Saturday, January 17, 2009

American Thinker: The Bush Legacy

An accurate account of the legacy of President George W. Bush - points out the shallowness of the media and the profound contributions that President Bush has made to the nation.

Also debunks common leftist myths while analyzing both the successes and errors of the 43rd President based on his track record and on lessons that have been shown to us throughout history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Challenging the Biggest Myths - They Simply Don't Hold Up


Before Katrina there were several other hurricanes. Democrats and the media (excuse the redundancy) started asking whether global warming was causing these hurricanes and whether this was a result of "Bush's environmental policies." They were looking for any reason to "blame Bush" and Katrina gave them their chance. The glee of some of these people in the face of a national disaster was sickening, but so was the lack of any Republican response.

Now, I'm not saying that there aren't serious problems with bureaucracy which result in a lack of priority with regard to saving human lives and that both parties have come to embrace this dangerous absurdity, though in fairness Democrats call this bureaucratic garbage prime rib while Republicans only consider it french toast.

But take the facts of Katrina at hand. Every other disaster of this kind has been handled first by state agencies with federal management coming in well after. In fact, the response to Katrina was the fastest FEMA had ever acted. And that would still be totally inexcusable were it not for the fact that the now former Democratic Governor of Louisiana herself had requested a 48 hour delay to give state troops time to act before FEMA arrived, something which was only mentioned by the media 6 months later and then only in passing.

Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, FEMA Director Mike Brown, was far from unqualified. Aside from a stellar career as a lawyer, he was possibly the most qualified person to assume the position of FEMA Director, having served as Deputy Director for years beforehand. He may have been horrendous in front of the camera, while trying to do media interviews in between running from site to site with little sleep (something he should have never been allowed to do - just one example of the GOP's PR problems), but referring to him as an Arabian Horse Trader would be the same as portraying Bill Bradley as an unqualified basketball player or defining anyone else by what their side hobbies happen to be.

The problem is that instead of mentioning any of this the President apologized, a noble act, one that history will view as such, but one that should have been coupled with criticism of Democratic leaders who sought to make politics out of a natural disaster. At the very least, other Republicans should have pointed out the real facts of the case. Instead they did nothing to counter the prevailing and largely false sentiments.

While apologies may have worked for Clinton, who the media fawned over, as he was of their party, apologies from this president are used as fodder to tear him apart. The media could hardly believe their good fortune and so the skewing began. Pretty soon they were conjuring up pictures of this being the worst response ever, even slower than the "Federal Response" of 1906 (when San Francisco had a large military population who of course, were on site at the time of the quake - no Federal Troops were actually "sent"). And the more the GOP was unable to respond, the more the media skewed the situation.


Well this attitude started then and didn't let up. In fact, with the exception of Newt Gingrich and some notable others, it continued right through to election day. You'd think our lack of response to the media's outright distortions of Katrina would have taught the party something about Iraq. One would have thought that, and one would be wrong.

In media interview after media interview, Congressional Republicans refused to talk about the issue for an entire year before the midterms. All that did was cement the impression that they were wrong.

Had they just stated the simple facts, that Saddam had 12 years to comply with resolution after resolution, that President Bush had himself given Saddam over a year to response since the first threat of military action, that all that Saddam had to do was allow full military inspections and that failure to act would have made our threat of action obsolete in other areas (forever foregoing any hope that diplomacy could work with Iran, North Korea or anywhere else not scared stiff by what would have been a track record of empty words).

Add to that the true, simple and plain fact that UN weapons reports documented each weapon that Saddam had in '91 and showed that only small amount that had been destroyed - showing that what had until then been the world's fourth largest army still had plenty of weapons. That while no nukes had been found, enough sarin, VX and other gas weapons had been found, as had 500 tons of unenriched uranium, 1.8 of which had been enriched according to the New York Times.

Add to that the inhumanity of the sanctions before the war, which only hurt the civilian population while doing nothing to Saddam and that were truly the cause of anti-Western sentiment, and you might have had Democrats yelling about why Bush hadn't go in sooner and gave Saddam so many warnings, while all that time gave Saddam a chance to hide gas weapons and other artillery that were clearly documented by the UN, that hadn't been destroyed, and that according to many intelligence specialists were now in Syria or Libya (of course the President was right to allow some time for diplomacy, but you get my point).

President Bush was Right, As Evidenced by Sale of Saddam’s Uranium and More

If anyone doubts the need to have ousted Saddam, a news release this past July should put such doubts to rest. The report is that the US has sold 550 tons of yellowcake uranium that had been found in Iraq to Camco, a Canadian company. The uranium will now be used as fuel and poses no severe risk if properly stored and sealed.

