“I had no desire to turn the NSA into an Orwellian Big Brother. I knew that the Kennedy brothers had teamed up with J.Edgar Hoover to listen illegally to the conversations of innocent people, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Lyndon Johnson had continued the practice. I thought that was a sad chapter in our history, and I wasn’t going to repeat it.” (p.164)
This book offers a crucial insight into how American enlightenment principles colour the world view and drive the foreign policy of Washington. It can be seen in the small sentences – as quoted and commented on by me further down in this long entry. Please read this book. It is a must read for those of us who want to understand.
When my mother suggested to me some years ago that I should read “Decision Points,” I was less than enthusiastic in my response. It probably resembled more of a grunt. Why would I be interested in reading a book authored by a President my peers and I, along with all of our teachers, the entertainment industry and (eventually) the mainstream media had disliked to such an extent? Anti-war protesters young and old were risking imprisonment all in the name of publicly displaying their dissent loud and clear. Michael Moore was on the war path spreading his propaganda far and wide, Europeans rolled their eyes at “Cowboy-politics” from the USA while “anti-Bush” songs became almost a music industry standard in the last years of Bush’s presidency. I guess it displays maturity to expose oneself to something authored by those one disagrees with. Just as it would be wise to read up on Marxist literature and the Quran.
To anyone who lived in the USA during and after 9-11, like myself, Bush’s book proves an emotional read as the reader is reminded of a bleak time when the US was united in grief and anger. The vocabulary and flow of the book is straightforward and easy, but for anyone who remembers that fateful day in September, the Anthrax threat that followed, preachers visiting schools and fathers getting ready to go to war; it will be impossible to not shed a tear or two. For a President that was so widely vilified and hated in the later years of his presidency – it should be made mandatory to get a peek at the President’s perspective – from the man himself. I also started criticising the “Bush regime” at a certain point due to water boarding as approved by the Bush administration, the damning photos leaked depicting abuse towards muslim prisoners, the War in Iraq and the lack of weapons of mass-destruction + the potential for violation of civil rights due to the much criticised Patriot Act. Did I read the Act myself? No funny enough I did not; yet I was against it as the narrative of America turning into Orwell’s dystopian 1984 prevailed everywhere. You could get sent to Guantanamo without a trial. Protests were rampant. The Bush administration was hated just as much on both sides of the Atlantic. Many were peddling the viewpoint that the USA Inc. only wanted the oil in Iraq, many Americans even started believing that 9-11 was planned and executed by their very own government….
“I knew that an interrogation program this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised our moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real. Had I not authorised waterboarding on senior al Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked. In the wake of 9/11, that was a risk I was unwilling to take.” (p.169)
Yet here we are again with a conservative administration in power. Iran & North-Korea are once again defined as enemies, the axis of evil is back into the public discourse, the war on Islamic terrorism has gotten worse and the Obama administration now seems like some awkward intermezzo. Much like The Ministry Of Magic in Harry Potter denying the return of Voldemort and Professor Dolores Umbridge seeing no need in teaching her students how to defend themselves as there are no dangers, there are no threats. Much of the general hatred towards Bush had to deal with the fact that he was a conservative I’m sure. Dick Cheney was Darth Vader, Karl Rove was the grim reaper; now Steve Bannon has taken over “the grim reaper torch” while Trump is the new Hitler, just like Bush was back in the day….
“I was amazed the Times couldn’t wait even a month to tag Afghanistan with the Vietnam label.” (p.199)
“We killed the PATRIOT Act,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who had voted for the law in 2001, bragged at a political rally.” (p.177)
“Perceptions are shaped by the clarity of hindsight. In the moment of decision, you don’t have that advantage.” (p.180)
It is particularly illuminating and revealing to read about the accusations of “bigotry,” “racism,” and “xenophobia” that were thrown around at the time, directed towards Bush’s associates, most of whom you’ve probably never heard of or remember. It is also interesting to note that Bush’s legitimacy was questioned in addition to calls for his impeachment. After witnessing a couple of Presidential elections and how different politicians are treated by the press, the cultural elite and the protesters on the streets; it becomes a bit easier to see the bigger picture. I remember very clearly that a good friend of mine who was very active politically, told me that protest organisers in the US didn’t really care about the War in Iraq. They engaged in “inter-sectionalism” recruiting “foot soldiers” from various disgruntled groups so that they could descend upon Washington great in numbers. How unpopular the Bush “regime” really was I guess we’ll never know too clearly, since anti-Americans and radical-revolutionaries seized the “recruitment” opportunity presented to them back then. We see it all again now with all of these anti-Trump protests, accusations of his illegitimacy and calls for murder and impeachment.
“Our national security was tied directly to human suffering. Societies mired in poverty and disease foster hopelessness. And hopelessness leaves people ripe for recruitment by terrorists and extremists.” (p.336)
What is most striking about Bush’s chapter about the War in Iraq is/was his idealistic vision of the world, something which he shared and probably still shares with his pal Tony Blair. Some of the segments in this book display a blind belief that more current experiences with Islamism in Europe surely must have dispelled … “People who could choose their leaders at the ballot box would be less likely to turn to violence. Young people growing up with hope in the future would not search for meaning in the ideology of terror. Once liberty took root in one society, it could spread to others.” The highlighting of that quote was my doing, but I find it crucial to bring attention to it due to its ignorance. It is precisely due to this type of thinking that Europe will lose against Islamists. We have no understanding of convictions … we believe that materialism will miraculously satisfy the hunger for a cause, something to stand for, something to fight for, and most crucially the enormous importance of identity and fundamental tribalism. Only those with a deep understanding of the true meaning of diversity and the deep-seated need for masculine-honour will be up to the modern challenges we face. We have to ask ourselves what our “shared values” really are, clearly articulate and define them while establishing a National or Continental objective – a common purpose. What do we really stand for? What are we aiming for? What are we fighting for?
“One of the most effective forms of diplomacy is to show the good heart of America to the world.” (p.214)
The idea that dropping democracy into people heads will change the world into a peaceful global utopia is in my opinion absurd. It is also a questionable action to empower and enrich other competing nations that might not adhere to such strong morals as us in the west. It might force us into very unfavourable situations in the future. Another interesting quote is this: “For months, we had been pressing the Turks to give us access to their territory so that we could send fifteen thousand troops from the Fourth Infantry Division to enter Iraq from the north. We promised to provide economic and military aid, help Turkey access key programs from the International Monetary Fund, and maintain our strong support for Turkey’s admission to the European Union.” The highlight was mine once again. This quote openly displays black on white America’s lack of knowledge or carelessness when it comes to European heritage and cultural interests. If Turkey gets access to the EU and the “free float of people” we are officially done. That will be the end of us. Completely. The fact that the US would actually promise to engage in lobbying intended to sell out Europe in order to have strategic access into Iraq – speaks volumes, when you think about the long-term consequences a EU membership for a Muslim nation would entail – it is surely not the act of friends and display dubious intentions on behalf of the US or an inability to foresee long-term negative consequences.
