Calmness in Crisis.
There are several reasons why I think President George W. Bush is a president for the ages. First, given what he knew at the time, he made a decisive action against Iraq. The fact that the WMD were there or not is, in a strange sense, immaterial. The result was that in the Islamic mind, as the Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis has noted, the forces of terrorism were stunned by the effective reaction of the United States. As Lewis has pointed out, none will know whether the action prevented another terrorist attack on the United Statesbut the odds are very much that it has. There is no doubt that, as with almost all wars, mismanagement and blunders occurred and there was no exception in Iraq. But the initial reaction by the president was effective and probably saved many lives in this country.
I am not one to say that a great dividend was achieved by the deposition of Saddam Hussein. I dont think that the goal of American military policy should be to remove brutal dictators but it should be to protect the peace and liberty of the United States. I think the Iraq War can be justified by that alone regardless of whether Saddam Hussein was removed from power or not.
The second point that edifies me is Bushs calm and self-confidence in all this. At this point I am re-reading William Bennetts masterwork two-volume history of the United States. I am struck at how discordant Abraham Lincoln was during his crisis in the Civil War. It seems to me he almost literally went to pieces as he struggled with incompetent generals, a recalcitrant Congress and a foppish fool press typified by Horace Greeley. All of this anguish and Lincoln went down as one of the greatin some peoples minds (not mine) the greatest president (I save that designation for the man who won the Revolutionary war and set all the vital precedents in the presidency, George Washington).
Bushs control and demeanor at a time of unprecedented attacks on him is, to me who have seen many presidents under assault, edifying. One would expect this president to be beleaguered, panicky, looking for exit strategies. He is not. His unshakable point is that if Gen. David Petraeus comes out and asks fzor more troops and more time, Bush will grant him the troops and the time. If Petraeus says he can make it with fewer trips, Bush will accommodate him. Far from being careworn under crisis, Bush seems energized. His confidence in himself is one of the great marks of this presidency and a model for future presidents.
Why in an age of relativism is Bush so unshakable? Because he is convinced that the course of history will bear him outthat the wave of the future is democracy. And there is a second reason. It is his firm belief that the goal of Almighty God is to confer freedom and that he is on the right track following what he sincerely believes to be Gods will. Liberals will deride and say that he is a zealot. No more zealot than Lincoln who sometime in 1862 came to the conclusion that there was an even greater goal than to save the Unionand that was to free the slaves. Indeed, as he wrote Greeley who had at one time despaired and said that the South should be let to go on its way to separation
as he wrote Greeley
Lincoln had in his bottom drawer a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
It is important to note that Bushs view of history
as an unfolding drama with a divine will that a man of conscience should try to implement
is far different from the view of the contemporary press which is wedded. They subscribe to the pragmatic ideas of Tolstoy who disavowed the power of a single man but believed history is created from the molten mass of people whose mingled aspirations bubble up and sway men. Time will tell if Bushs idea is rightbut if it is
as I believe it is
it is the role of the president of the United States who will decide the future of the stability of the Middle East. If Bush is wrong and contemporary liberal media are right, Irsq is beyond redemption.
Not only do I pray Bush is right
but I pray for Bush in his rightness
and dread a relativism that puts change of the human condition beyond the ability of any chief executive to affect.
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