Revisiting Bush’s leadership

Image Credit: John Gosslee

Former President George W. Bush wrote a book about his time in the oval office, entitled “Decision Points.” Released Nov. 9, the book sold 220,000 copies its first day, according to the Crown Publishing Group. This serves as a reminder that there are plenty of people who still care about what Bush has to say.

While I have not yet had the chance to read “Decision Points,” I do believe it is worth one’s time to revisit Bush’s controversial presidency and see if he truly deserves whatever criticism or praise he has received over the years.

What most defines the Bush presidency is, of course, 9/11 and the decisions Bush made as a result. His reaction to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was one of decisive action. Creating the Department of Homeland Security and passing the Patriot Act were natural responses.

I truly believe that Bush wanted nothing more than to keep Americans safe in the event of another terrorist attack. His actions, while not truly constitutional, were those of any concerned leader in a state of emergency. The War on Terrorism in Afghanistan was similarly justifiable, if a bit naïve (a war on terror is not a war that can be won through military action alone).

There were few Americans against Bush from the onset of the War on Terror. However, his decision to invade Iraq proved considerably less popular. When the evidence of weapons of mass destruction was not found after months, and eventually years, of searching, opponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom claimed ulterior motives on the president’s part. And, when the cost of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan began to rise (both in money and American lives), Bush’s popularity waned. To his credit, the president was steadfast in the face of extreme criticism and pushed ahead with the war in Iraq. Once he started the war, he realized it needed to be won. And Iraq was freed from Saddam Hussein as a result.

Then again, perhaps Iraq should have been left alone from the beginning. Perhaps the War on Terror in Afghanistan was a bit overzealous. Perhaps the power Bush gave to the federal government in the wake of 9/11 will be used to abuse the American people for decades to come.

Again, I truly believe that Bush had the country’s best interests at heart, and I do not know how he could have handled 9/11 any better. I disagree with his decisions to go to war, and with many other policies born from America’s greatest tragedy of the 21st century, but the former president does not deserve this nation’s hate any more than the current one.

Eventually, it will be up to history to decide how George W. Bush fared. Two years is too soon to tell.

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