I suppose that my predictions and writings have been true – that we really and truly do stand alone. All alone as a continent. With enemies in the East, in the South, in addition to indifference or ignorance from the West. There you have Europe.
“I left the clinic inspired. The patients reaffirmed my conviction that every life has dignity and value, because every person bears the mark of Almighty God.” (p.333)
On the other hand a conclusion can be drawn that Bush was one hell of a “domestic president,” maybe even a visionary, as he tackled sensitive national issues head on rather than looking away. He tried to change social security that was heading for bankruptcy and was willing to put his head on the chopping block politically as he was more concerned with the future of America rather than instant popularity and elections. He also tackled the immigration crisis and tried to stretch out his hand to the Democrats in an attempt to again solve a sensitive and controversial, in fact divisive issue. He managed to change healthcare to a certain degree for those who were forced to work in their old age to pay for drugs. He managed to keep schools accountable for their performance levels in a political climate where money spent was seen as more important than actual tangible results. He was particularly focused on levelling the playing field for forgotten minorities, so the accusations he had to endure about his “racist nature” seem dubious and unfounded. All in all I think that Bush would have been a phenomenal success if he had kept to his vision of being the education president, instead he became the war president. His face branded by the media as that of a modern Satan character. After reading Bush’s book there is no doubt in my mind that he would have thrived as the domestic CEO of USA Inc. rather than a global exporter of well-intentioned enlightenment principles.
Reading about Bush’s initiative to save sub-Saharan countries from the AIDS epidemic, the Malaria maladie and whatnot, proves an interesting read taking into account the migration crisis Europe currently faces from those regions…. We as a continent are in deep shit in lack of better words and matters will only get worse. Yet another example of how well-intentioned charity can turn lethal and dangerous in the long run. I know it isn’t a popular thing to say, but it is true. Europeans are not guilty of over population. Far from it. If we don’t get more kids and become more militant in the protection of our borders, we are doomed.
“The last thing I wanted to do was bail out Wall Street.” (p.460)
After reading about Bono’s visit at the Bush White House where he praised Bush’s Africa initiative I’ve reached the conclusion that Bono & celebrities like J.K.Rowling should be sent down to the Mediterranean or elsewhere on the Southern border, so that they can be the “first responders” when the real Tsunami of the African zombie-apocalypse hits us. No wonder people are furious all over the western world, when righteous celebrities who :
- hide behind their armed security guards
- hide behind high walls on their estate
- hide within fortified buildings when travelling
- do everything to avoid the taxes they want to impose on everyone else
voice their opinions and even lobby for their culturally suicidal endeavours. You wonder why people are angry? It’s easy to see why. Of course Bono would appear out of nowhere to praise the strengthening of Sub-Saharan Africa – I bet he supports the current migrant crisis as well. Idiots. Go talk to ethnic-Europeans or go look at all of those areas that are now ruined. Of course a familiar name pops up too: “I later learned that one of his major funders, ultra-liberal investor George Soros, had excoriated Bono for joining me at the MCA event without getting more in return.” The highlighting was mine. Soros pops up further down in this long entry, in the “quotes section” as well.
Bush also includes some of his speech after a trip to see a grim “slave museum” in Africa: “At this place, liberty and life were stolen and sold. Human beings were delivered and sorted, and weighted, and branded with the marks of commercial enterprises, and loaded as cargo on a voyage without return.” Yes it is good that we acknowledge history and refrain from repeating atrocities, but we cannot let our guard down and expect others to be as civil. A day may come when Europeans are enslaved after being subjugated either by an alien population reaching majority status within our continent or by foreign invaders breaching our depleted defences….It is naive to expect gratitude or that western charity will be reciprocated. We should never take friendliness for granted or expect that the rest of the world put their arms down just because we do it. People are still kidnapped and sold into slavery by international organised crime cartels today. Women and children are forced into prostitution. Human beings are subjected to illegal “organ harvesting.” Militant muslim fighters re-opened ancient slave markets. If anything there should be an intellectual awakening in the west to the violent and dangerous nature of man. Especially in regards to the hate directed towards us. Only then will we be equipped to confront future challenges.
“I am always amazed when I hear Democrats say the financial crisis happened because Republicans pushed deregulation.” (p.455)
BOMBSHELL→ I intended to paste this quote further down in my entry. But since the general attention span in today’s society equals nil I had to put it here: “West Germany emerged as the engine of European prosperity and a vital beacon of freedom during the Cold War. Japan grew into the world’s second-larger economy and the lynchpin of security in the Pacific. South Korea became one of our largest trading partners and a strategic bulwark against its neighbour to the north. All three countries benefited from relatively homogenous populations and peaceful postwar environments. In Iraq, the journey would be more difficult.” (my highlighting) Ha! Take that. Everyone with more than two brain cells know the pitfalls of multiculturalism. But what is this? On page 357 Bush finally reveals the inevitable challenges posed by the glorified multi-ethnic utopia that political forces have fought so hard to implement upon us Europeans? H-y-s-t-e-r-i-c-a-l. There goes your post-modern enlightenment values straight out of the window. Or down the toilet. It took me 357 pages to finally find a truthful sentence about the difficulty of implementing post-modern bliss around the world. People are different. Races are different. Ethnicities are different. We create the systems and adapt the values that resonates the most with our genetic inheritance. Thank you Bush. I can’t believe you actually wrote that. “With time and steadfast American support, I had confidence that democracy in Iraq would succeed. That confidence was tested daily.” (My highlight)…ehhh…whatever…when someone is strong in the faith I guess there is no turning back. Whatever. I will celebrate the fact that there at least was some sort of admission about the fallibility of multiculturalism…that is more than what our current European leadership will give us…
I see my country & continent die in slow-motion. Only isolation can spare me the reminder of our perdition. Only self-imposed ignorance can muffle my sadness – but nothing can kill my spirit when faced with the truth – and all truth bequests me is fury and anger.
On a positive note, at least from an American perspective, this book highlights America’s impressive military capabilities and conveys some truly touching stories of the commitment and attitude of American soldiers who hailed Bush as their leader and dedicated all of their strength physically and psychologically to take down America’s enemies and win the war on terror. It is impossible to not get emotional when reading some of these stories.
