Period 5 AP Language and Composition
“George W. Bush: Great President or the Greatest President?”
George W. Bush was our president during some of the toughest times in our nation’s history. But our images of his policies should not be injured because of a few minor errors in intelligence. Once enough time passes as to heal the deep wounds of 9/11 and the controversies in the Middle East, there is no doubt that George W. Bush will go down as one of the greatest presidents in United States History.
The Necessary and Proper clause to the United States Constitution dictates that the government has the right to take actions and make laws that are necessary to the welfare of the nation. Therefore, George W. Bush was just following the rules when he led a “coalition of the willing” into Iraq. (Greene) So what may be illegal to the United Nations might be perfectly permissible to the United States. Technicalities like this one have brought about tensions between a once healthy relationship between the US and the UN, but it’s surely to no fault of President Bush. Let’s take a look at the event that proliferated these conflicts: 9/11.
Was George W. Bush the only person who maintained an idea of how much of a disaster was caused by the events that transpired on September 11, 2001? Because the nation that rallied behind his decisions shortly after the event later criticized him for his insignificant misjudgments in dealing with the war on terrorism. When Bush made a movement for retaliation against Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, US citizens united with a fierce sense of nationalism and a thirst for vengeance. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were pegged as enemies to the United States. Bush didn’t need any proof that they were responsible for 9/11 and he didn’t give it to the Taliban when they demanded it. (Phillips) Doing such would suggest weakness and a willingness to cooperate with them. Proof was not an option. And we marched, stomped is more like it, into Afghanistan, but our efforts were far from over.
Our troops entered Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Soon afterwards, the Bush administration became convinced that the totalitarian leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was involved in Al Qaeda. (Greene) Of course this was true. It’s simple deductive reasoning. Al Qaeda is an Islamic organization. Saddam Hussein practiced Islam. Therefore, Saddam Hussein must be a member of Al Qaeda! It couldn’t be more obvious! President Bush knew he needed to protect our nation from demise. The great prophecy that he was, he suspected that Saddam Hussein was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. (Rich) And being affiliated with Al Qaeda, there was a chance that Hussein might turn these weapons over to Al Qaeda, potentially causing more devastation to American soil. Bush was operating on a hunch. But you know them Texans always be makin’ up they minds on hunches. Who needs fact when you’ve got a good hunch on your side? The force of a hunch was no doubt one of the most powerful factors in the shaping of the Bush Doctrine. In a nutshell, the Bush Doctrine declared that, without support from any other nation, the United States could launch an attack on an enemy nation on grounds of self-defense. (Evinger) Why were people so upset with this? California State law dictates that any property owner can shoot fire on any person who steps foot on his or her property if he or she feels threatened. What’s the difference? From the 1950s until the 1990s, the United States experienced a similar conflict with WMD’s with the Soviet Union. (Bourassa) Past administrations decided not to levy attacks, but there is a profound difference between the two instances. If the United States had levied an attack on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, retaliation from the Soviet Union would have surely resulted in “mutual assured destruction.” This was not the case in the Middle East. (Evinger) George W. Bush may have underestimated the costs and tolls of the war, but here we still are, without a mushroom cloud above our heads. So he was right that we could reasonably take on warfare in the Middle East. It’s just a slight misfortune that we didn’t find any of those WMD’s. The war was growing bloodier and bloodier. Casualties and costs amassed. Desperate times called for desperate measures so George W. Bush designated Afghan prisoners as “enemy combatants.” The laws of the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to “enemy combatants” so the US military could take whatever means necessary to extracting the information they wanted, even if it meant holding prisoners indefinitely. In response to criticisms, the Bush administration denied that the International Committee of the Red Cross or US legal courts had rights to pass judgment on treatment of prisoners at places like Guantanamo Bay. (Phillips) Yeah, what gave the International Committee of the Red Cross the privilege of evaluating injuries and treatment inflicted on prisoners of war? It was also argued that prisoners had no rights under US laws and that “enemy combatants” were not subject to legal rules under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (Phillips) We needed information and we were willing to do whatever it took to get the information out of somebody. They say all’s fair in love and war. All George Bush was trying to do was get vital information. Who needs ethics when you can just ignore the rules? Bush had tough decisions to make on the domestic front as well. The economy struggled and debt grew. Bush believed in the trickle down theory: giving more money to the small wealthy population will create more jobs. (Greene) Therefore, the money “trickles down.” What could go wrong with this plan? Of course the wealthy men and women of America will want to create more jobs with their extra money! What else might they do with it? The Bush administration dispensed tax cuts to the wealthy, and surprisingly, the trickle down theory didn’t hold up. Who could have seen that coming? Bush cut spending in the military, too. Families of soldiers stationed in the Middle East were reported purchasing protective gear on E-Bay for their sons and daughters. (Greene) US troops might have lacked sufficient protective gear for warfare in Iraq, but the budget cuts had to go somewhere and George W. Bush was willing to make those unpopular decisions for the benefit of the nation. As long as the government saved a little money, it didn’t matter that the men and women sent to fight this war on terror were poorly equipped. George W. Bush may be underrated now, but he may earn popularity as time rests upon the 2000’s. No one really knows what to expect when going into the presidency and surely if George W. Bush had a chance for another run at it, like “Brownie,” he could probably do a “heck of a job.” (Bush) Americans should give his reputation a second chance because as Bush most eloquently stated, "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." (Bush) And if we re-evaluate the events of George W. Bush’s presidency, we might be able to make a case that he will go down as one of the greatest presidents in United States History.
Bush, George W. Decision Points. New York: Crown, 2010. Print. Evinger, Barbara, and Cheryl Bourassa. "Counterpoint: Military Attacks Are Only Justified in Response to an Attack by Another State." Points of View (2008). Ebscohost.com. Points of View, 16 Sept. 2008. Web. 21 May 2012. Greene, Nick. "George Bush's 20 Worst Moments." The Telegraph. Telegraph, 13 Jan. 2009. Web. 21 May 2012. Phillips, Rachel. "Counterpoint: ‘Enemy Combatant’ Is an Illegitimate Exercise of Uncontrolled Power." Points of View (2011). Ebscohost.com. Points of View, 23 June 2011. Web. 21 May 2012. Rich, Alex K., and Gerson Moreno-Riano. "War on Terror: An Overview." Points of View (2010). Ebscohost.com. Points of View, 5 Feb. 2010. Web. 21 May 2012.