The Unfortunate Legacy of George W. Bush

 

On Saturday President Trump sent out a series of tweets that acknowledged that he had planned to meet this past weekend at Camp David with the leaders of the Taliban and the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, to engage in peace talks. When it was rumored in the past that President Obama sought such talks, private citizen Trump was highly critical. Something has obviously changed his mind.

Wrote the President, “Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse! If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?”

That great military mind, David French (did you know he served as a JAG lawyer in Iraq?), responded:

These kinds of tweets, cheering on the collapse of talks, drew a response from former Ricochet editor Mollie Hemingway. “Disappointing,’ she wrote, “if unsurprising, to watch the swamp seek to extend the War in Afghanistan, which is nearing its 18th – 18th! – anniversary.”

We will soon see young men and women enter boot camp for our armed forces who will be asked to fight in a war initiated before they were even born. They will be asked to fight, perchance to die, but even after 18 years they will not be asked to win it. Because those who refuse to negotiate are the same people that also refuse to define victory.

In August 2017, French praised Trump as learning on the job that there were to be “no more Saigons.” And he also wrote, “As should be obvious by now, when fighting a militaristic theological movement conventional military ‘victory’ simply isn’t attainable. While there may be political settlements in given regions at given times, there won’t be a USS Missouri moment with al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any successor jihadist group.”

Was it only obvious two years ago? Or should it not also have been seen and clearly articulated 16 years before that? And how do you achieve French’s suggested “political settlement” if there is never, ever, ever to be negotiations?

Americans, unlike their European ancestors, have never sought empire. If we could state the nation’s philosophy of military engagement, in a nutshell, it would probably be nothing more complicated than “Get in, kick ass, come home.”

There was not a man, woman or child in America that did not fully support George W. Bush in the days following 9/11. But his legacy seems to be that he doomed us to the curse of the endless war. We have had the burden of Empire thrust upon us whether we asked for it or not.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 97 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Remember how critical we were of the Russians when they were fighting in Afghanistan? And now, here we are all these years later in much the same conundrum.

    • #1
    • September 9, 2019, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Columbo Member

    Nancy, columnist at the Washington Post, and David French seek to prove “that Never Trumpers are the most sanctimonious people on the planet.” Agree or disagree?

    • #2
    • September 9, 2019, at 11:41 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    This post:

    Image result for standing ovation gif

    • #3
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:09 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    It’s a mess. First of all, there is no advantage or benefit to us if we negotiate with the Taliban. It will get us nothing, because it will mean nothing to them; inevitably we will give up stuff, too, and they will sacrifice nothing. The question I have is whether there are advantages to our keeping a small force there? We certainly are not going to improve the state of Afghanistan. The Taliban will just evade our forces and keep killing. Our presence will not stop the training of more jihadists if they choose to train them. So why stay at this point? Who benefits?

    • #4
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I have thought since 2009 that we should get out of Afghanistan.

    http://abriefhistory.org/?p=1540

    I have not changed my mind at any time since.

    During Afghanistan’s golden age which consisted of the last king’s rule, the country consisted of a small civilized center in Kabul while the rest of the country existed much as it did in the time of Alexander the Great. I have reviewed Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerilla, which explains much of the Afghan war. He is not optimistic about it and neither am I. Aside from the fact that Obama is a reluctant, very reluctant, warrior here, Pakistan is a serious obstacle to success.

    The enemy is Pakistan, not Afghanistan. This has been the case since 2001. We have considered Pakistan to be an ally since Nixon. We were wrong.

    Getting out logistically will not be easy. All routes now lead through Pakistan.

    • #5
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. Ed G. Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    I have thought since 2009 that we should get out of Afghanistan.

    http://abriefhistory.org/?p=1540

    I have not changed my mind at any time since.

    During Afghanistan’s golden age which consisted of the last king’s rule, the country consisted of a small civilized center in Kabul while the rest of the country existed much as it did in the time of Alexander the Great. I have reviewed Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerilla, which explains much of the Afghan war. He is not optimistic about it and neither am I. Aside from the fact that Obama is a reluctant, very reluctant, warrior here, Pakistan is a serious obstacle to success.

