With all the excitement surrounding Obama’s historic victory last week, relatively little attention has been given to the outgoing President’s legacy. In fact, most of Europe just seems relieved that the age of ‘Bush’s cowboy unilateralism’ is finally over. It is often difficult to judge a President before the fog of war clears and it is much too early to assess what President Bush has left the world. But Britain and Europe should bear a couple of things in mind, as they rush to judgment. Throughout his epic career, Winston Churchill was frequently derided as a scare-monger, most notably when he warned the world that it would regret appeasing Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany. President Reagan, a man without whom the Cold War probably would not have been won, was dismissed as a war-monger when he pursued strategic defenses against ballistic missile attack. And it was President Clinton, through NATO, who intervened in Kosovo to end Slobodan Milsovich’s ethnic cleansing without a UN Security Council mandate.
To the end that his primary goal was to avoid another terrorist attack on the homeland after 9/11, President Bush was decisive and successful. Other foreign policy questions remain open such as Afghanistan and Russia. But it is likely that history will end up being kinder to George Bush than the present has been.