Of course it is understandable that fighting abroad was justifiable in the name of national security when a primitive looking ensemble broadcasting from what looked like a cave or something over in the impoverished country of Afghanistan could wreak such havoc upon the USA. Bush describes his encounters with troops wounded in battle and grieving families imploring him to keep on going, as they didn’t want their sons or spouses to have died in vain. Bush describes one mother who became an anti-war protester: “She is a mother who clearly loved her son. The grief caused by his loss was so profound that it consumed her life. My hope is that one day she and all the families of our fallen troops will be comforted to see a free Iraq and a more peaceful world as a fitting memorial to the sacrifice of their loved ones.”
After reading that section I couldn’t help but wonder if such a sentiment will ever take hold when there is such a vast geographical distance? That is a question I will not even attempt to answer.
“I wished there were some way to hold individual firms to account while sparing the rest of the country. But every economist I trusted told me that was impossible. The well-being of Main Street was directly linked to the fate of Wall Street.” (p.460)
Bush describes their military victories in Iraq and the Iraqi people’s desire for freedom. This hunger for liberation seceded though when faced with the gruelling fear of terror. Bush writes on page 371: “I read accounts of sectarian extremists torturing civilians with power drills, kidnapping patients from hospitals, and blowing up worshippers during Friday prayers.” A grizzly account for sure. While violence was rampant Americans kept pushing for elections and the apparent success of democracy. According to this book the problem was fortification. Maintaining strongholds. The strategy was to train the Iraqis to look after themselves. This failed and a new strategy was therefore needed.
What is especially interesting to note, was intercepted communication from one of the extremist leaders in Iraq, where it was obvious that their objective was to prolong the war effort by dividing the various tribes in Iraq further. It is obvious that they wanted to drag “the unbelievers” into a drawn-out quagmire.
Touchingly Bush writes on page 373: “I marvelled at the contrast between a regime so brutal that it would hack off men’s hands and a society so compassionate that it would help restore their dignity. I believed the Iraqi man who wrote those words spoke for millions of his fellow citizens. They were grateful to America for their liberation. They wanted to live in freedom. And I would not give up on them.”
“I had opposed Jimmy Carter’s bailout of Chrysler in 1979 and believed strongly that government should stay out of the auto business. Yet the economy was extremely fragile, and my economic advisers had warned the immediate bankruptcy of the Big Three could cost more than a million jobs, decrease tax revenues by $150 billion, and set back America’s GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars.” (p.468)
Bush describes the success of the legendary General Petraeus: “Lincoln discovered Generals Grant and Sherman. Roosevelt had Eisenhower and Bradley. I found David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.” And concludes his “Surge” chapter with:
“A free and peaceful Iraq is in our vital strategic interest. It can be a valuable ally at the heart of the Middle East, a source of stability in the region, and a beacon of hope to political reformers in its neighbourhood and around the world. Like the democracies we helped build in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, a free Iraq will make us safer for generations to come.” Hmm….all I could think about when reading that was of the current mess in Germany and the nationalist uprising in Japan. But oh well…..
There is no doubt that the US military kicks ass and that the famous surge at the command of Petraeus worked. I guess the issue was that highly skilled and competent US warriors thought or were told that Iraqis would be equipped to just take over. Why people would think that when reading about how quickly the US military could successfully take over both Afghanistan and Iraq beats me. There is an obvious diversity between the best America has to offer and whatever it is that dysfunctional low-performing societies in the middle east can conjure. It is obvious that the militant Islamist have some impressive strategists and masterminds behind their operations, but as a group of people I personally think that their situation looks dire if modern science and cluster imaging of traits is to be believed. Which it should be, since it is based on scientific facts. The US military is an elite and a damn impressive one. It surely cannot be claimed that such a force can be easily replaced?
Bush offers some crucial facts about the 9/11 attack:
“The toll of 9/11 will always be measured by the 2,973 lives stolen and many others devastated. But the economic cost was shattering as well. The New York Stock Exchange shut down for four days, the longest suspension of trading since the Great Depression. When the markets reopened, the Dow Jones plunged 684 points, the biggest single-day drop in history – to that point. …
By the end of the year, more than a million Americans had lost their jobs. “The United States and the rest of the world are likely to experience a full-blown recession now,” one economist predicted.
That was what the terrorists intended. “Al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the event,” Osama bin Laden later bragged, “while America . . . lost – according to the lowest estimate – $500 billion.” He outlined what he called a “bleed-until-bankruptcy” strategy and said, “It is very important to concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means.” (p.443)
On Palestinian elections in 2005 Bush writes: “Some interpreted the results as a setback for peace. I wasn’t so sure. Hamas had run on a platform of clean government and efficient public services, not war with Israel.” Why should we assume honesty? Is this a symptom of our high-trust societies, that we venture forth into the world clad from top to toe in idealism? “We sent financial assistance and deployed a high-ranking general to help train the Palestinian security forces.” We display open palms with trust as our currency, offering a peaceful handshake while expecting low-trust societies to respond to this in the same manner that our own kin would. This can explain our blind immigration policy in Europe, feminist politics in Sweden, resulting in their loss of control over their own territory. A European inability to enforce the law of individual nations within every inch of their territory. This can explain bewildered politicians expressing in Norwegian newspapers the importance of getting Norwegian born Jihadis back to Norwegian soil to offer them psychological help. Obama’s ignorant belief that jobs could destroy terrorism, when well-integrated, well-adjusted, high-achieving Jihadis left comfortable England to fight a holy war.
This also explains how I can live in the countryside of England where neighbours simply put up a sign saying how much money to leave behind when picking up eggs, cards, newspapers, or drinks that are neither guarded by people or locked away in cupboards.
The church is always open where I live, all interactions are based on trust – people will reciprocate this trust and stay true to their word. (I don’t live in a particularly diverse area by the way). In London this level of trust is absent. Water bottles that had been set out for runners during the London marathon some years ago were stolen. The other day I saw an interesting article about how a transport system somewhere in the western world wouldn’t release CCTV footage or reveal the ethnicity of those guilty of crimes on their transport network, as apparently they saw this as racist or building up around subconscious bias. In Sweden they’ve stopped collecting crime data, since the findings are “racist,” in Norway officers are instructed to compare criminals with the crime-level of their countries of origin, since it is fairer to compare an Afghan criminal to crime levels in Afghanistan than to those of Norwegians. Welcome to multicultural, political correct hell.
A public toilet in London … Toilet usage has all of a sudden become a major issue all over Europe.
