Friday, July 04, 2008

Norman Podhoretz on Bush’s Legacy

Sure to piss off Bush haters. I don’t consider myself a Bush “supporter” per –say, but Norman is right when he says it is too early to assess a leader’s historical impact, especially when we compare how the great leaders from the past were seen in their time periods.


Peter Stanton said...

Podhoretz is insane; I've heard him talk once and that was enough.

Anonymous said...

norman is right on bush. his immigration policy sold us out, but his foreign policy put america’s interests first.

homesickamerican said...

hey! great blog; i just found you through rcp. i read your profile and it reminded me of myself. keep up the good work!

homesickamerican said...

oh, and i completely agree with podhoretz on bush and have said as much in my blog several times:

my father nearly keeled over when i said it to him! ;-)

Danielstark said...

I think the legacy of Bush will be determined on the success or failure of Iraq. If in 10 years, Iraq is a stable democracy, history will treat him kinder. If in 10 years, Iraq is Somalia, then it won't look too good.

TNC said...

Peter, your comments at this blog are heavy on opinion but light on substance. You may disagree politically with Podhoretz but the man is far from "insane". He was the editor of COMMENTARY one of the best magazines for thinking people in the USA and an outspoken public intellectual who is never afraid to voice unpopular political opinions.

Happy 4th Roland and homesickamerican God bless America...

Roland Dodds said...

Welcome homesickamerican. When you said you came from RCP, my first thought was the “Revolutionary Communist Party,” that cult like group lead by Bob Avakin. But I guess you meant “Real Clear Politics!”

Bush’s legacy will truly hinge on the success of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I personally think that if the war can be seen as a bipartisan affair, and not “Bush’s War” (as in having a Democratic president take charge of it), his presidency will be viewed differently.

Unfortunately for Bush, we live in a media age, and the man is not good when it comes to speaking. I think the clips of Bush fumbling through words are going to follow him to the end of time…

Peter Stanton said...

tnc- I apologize for not putting some context to my comment. Anyone who advocates attacking Iran right now is either insane or evil, and I try to think the best of people.

The Contentious Centrist said...

I was tempted to respond to Peter's comments here. But having noticed how heavy they were with all-knowing sarcasm, I thought I'd better check out what credentials he has for presenting his views in such a way. I found he is a 17 year old boy, full of himself for realizing that there is more to the world than just himself. I congratulate him; there are not all that many teenagers who can think that far beyond their raging hormones...

TNC said...

"Anyone who advocates attacking Iran right now is either insane or evil..."

Right now?

So would you advocate attacking Iran next week?

Next month?

Next year?


I'm not trying to be silly here. I'm trying to cut to the core of your argument. Do you not consider Iran a threat to global stability and American interests?

If not, please consider this report by the State Department:

"Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Elements of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts throughout the region and continued to support a variety of groups in their use of terrorism to advance their common regional goals. Iran provides aid to Palestinian terrorist groups, Lebanese Hizballah, Iraq-based militants, and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Iran remains a threat to regional stability and U.S. interests in the Middle East because of its continued support for violent groups, such as HAMAS and Hizballah, and its efforts to undercut the democratic process in Lebanon, where it seeks to build Iran’s and Hizballah’s influence to the detriment of other Lebanese communities.

Iran is a principal supporter of groups that are implacably opposed to the Middle East Peace Process, and continues to maintain a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israel terrorist activity – rhetorically, operationally, and financially. Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad praised Palestinian terrorist operations, and Iran provided Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups, notably HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, with extensive funding, training, and weapons."

This information is widely available. Pretending this is all in Podhoretz's "evil" and/or "insane" mind, will not make the threat go away.

Israel has been conducting large-scale and long-range attack simulations over the Mediterranean. They are not doing this for the fun of it. They recognize the severity of the threat coming from Iran because they deal with it on a daily basis.

Are they "evil" and "insane" as well?

The threat of Islamist terrorism is very real. You must live a very isolated life in Alaska to not be aware of these basic facts. Either that or you choose to ignore them.

Cokey McCokerson said...


Yes, Iran is a terrible state and a threat to American interests and America itself. But that doesn't mean we should attack them right now. We're stretched pretty thin militarily now, and even though we've got a lot of forces in the area, moving away from Iraq now to take down Iran would do nothing to stabilize Iraq and leave us in an even worse position on the world stage than we are now.

