Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

GWB and his successor

Peter Rodman thinks that President Bush’s aspiring successors should be hoping that Iraq can be moved further toward stability in the remaining 18 months of the Bush Administration. Here’s his conclusion:

Those running for president, especially, would be well advised, amid the excitement of the campaign, to reflect on what will be required of the winner. Potentially the most destabilizing new factor in the world in the coming period is the fear of American weakness. All the hyperventilation about American hubris and unilateralism is a tired cliche; it never had much validity anyway. The real problem is that the pressures pushing us to accept defeat in Iraq are already profoundly unnerving to allies in the Middle East, and elsewhere, who rely on the United States to help ensure their security in the face of continuing dangers. If we let ourselves be driven out of Iraq, what the world will seek most from the next president will not be some great demonstration of humility and self-abasement -- that is, to be the "un-Bush" -- but rather for reassurance that the United States is still strong, capable of acting decisively and committed to the security of its friends. Given our domestic debate, to provide this reassurance will be an uphill battle in the best of circumstances. It will be even more difficult if President Bush succumbs to all the pressures on him to do the wrong thing in Iraq.

President Bush still has the power to set the terms of the debate in 2008. He should use it wisely and to the utmost of his ability.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Rodman is correct. But I would add that strengthening perceptions of American power and commitment will actually require some repudiations of Bush -- from the right.

I too think Rodman has it right. David Frisk as well, if I understand him correctly - namely, that this administration has sometimes seemed imprudent and careless about matching ends and means.

Steve is exactly right to suggest that prudence is the virtue that people think Bush lacks. It's not just incompetence and/or lack of resolve in conducting the war. So far, none of the Republican candidates have figured tht out. All of the Democratic candidates seem to think that the magnitude of the president's screw up is so self-evident that they only have to BE, they don't have to OFFER, an alternative. Nobody has even begun to convince anyone that he or she really KNOWS what to do about Iraq.

The people who see Bush as "imprudent" are the kind who oppose war (unless, perhaps, it's conducted by a Democratic administration). Such people are neither necessary nor desirable in a Republican coalition. Bush's real problem is that he doesn't seem to be on top of things, doesn't sound smart, doesn't, in fact, make a lot of bold and decisive moves. He hasn't been fighting a war in Iraq, but rather has been (at least until the surge) maintaining a badly bungled and bureaucratically hobbled occupation. Perhaps there is imprudence in this limited and special sense: Over the years, in regard to foreign policy, his mouth has written checks that his butt couldn't cash.

2: Steve, I meant that Rodman is correct in the quote cited by Knippenberg. Can't speak for the article as a whole, since I haven't read it.

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