web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Was Bush Wrong About Everything?


Has there ever been a lamer duck than George W. Bush? How he went from winning a clear majority of the 2004 popular vote to his current dismal showing is a topic that will fascinate future historians.

The answers will assuredly revolve around Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, and the financial meltdown that has panicked Wall Street. Yet, even as Bush gets swept into the proverbial dustbin of history, it would be a mistake to succumb to the temptation of viewing everything he did as wrong.

But this is exactly the angle that has been adopted by the Democrats as they appear to be coasting to victory.

In the partisan debate for the Jewish vote, the Democrats argued that the Bush administration has been harmful to the Jewish state. (This despite the fact that most Jewish voters understood the administration to be quite friendly to Israel.)

Part of this has to do with the stale debate about the decision to go to war in Iraq. There’s no question the demise of Saddam Hussein and the weakening of Iraq helped Iran. Tehran’s nuclear potential now poses the No. 1 threat to both Israel and the region in general.

That’s a fair point, though it must be said almost no one in the pro-Israel community on either side of the aisle was unhappy about the fall of Saddam, given his history of attacks on Israel and support for terrorism. But Iran’s growing strength is frightening, and the decision to invade Iraq must be considered to have contributed to it.

Having said that, however, had Saddam had been allowed to stay in power, his menacing of the region would have continued and Iran’s nuclear program would still have grown to the existential threat that it is today.

Even more significant to the Democrats’ strategy in wooing Jewish voters was the charge put forth during the campaign that Bush’s decision to back away from Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy should also be considered a mistake.

They argued that Bush’s refusal to continue Bill Clinton’s hands-on engagement with the faltering peace talks led to years of violence and the current impasse. This point, heralded by no less a personage than Joe Biden, is not only an indictment of Bush’s place in history, but a chilling prescription for foreign policy in the next four years.

As such, it could not be more wrong.

Whatever else one may say about George W. Bush’s time in the White House, his negative view of Bill Clinton’s mad dash for a Nobel Peace Prize was spot-on. Clinton’s feckless advocacy of the Oslo process, even after it was clear the scheme would lead to disaster, is spoken of today as a noble failure by his admirers.

But the truth is, the Clinton administration was itself at fault for spending years coddling then-Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat. It was Clinton (who made Arafat his most-frequent foreign guest at the White House) who indulged Arafat’s demands and lied to both the public and Congress about the Palestinian’s ties to terror and unwillingness to abide by the peace accords that he, Arafat, had signed.

Clinton’s sponsorship of the July 2000 Camp David conference resulted in a sweeping Israeli peace proposal from then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The answer from Arafat was a decisive “no.” His dismissal of Israel’s offer was topped a couple of months later by the launch of a Palestinian terror offensive that would take the lives of more than a thousand Israelis and far more Palestinians.

The idea that Bush could have prevented this war or lessened its impact is ridiculous, since it started on Clinton’s watch, not his. More to the point, it was Bush, acting against the advice of Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose actions directly contributed to squelching the intifada.

In 2002, as the violence grew in intensity, Bush broke with precedent by refusing to stick to the Clintonesque policy of urging “restraint on both sides.” Despite Powell’s objections, Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a green light to send in the Israel Defense Forces to clean out Arafat’s terror bases in the West Bank. He also backed the building of the separation fence that effectively ended the suicide-bombing campaign.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Was Bush Wrong About Everything?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Handout photo of texted message sent by a fearful Christopher Cramer from Saudi Arabia before his death.
Saudis Hold Body of U.S. Elbit Subcontractor After Mysterious Death in Tabuk
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Tobin-012315

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem at the President's Residence, February 2014 (archive)

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/was-bush-wrong-about-everything/2008/11/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: