add something that will look new.” Thus the “international meeting” was born.
    “So I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region. Secretary Rice will chair the meeting.”
    Wonderful. A meeting which has no date yet, but has a season of the year. And for which no location has yet been fixed. And no list of participants. And no planned conclusions, except the general statement: “She (Condoleezza) and her counterparts will review the progress that has been made towards building Palestinian institutions. They will look for innovative and effective ways to support further reform. And they will provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations, so that we can move forward on a successful path to a Palestinian state.” The meeting will not review the progress made towards the removal of the outposts, for example.
    It is not by accident that Bush omitted to identify the governments he intends to invite. Clearly, he will try to fulfill one of the most cherished dreams of Olmert: to meet publicly with a top representative of Saudi Arabia. For Olmert this would be an immense achievement: an official meeting with the most important Arab country which has no peace agreement with Israel. A meeting for which he will not have to pay any price. A free lunch.
    It is dubious whether this wish will be fulfilled. The Saudis are very cautious. They do not want to quarrel with any party in the Region–not with Syria (which will not be invited, though it is a “neighbor” of the Israelis and the Palestinians) and not with Hamas. Unlike Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia cannot be bribed with money. It has enough of its own.
    The final objective is a “Palestinian state”, the “two-state solution”. That is a far-far-off aim. Not for nothing is it called a “political horizon”, since a horizon, as is well-known, recedes in the distance as one tries to approach it.
    In his poem “If”, Rudyard Kipling describes all the tests an Englishman has to endure in order to be considered a “man”. One of them is: “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken / Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”
    We, the small group of Israelis who raised the banner of the “two-state solution” more than fifty years ago, now have to endure George Bush turning it into a rag to cover his nakedness. In his mouth, it is an empty, deceitful and mendacious slogan. Only a fool will fall into this trap.
    As Chaim Weizmann, the prominent Zionist leader and first president of Israel, once said: “No state is given to a people on a silver platter.” The Palestinians, too, will not get their state without struggle, not as baksheesh from Bush nor as a ‘”gesture” from Olmert. Nations achieve their freedom by political or military struggle. Every struggle, violent or non-violent, is a matter of power.
    And power means first of all: Unity.
    Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is o a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.


  2. Sandy says:

    You go, Pauline.
    Meanwhile, I’m trying to find the top ten foreign policy “achievements” of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, et al, too.
    I’m sure they have libraries somewhere as well, right?


  3. pauline says:

    “What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? Was it our foreign policy?”


  4. pauline says:

    Let’s nominate bush for a “foreign policy” lie that killed and debilitated hundreds? thousands? of both Americans and foreigners since 9/11.
    This news account is very personal to me. Christie Todd Whitman and bush can shout all they want about who told what to whom, but this is as totally irresponsible as sending troops out in any conflict without enough uniform protection. 9/11 police/fire/emt responders are as sacred as our troops.
    For me, this story just won’t go away.
    “Doctors, Democrats scrutinize September 11 dust”


  5. Rodger says:

    In regard to #1 on Africa, journalist Michael Reynolds has revealed that a lot of the anti-AIDS money has been funneled to abstinence groups and consultants. Bush, he writes, “transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry.” See http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070618/reynolds
    It is not really a surprise that U.S. aid ends up in the hands of American contractors, but this seems particularly galling.


  6. Arun says:

    KXB wrote: “The fact is, after 9/11, India’s attitude was “Now you know what we go through.”
    My response – Exactly! The following is an excerpt from a letter published by the Asian Age. It holds true for the US as well as for the mentioned countries.
    “….In 1995, a British national, Peter Bleach
    was arrested for illegal aerial arms drops over
    Purulia, West Bengal. In 1994, in Saharanpur, Uttar
    Pradesh, an Indian police officer was killed while
    apprehending British national Omar Sheikh Sayed of
    Harkat-ul-Mujahideen for kidnapping. Omar Sheikh was
    later released in January 2000 on demand of the
    hijackers of Indian Airlines flight IC 814. In
    December 2000, a British national, Mohammed Bilal of
    Jaish-e-Mohammed launched a suicide car bomb attack in
    Srinagar killing nine people. In the same year, 2000,
    an Australian national, David Hicks, trained with
    Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Pakistan and engaged in armed
    action against Indian troops. The United Kingdom
    declared the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed illegal in 2001, while Australia did so in 2003. But until then these terrorist organisations legally recruited fighters and solicited funding in these countries for their anti-India activities.”


