"There Will Be No Legacy" When It Comes to Foreign Policy—Cordially, WFB

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National Review founder William F. Buckely laid into President Bush–who honored Buckley last fall for his contributions to conservative politics–in an interview with CBS Evening News on Saturday. From a news account:

Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.

Asked if the Bush administration has been distracted by Iraq, Buckley says "I think it has been engulfed by Iraq, by which I mean no other subject interests anybody other than Iraq… The continued tumult in Iraq has overwhelmed what perspectives one might otherwise have entertained with respect to, well, other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular."

Despite evidence that Iran is supplying weapons and expertise to Hezbollah in the conflict with Israel, Buckley rejects neo-conservatives who favor a more interventionist foreign policy, including a pre-emptive air strike against Iran and its nuclear facilities.

"If we find there is a warhead there that is poised, the range of it is tested, then we have no alternative. But pending that, we have to ask ourselves, 'What would the Iranian population do?'"…

"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology—with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress," Buckley says. "And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge."

Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable."

Whole thing, including streaming video, here.

Hat tip: JABBS.

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  1. Oh, he’ll have a legacy all right: one of complete and utter failure.

  2. “If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we’ve experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign,” Buckley says.”

    No European prime minister would have to balls (even Germany) to take on the good causes of the world like the USA. We may not always get it right but we try like hell. And even if we withdraw (except for warlord areas like Somolia) we can see future positive changes Improvements in Vietnam here.

    Observation: Old people, in general, see the world falling apart when in fact it is just them.

  3. “Improvements in Vietnam here.”
    Erm, this is a libertarian blog isn’t it?

  4. Why does William F. Buckley hate America?

  5. I wonder if the Secret Service had Mr. Buckley escorted out, telling him “This is a private GOP gathering, I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to leave”

  6. I wonder if the Secret Service had Mr. Buckley escorted out, telling him “This is a private GOP gathering, I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to leave”

    From an interview with CBS?

  7. “No European prime minister would have to balls (even Germany) to take on the good causes of the world like the USA.”
    You mean like setting up a Democratic Lebanon then watching Israel bomb the hell out of it a year later? We’ve sure shown a lot of “balls” on this issue. How about Darfur? Lotsa balls there. Takes a lot of manly stuff to do nothing these days. I’m not saying we should run around and try to save the world. But to characterize the prudent behavior of our allies as lacking balls is part of the illogical rhetoric that gets a cowpoke like Bush elected in the first place.

  8. Sometime in 2002 Buckley lost some neurons. He wrote the Bush strategy in 2001, right after 9/11 http://www.nationalreview.com/buckley/buckley091401.shtml

  9. Sounds like buyers remorse to me too.

  10. “From an interview with CBS?”

    Things have changed since Rather left.

  11. Don Coyote – ever heard about the road to hell, and how it’s paved with good intentions?

  12. “No European prime minister would have to balls (even Germany) to take on the good causes of the world like the USA. We may not always get it right but we try like hell. And even if we withdraw (except for warlord areas like Somolia) we can see future positive changes Improvements in Vietnam here.”

    Is it the place for us to take on the good causes of the world? That wasn’t the thinking of our founding fathers.

    We can also see harm from our meddling. Our meddling in World War I led to the total defeat and humiliation of Germany which planted the seeds for World War II. Our meddling in World War II created vacuums for the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe and the Reds to take over China. By knocking out Saddam, we have created a vacuum for the Shia in Iraq to take over. Our meddling often has unforseen negative consequences.

  13. Lamar: You mean like setting up a Democratic Lebanon then watching Israel bomb the hell out of it a year later? We’ve sure shown a lot of “balls” on this issue.

    Lebanon allowed itself to be weakened to a point of being caustic to others by allowing Hezbollah to….
    Israel is reacting to the results.

    Darfur? Good, bad, right or wrong, I think most of the world sees the region as a bottomless pit that has to be avoided until some reasonable opportunity exist that can change the milieu. This is an area for the tax free chruches to excel.

  14. Thanks for the link to JABBS. Feel free to visit anytime.

  15. We may not always get it right but we try like hell.

    That’s an awesome attitude for an athlete in the Special Olympics. Making national policy is more complicated.

  16. Hey Factory, Erm, this is a libertarian blog isn’t it?

    If it is why are we beating up GWB? He is being free, free in thought and free in action. Seems he should be celebrated here;-).

    I don’t think much of parties. Hell, a party don’t even exist for what this country needs. I don’t know how political parties can exist within our government. Nothing in the constitution allows them. I say, that after elections, parties members are forbidden to talk or post a dem/rep title (with my tax dollar) by their name. Oh yeah, the founding fathers. That’s hearsay or third party and not permissible. The Nostradomus mindreader types belch this stuff continually when they have nothing to support their thoughts. anyway, later.

  17. “”No European prime minister would have to balls (even Germany) to take on the good causes of the world like the USA. We may not always get it right but we try like hell””

    If these “causes” created as much loss of life in this country as it does in the others, we would not entertain these endeavors.

