The Freedom Agenda Gets Vindicated

August 23rd, 2011 at 8:50 am | 112 Comments |

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George W. Bush’s place in the pantheon of celebrated American presidents is far from secure. Nevertheless, the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya sheds new light on President Bush’s vigorous support for democratic values across the entire Middle East.

An Obama administration starved of good news will likely seek and receive credit for helping topple the dictatorship, but his predecessor deserves substantial credit for envisioning and perhaps even helping instigate the Arab Spring – of which the events in Libya constitute only the latest chapter – as a whole.

During the course of his presidency, Bush was ridiculed for possessing a supposedly simplistic worldview that viewed foreign powers in a Manichean fashion as either good guys or bad guys. The bad guys, of course, were invariably anti-democratic forces. In a speech given at the National Endowment of Democracy in November 2003, President Bush highlighted the democratic potential of the Middle East:

Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East – countries of great strategic importance – democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it.

He was also prescient in his analysis of the societal ills that would eventually be the impetus for the Arab Spring:

In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines. As the colonial era passed away, the Middle East saw the establishment of many military dictatorships. Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They’ve left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.

Ultimately, the president did not utilize only rhetoric to advance his so-called freedom agenda. As The Economist pointed out, Bush was an an “active champion” of democracy:

The Bush administration nagged, scolded, bribed and bullied its allies towards greater democracy. The Americans leant on Egypt to hold more open elections in 2005, and in 2006 they talked an astonished Israel into letting Hamas contest Palestinian elections in the occupied territories. Even the Saudis were prevailed on to hold some (men only) local elections.

Furthermore, the administration did manage to pull off relatively legitimate democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq – with greater emphasis on “relatively” in regard to the former. Some of Bush’s diplomatic initiatives thus actually resulted in tangible dividends, which in part helped inspire democratic activists throughout the region. “I was cynical about Iraq,” Walid Jumblatt, a leader in the Lebanese Cedar Revolution, noted in 2005. “But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world…The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

To be sure, President Bush was unable to remake the Middle East during his presidency and his time as the leader of the free world was marked by many other failures. He has nonetheless lived to see in the Arab Spring the rise of a region that is decidedly more democratic — something skeptics thought impossible in his lifetime, if ever.

The lion’s share of the credit for forcing chance in the region undoubtedly goes to the many courageous citizens on the ground, but Bush deserves some recognition for helping point the way. As such, the emergence of a new government in Libya, amidst sustained uprisings in Syria and Yemen and in the aftermath of the fall of authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, bestows much-needed validation to at least part of his presidential legacy.

Recent Posts by Clifton Yin



112 Comments so far ↓

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Very true– had George Bush not embarked on a hated, failed invasion and occupation of Iraq, people in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria would never have figured out that they disliked oppression and torture from their dictators.

    Truly, we all owe George Bush a great debt of thanks for introducing normal human emotion to the barbarous Arabs.

    • Chris Balsz

      If the ‘invasion’ resulted in “occupation’ then it was a successful invasion. And we broke the opposing government, so I’m not sure how it “failed” as an occupation, either.

  • Oldskool

    This is a real gem. Similar to how every Shrubbie in the country turned up on tv after OBL was killed to take credit for the boss.

    You forgot to mention that Bill Clinton was responsible for 911.

  • quanta

    “Bush deserves some recognition for helping point the way.”

    Sure, we can give him “some recognition” but that’s just saying sweet nothings.

    I hope you are not seriously arguing that without the Iraq invasion/elections, the Arab Spring would have not happened, or would have been delayed in time.

    After all, to quote the same Economist article:

    “Yes, those who mocked his belief in the Arab appetite for democracy were wrong; he is to be admired for championing reform and nudging autocrats towards pluralism. But keep things in proportion. The big thing Mr Bush did in the Arab world was not to argue for an election here or a loosening of controls there. It was to send an army to conquer Iraq. Nothing that has happened in Tunisia or Egypt makes the consequences of that decision any less calamitous.”

  • Contrarian1

    Bombing countries into the stone age, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, setting up elections with corrupt, puppet candidates, controlling elections so that the outcome fits your idea of a democracy. This is obviously the essence of spreading liberty and democracy in the Middle East. Please stick with the WMD and “the dictator had to go.” argument.

    • PatrickQuint

      That describes a number of Presidents.

      Bill Clinton for instance bombed water purification facilities in Iraq, and then put an embargo on the equipment needed to repair them. This was of course an attempt to put pressure on Saddam Hussein. The result was roughly half a million civilians killed by preventable diseases, mostly children and the elderly.

      At least Bush actually succeeded in getting something for the ordnance he used and the lives he took. Failure in the Middle-East is non-partisan.

  • more5600

    “An Obama administration starved of good news will likely seek and receive credit for helping topple the dictatorship…”

    Yes, and if Libya went poorly I’m sure we would all be pointing our finger at Dubya. Silly revisionist bullsh*t, sorry Neocons you’re not going to be able to polish this turd.

    • Chris Balsz

      If it fails now, and the US isn’t in the driver’s seat to prevent that, I’m sure it will be due to a lack of Republican support. That’s the reason Obama isn’t responsible for his failed recovery program passed during a time of Dem majorities, after all.

  • dante

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahaha, that’s hilarious, thanks for that laugh this morning. I needed it since it’s pouring rain and just a generally miserable day here. I literally laughed out loud when I read it.

    GWB proved that with trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives lost and a decade, you can possibly force democracy onto a people (although so far he’s running at a 50% success rate, since Afghanistan is still a total clusterfuck). Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and soon to be Syrians have proved that when the people demand it, they can do it for themselves at far lower cost and without significant American intervention.

    Regardless of how you (try to) spin it, GWB is going to be looked back on as one of the WORST presidents in recent memory.

    • LauraNo

      I just commented and said the same thing. Literally laughed out loud.

      • dante

        It’s sad, because LOL has become such an internet cliche, but I really did *laugh* this morning when I read that. Ahhh, FF. You can get everything from thoughtful critiques of the current GOP field from DF, “protect my personal bit of taxpayer-funded pork” articles from JG and EL, and random batshit crazy Republican talking points like this article.

        It truly does have everything a thinking person might want to read these days…

  • Demosthenes

    Is this article some kind of joke? April 1st was a while ago…

  • Moderate

    Speaking as a sympathizer: Don’t blow your load yet, Clifton, it’s still unclear what the next Libyan government will look like.

    If Libya transitions toward a secular democracy, the Freedom Agenda will look good. But what if Libya transitions toward secatarian majoritarianism? What if, like Gaza, it elects a terrorist organization?

  • HighCountry

    If what Yin is saying in this piece is true, then it is even further proof that Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were (and still are) COMPLETELY mis-guided and a massive waste of trillions of dollars.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    deserves substantial credit for envisioning and perhaps even helping instigate the Arab Spring

    I thought that was Bush manning the barricades in Benghazi, now I know. This was absolutely ludicrous. For one, anyone can envision anything, hell I envision the day when we will have robots so do I get credit now when it happens? But to claim he instigated it is VILE. The literal spark that set the series of event in motion was when a Tunisian vendor, Mohamed Bouaziz, got so tired of being cheated and humiliated by government officials he self immolated himself, leading to a series of protests that brought down Ali, then Mubarak, and now Gadhafi. Self immolation is not exactly the type of thing that plays well in America as the vast majority of Americans consider it the mark of a zealot or truly deranged individual (I can not imagine a more horrific way to die)

    If you go to Tunisia and ask 10,000 Tunisians who instigated the events, who was the inspiration, I guarantee you that not one would say George Bush.
    In fact, the Obama doctrine of supporting home grown freedom fighters who have a true sense of ownership of the revolution, is far superior to the Bush one…which envisioned turning Iraq into Texas. We tried Bush’s way, thousands of Americans dead and wounded, trillions spent, and we tried the Democrats way (Clinton in Kosovo, Obama in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya) with zero US soldiers dead, Americans held in very high esteem, and very little money spent.

    What a truly stupid article.

    • valkayec

      +1. Except that the US government is not yet held in high esteem across the ME. Perhaps memory of Bush’s invasions and wars will fade in time, but right now the US has much fence mending to do.

    • Chris Balsz

      Americans died in Yugoslavia and the Serbs are not at all grateful. Nor are the Russians, except for the example of invading and bifurcating a European state that they gleefully applied to Georgia and Ossetia.

      • gocart mozart

        The Russians are not grateful about the Libyan revolution either you stupid stupid man.

        • Chris Balsz

          Is that good or bad for American interests? Or is it totally irrelevant to the partisan struggle, and therefore, of no concern to “thinking” people?

    • PatrickQuint

      “the Obama doctrine of supporting home grown freedom fighters who have a true sense of ownership of the revolution”

      The what now?

      Let’s hear what exactly the policies supporting this Obama doctrine are. If you please, sir.

  • wileedog

    Congratulations to the author for turning a horribly misguided talking point into a 700 word article. I’m sure its not as easy as it looks.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    lets also not forget it was Bush that brought Gadhafi in from the cold. Wasn’t it just last year how Republicans crowed how Bush got Gadhafi to open up Libya to foreign investment, (and we only had to acquiesce to letting Maghrahi be freed, hey the relatives got MONEY from Gadhafi and that is the only thing that matters to Republicans)

    Bush deserves scorn for his selling out to Gadhafi, but to a child like Yin (he is still a student) it is understandable how he can’t remember as far back as 2006, we adults remember. By the way Yin, there are things called history books, you might one to read one sometime.

    • Chris Balsz

      ” Wasn’t it just last year how Republicans crowed how Bush got Gadhafi to open up Libya to foreign investment, (and we only had to acquiesce to letting Maghrahi be freed, hey the relatives got MONEY from Gadhafi and that is the only thing that matters to Republicans)”

      Yeah but at no cost in blood or treasure or boots on the ground! Victory!

  • Nanotek

    “Nevertheless, the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya sheds new light on President Bush’s vigorous support for democratic values across the entire Middle East.”

    Yes, it does, indeed, shed new light on Qaddafi/Bush but not in the way you are trying to convince people.

    “But now, a year later, Gaddafi and Bush do apparently see eye to eye. On Monday, Gaddafi accomplished one of history’s great diplomatic turnarounds when Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice announced that the U.S. was restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya and held up the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya as “a model” for others to follow.”

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1194766,00.html

    the winning rebels were holding up signs in the last few days thanking President Obama. I missed the signs thanking Bush.

  • jnail

    I know you are kidding right? Bush? Credit here? Huh?

    Lets give the President credit for his policy that both sides hated that has worked at a low cost and no American lives lost or on the ground.

    Bush? You have got to be kidding me. What a re write of history…

  • LauraNo

    “…but his predecessor deserves substantial credit for envisioning and perhaps even helping instigate the Arab Spring…”

    I laughed out loud at this.

  • valkayec

    This is an absurd article.

    Bush’s freedom agenda brought scorn, anger, and the growth of Al Qaeda.

    In contrast, Obama’s Egyptian speech brought hope. Remember the many signs displayed in Tahrir Square, saying Yes We Can?

    Ultimately, though, as Frumple stated, Tunisia deserves far more credit for the Arab Spring than anything said or done by any US president.

  • ScoopAway

    FF got rid of the newsfeed to better showcase gibberish like this????????????????????????

    • Traveler

      Yeah, interspersed with salacious vapidity of Darkbloom and worries about Mittens gold hoard. I dont read the articles any more. You commenters are another thing entirely. Thanks for the entertainment and education.

  • Chris Balsz

    Nothing Republicans did before Obama was any good; nothing Obama does will be good if done by Republican successors. This sort of anti-intellectual partisan rah-rah will ensure there’s no Obama legacy.

    • gocart mozart

      Balz is losing an argument with the voices in his head.

    • LFC

      Not true. Both Reagan and George HW did some very good things.

      As to the W Bush / GOP Congress years, well I can’t really think of anything major that they did that was any good. Two failed wars, skyrocketing deficit, collapsed economy, failure to regulate, industry written regulations, … the list goes on and on. But feel free to remind us of their great successes. Maybe I’m just blind to their long list of stellar accomplishments.

      • Demosthenes

        W did a lot of good in Africa. Some belittle these accomplishments by claiming that they were done because he “doesn’t care about black people,” so he let the generally well-educated and professional State Department do its job (as opposed to meddling like he did in Iraq). I feel it is in all likelihood much more complicated than that. Regardless, South Sudan largely owes their independence to W., and he accomplished some other things in Africa as well.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          absolutely, pepfar was well run, Bush also did a good job with India, the belated surge and Tarp worked well enough (nevermind the fact that neither should have been needed)
          but Balsz does not seem to understand we are responding directly to the article written above, to credit Bush for this is simply nuts.

      • JimBob

        In 2.5 years Barry Hussein has run up 4.2 trillion dollars in debt. Bush 4.9 over 8 years. Lets not talk about who is the most reckless ideologue in history.

  • Graychin

    Ridiculous essay. I have almost nothing to add that hasn’t already been said by the other commenters.

    Except that it’s nice to hear reports of Libyans expressing GRATITUDE to the US and NATO. How’s THAT for “change”?

    Here’s a video of John McCain and Lindsey Graham making nice with Qadaffi just two short years ago. Good times:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNfztA1i0ts

    The best time to re-write history is contemporaneously. Fortunately, all this stuff is on YouTube and very difficult to eradicate.

  • LFC

    “George W. Bush’s place in the pantheon of celebrated American presidents is far from secure. “

    Many fine writers and speakers believe that you should always start with a joke. I see Clifton took their advice.

    To describe Bush/Cheney using a quote from the movie Eurotrip, “they really are the worst twins ever.”

  • Demosthenes

    Americans died in Yugoslavia and the Serbs are not at all grateful. Nor are the Russians, except for the example of invading and bifurcating a European state that they gleefully applied to Georgia and Ossetia.

    I’m sorry I just have no idea what that means. I mean I know all the individual words, and they are put together in patterns of syntax that I can recognize as some form of English, but when I try to understand it, it sounds like a giant fart in my brain.

    Chris, have you ever been to Albania? Do you even know where (what) Kosovo is?

    P.S. You may want to buy a new map, one without East Germany and “Yugoslavia”

    • Traveler

      +++!!!! you really hit it. Polite incoherence is all he is. Shame, but at least he doesnt get all vituperative like others who shall not be named.

  • JimBob

    “In fact, the Obama doctrine of supporting home grown freedom fighters who have a true sense of ownership of the revolution”

    Home grown freedom fighters?? What are they fighting and what kind of revolution.

    Hussein’s Stormtroopers possibly??

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ebc_1220029693

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSWt7hOYYLY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onXd8iH3OVQ

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Demo, I think the Balsz has either dysphasia or aphasia, he really is just so off in so much that he writes. I am sure he must be a very old man. That statement was just so bizarre I let it go.

  • dugfromthearth

    I am grateful that someone is willing to stand and defend Bush, just like Bush was willing to stand up against the anti-democracy “Democrats”.

    I remember when the Democrats were insisting that we invade and occupy other countries – but that we not bring them democracy. But Bush stood up to them. He resisted invading and occupying other countries, but when the Democrats insisted he agreed but only if he could bring democracy to them. It is thanks to the morals of Bush that the Democratic war machine was turned into a democratic war machine.

    Few people recall how these events really went, which is a shame because any schoolchild should know these things. Just pick up any Texas history book and you will learn the truth.

    • Demosthenes

      Democratic war machine

      I have often been quite amused when liberal Democrats suffer from amnesia about the fact that it was LBJ who got U.S. combat troops into Viet Nam, and Nixon who got them out.

      • MSheridan

        Um, LBJ escalated our presence, but it was JFK who got us into Vietnam. Regardless, it is true that Democrats were at one time the more hawkish party, more likely to instigate war. However, that time is long past. Now they’re just the party that appears more competent at prosecuting wars.

        Further, Nixon may have (eventually) gotten us out of Vietnam, but it wasn’t with his vaunted “secret plan”. We got out because the American public had finally had enough. In the end, the communists won on the morale front, despite taking greater losses.

        • Demosthenes

          Fair enough. My main point was that Democrats seem to have forgotten a lot of the 1960s and early 1970s. I wonder why that might be…

        • Frumplestiltskin

          The Democratic party of today is very different from that party, the Southerners have bolted to the Republican party, the old line anti-commie Union leadership is gone due to the end of the cold war and the decline of the Unions, it is not a question of forgetting them but people like Mayor Daley (the first one) are about as alien to me as Strom Thurmond is.

        • valkayec

          Not all of us have forgotten. My high school graduating class was amongst the first to be drafted. However, to your point, the original GOP neo-cons were at one time Democrats. They abandoned the Democratic Party once the Dems gave up on the domino theory and Vietnam. The Democratic hawks couldn’t deal with the idea of “losing” the Vietnam war so they moved their allegiance to the GOP which under Nixon became slightly more hawkish and under Reagan even more so.

    • MSheridan

      Just pick up any Texas history book and you will learn the truth.

      Now that is funny!

  • think4yourself

    This is journalism?

    Yes, Bush made strong statements supporting democracies as have every US President over the last 40 years. And yes, Bush deserves credit for work in Africa. Yes, Bush did support elections in Gaza, something most of his allies repudiated based on the results. Lastly, yes Bush normalized relations with Libya – a mixed message at best, but one that was generally supported at the time (even though strained by the Brits release of the Lockerbie bomber, not Bush’s fault, but probably would not have happened without normalization).

    Bush also alienated most of those uprising in the Middle East today. His adminstration’s policies of torture/unilateral changing of the Geneva conventions, holding men at Guatanamo without trials for years, “enemy combatants”, Abu Ghraib, etc. emboldended the enemies of the United States and cost much goodwill that the tragedy of 9-11 created. Bush continued the US ongoing policy of supporting strongmen in the Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.). Bush’s pro-Isreal stance did not endear him to the Palestinians or Muslims that support the Palestinian position. Bush spent most of his second term in office trying to repair the damage caused by his “Cowboy Diplomacy” remarks and the “Axis of Evil” speech.

    America’s example of democracy has always been a beacon for those disenfranchised. George Bush does not deserve credit for that example, that credit predates him by over 200 years. His legacy regarding promoting democracy is at very best mixed.

    Finally, every US President in recent times has attempted to impact the Middle East with a marked lack of success (with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter & Egypt). In fact, the problems therein are not really America’s to solve, even though we have significant interest in the outcome.

  • JimBob

    New national debt data: It’s growing about $3 million a minute, even during his vacation

    “The nation’s debt increased $4.9 trillion under President Bush too, btw. But it took him 2,648 days to do it. Obama will surpass that sum during this term.”

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/08/obama-national-debt.html

    Hope and Change: Hussein!! Hussein!!!!

    Hope and Change: Hussein!! Hussein!!!!

    Hope and Change: Hussein!! Hussein!!!!

    • Demosthenes

      Why no colon in the last refrain?

      Methinks one found in place of your brain.

      • MSheridan

        It’s as if he thinks normal people are scared of a given-at-birth middle name that also belongs to (dun dun DUN!) our friend the king of Jordan–wait, no, that’s not it–to some dead guy from Iraq who never posed a credible threat to us.

        I swear, the thing that annoys me most about the idiot trolls here is how secure they are in their gutlessness.

  • Clifton Yin

    To be clear, I am not a fan of the Bush presidency as a whole. The invasion of Iraq was clearly terribly mismanaged. Nevertheless, given his failures, both foreign and domestic, I think it has become all to easy to vilify his administration. I merely want to give him some credit for an aspect of his foreign policy that was much maligned at the time. President Obama deserves much credit, yes, for intervening, far more credit goes to the brave activists and revolutionaries on the ground, but a little credit should go to Bush.

    • Demosthenes

      a little credit should go to Bush

      Why? On what grounds? On the face of it, that is an absurd statement. You might as well credit Herbert Hoover for the fall of the Soviet Union.

    • doubter4444

      But that’s not what you said in the article, which is why you are being flayed in the comments.
      A simple argument that, regardless of the outcomes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush was a believer in democracy through out the world including the mid east and that some effort looking at what he did to further this cause, and how it may of impacted the result of the “Arab Spring” is a completely legitimate article to write.
      You did not write that article.
      You wrote something quite different.

    • JohnMcC

      You are correct that it has become all too easy to vilify his administration…as the consequences of his villainy and stupidity mount up.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      As I wrote above: The literal spark that set the series of event in motion was when a Tunisian vendor, Mohamed Bouaziz, got so tired of being cheated and humiliated by government officials he self immolated himself, leading to a series of protests that brought down Ali, then Mubarak, and now Gadhafi.

      No one here stated it had anything to do with Obama before this, his speech in Cairo had nothing to do with it. The credit Obama gets is going along with Hillary Clinton, Cameron, and Sarkozy in getting Arab league and UN authorization (which are pretty damn stunning achievements in their own right)

      Giving Bush credit, and not just some credit but claiming he helped instigate the Arab spring, is just an outright distortion of history and cheapens Bush himself by ascribing results to him that he has in no way himself stepped forward to claim credit for.

      And for the record, previous coaches never get credit for their former teams later victories.
      Deal with that.

    • Oldskool

      The Iraq invasion was mismanaged to say the least, and it was also unnecessary. It was a huge waste of lives, resources and credibility. It was the direct opposite of Obama’s approach. The invasion of Iraq also caused the war in Afghanistan to last much longer than it would have otherwise. To give a nitwit like Shrub any credit for what’s happening in Libya is outrageous. You guys also tried to blame Clinton for 911 and also tried to claim there were no terror attacks in the US during the Shrub years.

      He and his people make it super easy to despise them.

    • Nanotek

      + 1 doubter4444

      “President Obama deserves much credit, yes, for intervening, far more credit goes to the brave activists and revolutionaries on the ground, but a little credit should go to Bush,” Clifton Yin.

      Mr. Yin, then you should make that claim and supply the argument. But that’s not what you wrote: ‘An Obama administration starved of good news will likely seek and receive credit for helping topple the dictatorship, but his predecessor deserves substantial credit for envisioning and perhaps even helping instigate the Arab Spring,‘ Clifton Yin.

      The commentators at FF tend to be bright, educated and seasoned — as I suspect the non-commentators are. We know how to work the Google. History is at everyone’s fingertips.

      Obama got the ball rolling, turned it over to NATO allies and stayed involved — he won and American assets and troops weren’t sacrificed on a ground war that had to be fought by the Libyan people. If you start there … give full credit where credit is due … your credibility follows.

      • Clifton Yin

        Hey Nanotek,

        Thanks for reading. The article was not about President Obama’s foreign policy acumen, but rather the fact that a much-maligned president seldom gets credit for the rare things he actually did right. Again, I am far from being a Bush fan, but it has become all to easy and indeed, in vogue, to bash him. (I am therefore not particularly surprised or offended how critical the comments have been). I think it is easy to forget how he was ridiculed at the time when he pushed for democratic reforms in the Middle East. I do not think he was the prime instigator of the Arab Spring, but “perhaps…helping to instigate,” as I wrote? Yes.

        • Oldskool

          Whatever he said that sounded good on paper, his actions alienated virtually everyone in the mideast and most of the rest of the world. Obama is having to win back the goodwill of former friends who were outraged by Shrub’s idiot cowboy presidency.

        • valkayec

          Clifton, if you really want to write about the good things GW Bush did, I’d suggest writing about his African AIDS policy that saved millions of lives. That’s an achievement really worth bragging about.

        • Clifton Yin

          You make a good point, but I take issue with the requirement that 1/3 of prevention spending was allocated towards abstinence-until-marriage programs. If we’re talking about things that Pres. Bush did right, I give him credit for actually attempting social security and immigration reform. The efforts obviously failed, but at least he used his political capital to try to tackle big issues.

        • Nanotek

          “Hey Nanotek, Thanks for reading.”

          my pleasure … keep swinging Clifton …

  • Chris Balsz

    “I’m sorry I just have no idea what that means. I mean I know all the individual words, and they are put together in patterns of syntax that I can recognize as some form of English, but when I try to understand it, it sounds like a giant fart in my brain.”

    What childish hyperbole. Really, how infantile. Of course you dont’ actually talk like that to people.

    “Chris, have you ever been to Albania? Do you even know where (what) Kosovo is?”

    Yeah, if I were standing in Albania, Kosovo would be beyond the national borders of Albania like it always has been.

    “We tried Bush’s way, thousands of Americans dead and wounded, trillions spent, and we tried the Democrats way (Clinton in Kosovo, Obama in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya) with zero US soldiers dead, Americans held in very high esteem, and very little money spent.”

    Well this is false, since we lost people intervening in The Nation Formerly Known as Yugoslavia. Also, our “esteem” is sharply limited. In fact there’s specific offense to that intervention that has been seized on by our “strategic partners” to invade and divide an American ally.

    Further, and this is really despicable, Afghanistan is not “Bush’s War”. Barack Hussein Obama is responsible for the prosecution of the war he refuses to end. Praise our Imperator when he wins that one instead of sending Americans to be killed and maimed to cover his lack of a strategy.

    • Demosthenes

      Do you understand the relationship between GWB’s decision to unilaterally invade Iraq and NATO’s subsequent failure to secure Afghanistan? Do you understand that there are zero NATO boots on the ground in Libya, with not a single NATO casualty?

      Do you understand that Bush has zero, zip, nada to do with the Libyan revolt? That Bush II only marginalized, alienated, and otherwise pissed off the very people who are now seizing control of their country from a man that he himself empowered?

      • Chris Balsz

        “Do you understand that Bush has zero, zip, nada to do with the Libyan revolt? That Bush II only marginalized, alienated, and otherwise pissed off the very people who are now seizing control of their country from a man that he himself empowered?”

        Taking the last point first, the Democrats have been telling me that’s been going on, even as the war in Iraq sputters out. I know what happens when the Arab Street thinks we desecrated a Koran, and I see what is their usual “agitated” state, and I don’t think they are that pissed off at America because of George Bush. So I will also disagree with your first point, and say that Bush did not compromise Ghaddafi by aligning him with the Great Satan.

    • doubter4444

      Really?
      I’m against name calling (the exceptinon being Jim Bob, he’s a douche), so I won’t do that. But the point was that your comment did not make sense.
      To that point this:

      Further, and this is really despicable, Afghanistan is not “Bush’s War”. Barack Hussein Obama is responsible for the prosecution of the war he refuses to end. Praise our Imperator when he wins that one instead of sending Americans to be killed and maimed to cover his lack of a strategy.

      Doesn’t really make sense either.
      What are you saying?
      That it’s Obamas war now? I get that, he’s been in office long enough.
      But this makes it seem that you’ve been against it from the start, even from 2004 – 09? Or only from the time since he’s taken over? And if that’s the case, then it’s because it dose not seem like he has a strategy to… do what?
      End it? Win it? Just leave?
      I personally feel that it’s a pretty thorny issue, with lots of major implications.
      And, while I know that everything he does is horrific, I was not aware that his prosecution of this war was “in the pantheon” (to quote the author of this post) of the terrible things he’s done.

    • JohnMcC

      “…we lost people intervening in The Nation Formerly Known as Yugoslavia…” That is technically correct. We lost four. An Apache was shot down and both aircrew died. Another Apache crashed and again the two aircrew died. An F117 and an F16 both were killed but all their pilots were safely evacuated. That was the 1999 campaign. In the ’95 bombings the only NATO loss was a Mirage brought down. Both pilots of that aircraft were POW for a time.

