Opinions

Our View-What should George W. Bush’s legacy as president be in U.S. history?

The Daily Forty-Niner is introducing an experiment and we hope the Cal State Long Beach community will participate, or at least be our test subjects — we’ll stop shy of calling you guinea pigs.

What this venture will entail is two writers; one who leans liberal and another who leans conservative; writing on the same assigned topic.

The rules are simple. Each writer is given the same question and writes an opinion piece about it. They will avoid direct ad hominem attacks on each other and address ideologies, as they perceive them. Neither will know what the other has written until it is published.

We invite you to react via letters to the editor, sent to the opinions editor at [email protected] We ask that they be submitted electronically so we don’t have to re-type them. The letters should be no more than 300 words, and include name and campus affiliation, whether student, faculty, employee, administrator, etc.

If you are a student, please include your year and major. Others should offer their job title. We don’t publish anonymous letters, so please send a phone number that we may use for verification. You’re personal information won’t be published, we swear.

Letter writers are asked to be respectful of the writers and not use personal attacks, but instead react to the writers’ expressed opinions. We will attempt to publish as many as limited space allows.

We encourage readers to post comments to the online edition at daily49er.wpengine.com, as well.

We look forward to your varied responses.

Brian Cuaron

The verdict has been out for a few years on George W. Bush’s presidential job performance. The war in Iraq, the worsening situation in Afghanistan and the nation’s economic crisis has all served as fuel to the liberal rage against Bush.

Yet the situation in Iraq has improved considerably since 2007, when Bush embraced Gen. David Petraeus’s strategy. The strategy called for an American troop surge and placed them in the midst of the populace rather than isolating them from Iraqis on large military bases.

This resulted in the signing of an agreement with the Iraqi government, which will have American troops leaving by the end of 2011. The war’s objective of creating and establishing a free Iraqi government that will become America’s ally is very close to being achieved.

This allowed the United States to send thousands of desperately needed troops to Afghanistan without jeopardizing America’s gains in Iraq.

The dramatically successful turnaround in war strategy is similar to the Bush administration’s recent handling of the nation’s economy. While the administration once embraced too much deregulation and a laissez-faire approach to economics, it quickly adjusted to the situation by getting from Congress a $700 billion bailout package.

This was used to help stabilize the financial situation by not allowing some the nation’s major financial institutions to fail. Moreover, after initially resisting the use of bailout funds for America’s auto industry, the Bush administration ultimately approved these funds for that purpose after a Democratic-controlled Congress was unable to come up with the money itself.

The ultimate success of these turnarounds won’t be known for years, yet it’s safe to say that the Bush administration has adapted to these challenges. If it has not solved them it has at least laid the foundation that will make it possible for President Barack Hussein Obama to do so.

The problem is that these challenges partly came as a result of bad decisions by the Bush administration. There wouldn’t have been a need for a troop surge had the administration placed enough American military personal in Iraq and Afghanistan to begin with. The economic crisis may have not come about had there been a better monitoring of the situation regarding improper mortgage lending.

While it is great that the administration proved adaptable to its challenges, many of these issues could have been avoided in the first place.

When the unconstitutional parts of the administration’s Patriot Act and the reckless spending by Republicans are added to the mix, the portrayal of Bush’s job performance grows even dimmer.

Bush isn’t nearly as bad a president as liberals would have Americans believe, but his mistakes guarantee that his presidency won’t be held with the same regard as those of presidents Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt.

Brian Cuaron is a senior journalism major and the video editor for the Daily Forty-Niner.

Christopher Herrin

It seems difficult to contest that President Bush’s tenure has been catastrophic, resulting in a world that is much more volatile and hostile to US interests. Due to space limitations, I will only highlight some salient points related to the Middle East.

First, the big winner in the War on Terrorism has not been the United States but Iran. The fact is that the Bush administration destabilized the Middle East by opening up a power vacuum with the removal of Saddam Hussein. When the U.S. deposed Saddam Hussein in early 2003, we removed the last of the two entities holding back Iranian expansion. The other entity was the Taliban. Iran is now extending its influence over the entire Middle East and beyond for the simple reason that they have no reason not to.

As a result, Iran will probably acquire a nuclear weapon. Both the US and Israel have been prevented from launching an air-campaign against the Iranian nuclear sites, as we have been vulnerable in Iraq. If an air-campaign were launched, our forces would certainly face a massive Shia uprising in Iraq, and the gains of the surge would be erased as Iran poured resources into Shiite militias. Geopolitically, being in Iraq has been a catastrophe.

Also due to President Bush’s policies, Israel is now less secure than ever. President Bush made a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal more unlikely than ever by pressuring Israel to grant free elections in the Palestinian Territories, resulting in the election and legitimization of Hamas.

The Bush Administration’s “freedom agenda” directly led to the present phase of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by pressing for open Palestinian elections when they knew Hamas was likely to win. Under the secular Fatah government, a peace deal would have been difficult but likely. Under Hamas, it is nearly impossible.

Thus, you can understand my befuddlement when I hear people such as Joe the Plumber say that they are worried about Israel’s well being under a Democratic president. President Bush was the worst thing to happen to Israel in a long time, and he is the reason Hamas is in power.

Conservatives also like to point out that there have been no terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11. This assumes that there is a cause and effect relationship between President Bush’s leadership and the lack of new attacks. It also assumes that the lack of new attacks has not been in spite of Bush’s presidency.

Our domestic security probably would have been even greater under more competent and less politicized leadership. The fact that there have not been additional attacks also overlooks the fact that there weren’t any domestic terror attacks before 9/11, with the exception of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Under more able leadership 9/11 probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Christopher Herrin is a graduate Religious Studies major and a columnist for the Daily Forty-Niner.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Michael Yee

    I’m confused. I thought free elections are always a good thing, and that we should support those that were democratically elected, rather than fix them or try to depose the elected leaders after they nationalize various properties.

  2. Avatar
    true libber

    I’m confused. Which one is supposed to be the conservative? Herrin’s clearly leans to the democrat, but Cuaron half-heartedly apologizes for Bush like a remorseful Republican-turned-liberal. Admit it Brian, you voted for Barack, didn’t you?

  3. Avatar

    ooooh, I like this. I hope you guys take on some harder sociological and political discussions in the future, though. Opposing viewpoints is a nice addition and I can’t wait to see some more.

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