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George H.W. Bush's Legacy Holds Little, Nothing for Libertarians To Celebrate

There is little to celebrate and much to criticize.

Library of CongressLibrary of CongressFormer President George H.W. Bush, who served one term in office from 1989 through 1993, is dead at the age of 94. By all accounts, he was an exceptionally kind, decent, and thoughtful individual and his service as a Navy pilot in World War II—he was awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross and shot down over the Pacific—reminds us of a time when seemingly casual, superhuman heroism by young twentysomethings was the order of the day.

Yet from a specifically libertarian view, there is little to celebrate and much to criticize regarding his presidency. With at least one notable exception, he did nothing to reduce the size, scope, and spending of government or to expand the ability of people to live however they wanted. If he was not as harshly ideological and dogmatic (especially on culture war issues) as contemporary conservatives, neither did he espouse any philosophical commitment to anything approaching "Free Minds and Free Markets." There's a reason he did not elicit strong negative responses or inspire enthusiasm: He lacked what he called "the vision thing." He had no overarching theory of the future, no organizing principle to guide his policymaking. That's not necessarily the worst thing in a president—we don't need a maximum leader, after all—but it also means he squandered an opportunity to set the coordinates for a post-Cold War world in the direction of maximum freedom.

In his post-presidency years, Bush emerged as a genial, even comforting, distant presence on a political landscape that continues to drive toward absolute demonization and polarization of even the most trivial differences. That's a role he was perfectly suited to play: As a one-term president who was the father of a very controversial president, he was a non-threatening loser to Democrats and Republicans alike, a Napoleon in exile who had no chance of coming back and taking power. At the same time, he lacked the moralizing overbearing of Jimmy Carter and the doltish qualities of Gerald Ford (who also bore a whiff of illegitimacy since he'd never been elected either president or vice president).

But George H.W. Bush's primary legacy is as a president, despite a resume that is arguably the most impressive ever held by a chief executive. Before he took up residence in the White House, he'd been a two-term vice president, headed up the Central Intelligence Agency, was liaison to China in the early '70s and was ambassador to the United Nations, ran the Republican National Committee, and served in Congress from Texas for two terms.

usgovernmentspending.comusgovernmentspending.comHe helped to manage the end of the Cold War in Europe with restraint and diplomatic aplomb, and almost immediately oversaw the paying out of what was called "the peace dividend," or reductions in year-over-year spending on defense. But as vice president, he was a big supporter of the Reagan administration's war on drugs, and his unbridled and misguided enthusiasm for prohibition carried over into his own White House Years. Flipped out by high-profile deaths of movie stars such as John Belushi and athletes such as Len Bias, and fretting over the rise of crack cocaine, Bush appointed former Education Secretary William Bennett as America's first head of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) or, as the position was called by its supporters, "drug czar." Bennett publicly announced "there's no moral problem" with beheading drug dealers because, you know, they're bad people doing bad things. Bush moved quickly to internationalize America's drug war, sending military supports and troops to far-flung countries willing to produce the drugs Americans demanded, further destabilizing places that were already shaky to begin with. Less than a year in to his presidency, he ordered "Operation Just Cause," an ilegitimate invasion of Panama that burned "down entire neighborhoods of the capital and kill[ed] hundreds of people, to collar a single two-bit narcotrafficker," our former ally Manuel Noriega.

Then there's the defining foreign-policy act of his presidency: the Gulf War, or "Operation Desert Shield." Pitched as an effort to restore internationally recognized boundaries after Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, the Gulf War ultimately solved no problems and instead set the table for the quagmire in which the United States is still mired. In summer of 1990, Saddam Hussein met with U.S. Amb. April Glaspie about the tensions between Iraq and Kuwait. Glaspie said, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." While there remains an argument over whether Glaspie was following Bush administration orders or injecting her own interpretation of U.S. interests, Stephen M. Walt writes, "It is clear from the cable that the United States did unwittingly give a green light to Saddam, and certainly no more than a barely flickering yellow light" to invade. Which Saddam did a week later.

To his credit, President Bush assembled a truly international coalition that included Israel and all Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East, worked in conjunction with (though not subservient to) the United Nations, and limited the scope of the invasion to pushing Iraq out of Kuwait and subsequently containing Saddam Hussein. As Jonathan Rauch noted here, shortly after the 9/11 attacks:

The goal of the Gulf War, for Bush and the Arab allies alike, was not to impose a new order on the region but to restabilize the old one. Strategically speaking, that meant caging the overweening Saddam, not toppling him. Moreover, until 1990 Saddam had been a savage bully, but one America had done business with. It was reasonable to expect that after the fighting he might settle down, play by the rules, and pocket billions in diverted development aid like any self-respecting kleptocrat.

usgovernmentspending.comusgovernmentspending.comNeedless to say, it didn't turn out that way. The United States did nothing to aid the immediate post-war popular uprisings that Bush himself cheered on, earning the distrust of the local populace. Saddam did not become someone we could do "business" with in any meaningful way, and the region was hardly stabilized by that first U.S.-led Gulf War.

Indeed, the only way in which the first Gulf War looks good is in comparison to the second one that took place at the direction of George W. Bush. But that doesn't mean the first Gulf War was a legitimate act of American defense policy, which should be aimed at protecting U.S. lives and property, not policing all the borders of all the countries in the world. There's a strong case to be made that the relative ease of the immediate and overwhelming military victory by U.S.-led troops over Iraq in 1991 emboldened President Bill Clinton to become more promiscuous about overseas interventions, a tendency that Bush II also betrayed. Kicking "Vietnam Syndrome," or a sense that the United States was relatively impotent when it came to shaping world events via military intervention, continues to extract a high cost for Americans and foreigners alike. Even as H.W. Bush vaguely invoked a post-Cold War "new world order," he effectively invented the role of the United States as the world's policeman, a role that presidents, with the possible exception of Donald Trump, continue to glory in.

On the domestic side, Bush is best remembered for breaking his campaign promise of "No new taxes," which he did to broker a 1990 budget deal with the Democrats. The legacy of the 1990 budget deal, which promised spending cuts of two dollars for every dollar in tax increases, is hotly disputed, both in its budgetary and political effects. The main provision increased the top marginal income tax rate from 28 percent to 31 percent and even critics of the plan agree it generated a total of about $137 billion in new revenue; champions of the plan credit it with setting the stage for the budget surpluses of the late 1990s.

usgovernmentspending.comusgovernmentspending.comThis much is certain, and should resound today, when our budget situation is much more dire in terms of spending, revenue, and deficits. On the spending side, the plan constrained the rate of spending growth but didn't actually propose year-over-year cuts. As Reason's Charles Oliver noted in 1990, the need for a budget deal occurred because the government was overshooting mandated deficit-reduction targets set in the mid-1980s by about $60 billion out of a budget than totaled $1.2 trillion. What happened if the government spent too much, asked Oliver?

All that happens is that federal spending will automatically be cut across the board by that amount. Since the federal budget is over $1.2 trillion, it will only have to be cut by about 5 percent. Does anyone really think that there isn't 5 percent of fat in the federal budget?

Of course, Congress can avoid automatic cuts by making reductions of its own. There are plenty of targets for the budget ax. The Bush administration already plans a 2 percent to 5 percent reduction in defense spending. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell has said that Pentagon spending could be cut by 25 percent without hurting America's defenses. Some outside experts put the figure closer to 50 percent. Still, taking Powell's estimate but speeding up his timetable slightly, we could cut defense spending by about $75 billion next year; that's $62 billion more than is currently planned.