I've had discussions with Roland many times about how attacking Iraq at the time we did while fighting in Afghanistan was a poor decision. He seems to think that it was the right time and that it wasn't a poor decision. Had it been fought with more of a plan, Roland could very well be right, but knowing what we do, can we trust this administration to come up with a coherent military strategy for Iran when they've come up short in both Afghanistan and Iraq? And if we decide to stretch to a third military front on the war on terror, where will that leave the other two fronts?

I say let Israel do what they need to do and they can lead the charge militarily. They're more than capable of taking care of themselves in the Middle East. Then if need be we can send some support troops to help out, but if we're seen as the driving force behind an attack on Iran, no good will come of it globally.

Daniel Stark said...

I believe if a war happens, it's because Iran pushed us to it. It really relies on them, if they continue to fight a proxy war with us, continue to pursue nukes and continue to fund terrorism throughout the region, we are going to have a hard stance towards them.

Now does this mean war? I don't know. I believe the U.S. at this point in time has Superpower fatigue (i.e. an unwillingness to confront nations despite clear signs of danger because of the present circumstances in Iraq) and is reluctant to do anything.

There is one problem with attacking Iran I believe, and that is the after stages of the war and the clear opposition that can come from the populace. I really doubt, given the history of Iran, the population once liberated would commit to even a temporary United States rule (such as the past transitional government in Iraq). I also think the insurgency would be more troublesome and unified than in Iraq.Let's just say if we go to war with Iran it will be a long tiresome process.

Yet again, it's not really up to us, it's really up to the Iranian government. If anyone is pushing for war, it's them.

TNC said...

Cokey, I'll respond to your comments re: Iraq first and then move on to Iran.

I've posted these comments (re: Iraq) a few places so sorry if I sound like a broken record to some of you.

A long time ago, years ago, when asked by my lefty friends for my reasons for supporting the war in Iraq I posited the following.

Iraq was attacking U.S. airplanes on a regular basis, in clear violation of the UN Resolutions that established the no-fly zones. These attacks alone provided a justification for the U.S.—and our supposed allies—to attack.

The Bush administration essentially had three options:

1) Continue with the “containment strategy” and sanctions regime which was not containing much of anything. Oil-for-food, U.S. and U.K. planes getting shot at on the regular, etc. etc. etc. And if you believe the radical-left, the sanctions were killing 100,000 Iraqis per month.

2) Give up on the containment strategy and sanctions completely. This was the goal of the radical-left.

3) Remove Hussein from power and destroy the Baathist regime.

I asked if they knew of any other options, an option four, they had none.

Historian Arthur Herman covers much of this in a recent Commentary article "Why Iraq Was Inevitable."

In an ideal world, we could have waited to get the support of our allies. However, sometimes the situation does not allow one to wait and wait and wait. Occasionally we are forced to take the least bad of many bad options. We can't afford to wait for a perfect opportunity to act. This is the direction things are moving re: Iran.

You ask a very important question:

"[C]an we trust this administration to come up with a coherent military strategy for Iran when they've come up short in both Afghanistan and Iraq?"

Remember, the individual most responsible for Iraq strategy was Sec of Defense Rumsfeld. He is no longer in the mix.

My opinion on Iran is the financial sanctions need to be tightened before any military action is taken. I was glad to read "the EU forced Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, to cease operations at its offices in London, Hamburg and Paris.",2144,3434574,00.html

Unfortunately Russia and China continue to work with Iran.

If we do strike Iran, I don't think a large-scale ground invasion is going to happen. Israel certainly does not have the troops necessary for that sort of operation.

The purpose of the attack will be the destruction of nuclear facilities, not regime change. Therefore, most of the force used will be from the air and sea (cruise missiles, bunker busters, etc).

Troops will be mobilized to the western and eastern border of Iran to curtail any attempts by the Revolutionary Guard to stir things up in Iraq and Afghanistan but I do not expect to see American Marines marching into Tehran.

Lastly, a visible joint Israel-US operation would be a bad idea. Intelligence sharing, sure. But military commanders in both countries realize this sort of joint operation would support the "Zionist-Crusader alliance" thesis which is rampant in the region.