  7. pauline says:

    Hey, how ’bout some credit for gitmo and secret rendition flights? Can’t we give him any credit for creatively fightin’ that war on terror?!
    I mean, he stood recently in front of a group of the nation’s brighest high schoolers (of whom several drafted a letter concerning detainee torture by our government and one brave girl handed the letter to him at the White House ceremony). Our courageous leader looked right into her eyes and said, “we don’t torture anyone…”
    So, maybe a new foreign policy credit has to be given for gitmo, secret rendition flights and torture — oh, heck, throw in bald-faced lying while you’re at it.
    from Rawstory.com —
    “Degradation and manhandling: Document reveals US interrogation techniques”
    After conducting a 10-month investigation that consisted of more than 70 interviews, as well as a detailed review of public and classified documents, Vanity Fair writer Katherine Eban delivers the fullest portrait yet of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the C.I.A.-contracted psychologists who were put in charge of designing the aggressive interrogation methods known as ‘SERE school’ techniques (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) that came to be used during the Iraq war,” states a press release sent to RAW STORY. “Eban also reveals a never-before-seen memo that details how the U.S. military sought to treat detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”
    Eban writes of the memo, “In a bizarre mixture of solicitude and sadism, the memo details how to calibrate the infliction of harm. It dictates that the ‘[insult] slap will be initiated no more than 12-14 inches (or one shoulder width) from the detainee’s face — to preclude any tendency to wind up or uppercut.’ And interrogators are advised that, when stripping off a prisoner’s clothes, ‘tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.’ In short, the sere-inspired interrogations would be violent. And therefore, psychologists were needed to help make these more dangerous interrogations safer.”
    The press release continues:
    According to colleagues, Mitchell and Jessen, who were placed in charge of interrogations on the C.I.A.’s network of “black sites,” had no real-world experience in questioning prisoners. Their expertise was in training U.S. soldiers to endure Communist-style torture techniques, the same tactics they are accused of reverse-engineering for use on detainees.
    In response to a detailed list of questions regarding their involvement with the C.I.A. and their interrogation qualifications, Mitchell and Jessen responded: “We are proud of the work we have done for our country. The advice we have provided, and the actions we have taken have been legal and ethical. We resolutely oppose torture. Under no circumstances have we ever endorsed, nor would we endorse, the use of interrogation methods designed to do physical or psychological harm. We were not in any way involved with the scandal at Abu Ghraib or with the abuses alleged at Guantanamo. We were appalled by reports from both places.”
    Eban reports on the interrogation of al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah, and asserts that contrary to George Bush�s claim that it was “tough” interrogation that forced Zubaydah to reveal Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the mastermind behind 9/11, it was actually humane treatment at the hands of the F.B.I.–they nursed his gunshot wounds and cleaned up after him — that prompted his sharing of information.
    Eban reports that when Mitchell and other members of the C.I.A. team got to Zubaydah in Thailand (at the request of then C.I.A. director George Tenet, who was furious to learn of the F.B.I.’s breakthroughs), they put a stop to the efforts at rapport building (which also yielded the name of Jose Padilla, the accused al-Qaeda operative), and began using “SERE school” tactics.
    According to Eban, the team explained that they were going to become Zubaydah’s “God” and that if he refused to cooperate he would lose his clothes and comforts one by one. He was isolated and the interrogators would enter his room just once a day to say, “You know what I want,” then leave again.
    Eban reports that as Zubaydah clammed up, Mitchell seemed to conclude that he would talk only when he had been reduced to complete helplessness and dependence, so the C.I.A. team began building a coffin in which they planned to bury the detainee alive. Eban concludes that they probably did not put Zubaydah in the coffin, but soon after (as was reported last year) they employed more “SERE school” techniques, which included stripping Zubaydah naked and making his room so cold that his body turned blue.
    Eban reveals a five-page, typo-ridden document, titled “JTF GTMO ‘SERE’ Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure,” that outlines how detainees should be treated. “The premise behind this is that the interrogation tactics used at military SERE schools are appropriate for use in real-world interrogations,” it states, and “can be used to break real detainees.”
    Eban reports that the document is divided into four categories: Degradation, Physical Debilitation, Isolation and Monopoliztion [sic] of Perception, and Demonstrated Omnipotence. The tactics include slaps, forceful removal of detainees clothing, stress positions, hooding, manhandling, and walling, which entails grabbing the detainee by his shirt and hoisting him against a specially constructed wall.
    It is not clear whether the guidelines were ever formally adopted, Eban reports, but the instructions suggest that the military command wanted psychologists involved so they could lead interrogators up to the line, then stop them from crossing it.
    Michael Rolince, section chief of the F.B.I.’s International Terrorism Operations, tells Eban that what Mitchell and Jessen practice is “voodoo science,” and Steve Kleinman, an Air Force Reserve colonel and expert in human-intelligence operations, says he finds it astonishing that the C.I.A. “chose two clinical psychologists who had no intelligence background whatsoever, who had never conducted an interrogation … to do something that had never been proven in the real world.”
    Despite their questionable credentials, Eban reports that the principals at Mitchell, Jessen & Associates are raking in money. According to people familiar with their compensation, they get paid more than $1,000 per day plus expenses, tax-free, for their overseas work. “Taxpayers are paying at least half a million dollars a year for these two knuckleheads to do voodoo,” says one of the people familiar with their pay arrangements.