Only those who have been exposed to street level diversity and those officers in the streets tasked to deal with “unfortunate crimes that could jeopardise the utopian vision” know the truth. Diversity is not unity. It is the equivalence of division and hate. The multicultural utopia can only be held together with l-i-e-s. A failure to realise this seals the fate of what is left of Europe and also the USA. Our constructs will wither, like those we left behind in Africa. Our culture will be erased. Everything our forefathers built will be left in ruins. Some smart folks might say that Europe has waged war against its own countless times before, but I dare to say that no threats have ever been greater than those we face today as there is no interest to conserve even a smidgen of what is ours.
” . . . I had to safeguard American workers and families from a widespread collapse. I also had my successor in mind. I decided to treat him the way I would like to have been treated if I were in his position.” (p.469)
“. . . my administration and the regulators underestimated the extent of the risks taken by Wall Street.” (p.470)
Ok – time for some humour courtesy of Bush. On page 412 Bush describes meeting Angela Merkel. Apparently she complained about how horrible it was to grow up in communist East Germany where “her mother constantly warned her not to mention family discussions in public. The secret police, the Stasi, were everywhere.” Ha-ha-ha-ha … That is rich as hell coming from Merkel who appointed an ex-Stasi official to spy on the “evil-alt-right.” Fantastic. Bush continues: “It was hard to believe that less than twenty years had passed since tens of millions of Europeans lived like that.” Øhø…If you are looking for an alt-right propaganda tool look no further than George W.Bush’s “Decisions Points.” I’ve highlighted this whole section due to its importance. I really hope that people bother to read this entry and the whole book. And if people do I hope that they read it paying attention to the things that are popping out to me. Angela Merkel complaining about not being allowed to express her political opinions in Stasi Germany is f—– priceless.
Bush finally departs from his naiveté when describing the Iranian and North Korean leaderships:
“Ahmadinejad called Israel “a stinking corpse” that should be “wiped off the map.” He dismissed the Holocaust as a “myth.” He used a United Nations speech to predict that the hidden imam would reappear to save the world. I started to worry we were dealing with more than just a dangerous leader. This guy could be nuts.” (p.416)
“When I took office in 2001, an estimated one million North Koreans had died of starvation in the preceding six years. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il cultivated his appetite for fine cognac, luxury Mercedes, and foreign films. He built a cult of personality that required North Koreans to worship him as a godlike leader. His propaganda machine claimed that he could control the weather, had written six renewed operas, and had scored five holes in one during his first round of golf.” (p.423)
“I told my national security team that dealing with Kim Jong-il reminded me of raising children.” (p.423)
This work is a fascinating read to say the least. To call it a page-turner would be an understatement.
It is particularly interesting to read about how the former President weighted his decisions. About all of the various input from advisors, how tough it is to run for office, how chance/luck always plays a major role and how active Bush Jr, was in his youth. Nobody can surely claim that G.W.Bush was inexperienced regardless of whether one chooses to agree with him in hindsight. The former president illustrates perfectly what a daunting undertaking it is to be the President of The United States. This is certainly a book that I would strongly recommend. It should be read by all regardless of their political convictions. I would also like to add that this is the first book I’ve read in a very long time without any typos at all.
“History can debate the decisions I made, the policies I chose, and the tools I left behind. But there can be no debate about one fact: After the nightmare of September 11, America went seven and a half years without another successful terrorist attack on our soil. If I had to summarise my most meaningful accomplishment as president in one sentence, that would be it.” (p.181)
What follows are some very interesting quotes from George W. Bush himself; as always I recommend that people read the work in its entirety, but for those of you who can’t be bothered and in the name of sharing crucial information; well here we go:
While visiting his father in China Bush observed:
” In 1975, China was emerging from the Cultural Revolution, its government’s effort to purify and revitalise society. Communist officials had set up indoctrination programs, broadcast propaganda over omnipresent loudspeakers, and sought to stamp out any evidence of China’s ancient history. Mobs of young people lashed out against their elders and attacked the intellectual elite. The society was divided against itself and cascading into anarchy.” (pp. 22-23)
Bush on the art of campaigning:
“On the Fourth of July, we campaigned in Muleshoe, in the far northern part of the district. In the May primary, I had received 6 of the 230 votes cast in Bailey County. The way I saw it, I had plenty of room for improvement. Laura and I smiled and waved at the spectators from the back of our white pickup truck. Nobody cheered. Nobody even waved. People looked at us like we were aliens. By the end I was convinced the only supporter I had in Muleshoe was the one sitting next to me.” (p.41)
“I learned that allowing your opponent to define you is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a campaign. And I discovered that I could accept defeat and move on.” (p.41)
This reminds me of the last Presidential election. Both how “grab a pussy” was revealed at a point when those who published the conversation obviously thought that it would yield the greatest impact and the re-opening of the Clinton investigation:
“Then, four days before the election, Lawrence Walsh, the prosecutor investigating the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration, dropped an indictment on former defence secretary Caspar Weinberger. The indictment dominated the news and halted the campaign’s momentum. Democratic lawyer Robert Bennett, who represented Cap, later called the indictment “one of the greatest abuses of prosecutorial power I have ever encountered.”” (pp.49-50)
This reminds me of all of Hillary Clinton’s celebrity endorsements:
” Ross Perot weighed in on the race, endorsing Ann Richards. It didn’t bother me. I’ve always thought that endorsements in politics are overrated. They rarely help, and sometimes they hurt. ” (p.55)
Bush on describing his team:
“While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration. Dick didn’t care much about his image – which I liked – but that allowed the caricatures to stick. One myth was that Dick was actually running the White House. Everyone inside the building, including the vice president, knew that was not true. But the impression was out there.” (p.87)
“Colin (Powell) and Don (Rumsfeld) were always respectful to each other in my presence. Over time I realised they were like a pair of old duelers who kept their own pistols in their holsters, but let their seconds and thirds fire away.” (p.87)
” Colin Powell made it easier for me. That same spring of 2004, he told me he was ready to move on. He had served three tough years and was naturally fatigued. He was also a sensitive man who had been wounded by the infighting and discouraged by the failure to find weapons of mass destructions in Iraq.” (p.90)
” I felt for Don (Rumsfeld) again in the spring of 2006, when a group of retired generals launched a barrage of public criticism against him. While I was still considering a personal change, there was no way I was going to let a group of retired officers bully me into pushing out the civilian secretary of defence. It would have looked like a military coup and would have set a disastrous precedent.” (p.93)
“It seems to me that there was another argument against Harriet, one that went largely unspoken: How could I name someone who did not run in elite legal circles? Harriet had not gone to an Ivy League law school. Her personal style compounded the doubts. She is not glib. She is not fancy. She thinks hard before she speaks – a trait so rare in Washington that it was mistaken for intellectual slowness.” (p.101)