While the report contains no new information per se, the uranium having been known of and ignored by the media for years, it brings to the forefront pertinent facts that, while widely available, were also widely ignored. But when analyzing military and security matters, we can ill afford to ignore any factual information.

Yellowcake is often used as seed material for nuclear weapons, a process that requires the use of centrifuges. Saddam’s ability to convert the uranium to weapons grade was hindered at the end of the first Gulf War, when Iraq was forced to turn it over for isotopic dilution. However, the uranium could still have been enriched and not only did Saddam show no sign of abandoning the prospect of doing so, he actually took bold and decisive steps in the other direction.

The extent that Saddam went to was profound. At the start of the Gulf conflict and beyond, the allied coalition began to monitor Iraq’s importation of centrifuges and laser equipment needed for conversion of yellowcake to weapons grade uranium. What did Saddam do to bypass the monitors? He simply poured $8 billion into building calutrons, equipment that was used in the 1940s to build the first a-bombs, as Richard A. Muller explained in detail in MIT’s Technology Review (published Oct. 2002). To say the least, this does not seem like the action of someone who had abandoned his nuclear ambitions.

Many of today’s Democrats like to tell tales of Bush “lying” (although the idea that a president, any president, would knowingly mislead a nation, at the expense of his reputation and legacy, is ridiculous and offensive to logic). They also like to chant the story line that “there were no WMD in Iraq” and even that “Saddam posed no threat.”

These same people would be well reminded that in Oct. of 2004, Sen. Joe Biden spoke of the fact that Saddam’s Iraq had dangerous quantities of uranium, saying at the time that, “everybody acknowledges there's over 350 metric tons of this stuff somewhere.” It also bears mentioning the New York Times report of May 22, 2004, that 500 tons of uranium had been found in Iraq, 1.8 of which had already been converted to low-grade enrichment status.

The same Democrats have criticized President Bush for attacking Iraq, dubbing 18 months of persistent warning to comply with a 12 year old and 12 years broken cease fire treaty a “rush to war.” In their attempt to move the argument any which way, they also fault the President for “ignoring” the “greater” threats posed by Iran and North Korea and concentrating on Iraq.

The truth is, as President Bush said at the time, if we had not taken action against Iraq to enforce a ceasefire after 12 years of warning, we would have been viewed by other rogue nations as deliverers of empty rhetoric. Iran and North Korea would have laughed at us and negotiations would have been doomed from the start, as our threat of consequences would have been shown to be obsolete.

Furthermore, an analysis that Iran and North Korea posed more pressing threats than Iraq fails in its entirety to recognize the true nature of the threat that Saddam actually presented. Iran and North Korea are only interested in build up for a long term confrontation, not in inflicting mere casual damage. By contrast, Saddam was content with taking small, damaging strikes at the West without even the remote possibility of victory, as evidenced by his planned attack on former President Bush.

Any logical person would have known that an assassination attempt against a former US President would have resulted in severe strikes against Iraq and possibly in Saddam’s ouster. Yet that didn’t dissuade him from trying. Unlike Iran and North Korea, Saddam’s Iraq would not wait until it presented a real military challenge. Saddam would have been happy to launch deadly attacks against us, even if he couldn’t win the larger battle. For this reason, it made sense to try to negotiate and pressure with the other two nations, while acting quickly against Saddam.

Saddam did not need nukes to hurt us and no one disputes that he sponsored individual acts of terrorism in other countries. His plethora of gas weapons and even lower caliber weapons could have been given to rogue agents. And while there remains no evidence that Saddam had any conversations with members of al-Qaeda, there is clear and compelling evidence that he spoke with and supported plotters of terror outside of Iraq.


Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the war in Iraq was right for humanitarian reasons. Aside from the fact that Saddam had killed a total of 2 million people, or about 100,000 for every year of his rule, the sanctions imposed by the West against Iraq were truly horrendous. While they had no affect on Saddam, they did hurt innocent Iraqi people and contributed more to anti-Western sentiment than any other action.

Right after 9-11, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of Iranian Muslims who had immigrated to the West. All of them expressed clear condemnation of the attack on America. Furthermore, all were highly critical of the Iranian regime for several reasons. But when it came to Iraq they expressed an equally strong consensus, that while Saddam posed a threat to the entire Middle East, U.N. sanctions were inhumane and affected only civilians, people that Saddam had little care for and who had often been the target of his cruelty. And these sanctions did nothing to curb his rule.