      If you are making an equivalence between that (actually ‘those’) and the incredible self-inflicted-wound that was Operation Iraqi Freedom, you obviously are insane.

    • Chris Balsz

      I was told there was a “Democrat way” to wage war that involves zero casualties.

      This is bogus. We took air and infantry casulties intervening against the Serbs (we lost men to mines). We are losing Americans in Afghanistan.

      I am glad that instead of “responding directly” to the article with partisan bombast, you guys do appreciate permanent, objective, nonpartisan American interests.

  • Slide

    Wait a minute… you wan to give credit to Bush for the overthrow (perhaps) of Qadaffi? Wasn’t Bush the one the restored relations with the dictator? Am I missing something here?

    Maybe this will jar some memories. AND it is from the very conservative Debbie Schlussel:

    “But let’s be intellectually honest about who is really responsible for the release of Libyan terrorist Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi. It was President Bush who began restoring relations with Libya, after making a deal with Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi, who agreed to inspections over nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. And, as I noted on this site, a few years ago, several oil companies, including BP, formed a lobbying organization, the U.S.-Libya Business Association–to restore full and complete ties with Libya. President Bush–not Obama–acquiesced to their demands, the first time the US has had full ties with this nutty Islamo-state since 1979. The deal was made in exchange for paying off the families of the victims of Pan Am 103, each of them getting $10 million.

    But Qadaffi was slow in making the payments. And ultimately Bush and his friend and special envoy, Tony Blair, worked out a deal. Part of that deal was ultimately the release of Megrahi, and Bush paved the way for this. He dealt with BP and the others and made the deal at their urging. And, since Blair was also Bush’s special Envoy for Squeezing Israel, that was part of the deal, too. Israel gets squeezed, Megrahi gets released, families of Pan Am 103 become mega-millionaires, and BP gets to do bid’ness with Libya. Cheers, everyone. It happened during Obama’s reign, but it was a done deal, too late to stop. And you can think George W. Period.”

    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/25157/bush-not-obama-made-deal-on-libya-megrahi-release-obama-strongly-opposed/

  • Slide

    oh….. and as for those two bozos McCaine and his trusty boy Lindsey Graham… lets not forget this:

    Speaking on CBS’ “The Early Show” today [March 2011] , McCain twice cited the fact that Moammar Gadhafi has “American blood on his hands” as a reason the U.S. should try to oust the dictator. McCain specifically referred to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, which was indeed carried out by a Libyan agent.

    What McCain is apparently forgetting is that, apart from the past few weeks, the last decade has been a period of rapprochement between the United States and Libya. It started with President Bush announcing in 2003 that Gadhafi had agreed to give up his “weapons of mass destruction” programs. In 2006 Bush removed Libya from the official list of state sponsors of terrorism. In September 2008 Condoleezza Rice traveled to Libya to have talks with Gadhafi. And just a few days before the 2008 presidential election, Bush signed a settlement under which Libya compensated families of victims of Lockerbie and other ’80s-era attacks.

    Who else was involved in the effort to forge better ties with Gadhafi? John McCain. In August 2009 he led a delegation of senators, including fellow hawks Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, on a trip to visit the Libyan leader in Tripoli. Discussed during the visit was delivery of — get this — American military equipment to Gadhafi (a man with American blood on his hands no less).

    “We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya,” the AP quoted McCain as saying at a press conference. McCain also noted that “ties between the United States and Libya have taken a remarkable and positive turn in recent years.”

    http://mobile.salon.com/politics/war_room/2011/03/22/john_mccain_libya

    Yeah, lets give credit to Bush, McCain, Graham, and Lieberman all of whom were getting pretty snugly close with the dictator that Obama is going to get out of power. Do Republicans have no shame whatsoever?

  • indy

    So if the agenda was freedom, why was all the talk about WMDs?

    I don’t get it. Is the right finally admitting Iraq was a nation building exercise and NOT, in fact, the Bush doctrine in action?

    • Frumplestiltskin

      I supported the war in Iraq because I considered Hussein a cancer on the Middle east and for pretty much the same reasons that Blair laid out. Of course if I had known just how badly Bush would screw it up I would not have.
      I am a liberal internationalist and share the same endgame desires as Neo-cons, just that they use different methods to achieve them (though sometimes the means can be the same). I don’t know how McCain would have handled it, perhaps the results would have been the same but the US would have spent a hell of a lot more money and not have gotten anywhere near the pretty much universal acceptance to the war, and I am also sure a lot more civilians would have died as McCain would have been far less discriminating in targeting (he admitted as such with his statement)

      • Chris Balsz

        McCain would have stopped the war for a personal meeting with Ghaddafi.