We could scale back domestic spending, too. Congress could cut farm subsidies, slow cost-of-living rises in social programs, and even eliminate controversial agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts....

It all depends upon Congress and the president agreeing to use the peace dividend to reduce the deficit, not spending that money on new social programs.

We know how that turned out, of course. It remains unclear whether Bush's breaking of his tax pledge was the reason he ended up losing to Bill Clinton in 1992. For some of 1991, Bush basked in post-Gulf War approval ratings above 90 percent (!), but a recession caused in part by tight money, fallout from the Savings & Loan scandal, fear of new taxes, and a tight money supply. As did the emergence of Ross Perot, who carried a Texas-sized grudge against Bush and clearly drained support directly from him in the general election.

Bush will be remembered as a decent man but the reverberations of his domestic and foreign policy failures leave little for libertarians to cheer.

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  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    I remember him primarily as Homer's arch-enemy.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    But is it really necessary for Nick to trash the guy less than a day after his passing?

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Body ain't even cold.

    I feel bad for Jeb. It will have hit him the hardest.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Jeb and W. have a number of things to answer for, but today they're just two guys who lost their Dad. Let's leave it at that for now.

    We have the rest of time to pick HW's role in history apart. It doesn't have to be today.

  • Richard Pluck||

    Where is Nick 'trashing' him? This is a factual take on history that pays respect to the man while also recognizing his relation to Libertarianism at large (or lack thereof).

  • Juice||

    Hey man, we kicked Vietnam Syndrome forever!

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    (Insert name of any President of the 20th or 21st century)'s Legacy Holds Little, Nothing for Libertarians to Celebrate

  • Ben_||

    Because libertarians only complain, never celebrate. Except when they celebrate themselves.

  • Rockabilly||

    Song of Myself (1892 version)
    BY WALT WHITMAN
    1
    I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

    I loafe and invite my soul,
    I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

    My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
    Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
    I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
    Hoping to cease not till death.

    Creeds and schools in abeyance,
    Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
    I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
    Nature without check with original energy.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    He wasn't a coward. He wasn't a bigot. Only the most anti-social, disaffected, worthless strain of libertarianism would count that as 'little or nothing.'

    In other words, fire away, losers!

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    You love Bush. Not the good kind.

  • Mock-star||

    Pretty sure he was "literally Hitler" at the time.

  • gaoxiaen||

    He suckered some near-retarded black teenager into selling crack to undercover agents across the street from the White House so he could show it on TV. Carry on, clinger!

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    an ilegitimate invasion of Panama that burned "down entire neighborhoods of the capital and kill[ed] hundreds of people,

    It's worth noting that we in the States didn't see the killing that the rest of the word saw, thanks to our sanitized news. Remember that every time someone says something stupid like "they hate us for our freedoms". No, they hate us because we came into their country and murdered their families for no good reason.

  • Ben_||

    But realistically, haters hate because they decide to hate. Then they make up a justification: because something happened to someone in the distant past. The past goes back long enough for anyone to justify anything to themselves.

    The question is, why should non-haters take any of these justifications seriously? We can't change the distant past. And even if we could, the haters would just pick some other event (or make one up).

  • Juice||

    distant past

    1989 was like 100 years ago. Get over it.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    I don't go to my high school reunion. So why bring this up? Ancient history.

  • Ben_||

    The past is never coming back around. It only gets further away.

    What's the practical, useful alternative to "get over it"?

    (If the objective is pointless complaining and justifying hate, then "get over it" is counterproductive. So I can see why it wouldn't appeal to some crowds.)

  • Juice||

    Yeah, when someone murders your family, just remember to get over it. The past is the past and you can't bring back the dead, so just deal.

  • Ben_||

    What was practical, useful alternative again?

  • Juice||

    The practical alternative to not prosecuting murder? None come to mind.

  • Ben_||

    Yeah, people who only complain and who like to justify hate are often unable to think of practical, useful, constructive answers.

    The practical, useful, constructive thing to do about shit that happened 30 years ago (or 20, or 10, or 5 years ago) is to "get over it". Dwelling on it is destructive. Hate destroys. Stop cheerleading for hate.

  • Agammamon||

    Sure, technically they hate us because they decided to hate.

    The invasions of Panama have nothing to do with it.

    The funding of central American militias had nothing to do with it.

    The support of tyrranical governments had nothing to do with it.

    The fomenting of rebellions in the Middle East had nothing to do with it.

    We didn't do nuffin'

  • Ben_||

    Congrats on cheerleading for hatred.

  • Shirley Knott||

    That was cheerleading for rationality, not hatred.
    Your assertion is simply wrong.

  • Ben_||

    Going out of your way to justify hate is cheerleading for it.

    If you do it, you should own it. Otherwise don't do it.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    If someone burns my house to the ground, kills my family, and struts about demanding to be treated like a hero for it, I don't have to go out of my way to hate them.

  • Ben_||

    Yeah, congrats on being a cheerleader for hate then.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Congrats on being a pillar of stupidity.

  • Ben_||

    Spoken like a true hater. Go team!

    Calling people stupid sure is a wise and constructive choice. Bravo.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Spoken like a true idiot. Go you!

    Not comprehending the difference between "I understand why they might hate us" and "I think it's awesome that they hate us" sure is a certain sign of stupidity. Bravo.

  • Ben_||

    If you didn't want to cheerlead, you could have stuck to facts. Or, better yet, merely said "I understand the grievance".

    But you did want to cheerlead, so you went with drama and exaggeration.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    Still at this dumb argument,I see.

  • Ben_||

    Not much of an argument. Guys cheerlead for hate, I point it out.

    Maybe they decide to stop doing it. Maybe they decide to keep it up because they prefer hate. Either way, they get a chance to stop deluding themselves about what they are doing and what their motives are.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    But you did want to cheerlead, so you went with drama and exaggeration.

    A plainly false assertion based on no evidence whatsoever to try to support instead the idiotic tautology of 'haters hate because they decide to hate'.

  • MJBinAL||

    I am not a fan of GHWB by any means. That said, this burning your house shit is stupid.

    In every one of these cases, one group in that country cheered us as saviors while the other hates us for cutting off the gravy train.

    This goes with the territory when you DO THINGS. I am defending what was done ... just pointing out how infantile your post is. If you bust the Mafia in town, killing many of the mafioso in the process, the town may love you but the families of the mafioso are going to hate you. The fact that some hate you, has no reflection on whether what you did was good, just, or right. It only reflects that someone lost.

  • MJBinAL||

    sorry, not defending what was done

  • NashTiger||

    Most of your assertions are simply wrong.

    For example, "we" have almost always chosen the LEAST tyrannical side to support

    And I don't remember us killing any of OBL's family, or bombing their mansions

  • ||

    Someone's Sarcasmometer needs to be brought in for calibration, I think.

  • Ben_||

    Maybe yours.