  18. “”If it is why are we beating up GWB? He is being free, free in thought and free in action. Seems he should be celebrated here;-).””

    What you call “free” for Bush, is not free for this country. He has spent a very large part of our treasure, and some in the lives of our citizens. The bills are out there and must be paid. I could hardly call that “free”.

    Spending money wisely is in concert with libertarian values. That is something Congress has not done and the President has failed to keep it in check. It is also a conservative value.

    Now that the father of modern conservatism is declaring Bush is not one, I ask, Mr. Buckley, what took you so long?

  19. Tricky Vic: If these “causes” created as much loss of life in this country as it does in the others, we would not entertain these endeavors.

    Darfur! Get off the computer, go to the pantry, box up the food and UPS it to Darfur. People are dying there.

    Maybe that’s okay as long as we are not there shooting them? Live and let live (or die). One could also say, “If good people had to spend the same time in prison as bad people we wouldn’t have prisons.”

  20. Dan Coyote: You’re taking a lot of heat for your “The USA has big balls, except when it doesn’t, which is most of the time” stand. First, Darfur is a battle zone, perhaps you could know a little before you type. Second, your response to my post about balls is merely a justification of Israel’s attacks, not a reinforcement of your USA-has-the-guts post. In fact, you seem to have forgotten about that post, and gone directly to justifying your view of events, i.e., whether Israel is justified in destroying Lebanon. For example, your defense of Israel’s actions does not address the US’s failure to take action (unless a quick massage of the German Chancellor is your idea of “action”) or propose a solution to keep Lebanon a democracy (we did help create it, and we knew how weak it was, and we knew it couldn’t control Hezbollah). Perhaps Israel fared better with Syria keeping Hezbollah under their thumb. Here’s another point: if the USA has such “balls,” then why did we pick the weakest of the “axis of evil” to invade? We knew that North Korea and Iran had dangerous weapons, but we still went into Iraq based on who knows what. Don’t get me wrong: the folks in uniform have brass ones. However, cooking up schemes to invade weak countries is not generally evidence of big ones.

  21. And even if we withdraw (except for warlord areas like Somolia) we can see future positive changes Improvements in Vietnam here.

    Yeah, God knows what would have happened if we had let the North Vietnamese take over.

  22. I wonder how the hacks over at NRO are spinning this one. Must support W. Must support Buckley. Conflict. Error. Error. Authoritarian apologist cicruits breaking down…

  23. Okay Lamar: “First, Darfur is a battle zone, perhaps you could know a little before you type.”. just for you Lamar

    Condi is/was in Beirut, ahead of the curve and her peers, go USA. Our problem going forward is the heavy anchor of naysayers.

  24. “Our problem going forward is the heavy anchor of naysayers.

    Nothing is impossible for a people possessed of sufficient revolutionary will.

    -Pol Pot-

  25. “””If good people had to spend the same time in prison as bad people we wouldn’t have prisons.””

    I didn’t know prison was a “cause”. Your so called analogy falls short.

    As far a packaging food. It would be a nice gesture to the warlords in Dafur that would intercepted it, much like what was done in Somolia.

    If your making a statement that Dafur is important and requires our attention, I would agree. We may debate the level of attention. However until a stablizing force is in place, you would feed the warlords.

    Since it’s a big interst of yours, I must ask how much food have you boxed and sent?

  26. Don Coyote,

    Do you even know what libertarianism is? We believe in the rights of individuals. Taking money from some to give to others certainly isn’t libertarianism. GWB is the biggest spending president in history and that’s on domestic spending, leave alone spending on foreign policy. What is libertarian about Bush’s big spending. If the US Government should not meddle in individuals’ lives, it certainly shouldn’t meddle in other countries’ affairs. We shouldn’t have to pay taxes to the Government for the protection of other countries, only for our own protection.

  27. SR: Nothing is impossible for a people possessed of sufficient revolutionary will. POL POT

    He was dealing with a level of nescience in the people that allowed such a following.

  28. Don Coyote,

    Do you even know what libertarianism is? We believe in the rights of individuals. Taking money from some to give to others certainly isn’t libertarianism. GWB is the biggest spending president in history and that’s on domestic spending, leave alone spending on foreign policy. What is libertarian about Bush’s big spending. If the US Government should not meddle in individuals’ lives, it certainly shouldn’t meddle in other countries’ affairs. We shouldn’t have to pay taxes to the Government for the protection of other countries, only for our own protection.

  29. Ken,

    Buckley has been writing critical items about the Iraq War for about two and a half years.

    The NROers dutifully post them, without comment, then go about their business. Maybe they lay off accusing war opponents of treason and terrorist symathies until the piece drops off the front page.

    I suspect that the current leadership of NRO treats Buckley the way a British officer’s club treats its senile admirals: when he comes in and starts tallking, they smile and nod politely, steer him towards a comfortable leather chair, give him a brandy, and let him entertain a pair of pretty interns until he drops off to sleep.