        • Traveler

          Yup. Its aphasia or something. I think its Alzheimers. Not worth reading his drivel anymore. Shame.

  • LFC

    Thanks to those who pointed out that Bush had some decent accomplishments in Africa. I do remember that much of the Bush administration AIDS policy rotated around an “abstinence only” approach, and he withdrew funding from programs that did not reject abortion counseling, so I’m feeling that he still has a pretty mixed record there. Plus from what I’ve read the amount of funding didn’t really change, it was just repackaged.

    I also remember him creating huge marine sanctuaries in the Pacific. Of course it didn’t hurt the economic interests of anybody important (no oil to be had, not a huge commercial fishing zone) but it’s still a good thing.

  • Kurlis

    I’m happy to see Qadaffi go. Ultimately, Obama made the right decision.

    I’m glad to see President Obama came out of the closet as a foreign policy Neo-conservative.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      absolutely 100% wrong, Obama is a Liberal internationalist. Liberal internationalists utilize far different methods than go it alone turn them all into Texans Neo-cons.

      Would Bush concerned himself with getting Arab league support? Or UN authorization? Would he have allowed the British and French to shoulder most of the offensive actions?
      Of course not, he would likely have bombed Malta by mistake, blamed the Democrats for it, and so screwed it up that Gadhafi would be parked right now in Tobruk mopping up the last of the opposition.

      • PatrickQuint

        Well, there were those times that Bush got authorizaton from the UN.

        Nobody argues the support for the Afghanistan intervention, but some people forget that Saddam made the resumption of ground operations in Iraq legal by violating the terms of the the de-escalation.

        • booch221

          Bush got authorization from the UN, he got it from Congress.

          That doesn’t make it a good idea. It was based on lies. Then it was bungled.

          5000 American lives lost, 30,000 wounded, some horrifically. A trillion dollars wasted.

          That is the legacy of W. Bush.

        • Traveler

          Add another 600,000 or so Iraqis while you are it, and still counting…..

  • ScoopAway

    “”FrumForum.com is a site edited by David Frum, dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican party and the conservative movement.”"

    If you want to bring back the smart people who have fled the Republican party, give them something they can actually get behind again without feeling embarrassed or disgusted. Stop publishing revisionist history like this silly piece. Get rid of the Rushes, Coulters, Becks and the rest. Dump the religious right and the likes of Palin, Bachmann and Perry. And bring back the art of compromise.

    Of course if that happened there wouldn’t be much left, but at least it would be a start.

    • Traveler

      Yeah, and focus on news and events that matter, not the drivel that clogs the home page. I dont even read half the crap anymore. Probably miss some good zingers, but dont have time for the BS.

  • ram6968

    this article is an idiotic attempt to give credit to bush? the author is a biased fool….technology enables events at a given time….it’s called the “facebook” revolution for a reason, the truth is, the arab spring would have happened anyway, whether bush invaded iraq or not……what bush did was a total waste

    • PatrickQuint

      None of the revolutionaries call it the “facebook revolution”, because Facebook had very little to do with it (particularly after internet access was cut off in each country). Telephones had more to do with this than social media. Unemployment and a large youth population had more to do with it than ether of those factors.

      “Arab Awakening” is probably a better term for what’s going on, by the way.

      • ram6968

        the point stands…it would have happened anyway…QED??

      • booch221

        None of the revolutionaries called it the “facebook revolution”? How do you know this? You know all of them? You speak for all of them?

  • Kurlis

    Bottom line, Barry’s basically a dumb guy. He’s not terribly well informed and he doesn’t lie very well. He has the ability to telegraph his feelings with facial mannerisms (ie a tell) such that everyone knows when he’s not telling the truth, which is nearly all the time. I think Obama should be impeached for the high crime of stupidity.

  • booch221

    Revisionist history!

    Bush’s invasion of Iraq didn’t promote democracy. It inhibited democracy! Why would anyone choose invasion and occupation by the USA, to a home grown revolution?

    Tunisia and Egypt did it on their own, Libya needed NATO’s thumb on the scale. Syria and Iran? It remains to be seen–but the US should not invade!

    Afghanistan and Iraq are still a mess 10 years and 8 years after Bush intervened. Perhaps if our “War President” hadn’t fucked things up so bad (fired Rumsfeld sooner) we might be in a better place.

    To credit Bush for the Arab Spring, diminishes the bravery and sacrifice of people of the Middle East, and insults the intelligence of the world.

  • ottovbvs

    Hilarious. Bush’s “freedom agenda” created two of the greatest debacles in US foreign policy history and killed 250,000 people. Nice try Clifton, but somehow I don’t think you’re going to convince anyone with a mental age over 10.