Viewpoint: Reasons for a low opinion of Bush
In a recent letter, ("Republicans need new leaders," Bulletin, June 3), I was very critical of the leadership of George W. Bush during his presidency.
With this editorial I hope, at least in part, to explain the reason why I have such a low opinion of Bush.
Bush will be forever linked with the war in Iraq, and indeed it was and is his war.
I hope and pray that a stable government will survive and thrive in Iraq. I also hope that the Iraqi government will honor basic human rights and be an ally and partner of the United States in the region. I certainly celebrate the downfall of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.
But I wonder, why did we go to war with Iraq when we did? I agree with critics who say that Bush took his eyes off the real target; namely Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network of terrorists, those who had actually attacked America and moved it onto Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
There can simply be no denying that Bush's war in Iraq diverted America's resources (military, economic, diplomatic) away from the main source of terrorism against the United States, and by doing so left the work in Afghanistan unfinished, while allowing Bin Laden to live on as a thorn in the side of America.
I never thought I would say this but Democrat John Kerry was right when, as a candidate against Bush for the presidency in 2004, he alleged that Bush had allowed Bin Laden to escape in the area around Tora Bora in Afghanistan.
Rather than sending in the might of the United States military against those who had brought down the World Trade Center, Bush's team delegated the capturing of Bin Laden to a rag tag group of mercenaries who very likely allowed America's number one enemy to escape. Great leadership Bush!
Indeed, Afghanistan is still not stable and the Obama administration has the challenge of holding things together in Iraq, while at the same time finally putting the proper focus in Afghanistan. This however, is greatly complicated by the situation in Pakistan.
What should have happened in Iraq? In the days leading up to the war, Iraq was contained and the U.N. inspectors were able to move about the country.
Yes, as so many believed (both Democrats and Republicans), Hussein was feared to have been developing weapons of mass destruction and cleverly hiding the evidence.
Could we not have simply stepped up the inspection program? Could we not have put greater pressure on other governments that were supplying Saddam?
If we had to go to war, could we not have simply removed Saddam Hussein and his top officials, installed another to lead Hussein's government and then left?
The new government could have been warned to honor human rights and allow weapons of mass destruction inspections to continue, with the threat of our forces returning should our demands not be honored.
But what did George W. Bush do? He made a fool out of himself by flying a plane onto an aircraft carrier for a photo-op that had the caption of "Mission Complete" in the background. Great leadership Bush!
Oh, and let's not forget Bush's immortal words to our terrorist enemies to "bring it on!" Sure, he sits in the White House safe and secure, while putting a bulls-eye on the brave men and women fighting for us around the world.
Lastly, Bush created a climate where the most despicable violations of human rights were carried out by agents acting in behalf of the United States. This certainly helped the enemies of America to recruit more soldiers in their war against us.
More importantly, it made America the bad guys. Rather than being the beacon of hope for all those around the world who strive for freedom, justice, and basic human rights, Bush made me feel shame for my country.
Bush's lawyers may have felt that they found a loophole in the law that allowed them to use "enhanced interrogation techniques," but they failed to consult the great sources of ethics that have set America apart as a good people.
Steve Lagoon is a resident of Woodbury.