  30. Buckely is on point. None of Bush’s policies or fruits have produced anything that would produce a legacy.

    Iraq war – Bush has already publicly stated it will be the next President’s problem.

    Mid-East – He made good ground at first, despite the outcomes, by getting democratic elections in the Palistine territories. He worked to get Syria out of Lebanon and for Lebanon to vote for a more American friendly government. Which they did. But his failure to support them when Israel attacked will probably unravel much of that work. It is obvious now that he is willing to support Arabs in that region only as far that Israel dictates.

    He allowed the Republicans to spend as if they were crack addicts.

    His war on terror has created more terrorism, not less.

    The only thing left standing is his Supreme Court appointments and that $300 dollar check he sent me. You be the judge of that.

    He has 1 1/2 years left. I don’t think he will break his trend.

    His “Yo, Blair” comment speaks volumes as to his abilities as leader of the freeworld.

  31. “” Our problem going forward is the heavy anchor of naysayers.””

    Do you really believe monday morning quarterbacks can affect the game?

    Naysayers are not at the helm.

  32. Our meddling in World War I led to the total defeat and humiliation of Germany which planted the seeds for World War II.

    Far better to have let WWI continue to grind on, killing hundreds of thousands more. I’m sure if that had happened, then the eventual Anglo-French victory (and they were going to win) would have been just peachy keen and the Germans would never have had any complaints.

    Our meddling in World War II created vacuums for the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe and the Reds to take over China.

    Far better to have let the psychopathic German and Japanese empires split Europe and Asia between them.

    By knocking out Saddam, we have created a vacuum for the Shia in Iraq to take over.

    Far better to leave the psychopathic Sunni regime in place, so we would now have two rogue nations actively pursuing nuclear weapons in the Mideast, rather than one, and no strategic foothold with which to restrain anyone.

    Good christ, if everything doesn’t come up daisies by the end of the third reel, everyone gets their lace panties all in a bunch.

  33. Let’s try this again…

    RC, I don’t see how the US could have actually stayed out of the two world wars, or even if it would have been a good idea. The jury is still out on Iraq…maybe it will turn out to be a good thing for us. But can you point out where one of our interventionist “wars” or “conflicts” or whatever you’d like to call them was a net good?

    Granted, my knowledge of the specific outcomes of scenarios like Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, Korea, etc is limited, so it may have come out roses for the US and it’s interests, but I’d have to have some proof before I could actually believe this.

  34. “Far better to have let WWI continue to grind on, killing hundreds of thousands more. I’m sure if that had happened, then the eventual Anglo-French victory (and they were going to win) would have been just peachy keen and the Germans would never have had any complaints.”

    R.C.,

    How do we know the war would have continued on? A more likely scene would have been that all parties would have fought to a stalemate and negotiated an amicable peace where no country would have had the upper hand which we allowed the allies to have because of our involvement. There would have been no total defeat and humiliation of Germany that led to WWII.

    “Far better to have let the psychopathic German and Japanese empires split Europe and Asia between them.”

    Germany wasn’t interested in all of Europe. They were mostly interested in getting back the land they lost at Versalles and taking the Ukraine. Western Europe and the US should not have gotten involved and just let Germany fight it out with the Soviets for the Ukraine. Both countries would have been weakened and we would not have had the Cold War. The Japanese were the bullwark against the Communists in Asia. They would have helped prevent the spread of Communism there if we had left them alone.

    “Far better to leave the psychopathic Sunni regime in place, so we would now have two rogue nations actively pursuing nuclear weapons in the Mideast, rather than one, and no strategic foothold with which to restrain anyone.”

    The Soviets and the US both had nuclear weapens, but neither attacked each other. Our nuclear weapons acted as a deterrent. Couldn’t the same be true with these other countries?

  35. The US could have easily stayed out of WWI, and should have. It was a war amongst several empires, none of which was deserving of our help.

  36. ” GWB? He is being free, free in thought and free in action.”

    Largely in the manner of a retarded thirteen year old with an unlimited supply of rocks.

  37. R. C. Dean… care to post any references that Iraq had an active WMD program? Especialy nuclear?

    You know, that Active WMD program that nobody in the world has seemed to locate any evidence of, including Iraq’s own leading weapons scientists…

    Good to see you are still getting your news from FOX…

    A much more favorable, however unpopular, would have been to negotiate with Saddam the use of his territory to launch attacks against our ‘real’ target in the middle east, Iran. Saddam was already neutered, had not done anything horrible in 10 years and was leader of probably one of the most stable economies in the middle east next to israel. We could have negotiated the scaling back of sanctions and possibly even given Iraq semi favored state trading status, it would have helped the people of Iraq a thousand times better then this war, we could have stabilized and secure Iraq without a shot being fired and little to zero loss of life on both sides, and gained an ally in a very unfriendly region. Saddam would have proly gladly went along, he would have loved to get back at Iran.

    But that would not have been a popular move, cuz you know, once you have an enemy, you can never be friends again… *heavy sarcasim*

    But what do i know…

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