  • Juice||

    *dindu

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    It's also worth noting that Panama is a small country. The deaths and destruction they saw were local and immediate.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Noriega was our guy in CA when HW was running the CIA. He ran his drug business with US approval because he was useful. HW screwed him kinda like he set up Saddam to invade Kuwait. But he'll be remembered as a "decent" guy.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Noriega was our guy in CA when HW was running the CIA. He ran his drug business with US approval because he was useful. HW screwed him kinda like he set up Saddam to invade Kuwait. But he'll be remembered as a "decent" guy.

  • Rat on a train||

    I only recall a three day rock festival at the Vatican embassy.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    That's 3 more days than any rock festival I ever attended

  • DRM||

    No, they hate us because we came into their country and murdered their families for no good reason.

    Which is why the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Panamanians, right? With a little assist from the descendants from fire-bombed Germans and Japanese, Filipinos resenting our conquest and occupation of their homeland, and Mexicans resenting the theft of half their country.

    Oh, wait, no, that's actually not true.

    In reality, the people who carried out the 9/11 attacks were mostly a bunch of assholes that were ticked off because they were being protected by the US military, because their infidel boots were mere hundreds of miles away from their sacred rock, instead of thousands.

    There are lots of people who have legitimate grievances with the United States. But you know what? They weren't the people that killed a few thousand Americans in 2001. Instead, it was a bunch of fanatics who, in fact, very explicitly hate us for our freedom to not follow the insane dictates of their archaic social order ordained by a collection half-gibberish bad poetry attributed to an illiterate warlord and slaver.

  • MJBinAL||

    Except, Israel was actually a British project carried out via the UN.

    Gotta admit though, you are REALLY good at making shit up!

  • DRM||

    Actually:

    At first, [bin Laden] told me, he had been opposed to the Americans because of their military presence in Saudi Arabia and because he felt they were too near to Mecca. That was a provocation to the entire Muslim world, he said.

    But once those early encounters in his homeland had stoked his feelings, he came to concentrate more on America's involvement in the Middle East.


    Which is to say, he made it all the way to 1990, at age 33, without giving one shit about American support for Israel.

    Only after he decided that Americans had to die for stationing troops four hundred miles from Mecca did he start looking around for other reasons to say he hated America, at which point he added every single possible excuse. Which did not include just Israel/Palestine, but Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and somehow even Chechnya and Kashmir. Plus not signing on to the Kyoto Protocol and International Criminal Court.

    But you go and pretend it's all about Israel, and not that it was because of troops from a land that tolerates "fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and trading with interest" were four hundred miles from Mecca.

  • NashTiger||

    Bin Lade did not say that. You are a liar, and a fool.

    He said we were invaders on holy Arabian soil

  • Ellis Wyatt||

    Meaning Israel.
    Thank you for playing.

  • Ben_||

    Being a third party guy is all complaining and zero problem solving. No surprise Nick Gillespie has only complaints to offer.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    Maybe the dominant parties have done enough "problem solving" for everyone.

  • Ben_||

    But no one will ever do enough impotent, complaining about it. Monday morning quarterbacks never lose.

  • Pepys the Cat||

    You seem to be doing a lot of complaining about it.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    .... complains Ben.

  • Ben_||

    I didn't pick the occasion of a man's death to offer complaints about him.

  • Jerryskids||

    What problems are left to solve? The (D)'s and the (R)'s take turns spending trillions of dollars solving all our problems, there's little left to do but bitch about how much spending they're doing and the number of problems they're solving. Libertarians like myself advocate not spending any money to not solve problems, but then we're mostly drunk, stoned, stupid and crazy and come up with retarded thoughts like that.

  • Juice||

    At least we're still allowed to complain. For now.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Pitched as an effort to restore internationally recognized boundaries after Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, the Gulf War ultimately solved no problems and instead set the table for the quagmire in which the United States is still mired."

    Bush Sr. decided not to depose Saddam Hussein in 1991 and occupy Iraq for two main reasons. 1) He wanted to keep Saddam Hussein's regime as a no-nonsense check on Iranian hegemony in the region and 2) Bush Sr. wanted to avoid a quagmire in keeping with the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine.

    Both of those reasons not to depose Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq in 1991 were still excellent reasons not to depose Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq in 2003--with avoiding a quagmire perhaps foremost among them. Bush's decision not to get us into a quagmire in 1991 didn't lead us to invade in 2003.

    The future isn't inevitable now, and it wasn't back in 1991 either.

    If there's anything to take away from the Bush Senior's foreign policy, it's about avoiding quagmires. Bush Sr. didn't occupy Iraq--to avoid a quagmire. Bush Sr. shouldn't have invaded Panama, but he bugged out quickly--to avoid a quagmire. Avoiding quagmires was what the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine was all about. We could learn something from that.

    To President Trump's credit, he appears to have picked up where Bush Sr. left off in that regard. God save us all from the neoconservatives who actively ignore the wisdom of the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine.

  • Juice||

    He wanted to keep Saddam Hussein's regime as a no-nonsense check on Iranian hegemony in the region

    How could it do that after being so severely hobbled after the Gulf War along with sanctions and no-fly zones?

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    It didn't seem to be terribly broken until Bush the Terrible decided to play Xerxes and defend his father's perceived loss.

  • Juice||

    Wha? It was totally broken. It couldn't take on Iran or anyone else in its wildest dreams.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Saddam Hussein still had a viable army until the Bush Jr. administration disbanded it (another huge mistake of Bush Jr.'s).

    One of the most reasonable explanations for why Hussein resisted WMD inspections (despite not having any to speak of) was that he wanted the Iranians to believe he had them as a deterrent.

    It's important to remember that just because the Iraqis were outgunned by the U.S. and its allies doesn't mean Iraq was so severely outgunned by the Iranians.

    Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein didn't only act as a hedge against Iran elsewhere in the region. Saddam Hussein also acted as a hedge against Iran in Iraq. Remember, two-thirds of the Iraq population is Shia, and the winner of the first Iraqi election after we invaded Iraq was a fundamentalist Shia party, the "Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq", that was started and funded by Iran.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....il_of_Iraq

    I have a ton of respect for my fellow Americans who volunteer for military service, and that's why I hated to point out at the time that all they'd accomplished with their suffering wasn't a beacon for freedom to the rest of the Arab world, but a victory for Iran. Since then, Iraq has fallen even further into Iran's orbit. If you think a new democracy in Iraq is somehow a bulwark against Iranian hegemony, you're crazy.

    P.S. Even if Bush Sr. had been wrong about that, that was still one of the two main reasons he did it.

  • Juice||

    Saddam Hussein still had a viable army

    LOL

    Come on, man. No.

  • Ken Shultz||

    As of when the invasion started in 2003:

    538,000 active
    650,000 reserves[12][13]
    Special Iraqi Republican Guard: 12,000
    Republican Guard: 70,000–75,000
    Fedayeen Saddam: 30,000

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 2003_invasion_of_Iraq\

    No quick mention of hardware.

    As of 1988, these were Iran's forces:

    600,000 soldiers,
    1,000 operable tanks,
    800 armoured vehicles,
    600 heavy artillery pieces,
    60–80 fighter-bombers,
    70–90 helicopters

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran–Iraq_War

    What are you trying to achieve by pretending that Iraq wasn't a strategic check against Iran in 1991? Are you trying to say that Bush should have occupied Iraq in 1991?

  • MJBinAL||

    Based on standard in the region, he had a viable army. Based on Western standards, not so much.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "One of the most reasonable explanations for why Hussein resisted WMD inspections (despite not having any to speak of) was that he wanted the Iranians to believe he had them as a deterrent."