“While the idea of selecting a woman still appealed to me, I could not find any as qualified as Sam Alito. … Our critics knew they would not be able to block Sam’s confirmation, but they subjected him to a nasty hearing anyway. They tried to paint him as a racist, a radical, a bigot, anything they could think of – all based on zero evidence. I was disgusted by the demagoguery. As one senator recounted the false charges, Sam’s wife, Martha Ann, broke into tears. Her reaction was so genuine that even some Democrats realised they had gone too far.” (p.102)
Bush on dealing with embryo based research:
“That scene was not the creation of Jay Lefkowitz, the bright lawyer reading aloud to me in the Oval Office in 2001. It came from Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World. With the recent breakthroughs in biotechnology and genetics, the book now seemed chillingly relevant. So did its lesson: For all its efficiency, Huxley’s utopian world seemed sterile, joyless, and empty of meaning. The quest to perfect humanity ended in the loss of humanity.” (p.106)
“That same day, I also met with representatives of National Right to Life. They opposed any research that destroyed embryos. They pointed out that each tiny stem cell cluster had the potential to grow into a person. In fact, all of us had started our lives in this early state. As evidence, they pointed to a new program run by Nightlight Christian Adoptions. The agency secured permission from IVF participants to place their unused frozen embryos up for adoption. Loving mothers had the embryos implanted in them and carried the babies – known as snowflakes – to term. The message was unmistakable: Within every frozen embryo were the beginnings of a child.” (p.115)
“As one put it, “The fact that a being is going to die does not entitle us to use it as a natural resource for exploitation.” (p.115)
“Many of the first to turn against the policy were scientists. By providing some federal funding, I had whetted their appetite for more. In the spring of 2002, I addressed a major complaint by allowing privately funded embryonic stem cell research to be conducted at facilities that received federal dollars. It was an important step, but it did not satisfy the scientists, who constantly demanded more … Politicians recognised that they, too, could capitalise on the issue. By 2004, Democrats had concluded that stem cell research was a political winner. … Nonetheless, Kerry’s campaign used stem cell research as the foundation for a broader attack, labelling my positions “anti-science.” The charge was false. I had supported science by funding alternative stem cell research, promoting clean energy development, increasing federal spending on technology research, and launching a global AIDS initiative. Yet the demagoguery continued all the way up to the election. The low point came in October, when Kerry’s running mate, Senator John Edwards, told a political rally in Iowa that if Kerry became president, “people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.” (pp.120-121)
This segment was of such interest that I made the decision to quote it in its entirety:
“The stem cell debate was an introduction to a phenomenon I witnessed throughout my presidency: highly personal criticism. Partisan opponents and commentators questioned my legitimacy, my accent, and my religious beliefs. I was labeled a Nazi, a war criminal, and Satan himself. That last one came from a foreign leader, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. One lawmaker called me both a loser and a liar. He became majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
In some ways, I wasn’t surprised. I had endured plenty of rough politics in Texas. I had seen Dad and Bill Clinton derided by their opponents and the media. Abraham Lincoln was compared to a baboon. Even George Washington became so unpopular that political cartoons showed the hero of the American Revolution being marched to a guillotine. Yet the death spiral of decency during my time in office, exacerbated by the advent of twenty-four-hour cable news and hyper-partisan political blogs, was deeply disappointing. The toxic atmosphere in American politics discourages good people from running for office.
Over time, the petty insults and name-calling hardened into conventional wisdom. Some have said I should have pushed back harder against the caricatures. But I felt it would debase the presidency to stoop to the critics’ level. I had run on a promise to change the tone in Washington. I took that vow seriously and tried to do my part, but I rarely succeeded. The shrill debate never affected my decisions. I read a lot of history, and was struck by how many presidents had endured harsh criticism. The measure of their character, and often their success, was how they responded. Those who based decisions on principle, to some snapshot of public opinion, were often vindicated over time.
George Washington once wrote that leading by conviction gave him “a consolation within that no earthly efforts can deprive me of.” He continued: “The arrows of malevolence, however barbed and well pointed, never can reach the most vulnerable part of me.” I read those words in Presidential Courage, written by historian Michael Beschloss in 2007. As I told Laura, if they’re still assessing George Washington’s legacy more than two centuries after he left office, this George W. doesn’t have to worry about today’s headlines.” (pp.121-122)
This quote is particularly valid in today’s political environment, take note:
“Congress’s response to my veto was not so warm. The Democratic sponsor of the bill erupted with a statement claiming that my veto was based on “cynical political gain.” It was hard to see how, since most polls showed my stem cell stance was not popular. As punishment for my veto, Democrats refused to pass legislation supporting research into alternative sources of stem cells. The message was that if they couldn’t fund stem cell research that destroyed embryos, they would prefer to fund none at all. So much for their passionate desire to see new cures.” (p.124) – [the highlighting is my own] – [I just wanted to bring attention to how caring the “caring-party” truly is] –
On dealing with 9/11 & the new rules of engagement in a modern era:
“Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic majority leader, issued one cautionary note. He said I should be careful about the word war because it had such powerful implications. I listened to his concerns, but I disagreed. If four coordinated attacks by a terrorist network that had pledged to kill as many Americans as possible was not an act of war, then what was it? A breach of diplomatic protocol?” (p.142)
“Late in the afternoon of September 12, I made the short trip across the Potomac to the Pentagon. The building was smoldering, and there were still bodies inside. Don Rumsfeld and I walked the crash site and thanked the work crews for their devotion. At one point, a team of workers atop the building unfurled a giant American flag. It was a sign of defiance and resolve, exactly what the nation needed to see.” (p.142)
“The CIA believed that there were more al Qaeda operatives in the United States and that they wanted to attack America with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. It was hard to imagine anything more devastating than 9/11, but a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction would qualify.” (p.144)
“On 9/11, it was obvious the law enforcement approach to terrorism had failed. Suicidal men willing to fly passenger planes into buildings were not common criminals. They could not be deterred by the threat of prosecution. … The war would be different from any America had fought in the past. We had to uncover the terrorists’ plots. We had to track their movements and disrupt their operations.” (p.154)
“I was frustrated that Democrats would delay an urgent security measure to placate labor unions.” (p.156)
“Striking the right balance between alerting and alarming the public remained a challenge for the rest of the administration. As time passed, some critics charged that we inflated the threat or manipulated alert levels for political benefit. They were flat wrong. We took the intelligence seriously and did the best we could to keep the American people informed and safe.” (p.159)
On the PATRIOT Act:
“The last thing I wanted was to allow the freedom and access to information provided by American libraries to be utilised against us by al Qaeda.