    The enemy is Pakistan, not Afghanistan. This has been the case since 2001. We have considered Pakistan to be an ally since Nixon. We were wrong.

    Getting out logistically will not be easy. All routes now lead through Pakistan.

    Yes, picking allies is just as fraught as declaring enemies. 

    I will say that there was a point where staying and winning would have been a good strategy. Then Bush failed to fight back in the PR war (which was subsequently lost) and Obama frittered away the real gains and sacrifices made during the Bush years and since because he was tied to anti-Bushism regardless of the the conditions he faced when entering office – he was bound to act as if we could reverse the Bush years.

    • #6
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. SkipSul Moderator

    EDIT: Post amended, comment withdrawn.

    • #7
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Vance Richards Member

    EJHill: There was not a man, woman or child in America that did not fully support George W. Bush in the days following 9/11. But his legacy seems to be that he doomed us to the curse of the endless war

    I thought the justification for going into Afghanistan was that they were harboring bin Laden and al Qaeda. What is the reason we are there today? I honestly don’t know the answer to that, but “pure evil and malign intentions” doesn’t really answer that.

    • #8
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Vance Richards Member

    EJHill: That great military mind, David French (did you know he served as a JAG lawyer in Iraq?)

    Service is service and being in a war zone is being in a war zone. Still, writing wills and divorce papers are not the first things you think of when someone talks about how they “risk[ed] my life in the fight against the world’s worst jihadists.”

    • #9
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:10 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    SkipSul: You imply Mollie’s tweet was in response to French. This is her tweet. No mention of French.

    Yes, Mollie’s was a stand alone Tweet. And I quoted it in its entirety. In my original time they were literally back-to-back. She was responding to anyone, including French, who were openly cheering news of collapsing talks.

    I will amend the post accordingly.

    • #10
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. MarciN Member

    To lay this war at the feet of George W. Bush ignores completely the contribution of the coalition countries who saw the same merit in engaging Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan that we did. Here is a list of the coalition casualties. The Brits alone have lost 456 people. Tagging this international effort to combat terrorism as “Bush’s war” is unfair to the other countries who participated in this effort.

    The most interesting thing to me about the first Obama election was how outspoken and aggressive Obama was in attacking the Bush administration over its continued involvement in the Afghanistan war, only to see Obama not pull our American troops out of Afghanistan as soon as he was sworn in. It made me think that there may actually be a “president’s book”–the stuff of American folklore, mythology, and movies like National Treasure–that each president hands down to the new president, and in that book, there was such a compelling case for our continued presence in Afghanistan that not even Obama felt comfortable getting out.

    The Taliban are miserable thugs who lie, cheat, steal, torture, and murder at whim. They have more in common with organized crime than with some sort of religion. We wouldn’t let down our guard and stop fighting organized crime–that is, people who terrorize others by threatening their targets’ family members–just because we have been doing it since the 1930s. One thing we’ve learned is that organized crime will always be with us. There is no point is disbanding the FBI. I don’t think it is smart for us to vacate Afghanistan either.

    Our presence in Afghanistan has been almost from the start a police-like effort, and it has been a productive one. It gives us an on-the-ground source of intelligence for the entire area of South-Central Asia.

    A friend of our family died in Afghanistan. To me, pulling out the way we are doing it, and having some sort of “peace talks” with the Taliban–which legitimizes them in a way they do not deserve–demeans the sacrifices of those who have been wounded for life and those who have given their lives in the course of helping the world combat terrorism.

    The reduction in terrorism that I have seen come about is all the evidence I need that the U.S. military has done a brilliant job over the last two decades. I salute them. I am grateful to them.

    • #11
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:29 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  12. rgbact Member

    Aww, Trump can’t make a decision so its “George W’s legacy of war” thats keeping him down. George W won the War on Terror. Thats a great legacy. I no longer worry much about Al Qaeda. I shudder to think how Trump would’ve reacted back then. 