    One of the other more reasonable explanations (to my ear) is that Saddam Hussein was a megalomaniac, and megalomaniacs are sometimes irrational.

    Who knew?

  • Juice||

    A dictator being a megalomaniac does not mean he had a viable military.

    So what if there were half a million men who were nominally soldiers in a nominal military? It doesn't mean they would be able to fight Iran or anyone in a war.

    What are you trying to achieve by pretending that Iraq wasn't a strategic check against Iran in 1991?

    The Gulf War was about protecting Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (and Israel). If it had anything to do with checking Iran it was by protecting those, er, protectorates.

    Are you trying to say that Bush should have occupied Iraq in 1991?

    Of course not. All I'm saying is that after the Gulf War, Iraq was kept weak and under constant pressure to make it weaker and weaker. To think that it was mean to be a direct military check on Iran in that weakened state is silly.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "A dictator being a megalomaniac does not mean he had a viable military."

    That wasn't cited as evidence that Iraq had a viable military.

    That was an alternative explanation for why Saddam Hussein refused to comply with weapons inspectors when he didn't have them and the most likely alternative to complying with inspections was being invaded by the U.S.

    Here are my top two explanations.

    1) Saddam Hussein was reasonable.

    Saddam Hussein feared Iran and the world knowing that he didn't have WMD because he was depending on the deterrent effect on Iran, Israel, and other enemies.

    2) Unreasonable

    Saddam Hussein was a megalomaniac, and that's why he behaved irrationally.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The Gulf War was about protecting Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (and Israel). If it had anything to do with checking Iran it was by protecting those, er, protectorates."

    I didn't say the Gulf War I was about checking Iran.

    I said that Bush didn't topple the Hussein regime and occupy Iraq (in part) because he wanted Iraq to remain a bulwark against Iran.

    Remember, Saddam Hussein went to war against Iran at the behest of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. After all, Iran was an ally of the Soviet Union after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and the reason the United States built massive military infrastructure within Saudi Arabia was that we were afraid that the Iranians wanted the Saudi oil fields (on behalf of the USSR) and also control of Mecca. Hell, why wouldn't Muslim fanatics want control of Mecca?

    Iraq had been serving as a check on Iranian power since at least 1979. The Bush administration was concerned that if that check were removed, Iran wouldn't have much to stop its hegemony in the region, and, by the way, Bush Jr. removing Saddam Hussein from power had exactly that effect. Iraq used to serve as the kind of check Saudi Arabia is on Iran's power today. Only, in 1991 Saudi oil was even more important to the world price of oil and our economy than it is today.

  • JFree||

    Saddam Hussein went to war against Iran at the behest of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. After all, Iran was an ally of the Soviet Union after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and the reason the United States built massive military infrastructure within Saudi Arabia was that we were afraid that the Iranians wanted the Saudi oil fields (on behalf of the USSR) and also control of Mecca. Hell, why wouldn't Muslim fanatics want control of Mecca?

    This is just blabbering nonsense. Saddam was the ally of the Soviets then - but not where he would just do their bidding. Iran was an ally of nobody after the Revol. The Soviets were fucking around in Afghanistan. Saddam went to war w Iran cuz of a long-standing border dispute - where he had lost the previous round to the Shah in 75. He thought an Iran in turmoil and losing all their friends and many soldiers going into exile made them an easy target. The reason we built post-79 stuff in Saudi was directly cuz the Soviets were in Afghanistan - and the Saudis were helping fight the Soviets in Afghanistan - back when we liked it when 'jihads' were declared.

    You R's are totally bat-shit morons about Iran as some bogieman. They are hostile to us now. So fucking what. That doesn't mean they want to take over the world. Their main post-revol interest is in being the protector of the Shiite world - which for the previous 1000 years was usually the victim of events.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I wrote that in response to the suggestion that I said the first Gulf War was about guarding against Iran.

    I never said any such thing.

    The fact is that we invested heavily in protecting Saudi Arabia from Iranian aggression before the First Gulf War, it remained a big part of the reason why Bush Sr. didn't topple Saddam in 1991, and it remained an excellent reason not to topple Saddam in 2003. Oh, and the threat of Iran allying with the USSR was also a part of that.

    In regards to the Soviet's relationship with Iran, we didn't help topple the Iranian government in 1953 for no reason--it was all a function of the Cold War to us even back then. Khomeini's wackiness about their natural alliance with the USSR notwithstanding, Iran was always considered the primary threat to Saudi Arabia (in an alliance with the Soviets), and, certainly, by the time fo the first Gulf War, just before Saddam Hussein started making waves about the financial aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War, Iran was still considered the primary threat to Saudi Arabian security.

    Anyone who thinks Iraq wasn't a check on Iranian power in the region because of x, y, or z (or Russia helping out Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war) is wrong--whether they're talking about 1979, 1991, or 2003.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You R's are totally bat-shit morons about Iran as some bogieman."

    I guess this is the most likely explanation for what you wrote? Somehow, the reasons Bush Sr. didn't topple the Hussein regime and occupy Iraq in 1991 wasn't at all because he wanted Iraq to be a check on Iran. No, nothing that happened in 1991 can be properly understood unless it somehow has something to do with Barack Obama or Donald Trump?! That's called TDS. No wonder you're so full of shit.

  • JFree||

    we didn't help topple the Iranian government in 1953 for no reason--it was all a function of the Cold War to us even back then.

    That was irrelevant by 1979. And 1953 was about oil not the Soviets.

    Khomeini's wackiness about their natural alliance with the USSR notwithstanding

    No it wasn't and there is no natural 'alliance' or even an affinity between the Soviets/Russia and Iran. Their revolution was entirely about a conservative/rural reaction against the Shah's modernizing. Khomeini was exiled cuz of his opposition to women getting the vote in the early 60's. By the late 60's when I lived there, women were wearing miniskirts in N Tehran (westernizing part of town) and chadors in S Tehran (poor part of town). Those conflicts got compounded in the 70's when the oil wealth didn't trickle down and the US became associated with making those divisions worse.

    Iran was always considered the primary threat to Saudi Arabia (in an alliance with the Soviets)

    The Iran-Iraq-Saudi triangular tension is longstanding and 'natural' but is based on Arab v Persian and Sunni v Shia - and more recently economic competition about oil. Trying to assess any of that in some context that you, an American, will ever understand is pointless. Any notion you bring - incl putting that in some Cold War context or hegemonic/geopolitics strategy - is simply wrong. So stop trying.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "They are hostile to us now. So fucking what. That doesn't mean they want to take over the world"

    Their hostility doesn't mean they want to take over the world. The fact that they want to take over the world means they want to take over the world. The hostility towards us is incidental.

    Their more immediate goal is a middle eastern caliphate, with Tehran as the centerpiece. From there they envision a world wide caliphate eventually. The average Iranian may not be down for that, but those crazy Mullahs that run the country certainly are.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "They are hostile to us now. So fucking what. That doesn't mean they want to take over the world"

    Iran has used multi-stage rockets to launch satellites into permanent orbit. They could easily convert such capabilities into use as ICBMs.

    Iran has violated the NPT and clandestinely sought to enrich uranium beyond the concentrations necessary to build nuclear weapons.

