George W. Bush's Legacy is Darker Than Some Would Have You Believe

As George Bush opens his presidential library, many have been quick to revisit the former president’s legacy. The good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the Bush administration have been reassessed once again and among the re-hashers is Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. In his article aptly titled "The Bush Legacy," Krauthammer starts off by plainly stating that President George Bush’s legacy isn’t that “he kept us safe.”

I nod my head in agreement and continue to read, already knowing in my mind where the rest of this article go – an assessment of how terribly the Bush administration handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how those said wars were basically fought on a credit card, prevalence of torture as an official U.S. policy, etc. Which is why it came as a total shock to me when Krauthammer argued pretty much the opposite of everything I was thinking he would say, instead arguing that not only did Bush keep us safe in the eight years he was president, but that he “created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe” today.

“Indefinite detention, rendition, warrant-less wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo” – all things we, as a nation, are so proud of – Krauthammer argues we owe endless praises to Bush for creating.

Krauthammer, however, doesn’t believe that Bush’s achievements end at just creating the anti-terror infrastructure – because, of course, how could we forget to thank Bush for the two wars that were left inconclusively and will cost America somewhere between $4 trillion to $6 trillion?

Worse, Krauthammer attempts to argue that Bush had successfully overthrew the Taliban, decimated Al-Qaeda and drove both of them away from their safe havens. Well, if that’s the case, would someone care to explain to me what we’re still doing striking drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

In other words, Krauthammer has got it wrong and this rosy picture he is attempting to paint of George Bush’s presidency is simply not his legacy.

Bush’s legacy something dark and horrible – something even members of his own party want to distance themselves from, as seen from his absence in the 2012 presidential election campaign process.

Bush’s true legacy is the practice of torture, or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as official U.S. policy. In fact, at this point it is “indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” under Bush.

Bush’s true legacy is his decision to invade Iraq under the pretense of finding purported weapons of mass destruction and freeing the Iraqi’s from the perils of living under the harshest of dictators, Saddam Hussein. The WMDs have yet to be found, and the only way he was successful in freeing the Iraqis is if, by free, you mean dead.

The unconstitutional PATRIOT Act, the Bush-Era tax-cuts, and the embarrassing, albeit hilarious gaffes are all also part of his legacy. And I, apparently unlike Krauthammer, don’t look back at any of those things fondly.

Some say things look better in the morning. It’s been several mornings since Bush was last President and it’s safe to say that his legacy continues to look worse. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Areej Elahi-Siddiqui

A Pakistani-American undergraduate student at the Seton Hall's School of Diplomacy and International Relations. She enjoys watching inordinate amounts of television, reading far too many books and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

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