Lawmakers recognised the urgency of the threat and passed the PATRIOT Act 98 to 1 in the Senate and 357 to 66 in the House. I signed the bill into law on October 26, 2001. “We took time to look at it, we took time to read it, and we took time to remove those parts that were unconstitutional and those parts that would have actually hurt liberties of all Americans,” Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said. His Democratic colleague, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, added, “If there is one key word that underscores this bill, it is ‘balance.’ In the new post-September 11 society we face, balance is going to be a key word….Balance and reason have prevailed.”
Over the next five years, the PATRIOT Act helped us break up potential terror cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Florida.” (p.161)
“As the freshness of 9/11 faded, so did the overwhelming congressional support for the PATRIOT Act. Civil liberties advocates and commentators on the wings of both parties mischaracterized the law as a stand-in for everything they disliked about the war on terror. … My one regret about the PATRIOT Act is its name. When my administration sent the bill to Capitol Hill, it was initially called the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. Congress got clever and renamed it. As a result, there was an implication that people who opposed the law were unpatriotic. That was not what I intended. I should have pushed Congress to change the name of the bill before I signed it.” (p.162)
“….if a terrorist in Afghanistan contacted a terrorist in Pakistan, NSA could intercept their conversation. But if the same terrorist called someone in the United States, or sent an email that touched an American computer server, NSA had to apply for a court order. That made no sense. Why would it be tougher to monitor al Qaeda communications with terrorists inside the United States than with their associates overseas?” (p.163)
When extending the authority of the NSA Bush explains:
“They concluded that conducting surveillance against our enemies in war fell within the authorities granted by the congressional war resolution and the constitutional authority of the commander in chief. Abraham Lincoln had wiretapped telegraph machines during the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson had ordered the interception of virtually every telephone and telegraph message going into or out of the United States during World War I. Franklin Roosevelt had allowed the military to read and censor communications during World War II.” (p.163)
“They assured me the Terrorist Surveillance Program had been carefully designed to protect the civil liberties of innocent people. The purpose of the program was to monitor so-called dirty numbers, which intelligence professionals had reason to believe belonged to al Qaeda operatives. Many had been found in the cell phones or computers of terrorists captured on the battlefield. If we inadvertently intercepted any portion of purely domestic communications, the violation would be reported to the Justice Department for investigation. To be sure the program was used only as long as necessary, it had to be regulated reassessed and reapproved.
I gave the order to proceed with the program. We considered going to Congress to get legislation, but key members from both parties who received highly classified briefings on the program agreed that the surveillance was necessary and that a legislative debate was not possible without exposing our methods to the enemy.
I knew the Terrorist Surveillance Program would prove controversial one day. Yet I believed it was necessary. The rubble at the World Trade Centre was still smoldering. Every morning I received intelligence reports about another possible attack. Monitoring terrorist communications into the United States was essential to keeping the American people safe.” (p.164)
About the Islamic shoe-bomber:
“Reid’s case made clear we needed a new policy for dealing with captured terrorists. In this new kind of war, there is no more valuable source of intelligence on potential attacks than the terrorists themselves. Amid the steady stream of threats after 9/11, I grappled with three of the most critical decisions I would make in the war on terror: where to hold captured enemy fighters, how to determine their legal status and ensure they eventually faced justice, and how to learn what they knew about future attacks so we could protect the American people.” (p.165)
Bush describing Guantanamo Bay:
“At Guantanamo, detainees were given clean and safe shelter, three meals a day, a personal copy of the Koran, the opportunity to pray five times daily, and the same medical care their guards received. They had access to exercise space and a library stocked with books and DVDs. One of the most popular was an Arabic translation of Harry Potter.
Over the years, we invited members of Congress, journalists, and international observers to visit Guantanamo and see the conditions for themselves. Many came away surprised by what they found. A Belgian official inspected Guantanamo five times and called it a “model prison” that offered detainees better treatment than Belgian prisons.” (p.166)
Bush on the Geneva Conventions & al Qaeda:
“The purpose of Geneva was to provide incentives for nation-state to fight wars by an agreed set of rules that protect human dignity and innocent life – and to punish warriors who do not. But the terrorists did not represent a nation-state. They had not signed the Geneva Conventions. Their entire mode of operation – intentionally killing the innocent – defied the principles of Geneva. And if al Qaeda captured an American, there was little chance they would treat him humanely.” (p.167)
On negotiating with terrorists:
“America has a longstanding policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and I continued it. I knew that if I accepted one terrorist’s demands, it would only encourage more kidnappings. Our military and intelligence assets were searching urgently for Pearl, but they couldn’t make it in time. In his final moments, Danny Pearl said, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” Then his al Qaeda captors slit his throat.
On the trial of terrorists:
As I made my decision on Geneva protection, I also decided to create a legal system to determine the innocence or guilt of detainees. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and Franklin Roosevelt had faced similar dilemmas of how to bring captured enemy combatants to justice during wartime. All had reached the same conclusion: a court operated by the military” (p.167)
On “enhanced interrogation”:
“Zubaydah later explained to interrogators why he started answering questions again. His understanding of Islam was that he had to resist interrogation only up to a certain point. Waterboarding was the technique that allowed him to reach that threshold, fulfil his religious duty, and then cooperate. “You must do this for all the brothers,” he said. (p.169)
This whole segment was of such interest that I had to quote the whole thing:
“Of the thousands of terrorists we captured in the years after 9/11, about a hundred were placed into the CIA program. About a third of those were questioned using enhanced techniques. Three were waterboarded. The information the detainees in the CIA program revealed constituted more than half of what the CIA knew about al Qaeda.
Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American military and diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States. Experts in the intelligence community told me that without the CIA program, there would have been another attack on the United States.
After we implemented the CIA program, we briefed a small number of lawmakers from both parties on its existence. At the time, some were concerned we weren’t pushing hard enough. But years later, once the threat seemed less urgent and the political winds had shifted, many lawmakers became fierce critics. They charged that Americans had committed unlawful torture. That was not true. I had asked the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government to review the interrogation methods, and they had assured me they did not constitute torture.