    Taking over the world isn't the biggest threat to U.S. security. If we ended up in a mutually assured destruction scenario with Iran, as we had with the USSR, 1) there is no good reason to assume it would necessarily end without a missile exchange like the Cold War and 2) there are plenty of good reasons to assume that MAD will guarantee precisely the kind of region proxy war the Cold War itself entailed.

    Hell, Iran has a terrorist army and is already engaging in proxy wars throughout the region. Meanwhile, the apparent reasons why Hezbollah has been reluctant to specifically target Americans is that Iran fears direct retaliation from the U.S. or the U.S. taking Israel off its leash. If Iran develops a nuclear deterrent, that reluctance probably goes out the window. Iran certainly haven't been reluctant to use its terrorist army against us out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Meanwhile, if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, their adversaries (Saudi Arabia and Egypt, certainly) will also pursue them. This will only compound the threat of a nuclear exchange to U.S. security.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oh, and notice a couple of things about these facts.

    1) They're all true or not regardless of how I feel about anything, my party identification, of whether I've voted for a Republican candidate for president in the last 18 years. (I haven't)

    2) The reasons the Reagan administration invested heavily in defending Saudi Arabia after the Iranian Revolution, the reasons Bush Sr. decided not to topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq in 1991, and the consequences of Bush Jr. removing Iraq as a significant check on Iranian hegemony--are all what they are regardless of how quickly Russia and Iran fell into each other's orbits, regardless of whether Obama's appeasement of Iran's nuclear ambitions was wise, and regardless of how much JFree hates Republicans.

  • JFree||

    if Iran obtains nuclear weapons

    Iran WILL obtain nukes eventually if they want to because they are in a dangerous neighborhood where 4 neighbors already HAVE nukes (Russia, Israel, Pakistan, India) and three have rejected NPT so are no fucking help at all. So any efforts we make to prevent them from going down that road should be done WITHIN the NPT context because that's the only thing that prevents proliferation. We have to stop them from 'wanting to' - which will take time. There will NEVER be some 'forever' agreement. Just a 10-year - followed by another 10 year - followed by another - etc.

    Israel created their own long-term problems here. They are going to have to fix them on their own too. They invaded Lebanon - and in the process of occupying it and massacring Lebanese Shiites in Sabra/Shatilla, they turned those Shiites from friends (in a Middle East context) of Israel into enemies of Israel. So they looked for help among other Shiites - and found it in Iran. Which is what became Hezbollah.

    Everywhere Iran is engaged outside Iran, it is - to them - protecting Shiites. A map of where Shiites are shows where they will be inclined to engage themselves- and also shows the entire extent/nature of their interest. They have negative interest in incorporating Sunnis - or non-Persians - or broader caliphate - or some ancient pre-Islamic dreams of Cyrus.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Iran WILL obtain nukes eventually"

    I don't know that this is true, but I know that we're all going to die of old age, eventually.

    Does that mean there's no point in quitting smoking, dieting, exercising, or brushing your teeth?

    Even IF IF IF something especially awful does happen eventually, that's no reason NOT to work against it happening now.

    The NPT has been fairly effective in keeping the proliferation of nuclear weapons to a minimum. The extent to which nuclear weapons haven't proliferated is largely due to enforcement of the NPT. Certainly, abandoning the NPT is an excellent way to make sure it's completely ineffective.

    And your prophecies about what will happen eventually 1) don't make a nuclear Iran any less of a security threat to the U.S. and 2) don't make resisting a future with a security threat from a nuclear Iran any less rational.

  • JFree||

    Even IF IF IF something especially awful does happen eventually, that's no reason NOT to work against it happening now.

    I agree completely. Keeping Iran from pursuing nukes is a worthy goal - and working within NPT is the only way that can make that happen. What I'm really saying is that a)we don't need to personalize this as a threat to us and b)we don't need to elevate their proxy/regional stuff as a threat either.

    Those two are a sort of fearmongering that only serves to force us into doing stupid things blindly and emotionally. Which won't help anyone.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Iraq was kept weak and under constant pressure to make it weaker and weaker. To think that it was mean to be a direct military check on Iran in that weakened state is silly."

    Iraq had no fly zones and an effective Kurdistan imposed on it.

    It was kept weak enough so as not to be a huge threat to Saudi Arabian or Kuwaiti oil but strong enough to be a check on Iranian hegemony in the region.

    Nowadays, Iraq is beholden to Iran. So is Syria. So is what used to be North Yemen. So is Lebanon. So is . . .

    P.S. Even if you think this strategy was ineffective, that doesn't mean it wasn't the strategy. This strategy was actually quite effective (as evidenced by what happened with the fall of Hussein regime), but just because a strategy was ineffective, that doesn't mean it was the strategy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    P.P.S. Yes, Saudi Arabia is a check on Iranian hegemony in the region.

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    The big difference between 1991 and 2003 was the fact China's growth meant the world economy needed more oil and Iraq had underperforming oil reserves. I honestly don't think the Bush administration considered the consequences of failure.

  • Agammamon||

    It didn't have to be able to. It just had to be viewed as being able to deal a painful blow.

  • Juice||

    So the US was ready to allow Saddam Hussein to ramp up the Iranian military again?

  • Juice||

    *Iraqi

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Poppy Bush wisely did not try to occupy Iraq. However, he foolishly decided to maintain a heavy and visible US military presence in the Saudi Arabian "holy lands".

    The US had had a covert military presence in the Kingdom for decades, but it was always discrete and fairly limited. Very few Arabs saw first-hand evidence of US military on Saudi soil. After Gulf War I, it was plain to every Arab to see and it was an affront to every good Muslim. This was Osama bin Laden's foremost grievance against the US and the Saudi monarchy in his fatwa titled "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders".

  • Ken Shultz||

    However, he foolishly decided to maintain a heavy and visible US military presence in the Saudi Arabian "holy lands".

    Yeah, that was a mistake, and I've never claimed to be in favor of the 1991 Gulf War either.

    That being said, you can limit the damage done by bad military policy significantly by making sure you have an exit plan and not going beyond your willingness or means.

    And what I wish people would appreciate more is that there is a tremendous amount of wisdom in the Weinberger Powell Doctrine. It was relevant in 1991. It was relevant in 2003. It was relevant in 2011 when Obama correctly resisted the push to put troops on the ground in Libya. And it's relevant today!

    Ignore the Pottery Barn Rule, and we'll wish you hadn't--if we're smart. If we're stupid, there's nothing to learn from the Bush Sr. administration.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Bush went to war to save the Saudi dynasty's ass as payback for their saving his son's ass in Texas. Saddam was far more benevolent a dictator than the Saudi royals, and all that was at stake was who sold the oil. The Mid-East would have been much better off with Saddam running the place instead of the Saudis. But just about everyone, even the Iranians, are less despotic than the Saudis.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You keep spouting idiotic shit about how benign Saddam was. You have no clue.

  • Jerryskids||

    I agree - Bush the Elder's main fault here was not slapping the shit out of his son when his son decided to go galloping off in all directions at once in the cause of nation-building. Limited objectives, get it done, get out, leave bad enough alone. Practically libertarian compared to his son.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Bush wasn't about to contradict his son in public, but some of Bush Sr.'s advisors were publicly opposed to invading Iraq.

