Bush’s Big Victory

March 17, 2009

Bush’s Big Victory


Mideast: In most ways, the news from Iraq couldn’t be better. People there feel more secure, and are more committed to democracy, than ever. Is it possible that President Bush was right after all?

Read More: Iraq

A poll of average Iraqis conducted by ABC News, the BBC and Japan’s NHK shows significant progress on virtually all fronts. Yet, we’ve heard nary a peep about it from anyone.

Some 85% of respondents said their neighborhood security was “good,” vs. 62% a year ago and just 43% in August of 2007. And 52% said security had gotten better in the last year — during the Bush-Petraeus “surge,” which was widely ridiculed at the time as an unnecessary escalation of the Iraq War.

Support for democracy jumped to 64%, a 21-percentage-point gain since 2007, according to a report on CNSNews.com. As for how Iraqis felt about the general state of affairs in Iraq, 58% called it “very good” or “quite good,” up significantly from 43% last year and 22% in 2007.

When asked what their concerns are today, Iraqis sound a lot like Americans: Jobs and prices are at the top of their list — not war, not security, not terrorism.

In short, it sounds like we not only won the war, but the peace as well. And for those who cast a skeptical eye on the idea that any Islamic country could ever be democratized, it turns out the former President Bush is winning that debate too.

With President Obama in the middle of withdrawing troops from Iraq on a schedule that looks suspiciously identical to the one that Bush had in place, it’s safe to say that Obama increasingly sees the wisdom of what his predecessor tried to do in Iraq.

Maybe the rest of us should as well.

It’s become de rigueur to deride Bush’s “failed” policies in Iraq. No one speaks well of them — except, maybe, Iraqis.

But here are the facts, stark as they are: During his vicious 20-year reign, Saddam Hussein — remember him? — killed an estimated 5% of Iraq’s population. That works out to about 5,000 people a month slaughtered by the regime.

You might disagree that Bush was right to depose this murderous thug. But in doing so, you would then have to defend the deaths of thousands of innocents.

For those who say Bush went to war in Iraq under false pretenses — you know, “Bush lied, people died” — there’s this: He made a lengthy, nuanced defense of his decision to get rid of Saddam. It was reflected in Congress’ own resolution in late 2002, which cited 23 reasons for removing Saddam from power.

The ideas that it was all about oil or that Congress was bamboozled on WMD are both false.

Bush, Congress and our foreign allies all saw the same intelligence, and all came to the same conclusion: Saddam had a nuclear weapons program, and intended to build one as soon as he was able. That was, and remained, true.

After being bashed relentlessly in the media and on the campaign trail, President Bush left the White House with his approval ratings low and little, except his dignity, intact.

If he is to have a Truman-like reprieve in the public eye, it will surely come as we all start to realize that on Iraq, contrary to popular and elite opinion, Bush got it right. Mission accomplished.


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