To suggest that our intelligence personnel violated the law by following the legal guidance they received is insulting and wrong. The CIA interrogation program saved lives. Had we captured more al Qaeda operatives with significant intelligence value, I would have used the program for them as well.” (p.171)
On dealing with the media and opposition:
“I was disappointed in the Times and angry at whoever had betrayed their country by leaking the story. … The left responded with hysteria.” (p.176)
“Other lawmakers compared the conduct of our military and CIA professionals to the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.” (p.179)
“While I believe opening Guantanamo after 9/11 was necessary, the detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies.” (p.180)
“From the beginning, I knew the public reaction to my decisions would be coloured by whether there was another attack. If none happened, whatever I did would probably look like an overreaction. If we were attacked again, people would demand to know why I hadn’t done more.” (p.180)
After describing a remarkably swift and impressive victory in Afghanistan hailed by the international community, Bush goes on to describe how the project started spiralling downwards in the “nation building phase”:
“There was little coordination between countries, and no one devoted enough resources to the effort. The German initiative to build the national police had fallen short. The Italian mission to reform the justice system had failed. The British-led counternarcotics campaign showed results in some areas, but drug production had boomed in fertile southern provinces like Helmand.
The Afghan National Army that America trained had improved, but in an attempt to keep the Afghan government from taking on an unsustainable expense we had kept the army too small. The multilateral military mission proved a disappointment as well. Every member of NATO had sent troops to Afghanistan. So had more than a dozen other countries. But many parliaments imposed heavy restrictions – known as national caveats – on what their troops were permitted to do. Some were not allowed to patrol at night. Others could not engage in combat. The result was a disorganised and ineffective force, with troops fighting by different rules and many not fighting at all.
Failures in the Afghan government contributed to the problem. While I liked and respected President Karzai, there was too much corruption. Warlords pocketed large amounts of customs revenue that should have gone to Kabul. Others took a cut of the profits from the drug trade.
The result was that Afghans lost faith in their government. With nowhere else to turn, many Afghans relied on the Taliban and ruthless extremist commanders like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani.” (p.211)
Bush on the “Pakistani issue”:
“The primary cause of the trouble did not originate in Afghanistan or, as some suggested, in Iraq. It came from Pakistan.” (p.212)
“Over time, it became clear that Musharraf either would not or could not fulfil all his promises. Part of the problem was Pakistan’s obsession with India. In almost every conversation we had, Musharraf accused India of wrongdoing. Four days after 9/11, he told me the Indians were “trying to equate us with terrorists and trying to influence your mind.” As a result, the Pakistani military spent most of its resources preparing for war with India. Its troops were trained to wage a conventional battle with its neighbour, not counterterrorism operations in the tribal areas. The fight against extremists came second.
A related problem was that Pakistani forces pursued the Taliban much less aggressively than they pursued al Qaeda. Some in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, retained close ties to Taliban officials. Others wanted an insurance policy in case America abandoned Afghanistan and India tried to gain influence there.” (pp.213-214)
Bush on the hostile relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan:
“I invited Karzai and Musharraf to dinner at the White House in September 2006. When I welcomed them in the Rose Garden, they refused to shake hands or even look at each other. The mood did not improve when we sat down for dinner in the Old Family Dining Room. Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Steve Hadley, and I watched as Karzai and Musharraf traded barbs. At one point, Karzai accused Musharraf of harbouring the Taliban.
“Tell me where they are!” Musharraf responded testily. “You know where they are!” Karzai fired back. “If I did, I would get them” said Musharraf. “Go do it!” Karzai persisted. I started to wonder whether this dinner had been a mistake. I told Musharraf and Karzai that the stakes were too high for personal bickering. I kept the dinner going for two and a half hours, trying to help them find common ground.” (pp.215-216)
Bush on Pakistan’s “improved strategy” and commitment to anti-terrorist military actions:
“While well intentioned, the strategy failed. The tribes did not have the will or the capacity to control the extremists. Some estimates indicated that the flow of Taliban fighters into Afghanistan increased fourfold.” (p.216)
By the middle of 2008, I was tired of reading intelligence reports about extremist sanctuaries in Pakistan. I thought back to a meeting I’d had with Special Forces in Afghanistan in 2006.
“Are you guys getting everything you need?” I asked. One SEAL raised his hand and said, “No, sir.” I wondered what his problem might be. “Mr.President,” he said, “we need permission to go kick some ass inside Pakistan.” (p.217)
Bush recounts a touching moment, displaying the admirable commitment and sense of duty among American soldiers:
“There in that lonely hangar, in the nation where 9/11 was planned, in the eighth year of a war to protect America, these men on the front lines chose to reenlist.” (p.221)
Leading up to the infamous Iraq War:
“By early 2001, Saddam Hussein was waging a low-grade war against the United States. In 1999 and 2000, his forces had fired seven hundred times at our pilots patrolling the no-fly zones.” (p.228)
“Saddam Hussein wasn’t just a sworn enemy of America. He had fired at our aircraft, issued a statement praising 9/11, and made an assassination attempt on a former president, my father.” (p.228)
“Saddam Hussein didn’t just violate international demands. He had defied sixteen UN resolutions, dating back to the Gulf War. (p.228)
Here comes an interesting segment; I lived in France when America decided to “invade” Iraq (pretty much everyone referred to it as an invasion). I read in the French papers that the government were against the initiative due to their business dealings with Saddam, this of course shed doubt on their “moral” justification for opposing the war:
“Vladimir Putin didn’t consider Saddam a threat. It seemed to me that part of the reason was Putin didn’t want to jeopardise Russia’s lucrative oil contracts. France also had significant economic interest in Iraq.” (p.233)
“But when the German elections arrived later that year, Schroeder had a different take. He denounced the possibility of using force against Iraq. His justice minister said, “Bush wants to divert attention from domestic political problems . . . Hitler also did that.” I was shocked and furious. It was hard to think of anything more insulting than being compared to Hitler by a German official. I continued to work with Gerhard Schroeder on areas of mutual interest. But as someone who valued personal diplomacy, I put a high premium on trust. Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again.” (p.234)
When Bush spoke in front of the UN Security Council asking for a new UN resolution forcing Saddam to reveal his WMD:
“The vote was unanimous, 15 to 0. Not only had France voted for the resolution, but so had Russia, China, and Syria. The world was now on record: Saddam had a “final opportunity to comply” with his obligation to disclose and disarm. If he did not, he would face “serious consequences.” (p.241)
Pushed by Tony Blair who recommended Bush to address the Security Council once more when Saddam still proved to be difficult, Colin Powell delivered his infamous speech about Iraq’s WMD. Probably one of the most famous moments of the Bush administration. It seemed like the Security Council weren’t particularly interested in enforcing the “serious consequences” they had warned about:
“We are both moral men,” Jaques Chirac told me after Colin’s speech. “But in this case, we see morality differently.” I replied politely, but I thought to myself: If a dictator who tortures and gasses his people is not immoral, then who is? Three days later, Chirac stepped in front of the cameras and said, “Nothing today justifies war.” He, Gerhard Schroeder, and Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement of opposition. All three of them sat on the Security Council. The odds of a second resolution looked bleak.” (p.245)
It is an interesting thing to note that Bush writes: ” gasses his people.” The Kurds weren’t part of Saddam’s tribe, so what worth did they have to him? Again we get a glimpse of a fundamental lack of understanding of low-trust, extreme-tribal societies far removed from the excessively civic-minded, high-trust societies of Europe. Something that must have lingered on in certain parts of America as Bush described his childhood home in Texas as a place where no one locked their front doors…These type of statements lend an incredible insight into the “American mindset” where introduction to enlightenment ideas will automatically convert people to our way of life. If one operates under the belief that “all men are created equal” well then there isn’t much hope that western interference will ever come to a halt or that our own societies will survive – as massive immigration will be justified, since we are all the same and can function perfectly within a democratic, western, social construct. Bush goes on to share his take on the Iraq War critics:
“I’ve always wondered why many critics of the war did not acknowledge the moral argument made by people like Elie Wiesel. Many of those who demonstrated against military action in Iraq were devoted advocates of human rights. Yet they condemned me for using force to remove the man who had gassed the Kurds, mowed down the Shia by helicopter gunship, massacred the Marsh Arabs, and sent tens of thousands to mass graves. I understood why people might disagree on the threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. But I didn’t see how anyone could deny that liberating Iraq advanced the cause of human rights.” (p.248)
After the Americans and their allies had delivered yet another quick and impressive “take over” matters got ugly both in terms of PR and chaos in Baghdad:
“I hadn’t noticed the large banner my staff had placed on the bridge of the ship, positioned for TV. It read “Mission Accomplished.” It was intended as a tribute to the folks aboard the Lincoln, which had just completed the longest deployment for an aircraft carrier of its class. Instead, it looked like I was doing the victory dance I had warned against.” (p.257)
“In the weeks after liberation, Baghdad descended into a state of lawlessness. … Part of the explanation was that Saddam had released tens of thousands of criminals shortly before the war. But the problem was deeper than that. Saddam had warped the psychology of Iraqis in a way we didn’t fully understand.” (p.258)
“In some ways, the orders achieved their objectives. Iraq’s Shia and Kurds – the majority of the population – welcomed the clean break from Saddam. But the orders had a psychological impact I did not foresee. Many Sunnis took them as a signal they would have no place in Iraq’s future. This was especially dangerous in the case of the army. Instead of signing up for the new military, many joined the insurgency. In retrospect, I should have insisted on more debate on Jerry’s orders, especially on what message disbanding the army would send and how many Sunnis the de-Baathification would affect.” (p.259)
Here is an interesting thought. Was America as a nation played? And if so by who? After reading the following pages one can start to wonder…Bush writes in his book that everyone had intelligence about Saddam’s WMD. So did he ship them somewhere? Or did he lie? Was it all part of a grand scheme where Saddam behaved as if though he had something to hide – knowing that the Americans would come after him? Luring them into a situation he thought would cripple them? Was Saddam just the bait? These quotes, in fact these pages are of great interest:
“Their strategy was to present an image of Iraq as hopeless and unwinnable, swinging American public opinion against the war and forcing us to withdraw as we had in Vietnam.”
“When Saddam didn’t use WMD on our troops, I was relieved. When we didn’t discover the stockpile soon after the fall of Baghdad, I was surprised. When the whole summer passed without finding any, I was alarmed. The press corps constantly raised the question, “Where are the WMD?” I was asking the same thing.” (p.261)
“Nobody was lying. We were all wrong.” (p.262)
“No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons.” (p.262)
On receiving Saddam’s pistol in a glass box from the Delta Team that captured him Bush writes:
“The pistol always reminded me that a brutal dictator, responsible for so much death and suffering, had surrendered to our troops while cowering in a hole.” (p.267)
These are some very interesting quotes from Bush:
“One of the ironies of the war is that we were criticized harshly by the left and some in the international community for wanting to build an empire in Iraq. We never sought that. In fact, we were so averse to anything that looked like an empire that we made our job far more difficult. By reducing our troop presence and focusing on training Iraqis, we inadvertently allowed the insurgency to gain momentum. Then al Qaeda fighters flocked to Iraq seeking a new safe haven, which made our mission both more difficult and more important.” (p.268)
“Every psychological profile I had read told me Saddam was a survivor. If he cared so much about staying in power, why would he gamble his regime by pretending to have WMD?
Part of the explanation came after Saddam’s capture, when he was debriefed by the FBI. He told agents that he was more worried about looking weak to Iran than being removed by the coalition.” (P.269)
“Had Saddam followed through on that intention, the world would likely have witnessed a nuclear arms race between Iraq and Iran. .. Instead, as a result of our actions in Iraq, one of America’s most committed and dangerous enemies stopped threatening us forever. The most volatile region in the world lost one of its greatest sources of violence and mayhem.” (p.270)
Our favourite Moriarty character makes a guest appearance:
“Wealthy donors like investment mogul George Soros gave Kerry huge amounts of money….” (p.290)
Bush on the looming financial meltdown:
“By the summer of 2008, I had publicly called for GSE reform seventeen times. It turned out the eighteenth was the charm. All it took was the prospect of a global financial meltdown.” (p.455)
Bush’s account of the impending financial collapse and the repercussions for not only Americans but the “global economy” makes for a terrifying read. Bush describes trying to rescue the “sinking Titanic” a hopeless mission requiring federal interference through the purchasing and selling of public companies. This went completely against Bush’s free-market stance, but he saw himself as forced to “bail out Wall Street” due to the severe consequences that would manifest themselves as a result of bankruptcy upon bankruptcy among humongous businesses entrenched in all sort of enterprises far and wide. These pages read like a high-pace action thriller, where you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat as a reader. The fact that major corporations are so sensitively interlinked in terms of their finances and investments/speculations is alarming for all, regardless of who they are or where they might live.
As we near the end of these 481 pages Bush writes:
“When I hung up the phone, I said a prayer that all would be well during my successor’s time. I thought about one of my favourite presidential quotes, from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” His words are carved into the mantel above the fireplace of the State Dining Room.” (p.467)
Finally Bush closes with a wonderful epilogue and a touching acknowledgments section. All I can say is what a book. 10/10 for sure. Magnificent!
Winter Is Coming.