    Don't Attack Saddam
    By Brent Scowcroft
    Updated Aug. 15, 2002 12:01 a.m. ET

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1029371773228069195

  • DRM||

    It's likely his son's initial plan wasn't to do nation building in Iraq. It's likely we were instead supposed to leave behind chaos that wouldn't be able to threaten Saudi Arabia. That's why, for example, we disbanded Iraq's army, so nobody could use it, rather than using it ourselves to impose order.

    The problem is that Hussein successfully hid from us. If we'd gotten him in July, when we knocked off his sons, we could have declared victory and gone home, handing off nominal power to an Iraqi transitional government that didn't have the power to hold Iraq together, and written off the later civil war as an Iraqi problem. But we couldn't declare victory and go home as long as Hussein was live and free.

    So, we were still there when the civil war really took off in October-November 2003, with the result our troops were a target. By the time Hussein was found in December, the fighting made "declare victory and go home" implausible; it would have looked like a rout under fire, while the Democrats were all talking about the Pottery Barn rule.

    Granted, I can't prove it. But if Saddam Hussein had died with his sons on July 22, 2003, my expectation is that the US would have withdrawn most of its forces in August, and total Coalition fatalities in Iraq would have been around 300. And that was probably a longer stay than initially expected in the plans.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    As a patriotic libertarian who voted for the first time in 2016, I must evaluate every past President in comparison to Orange Hitler. So while GHWB did some things that were indefensible from a libertarian POV, like putting Thomas on the Supreme Court, he looks great compared to the regime we're suffering through now.

    To start with, GHWB appears to have won the 1988 election legitimately. This is in sharp contrast to today's Republicans, who only win with the help of gerrymandering, voter suppression, Russian hacking, or some combination thereof. And whatever disagreements I would have had with him policy-wise, I'd know Bush was not a Kremlin asset. How could he be? He was an extension of the Reagan era, in which the GOP despite all its faults was still on the right side of history with respect to Russia.

    If only we could go back to the days when principled conservatives still controlled the party.

    #LibertariansForABetterGOP
    #PutTheNeoconsBackInCharge

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    One more thing.

    But George H.W. Bush's primary legacy is as a president, despite a resume that is arguably the most impressive ever held by a chief executive. Before he took up residence in the White House, he'd been a two-term vice president, headed up the Central Intelligence Agency, was liaison to China in the early '70s and was ambassador to the United Nations, ran the Republican National Committee, and served in Congress from Texas for two terms.

    A worthy list of accomplishments, to be sure. But it was clearly surpassed by Hillary Clinton, who became the most qualified Presidential candidate in American history.

    #StillWithHer

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    @OpenBordersLiberal-tarian Your a fucking dumb ass and your name says it all, Hitlery fucking is the most corrupt shit bag in history, not only did she do actual deals with Russia that were illegal and now their blaming it on Trump, she also helped illegally sell Uranium, not to mention covered up Benghazi, laughed when we illegally went in and took out Libya's leader, illegally funneled money from campaign contributors through the Clinton foundation, openly supported the drug war, supported aggressive war etc. Do I need to go on? "I am with her" OK shit for brains, that means your for everything I listed above, stop adding the "Tarian" to your name and stop using "liberal" your a dumb fuck, control freak leftist.

  • NashTiger||

    Oh Boy

  • Ellis Wyatt||

    The Uranium One story is almost as bat-shit crazy as Birtherism
    They seem down right eager to be brainwashed. Sad.

  • CE||

    so you want the neocons AND Cortez.... not sure how that will work

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    How can a country oppose a socialist paradise like the USSR and still be on the right side of history?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "On the domestic side, Bush is best remembered for breaking his campaign promise of "No new taxes," which he did to broker a 1990 budget deal with the Democrats."

    My path to libertarianism went like this:

    1) Listened to Ronald Reagan's campaign speeches a child.

    He sounded like a rabid capitalist back then, full of hope and the promise of a bright future--at a time when everyone else seemed to think we would inevitably lose the USSR, and stagflation was dominant.

    2) An 8th-grade teacher told me that Reagan's economic ideas could be understood by reading a book by some economist called "Free to Choose". He lent me his copy. I became convinced that this was what it meant to be a Republican.

    3) Bush Sr. broke his no new taxes pledge. I was so upset, when I turned 18, I registered as a Libertarian in protest. The guy that wrote "Free to Choose" was supposed to be a libertarian! Once I registered Libertarian, I figured I better learn what being a libertarian was all about.

    4) Ta da! Here I am. I guess I can thank George H. W. Bush for his contribution to that.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    Look at what the Bush's tried to do to Reagan and you might see them for what they are. My years are a little behind yours, but I still thank a Bush for imitating my leave from the Republican party.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Same here, but I'm about 20 years older than you.

  • grb||

    "it was in exchange for Democrats agreeing to NOT go on a typical recession spree -- stimulus and safety net programs"

    The old canard about "broken promises" by the Democrats started five minutes after GHW Bush's signature dried on the deficit agreement, when he realized just how much grief he'd get from his own side. It's since been repeated thousands of times, because the ignorant rely on their myths & clutch them tight - like a child his teddy bear. Sometimes the story gets muddled and it is Reagan who was betrayed ( Betrayed !!! ) by nefarious Democratic promises. Either way, the story is total crap.

    You see, Reagan's supply-side economics was never more than a cheap political tactic to promise free stuff. And though RR pushed more cuts than Congress would accept, the difference was small and only averaged about 12 billion a year - his proposed budgets over budget passed. Sill Reagan gave speech after speech blaming exploding debt on Congressional spending beyond his requests.

    It's hard to insulate yourself against dishonest propaganda, but Democrats in Congress tried with GHW Bush. They didn't spent a penny more that Bush's proposed budgets all his four years. But that's the cold hard facts of numbers, not silly childish myths.

  • Rich||

    Bennett publicly announced "there's no moral problem" with beheading drug dealers because, you know, they're bad people doing bad things.

    Ah, yes, Bennett. What did he think about beheading people with gambling problems?

  • gaoxiaen||

    That's different because me.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    April Catherine Glaspie, America's first woman ambassador to an Arab country. That worked out swell.

    Glaspie was an Arabist. But if she had been a good Arabist, she'd have known better than to take the job.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    OFF TOPIC

    Fox Is Investigating Neil DeGrasse Tyson After Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

    Unlike the highly credible accusations against Kavanaugh, this sounds like a baseless smear campaign to me. NDT is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant living scientists. I suspect this is all a conspiracy by white supremacists to frame an innocent man of color.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    I'm sure scientists have consensus that he is innocent.

  • Brian||

    It was more date rape drugging: he blinded them with science.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    But what if those three women are progressive democrats of color? Then what?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The United States did nothing to aid the immediate post-war popular uprisings that Bush himself cheered on"

    Either you wanted an invasion of Iraq or you didn't. Make up your mind!

    1) There was nothing wrong with the observation that the people of Iraq should rise up and free themselves of Saddam Hussein--since the U.S. has no business doing that for them.

    2) Those who think Bush Sr. was wrong to encourage them to revolt if he wasn't also going to invade and occupy Iraq have no business criticizing Bush Jr. for invading and occupying Iraq.

    . . . and they have no business encouraging anybody anywhere in the world to overthrow their oppressive dictators without promising an American invasion in support either.

    Make. Up. Your. Mind.

    You don't get to criticize people for both invading and refusing to invade.

