Imagine being President George W. Bush in the early years of his presidency. Imagine that the world suddenly changed in the infancy of your presidency and we discovered that the United States was woefully unprepared for the terrorist threats that loomed.
You’re the son of a former president who was also a previous vice-president and who was also the former head of the CIA. You’ve seen first-hand the kind of leadership required to make tough, decisive action. You know how scary the world can be.
You are constantly receiving reports from your intelligence experts- the most-sophisticated and all-around best intelligence-gathering apparatus in the entire world- and these intelligence reports consistently state that Iraq, the menacing, unstable, despotic nation with whom we were previously at war, possesses weapons of mass destruction.
These reports indicate that this rogue nation can destroy hundreds-of-thousands or even millions of lives or could give these weapons to terrorists to use here at home. If you ignore these reports, millions could die and you would be blamed. If you act upon these reports and they prove to be false, you will be blamed.
Meanwhile, armchair quarterbacks all around the globe get to second-guess whatever decision you make.
The fact that Donald Trump has embraced a political jihad against George W. Bush for his decision concerning Iraq is telling of what, exactly, The Donald would do as president. In the aforementioned scenario, what would any rational world leader do? Sit-on the deluge of intelligence reports all saying the same thing? Cross his fingers and hope that Saddam Hussein won’t gas his own people (again)? That he won’t furnish the weapons to terrorists while we remain vulnerable and work to strengthen our national security efforts?
There is a great, great many things for which one can and should criticize George W. Bush. His bailouts, his unwillingness to do anything meaningful to quell illegal immigration- hell, I will even freely admit that his handling of Iraq post-invasion was abysmal. Our war lingered-on far longer than was necessary as political considerations overtook the objective of getting the job done and then leaving.
Where every conservative ought to defend George W. Bush, however, is in his decision to act-upon the intelligence we had available.
The same security agencies that kept America safe throughout the Cold War, the same intelligence agencies that could tell Reagan what Gorbachev had for breakfast that morning, were the same intelligence agencies that repeatedly assessed that Iraq had WMDs and were prepared to use them.
Alas, none were found.
The same kind of lunatic liberal thinking that causes much of the left to criticize Bush’s actions in this matter is the same kind of warped thinking that believes a police officer can never be allowed to make a mistake.
Tamir Rice was a boy who was shot and killed by police after he brandished a realistic-looking Airsoft gun and reached for it when confronted by police. It was a tragedy.
But without the orange tip of a “fake” gun, how quickly can you tell the difference? Guess one way, and you’re dead. Guess another way, and a boy is dead and your life is ruined. Were the police obliged to wait and see if they were shot before returning fire?
Similarly, what choices laid before President Bush?
Even former president Bill Clinton can’t even muster the partisanship necessary to criticize Bush’s actions.
“I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over,” Clinton said in a 2004 interview.
Clinton noted that U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and after being dealt a significant blow in late 2001, America had to prioritize national security.
“So I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, ‘Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.’ You couldn’t responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks,” Clinton said.
The war in Iraq was mishandled on a number of fronts. From allowing political considerations to interfere with accomplishing objectives to the absolutely-moronic manner in which President Obama removed our troops to only allow ISIS to move-in, the war in Iraq was mishandled.
At the end of the day, Bush did what all leaders should do: he relied upon the reports of his subordinates. Trump and the left can armchair quarterback his decision all they want; it still doesn’t change that fact.