  8. croatoan says:

    #3. WTF? AQ Khan distributed nuclear technology to 2/3 of the “Axis of Evil” and got an immediate pardon and house arrest, which he was just released from.
    #4.The Iraq War did not Force Gadaffi’s Hand: “Mr. Bush completed a diplomatic game plan initiated by Mr. Clinton.”
    #8. Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, and someone attacked us with anthrax. As President Bush said himself called the anthrax attacks “a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country.” (Radio address, November 3, 2001)


  9. Marky says:

    I’m skeptical about the Al Qaeda decapitation.
    On the whole, Bush’s AL Qaeda policy has been a horrible failure.
    As far as the lack of attacks on US soil, that doesn’t encourage me at all. We know that whatever A.Q. does next, they want something bigger and more spectacular than 9/11. That doesn’t leave many non-nuclear options, but more to the point, one would expect that the new event would take many years to plan and execute.


  10. JohnH says:

    My own list:
    1. Showed Saddam who’s boss.
    2. Showed Osama and Mullah Omar who’s boss.
    3. Showed Ahmadinejad who’s boss.
    4. Showed China who’s boss (and got to borrow $1 trillion in return).
    5. Showed Hezbollah who’s boss.
    6. Showed Putin who’s boss.
    7. Showed Arafat who’s boss.
    8. Showed Daddy who’s boss.
    9. Showed Democrats who’s boss.
    10. Got to order that nitwit Brit Blair around!
    There’s nothing like being the decider!!!


  11. pauline says:

    Can’t we give him any credit for creating some good ol’ war profiteering? And with this hunter/killer, who needs Cheney?
    “Bomb-laden ‘Reaper’ drones bound for Iraq”
    BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AP) — The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It is outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and with a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.
    The Reaper is loaded, but there is no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.
    The arrival of these outsized U.S. “hunter-killer” drones, in aviation history’s first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.
    That moment, one the Air Force will likely low-key, is expected “soon,” says the regional U.S. air commander. How soon? “We’re still working that,” Lt. Gen. Gary North said in an interview.
    The Reaper’s first combat deployment is expected in Afghanistan, and senior Air Force officers estimate it will land in Iraq sometime between this fall and next spring. They look forward to it.”With more Reapers, I could send manned airplanes home,” North said.
    The Associated Press has learned that the Air Force is building a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the concrete ramp area now used for Predator drones here at Balad, the biggest U.S. air base in Iraq, 50 miles north of Baghdad. That new staging area could be turned over to Reapers.
    It is another sign that the Air Force is planning for an extended stay in Iraq, supporting Iraqi government forces in any continuing conflict, even if U.S. ground troops are drawn down in the coming years.
    The estimated two dozen or more unmanned MQ-1 Predators now doing surveillance over Iraq, as the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, have become mainstays of the U.S. war effort, offering round-the-clock airborne “eyes” watching over road convoys, tracking nighttime insurgent movements via infrared sensors, and occasionally unleashing one of their two Hellfire missiles on a target.
    From about 36,000 flying hours in 2005, the Predators are expected to log 66,000 hours this year over Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The MQ-9 Reaper, when compared with the 1995-vintage Predator, represents a major evolution of the unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.
    At five tons gross weight, the Reaper is four times heavier than the Predator. Its size – 36 feet long, with a 66-foot wingspan – is comparable to the profile of the Air Force’s workhorse A-10 attack plane. It can fly twice as fast and twice as high as the Predator. Most significantly, it carries many more weapons.
    UNDER THE RADAR: Air Force ramps up in Iraq
    While the Predator is armed with two Hellfire missiles, the Reaper can carry 14 of the air-to-ground weapons – or four Hellfires and two 500-pound bombs.
    “It’s not a recon squadron,” Col. Joe Guasella, operations chief for the Central Command’s air component, said of the Reapers. “It’s an attack squadron, with a lot more kinetic ability.”
    “Kinetic” Pentagon argot for destructive power is what the Air Force had in mind when it christened its newest robot plane with a name associated with death.
    “The name Reaper captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system,” Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, said in announcing the name last September.
    General Atomics of San Diego has built at least nine of the MQ-9s thus far, at a cost of $69 million per set of four aircraft, with ground equipment.
    The Air Force’s 432nd Wing, a UAV unit formally established on May 1, is to eventually fly 60 Reapers and 160 Predators. The numbers to be assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan will be classified.
    The Reaper is expected to be flown as the Predator is by a two-member team of pilot and sensor operator who work at computer control stations and video screens that display what the UAV “sees.” Teams at Balad, housed in a hangar beside the runways, perform the takeoffs and landings, and similar teams at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, linked to the aircraft via satellite, take over for the long hours of overflying the Iraqi landscape.
    American ground troops, equipped with laptops that can download real-time video from UAVs overhead, “want more and more of it,” said Maj. Chris Snodgrass, the Predator squadron commander here.
    The Reaper’s speed will help. “Our problem is speed,” Snodgrass said of the 140-mph Predator. “If there are troops in contact, we may not get there fast enough. The Reaper will be faster and fly farther.”
    The new robot plane is expected to be able to stay aloft for 14 hours fully armed, watching an area and waiting for targets to emerge.
    “It’s going to bring us flexibility, range, speed and persistence,” said regional commander North, “such that I will be able to work lots of areas for a long, long time.”
    The British also are impressed with the Reaper, and are buying three for deployment in Afghanistan later this year. The Royal Air Force version will stick to the “recon” mission, however – no weapons on board.


  12. Mindful says:

    Getting the North Koreans to shut down their research reactor is an achievement tempered by the fact that it was the chest-thumping ideologues in the first term who spooked North Korea into withdrawing from the NPT, pulling all the plutonium from safeguarded storage, and (probably) using the stuff to make another half dozen or more nuclear weapons. Things are not better off now then they were 7 years ago.


  13. pauline says:

    NEW YORK The Pittsburgh newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife yesterday called the Bush administration’s plans to stay the course in Iraq a “prescription for American suicide.”
    The editorial in the Tribune-Review added, “And quite frankly, during last Thursday’s news conference, when George Bush started blathering about ‘sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don’t enable you to be loved,’ we had to question his mental stability.”
    It continued: “President Bush warns that U.S. withdrawal would risk ‘mass killings on a horrific scale.’ What do we have today, sir?
    “If the president won’t do the right thing and end this war, the people must. The House has voted to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April. The Senate must follow suit.
    “Our brave troops should take great pride that they rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. And they should have no shame in leaving Iraq. For it will not be, in any way, an exercise in tail-tucking and running.
    “America has done its job.
    “It’s time for the Iraqis to do theirs.”