    Now we have Trump, who wants a king sized military budget…..without our military being expected to even fight 7th century goat herders. And then blame Bush if things go bad.. Make a decision Trumpers. Thats your job.

    • #12
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    MarciN : Tagging this international effort to combat terrorism as “Bush’s war” is unfair to the other countries who participated in this effort. 

    If a President of the United States, or the leader of any other democratic Western country asks its citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice, do they not owe it to those citizens for an honest reasoning behind those sacrifices? And to articulate a vision of victory? We have a military, not an international police force. 

    How can one say an enemy isn’t “legitimate” enough to talk to, but legitimate enough to die in the thousands fighting them? 

    • #13
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  14. MarciN Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    If a President of the United States, or the leader of any other democratic Western country asks its citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice, do they not owe it to those citizens for an honest reasoning behind those sacrifices? And to articulate a vision of victory?

    I feel that President Bush explained his objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq in a way that I understood and found agreement with. 

    True, millions of people around the world did not share his perspective. But millions of others did. 

    Isn’t that always true for any president and his or her policies? 

    • #14
    • September 9, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    rgbactAww, Trump can’t make a decision so its “George W’s legacy of war” thats keeping him down. George W won the War on Terror. Thats a great legacy. I no longer worry much about Al Qaeda. I shudder to think how Trump would’ve reacted back then.

    We “won?” Do tell. Then why are we still there? 

    • #15
    • September 9, 2019, at 2:03 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. rgbact Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    rgbact: Aww, Trump can’t make a decision so its “George W’s legacy of war” thats keeping him down. George W won the War on Terror. Thats a great legacy. I no longer worry much about Al Qaeda. I shudder to think how Trump would’ve reacted back then.

    We “won?” Do tell. Then why are we still there?

    “Winning” is not having the war come to America or our friends. It hasn’t. As for how many troops are needed to make that happen, thats Trump’s job to figure out, not Bush’s. All I know, is they’re not fighting here. And that was the goal. And we sure spend a ton on the military for increasingly not wanting to do much.

    • #16
    • September 9, 2019, at 2:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    rgbact: “Winning” is not having the war come to America or our friends. It hasn’t. (Emphasis mine.)

    So that whole Charlie Hebdo thing, the 131 dead at the Bataclan and the truck incident in Nice never happened because we “won.” Nice to know. 

    As for spending tons on the military with the goal of not using them has always been our goal. 

     

    • #17
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:11 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  18. rgbact Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    rgbact: “Winning” is not having the war come to America or our friends. It hasn’t. (Emphasis mine.)

    So that whole Charlie Hebdo thing, the 131 dead at the Bataclan and the truck incident in Nice never happened because we “won.” Nice to know.

    As for spending tons on the military with the goal of not using them has always been our goal.

     

    Pretty sure it was ISIS with those European attacks.

    IDK. Given how much more Trump is spending on military than Obama…..seems hard to justify. You pretty much have to show an increased threat of some kind…..not peace talks with terrorists and making friends with Communist dictators.

    • #18
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:21 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    rgbact Pretty sure it was ISIS with those European attacks.

    And why did ISIS emerge? What role did our expansion of the conflict into Iraq make that possible? 

    IDK. Given how much more Trump is spending on military than Obama…..seems hard to justify. You pretty much have to show an increased threat of some kind…..not peace talks with terrorists and making friends with Communist dictators.

    Peace through strength. It’s a workable theory.

    • #19
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. She Thatcher
    She

    EJHill: What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?

    I, for one, find it rather concerning that the President of the United States would ask such a question, referring to the Taliban. What kind of people did he think they were?

    • #20
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Skyler Coolidge

    The Bushes are really good at starting wars, but never have a clue how to win them. The Bushes are honest men, but fools.

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show that we learned nothing in Vietnam. We rotated units in and out and institutionalized the war. The active duty Marines had their rotation cycles, six months in country, six months in recovery, and six months work ups to deploy again. Or something like that, don’t hold me to it for preciseness. The key take-away is that no one needs to win the war. No one needs to stick their neck out and take risks that need to be taken to win a war. Why do that if you’re rotating out soon?

