First of all, I am going to post an update on my Pro Life post I put up last week. Lots and lots of good emails on that one, and I want to let those trickle in a little more before I put more up. Be patient, there are some great emails that I am going to post on the subject, not all of which are in accordance with my viewpoint.
While many of you were enjoying a long weekend, I was enjoying a particularly long weekend that started last Thursday when I left for New York to see my cousin graduate from West Point. My cousin is an amazing guy. He started out at a private college out of high school, wanting to be a dentist. He was in Army ROTC, because he wanted to be in the military and for the obvious benefit that it payed for his schooling. After 9/11, he made a decision that if he was going to be in the military, why not go all in. He applied to West Point and was accepted in the Class of 2006, which started the year following 9/11.
I, for one, never had and still don't have the smarts or the cajones to cut it in that sort of environment. Being around these people this weekend made me appreciate that there is hope for our future military policy. If you talk to the West Point graduates, you will find that many have reservations about President Bush and particularly his military policies. Like all good soldiers they will fight for their country regardless of who is calling the shots, but I was encouraged that they weren't just blindly in agreement with whatever policy agenda the President sets forth.
President Bush ended up being the commencement speaker for the graduation, which initially made me want to grit my teeth. The irony of a man who has never actually served in the military, let alone in combat, making decisions about if my cousin is going to war is frustrating. Nevermind that his campaign funded private organizations to trash John McCain in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 for their military service. President Bush speaking at West Point on Memorial Day weekend really can't get much more ironic. Seriously.
Some of you may have heard about the President's speech, but here is the brief version. President Bush realizes that his approval right now is historically low. While some diehard Republicans are saying that this is some vast conspiracy, it's just proof that the American people are not idiots. President Bush has done virtually nothing for the average American. If you disagree, PLEASE send me an email or post something under comments. I have spent a long time trying to think of at least one good thing that has come from this presidency, and I can't put my finger on a single thing. If you can, it would at least be an interesting discussion.
Historically, there was another US President with similar poor job approval: Harry Truman. President Bush seized the opportunity at West Point to compare himself and the current geopolitical landscape to what Truman faced after World War II.
There are some definite similarities between Truman and Bush. Both are male, for example. Aside from that, however, the correlaries that Bush attempted to create between his administration and Truman's were pretty weak. Bush admitted during his speech that the enemy in the Cold War and the enemy today are completely different. Truman was up against governments with borders and governments, while today we fight a war without borders or other identifiable characteristics. Bush compared the work we're doing in Iraq to the Marshall Plan, which provided US aid to European countries after World War II to help rebuild those countries and keep the spread of communism at bay.
When scholars discuss the Marshall Plan, the effectiveness of the Marshall Plan as a tool to prevent the spread of communism is highly questionable, but we'll leave that to people who are much better informed. Check this link out if you're interested in that debate. The whole analogy of the war against radical islamists being like the war against communism is interesting because in both cases it deals with ideology. President Bush, as President Truman did, that you can change ideology through military action or aid. What the Cold War demonstrated empirically is that you cannot fight ideology, be it fundamentalist islamic belief or communism, by simply attacking those who support it and funding those who don't.
Essentially, President Bush, by using the example of the Marshall Plan and comparing himself to Harry Truman, destroyed any support he had for his policy. The Cold War went on for over 30 years after the Truman Doctrine. While Bush obviously feels that those first 8 years in the 1940s and 1950s were crucial in destroying communism in the 1980s, I would argue that perhaps a better foreign policy, one that wasn't based on military build-up, could have prevented a lot of death.