Saturday, January 24, 2009

He Kept Us Safe?

Faithful followers of former President George Bush are frantically trying to construct his legacy. It is a daunting task, for not much good came from his years in high office. Usually his supporters very quickly point to the fact that there was not another attack on the United States after September 11, 2001. "He kept us safe," they claim. But did he?

Just a few days after the destruction of the twin towers in New York City, America was under attack again. This time it was a biological attack when several letters containing the deadly anthrax were sent to individuals through the United States Postal Service. This attack reached right into the halls of congress when two Democratic senators were targeted. The case has never been solved although the FBI declared the case closed when a former government scientist who was under suspicion committed suicide.

I do not blame Bush for either the twin towers attack or the anthrax one. But, from my perspective, Bush can hardly claim that he kept us safe as part of his legacy. Both attacks occurred on his watch.

1 comment:

Bramblyspam said...

It isn't really fair to say that Bush's response to 9/11 failed to keep us safe because it didn't stop a completely different type of attack that occurred mere days later. It takes more than a few days to implement preventative measures.

Having said that, there's ample evidence that the Bush administration had ample forewarning of 9/11" but pooh-poohed the terrorist threat and thus failed us. However, the fact remains that it's fundamentally impossible for a free society to secure itself against all major threats, no matter who is president.

My biggest gripe with the "kept us safe" meme is that it ignores the fact that al-Qaeda made a strategic decision not to target the United States. According to this article, a high level AQ strategy document intercepted in 2003 indicates that AQ deliberately chose to target our allies instead in order to cut off their support - hence the attacks in Madrid and London. AQ's goal for the United States, as stated by bin Laden, is to bankrupt us essentially by getting us to follow the policies Bush has been following. At this point, that strategy seems to be working just fine.

I like what Obama is doing in terms of focusing on the Palestinian issue and reaching out to the Islamic world, but his "surge" in Afghanistan/Pakistan strikes me as the completely wrong approach, and his domestic spending - excuse me, "stimulus" - doesn't inspire much confidence in his ability to avoid the bankruptcy threat. You don't avoid bankruptcy by tax-and-spend or borrow-and-spend, you avoid it by cutting spending and getting yourself on a sound financial footing. Even if it means tightening the belt some.