  • Ben_||

    It's not about wanting an invasion or not wanting one. Nick Gillespie mostly cares about post hoc second guessing and posturing. That's what he wants.

    Nothing anyone could have done (or not done) could ever be good enough.

    Stupid leaders and their actions. Don't they know that the smart people sit on the sidelines and know all the things that should have been done instead? It all magically works out when you imagine it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I see that objection to Bush Sr. sort of like I see the objection about how Reagan emptied the nut houses and created the homeless problem--which never would have existed otherwise!

    The fact is that whatever changes Reagan made, he made them 30 years ago or more. Both Democrats and Republicans have been in charge at various times since then, and no one has sought fit to change back whatever it was that Reagan did to create homelessness.

    It's just something that people knocked Reagan for a long time ago, and somehow it stuck in his critic's imaginations. Reagan is also responsible for AIDS!

    I have a list of complaints about Reagan. I assure you, those aren't on it.

    I have a short list of complaints about Bush Sr., too. The fact that he called for the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow their own dictator isn't among them. I hope oppressed people all over the world rise up and free themselves of their dictators. Why should a president of the USA be criticized for saying such a thing?

    I don't want the U.S. to invade Syria, but Assad's head would look lovely on a pike.

  • Ben_||

    I hope people will stop listening to Nick Gillespie.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There is one other excellent contribution that George H. W. Bush made to America--if it weren't for George W. Bush, there wouldn't have been a GATT, MFN status for China, or a WTO.

    George H. W. Bush was hugely responsible for NAFTA.

    You cannot spend two years chastising President Trump for his stances against NAFTA and the provisions of the Uruguay Round and then turn around and jip President George H. W. Bush for his contributions to NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO.

    Some of those things may have been ratified under the Clinton administration, and Clinton deserves credit for not fucking them up. However, those were Bush Sr.'s accomplishments. To whatever extent we enjoy free trade today because of NAFTA and the WTO, we largely owe that to the efforts of George H. W. Bush.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....:Nafta.jpg

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    Exactly, the Bush family has a long history of promoting Chinese economic expansion along with an expanded global middle class. The 2003 Iraq War was consistent with those values in that Bush sought to liberate Iraqi oil to fuel global economic expansion—first law of thermodynamics.

  • CE||

    There were no budget surpluses. The national debt increased every year.

  • JFree||

    almost immediately oversaw the paying out of what was called "the peace dividend," or reductions in year-over-year spending on defense. But ...

    It is profoundly unfair to dismiss that accomplishment with a 'but'.

    All four rounds of the Base Closure and Realignment (1988 (he took the lead as VP), 1991, 1993, 1995) were set in motion by Bush even if he himself wasn't there to appoint the last commissions. The result was the closure of 110 military bases in the US and 260 elsewhere in the world. That's huge and imo there is no question that he would have set a couple more rounds in motion since he actually WAS a veteran (unlike every subsequent Prez) AND of the generations which understood why the Cold War started and what the country was like before that.

    Unfortunately, we decided to completely skip over the Silent Generation and elect the Moronic Generation instead and they in true bipartisan stupidity decided that the US needed to be the world's unilateral empire and NATO needed expanding and we needed permawar cuz the world is spun as MORE dangerous and all the other shit that spits on even the idea of a peace dividend.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Just for the record, on Bush Sr. and the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine:

    1) Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    2) Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3) Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    4) Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    5) Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    6) Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    7) Is the action supported by the American people?
    8) Do we have genuine broad international support?[2]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powell_Doctrine

    This often gets pitched as a way to justify wars that we wouldn't undertake otherwise, but that gets it backward. It's really a way to make sure that we don't deploy troops to another Vietnam.

    Honest people can disagree about the answers to any of these questions, some of those questions are probably more important than others, and no one has ever applied the doctrine in a perfect and complete way. Still, its influence and results can be shown even if the tests are incompletely applied--some people say that real communism has never been applied because the Russians skipped some steps! Um . . . I think I've seen enough to make some generalizations about the likely consequences of communism anyway. I think we've seen enough of what happens when we ignore the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine to make some generalizations, too.

  • Ken Shultz||

    5) Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?

    That's a big one!

    Vietnam and the Iraq War 2003 are excellent examples of what happens when we ignore that precept.

    The Panama invasion and Obama's Libya adventure are probably excellent examples of what happens when we have an exit strategy. Obama's Libya adventure is especially telling--it's so much easier to pull troops out of a quagmire when you never send them into the quagmire in the first place. Obama sent like ten guys to Libya in the aftermath, and even that was a mistake!

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    But the stakes were so high in Iraq—the Global Financial Meltdown was the product of a mismanaged war and only the "black swan" event of fracking being developed allowed us to exit the war.

  • Juice||

    Remember when he said that atheists shouldn't be allowed to be citizens? I had forgotten that. Just got reminded of it. Good times.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Do you have a link for that?

    I remember when he said he didn't like broccoli.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I see a lot of disputes about the accuracy and believability of this quote on Wikipedia.

    Apparently, the only person who heard this quote was an activist. It wasn't reported by anyone else--at the press conference when he supposedly asked it. There is no existing confirmation of this quote by a second source--or there supposedly was one that's always pointed to a dead link and appears to only exist to justify this quote.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/T.....H._W._Bush #George_H.W._Bush_"Atheist"_Remark

    If you find a legitimate source, I'll be interested.

    In the meantime, I'm chalking this up like the quote about how Reagan said the ideal would be to have the Indians exterminated when what he really said was that the Pilgrims came to a new empty land. So many of these "quotes" were made back in the days before the consumer internet--and can't be sourced anymore. I don't think there's any more bullshit fake news now than there was back in 1987, but I think it's much easier to catch these days--so people notice it. Until you find a source beyond some atheist activist, if that's what he is, then color me skeptical.

  • Juice||

    You beat me to the link and I didn't refresh before posting it. Read the whole wiki talk. He never denied saying it even though there was a stink about it at the time. But, maybe he never actually said it and the reporter is lying. I guess we'll never know.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    It is inconsistent with anything else he ever said or did while in power. He may have said it but it seems the less likely possibility.

  • Juice||

    Ah, you know, I do remember it being attributed to him at the time, but looking it up now, it's apparently a "disputed" quote. I do remember the stink about it at the time, though. And according to the wiki talk, there's good reason to believe the reporter who originally reported it. Maybe it never happened or maybe it did and was memory holed.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Jesse Walker has referred to another quote during the Bush Sr. Administration as "poorly sourced" in a different thread:

    "Fuck the Jews; they didn't vote for us anyway."

    --James A. Baker III, U.S. Secretary of State 1989-1992

    http://reason.com/blog/2018/12.....nt_7581391

    "One of those poorly sourced quotes that will probably live forever, no matter how shaky the evidence that he said it."

    ----Jesse Walker

    Before we could all spot check each other on our phones, the guy that won the argument on facts was the guy that spoke his facts with the most confidence. I keep reading about how people don't trust the news the way they used to, but, back then, I don't think people's expectations were as high. You got your news from three networks and one newspaper that were all reporting the same stuff. If they all said the same thing, you might believe it. Nowadays, our news sources contradict each other. Maybe that's the source of the distrust. Maybe the loss of trust isn't about the quality of the news. That might be better than it was before. Maybe it's just that they're not all saying the same things anymore and our expectations have changed.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Incidentally, Jim Baker holding together a coalition of Arab states to attack Saddam Hussein, even while Saddam Hussein was lobbing Scud missiles at Israel--that may be the greatest feat in the history of diplomacy.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I mostly recall Bush for reversing the work Reagan had done to rein in BATF abuses. Ruby Ridge happened on Bush's watch, and Waco started under him, and this was no accident.

