In response to the ongoing buffoonery of President Donald Trump, there has been a disturbing trend among liberals to attempt to rehabilitate the image of George W. Bush so that he functions as a contrast, an ahistorical example of a president who was “not as bad.”
In order to make this claim, one has to deliberately ignore the still relevant aftermath of his presidency.
Lest we forget, George W. Bush initiated the Iraq War under false pretenses, claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (he didn’t) and that he was colluding with al-Qaeda (he wasn’t). As a result, from 2003 until the withdrawal of troops in 2011, the Iraq Body Count Project estimated that there were approximately 116,277 Iraqi civilian deaths (though they’ve been criticized for undercounting). Even beyond the countless civilian dead, by March of 2013 the total cost of the Iraq War was calculated by the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University to be $2.2 trillion.
And what do we have to show for this expense? The chaos and power vacuum caused by the Iraq War effectively created Daesh, whose leaders comprise mostly of former high ranking officials in the Ba’athist government. The former Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, David Kilcullen stated “there would undeniably be no ISIS if we had not invaded Iraq.”
Bush’s poisonous legacy is not limited to the Middle East, of course. After all, he is at least partially responsible for the modern American mass surveillance state, authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance, as well as using the Patriot Act to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation a “blank check” to spy on US citizens. Of course, criticizing mass surveillance under the Bush administration would mean that liberals would have to also condemn Bush’s successor, who continued and expanded his surveillance programs, Barack Obama, and he’s beyond reproach for the Democratic establishment.