  14. MP says:

    Dear Steve: I have to echo ron on #8. Does the absence of another 9/11 really prove anything? It’s good news, to be sure, and one can’t argue with it, as far as it goes. But the real question is, why has there not been another 9/11? Is it really our increased vigilance and counter-terrorism, or…luck?
    Given how vulnerable our chemical and nuclear plants are…how vulnerable our food chain is…how porous our land and maritime borders are…how easy it is to obtain instruments with small amounts of radioactive material…and how simple it to assemble a McVeigh-style bomb…I would have to say that: a) the public knows very little of what the government is really doing to protect us, b) the terrorists are waiting for their chance at a true “knock out” punch, or c) we’ve been very lucky.
    Any thoughts?


  15. Ben says:

    “7. Getting North Korea to shut down its nuclear reactor … eventually”
    Successfully retreating to (almost) the position we were in with the Agreed Framework is a success?
    Sorry, but ignoring the AF because it was “Clinton’s” and therefore tainted/appeasement led to one or more NK nuclear weapons. By any measure outside of Juche, this is an abject failure.


  16. KXB says:

    While I usually find your blog to be insightful, your India comments seem to be a reach. To dismiss India’s newfound partnership as simply an extension of anti-Muslim sentiment is nonsense. Pakistani-sponsored terrorism is just one of the terrorist outfits that India faces – Maoist movements in rural India, and ethnic separatists in the northeast take almost as many lives annually as do Kashmiris. The fact is, after 9/11, India’s attitude was “Now you know what we go through.” Plus, at the time, India warned the U.S. that a re-engagement with Pakistan would yield limited results, if the U.S. did not force Pakistan to take down the terrorist infrastructure it built up over the previous 2 decades. The resurgence of the Taliban has borne this out.
    But to give Bush his due, the chances of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan are far lower in 2007 than they were just five years ago. If Bush showed half the skill level in the Middle East that he has shown in the Indian subcontinent, prospects for peace there would be much brighter.


  17. temoc94 says:

    I would add his policy towards Ukraine during the Orange Revolution. And I would elevate the strategic partnership with India to the top of the list, which I do think will be Bush’s most important legacy (other than Iraq, *maybe*).


  18. Steve Clemons says:

    This comments were sent to me by email:
    Numbers 9 and 10 could, for instance, be seen as failures. After all, ag. subsidies are still in place and larger than ever (and I would strongly disagree with one of your commenters, who thinks this is a marginal issue). The immigration bill died a shrieking death while the president was traveling and, clearly, not counting votes very well.
    Regarding India, the U.S.-India nuke deal raises as many questions as it answers, and one wonders to what extent the evident pro-Americanism of the Indian population is really just anti-Muslim sentiment stirred up by the war on terror. And obviously, trying to turn India into an ally or a hedge *against* China creates some problems if it is done clumsily.
    Al Qaeda’s top leadership — that “two thirds” number has been repeated for years now, and one wonders what it actually means at this point. Still, I agree with Stratfor when they say that al Qaeda is no longer a “strategic threat” to the United States. We’ll have more, but smaller attacks from now on.
    Libya was in the works for some time, though the timing does support the Bush administration claim that invading Iraq scared Qaddafi into playing nice. Still, it’s questionable just how advanced Libya’s programs were, and I think the Libyans would have come around without threats.
    best, Steve Clemons


  19. ron says:

    On #8 — why should we assume that the administration is responsible for the lack of domestic attacks by Al Qaeda since 2001? There were none in the eight years between 1993 and 2001, and to hear the Bush/Cheney people describe that era, it was fraught with Clintonian incompetence in defending the homeland. We have another two years to go before there is any circumstantial evidence that they have improved our security.


  20. Jay C says:

    I dunno: IMHO, this is really a pretty thin list of achievements for a US President who has been in office for 6+ years. Also, Blake Hounshell looks to have padded the roster a bit with some of these “plusses”. Nos. 2 and 5 are debatable propositions; No. 6 is still -at best – a work-in-progress; No. 9 isn’t really even “foreign policy” at all; and No. 10, if correct, is an astonishingly obscure accomplishment.
    And of course, even this “boosted” list can’t even begin to make up for the ENORMOUS failures of US policy due to the Bush Adminstration’s mindless reliance on neocon policy nostrums and counterproductive warmongering.


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