August 20, 2007


Being more like Ike: The 34th president and ex-general delivered eight years of peace because he knew when a war was unwinnable. (Michael Korda, August 20, 2007, LA Times)

It may be possible to forgive a president for failing to understand the present or to foresee the future, but it is harder to forgive a total lack of interest in the past.

The Bush administration has displayed a peculiar disinterest in previous Republican presidencies, from which there is much to be learned. The president's own father set a good example of knowing when to stop, as when he took the wise step of not advancing to Baghdad. Ronald Reagan proved the immense power of soaring rhetoric. Richard Nixon, if nothing else, provided an object lesson in the perils of continuing to wage an unpopular war. But it is, above all, Dwight D. Eisenhower to whom Republicans should be looking for sound political wisdom these days.

How did the North Koreans, Poles, etc. like those 8 years of peace?

Corrects paragraph 3 to read "Shi'ite south and Kurdish north" instead of "Shi'ite north and Kurdish south" (Ross Colvin, 8/20/07, Reuters)

Fifteen former members of Saddam Hussein's regime go on trial in a U.S.-backed court on Tuesday for their role in the crushing of a Shi'ite uprising in 1991, but many Shi'ites still talk bitterly of an American betrayal.

The trial is likely to revive debate over former U.S. President George Bush's decision not to invade Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.

With no threat of invasion, Saddam was able to use his elite Republican Guard units to swiftly suppress uprisings in the Shi'ite south and Kurdish north that erupted just days after the February 28 ceasefire ending the Gulf War. [...]

"I just want to laugh when I hear American politicians talk about spreading democracy in the Middle East. I ask them: 'Why then did you allow Saddam to kill women and children when the Iraqi people revolted against his dictatorship?" said Mohammed al-Jawahiry, 32, a doctor in the southern city of Basra.

As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a 'Dissident' (Peter Baker, 8/20/07, Washington Post)

Two and a half years after Bush pledged in his second inaugural address to spread democracy around the world, the grand project has bogged down in a bureaucratic and geopolitical morass, in the view of many activists, officials and even White House aides. Many in his administration never bought into the idea, and some undermined it, including his own vice president. The Iraq war has distracted Bush and, in some quarters, discredited his aspirations. And while he focuses his ire on bureaucracy, Bush at times has compromised the idealism of that speech in the muddy reality of guarding other U.S. interests.

The story of how a president's vision is translated into thorny policy is a classic Washington tale of politics, inertia, rivalries and funding battles -- and a case study in the frustrated ambition of a besieged presidency. Bush says his goal of "ending tyranny" will take many generations, and he aims to institutionalize it as U.S. policy no matter who follows him in the White House. And for all the difficulties of the moment, it may yet, as he hopes, see fruition down the road.

At this point, though, democracy promotion has become so identified with an unpopular president that candidates running to succeed him are running away from it. At a recent debate, they rushed to disavow it. "I'm not a carbon copy of President Bush," one said. Another ventured that "maybe going to elections so quickly is a mistake." A third, asked if he agreed with Bush's vision, replied, "Absolutely not, because I don't think we can force people to accept our way of life, our way of government."

And those were the Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2007 3:15 PM

Richard Nixon, if nothing else, provided an object lesson in the perils of continuing to wage an unpopular war.

Funny, Richard Nixon also provided an object lesson in what tragedy can happen when a President pulls out of an unpopular war during the seventh year of his Presidency. (And Nixon, of course, didn't even start the war in question.)

Posted by: John Thacker at August 20, 2007 4:00 PM

That's right, not just a relative lack of interest in the past, or a less than ideal interest in the past, but a TOTAL lack of interest in the past.

Hyperbole right out of junior high school. Or liberal arts graduate school.

"Does anyone edit the LA Times?"

I read the other day where Bush has a reading challenge with Rove, and Bush only read 59 books the first year.

Shame we have such an illiterate dummy for a President.

God Bless ya, W!

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at August 20, 2007 4:33 PM

"the wise step of not advancing into Baghdad"

So, is this loon saying the Saudis and the Syrians and the French and the Soviets represent the pinnacle of wisdom? Or is he just pining for the Ba'athists?

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 20, 2007 6:02 PM

And Dick Cheney.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2007 7:53 PM

It's a blessing that libs can hold opposite and opposing opinions at the same time or they couldn't in all sincerity hold the president out as too dumb to tie his own shoe laces and also an evil genius who's stripped us of all our constitutional rights right under the noses of those most brilliant members of our society, our congress critters.

Posted by: erp at August 21, 2007 7:51 AM