In the early days of the current Bush administration, there was a fair amount of consideration given to the lifting or easing of sanctions against Iraq, for the very reasons stated above. That was before 9-11, when the need to prevent rogue leaders with a proclivity for causing small to midsized terror attacks abroad from trying to bring their fantasies to fruition became clear. Nonetheless, it would have been the right thing to do, as was getting rid of Saddam.

We should be thankful that we have a President who saw the need to oust Saddam and to try to rebuild the Iraqi people. Even at its worst, post-Saddam Iraq enjoyed relative peace in 14 out of 18 of its provinces. Now that the steps to rebuild it are largely succeeding, we can hopefully view the entire situation logically. In doing so I’ve been hard pressed to find anyone who can provide a factual reason that counters the real need to have ousted Saddam, an action supported by the best military and intelligence analysts we have.

Bush Haters are Wrong, Don't Emulate Them

As things are shaping up, it is evident that we as conservatives must actively oppose much of the agenda of the transitioning administration. Conservatives had no doubt that this would be the case and are ready as always with common sense solutions. But we cannot lose track of one thing: unlike the Bush haters, we must promote our values, not just oppose theirs. Our opposition is not to Barack Obama, it is to the harmful policies that he and his party seek to promote.

This is not to be misunderstood, by any stretch of the imagination, as an appeal to stop fighting for what we believe in. At a time that our nation is in great economic, national security and societal peril, we must promote our needed conservative solutions with more vigor than ever before. But it is also imperative that we go about this the right way.

An overwhelming majority of conservatives understand that we must not emulate the Bush haters. Liberals believe in a cult of personality. Conservatives believe in ideas. Our support of President Bush is linked first and foremost to policy. Likewise, our opposition to President-elect Obama is based on policy. But for those who will soon join us as they see the harm of liberal policies and become disillusioned: your opposition to Obama must be based on the issues and on what he does.

Conservative values and solutions are a message in and of themselves. Our efforts must be concentrated on best articulating those principles and on aptly defending them against baseless attack.

Do not learn a lesson from the Bush haters, other than what not to do. These were people for whom the President could do no right. When he launched war against Saddam, after 18 months of constant warning (which were themselves preceded by over 10 years of general warning), he was accused of "cowboy diplomacy." When he allowed similar diplomacy (albeit with a real threat of force to back it up) to run its course with North Korea and Iran, he was portrayed as having cowered and Time Magazine did a cover feature, marking the "end of ‘cowboy diplomacy,'" complete with a cartoon hat and boots for full characterization.

When hurricanes hit in 2005, even before Katrina, the left started tales of Bush ordering the seeding of clouds over urban neighborhoods. And when Katrina hit, they pounced, proceeding to politicize a natural disaster. It did not matter that the federal response was the fastest ever to be launched, nor that it would have been faster still had the Democratic Governor not asked for a 48 hour waiting period. And when it was discovered that FEMA Director Brown had given the unprecedented advice to countermand the Governor's appeal and send in federal forces early, not only was he given no credit, but the President is ridiculed to this day for saying that he had performed well.

Indeed, if President Bush were to stumble upon the cure for heart disease while reading through a medical briefing, Democrats would excoriate him for "shirking the duties of the office to play doctor." If he were to singlehandedly save a boy and his grandparents from drowning, the media would portray the entire event as "a clumsy act of playing lifeguard." Yet while the mainstream media were complicit in the societal normalization of the Bush hatred lunacy, their effect is temporary. History will be far less kind to their methods and far more truthful. So let no one on our side emulate these fools. And in case anyone is wondering, doing so would not be conducive to future electoral success.

We must oppose appeasement of dictators, including anything being done that could strengthen the Castro regime in its final stage of power. We must advocate a strong foreign policy to protect the homeland from terror, something that the current President has accomplished with far greater success than has any other. We must push for a robust economy, an objective best achieved by providing targeted economic incentives for job creation, or as they're commonly referred to: "tax cuts." They're what led us away from recession in 2001 as well as what ushered in the Reagan boom.

We must oppose anyone who tries to stand in the way of what's best for the nation and argue against those who oppose methods that have been tested and proven time and time again. But we must not make caricatures of our opponents when engaging in serious discussion, for to do so is only to make caricatures of ourselves.

The struggle ahead is serious and conservative values, when properly articulated, always win the day. Let us engage in the national discussion with an approach that is respectful and loyal. Most of all, let us do so effectively. The future of the nation is at stake.