    The only moral war is total war. Americans should never fight a war when we are not going over and staying until the war is over.

    • #21
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:40 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  22. Skyler Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    The question I have is whether there are advantages to our keeping a small force there?

    No, not really, except for one. We are in an excellent position to threaten Iran. With our forces in Iraq, we had Iran bracketed. But Condoleeza Rice convinced Bush that it would be wrong to make Iran afraid of us and we allowed Iran to create havoc and mayhem that caused a lot of my Marines to die, and many others as well.

    Afghanistan, contrary to popular opinion, has been conquered by everyone that tries to conquer them. The problem is that human beings should not live there, and so they leave again. Whereas the Afghans might think they “won,” in reality, they still live there and are the ultimate losers.

     

    • #22
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  23. Skyler Coolidge

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    The enemy is Pakistan, not Afghanistan. This has been the case since 2001. We have considered Pakistan to be an ally since Nixon. We were wrong.

     

    Eh, not completely true. Pakistan doesn’t control most of its own country. By the laws of war we should be completely ignoring their worthless government.

    • #23
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:49 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Skyler Coolidge

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    I thought the justification for going into Afghanistan was that they were harboring bin Laden and al Qaeda.

    There is no substantive difference between Al Qaeda and the Taliban. 

    • #24
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    She : What kind of people did he think they were?

    Probably not any different from the other murderous individuals American Presidents have negotiated with. Some of them we have even declared allies.

    • #25
    • September 9, 2019, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. She Thatcher
    She

    EJHill (View Comment):

    She : What kind of people did he think they were?

    Probably not any different from the other murderous individuals American Presidents have negotiated with. Some of them we have even declared allies.

    Oh, I don’t believe that for a moment.

    • #26
    • September 9, 2019, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Randy Webster Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    rgbact : Pretty sure it was ISIS with those European attacks.

    And why did ISIS emerge? What role did our expansion of the conflict into Iraq make that possible?

    IDK. Given how much more Trump is spending on military than Obama…..seems hard to justify. You pretty much have to show an increased threat of some kind…..not peace talks with terrorists and making friends with Communist dictators.

    Peace through strength. It’s a workable theory.

    It’s almost a tautology: If you want peace, prepare for war.

    • #27
    • September 9, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. DonG Coolidge

    rgbact (View Comment):
    Aww, Trump can’t make a decision so its “George W’s legacy of war” thats keeping him down. George W won the War on Terror. Thats a great legacy. I no longer worry much about Al Qaeda. I shudder to think how Trump would’ve reacted back then. 

    Americans have judged Bush43 to be a failure. That judgement cannot be undone.

    Trump needs to ignore the war profiteers and leave that sh*tshow. Just tell the Taliban that if any terrorist weeds popup, cruise missiles will be launched.

    • #28
    • September 9, 2019, at 7:11 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    EJHill

     

    Americans, unlike their European ancestors, have never sought empire. If we could state the nation’s philosophy of military engagement, in a nutshell, it would probably be nothing more complicated than “Get in, kick ass, come home.”

    There was not a man, woman or child in America that did not fully support George W. Bush in the days following 9/11. But his legacy seems to be that he doomed us to the curse of the endless war. We have had the burden of Empire thrust upon us whether we asked for it or not.

    Yes. AND. Our true history, not promoted by either military professional courses or our civil schools, is one of engaging in limited actions, what the Marine Corps formalized in doctrine before WWII as “Small Wars.” The wars by which we first held and then expanded our territory from the original 13 colonies took a century. There were decades of occupation duty in the West by a handful of Army troops, a mix of mounted infantry and cavalry. Then there were the actions in Latin America, and in Asia, before WWII

    • #29
    • September 9, 2019, at 7:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Barfly Member

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Nancy, columnist at the Washington Post, and David French seek to prove “that Never Trumpers are the most sanctimonious people on the planet.” Agree or disagree?

    They’re in the running. But the Autistic Oracle of Sweden and the Gay Mayor of South Bent are going to be hard to beat.

    • #30
    • September 9, 2019, at 8:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4