    Ran claiming he'd be Reagan's third term, then set out to reverse most of what he accomplished.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The way Waco started may have been bad, but the way it ended--that's when the really bad stuff happened, right?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Without the start, the end wouldn't have happened. And remember, it was February '93, Clinton had only taken office five weeks earlier.

    The whole thing was conducted by Bush appointees, except for Reno. Not dismissing her guilt, but it was Bush people pushing things along the whole while.

  • Jerryskids||

    Signing the Clean Air Act revision that gave the EPA unlimited power to clean up the environment to the nth degree regardless of how many trillions of dollars it costs was probably the worst mistake any president ever made since Lincoln decided he'd like to go see a play. The exact opposite of his foreign adventurism policy with its unlimited objectives and its lack of an exit strategy. Every damn year the EPA keeps insisting there's no such thing as "good enough" and lowers the permissible standards on all sorts of pollutants because their answer to how clean is clean enough is always "More". At some point the climate change issue is going to be settled by the EPA declaring emitting any greenhouse gasses at all is a violation of the CAA and if it costs $20 trillion a year to bring down emissions, well that's just a price we're going to have to pay.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Ban Water Vapor! Faux Yeah!

  • Bearded Spock||

    After listing all his faults, Gillespie forgets H. W.'s biggest contribution to libertarianism: Clarence Thomas, arguably the most libertarian Supreme Court Justice of the past century.

    If only he had chosen someone like Thomas instead of Souter.

  • Bearded Spock||

    Oh, and there is no such thing as the "Distinguished Navy Cross". Jesus, you libertarians don't know shit about the military -- other than it spends too much money in your minds.

    There is the Navy Cross, which is the highest honor given to any member of the Navy or Marines save the Congressional Medal of Honor, and there is the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded to any pilot in the Armed Forces who acts with bravery and honor in combat.

    George H. W. Bush was awarded the latter.

  • James Pollock||

    "Oh, and there is no such thing as the "Distinguished Navy Cross". Jesus, you libertarians don't know shit about the military -- other than it spends too much money in your minds.

    There is the Navy Cross, which is the highest honor given to any member of the Navy or Marines save the Congressional Medal of Honor,"

    You lost credibility on this topic when you misidentified the Medal of Honor.

  • Bearded Spock||

    "You lost credibility on this topic when you misidentified the Medal of Honor."

    How so? The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award given to members of the US military.

    If you're objecting to me using the informal term "Congressional" with it, then you're being pedantic.

    If you're arguing that it's not the highest military honor, then you're illustrating my point that aside from details about the budget libertarians are woefully ignorant of details about the US military.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I remember George Holy War Bush for wrecking the US economy, wrecking every economy between Brownsville and Magallanes, demanding a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag-burning, and demanding (on several different occasions recorded in his Presidential Papers) the death sentence for cannabis "kingpins." His licking the blacking off of Saracen berserker boots to drag us into more war--begging for terrist islamofascist retaliation--was just icing on the cake. But I won't celebrate Mr CIA/DEA's death. I'm saving up champagne to celebrate when G. Waffen Bush is lifted bodily into Faith-Based Asset Forfeiture Heaven by a Host of Angels!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Goddamn you're a racing weirdo.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Any questions

    Hello Mikey. Why is being critical of government reduced to "anti government", and why is that mutually exclusive of "pro liberty"?

  • James Pollock||

    "Pro-liberty = love of liberty. as FIRST priority.
    Expanding liberty ALWAYS limits or shrinks government."

    The problem with absolutes is that so often life isn't.

    As an example, CREATING the U.S. government... an expansion of liberty. Under your math, the U.S. government went from nothing to something and shrunk at the same time.

    Or, another example from early in the Republic... one of the first international efforts the United States took was the suppression of the Barbary pirates. This increased the government influence in the region. Did free trade in the area increase, or decrease, as a result of this expansion of U.S. government power?

  • dwshelf||

    Give HW credit. He successfully started and finished two wars.
    Panama and Iraq I
    The future stuff was not his decision, nor his responsibility.

  • shane_c||

    David Souter was pretty good.

  • apedad||

    Ahem....KELO

  • gaoxiaen||

    Thanks for civil forfeiture, you prick.

  • Deep Lurker||

    The Elder Bush presided over the purging of libertarians and small-government conservatives from the GOP.

    "I believe Reagan made a mistake when he chose Bush as his vice-presidential candidate - indeed, I regard it as the worst decision not only of his campaign but of his presidency." - Milton Friedman.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Well, without Bush as his VP the first time around, Reagan might not have been elected; Bush was a sop to the RINOs.

    The actual mistake was in keeping Bush on for his second term, when he didn't need to throw some kind of bone to the RINOs. Instead he should have picked a worthy successor.

    Thus is it demonstrated that personal virtues such as loyalty to one's associates can be vices in an executive.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I take it you weren't involved in politics at the time? Bush was a "ticket balancing" choice, picked by Reagan to keep the RINO's from jumping ship. Nobody thought he was a conservative, he was picked specifically because he WASN'T a conservative.

    If Reagan had chosen a VP more ideologically aligned with himself, he could very well have lost the election due to the RINO's sitting it out.

  • James Pollock||

    "If Reagan had chosen a VP more ideologically aligned with himself, he could very well have lost the election due to the RINO's sitting it out"

    Reagan could have had the Ayatollah Khomeini as his VP, and defeated Carter.

  • NoVaNick||

    Yeah-Bush I seemed like a decent guy who acted his age, unlike every man-child POTUS we've had since. But I didn't like him then and I still don't like him now. He was not really a politician but a statist above all else. Although, if he had been re-elected, at least we would have been spared the Clintons, and quite possibly Bush II.

  • James Pollock||

    Hindsight changes your view. He had an effective understanding of running the government, which means that he made choices that were based on realism rather than on ideology, and thus offend the idealogues.

  • James Pollock||

    "But that doesn't mean the first Gulf War was a legitimate act of American defense policy, which should be aimed at protecting U.S. lives and property, not policing all the borders of all the countries in the world."

    The real purpose of the Persian Gulf War was to prevent Kuwait's oil exports (then about 10% of the world's total) from being controlled by Iraq (also about 10% of the world's total). The U.S. has had some experience with the challenges that can result when oil-exporters act with common purpose, and this has an interest in keeping the oil exporters separate and distinct.

    The outcome of the Persian Gulf War should have been an example... obtain buy-in (literal) from allies, set clear goals that are readily achievable, and then go achieve them. By the time W was running things, this lesson had already been lost, and having goals such as "fight global terrorism" and "achieve stable democracy in the region" was acceptable. Well, we're still trying to fight global terrorism and achieve stable democracy in the region. Maybe tomorrow we'll achieve victory in those two areas. Not realistic? OK, maybe day AFTER tomorrow, then.

  • Weygand||

    Gillespie can now add "Professional Asshole Free Of Any Sense of Decorum" to his C.V.

  • CapitalistRoader||

    Even as H.W. Bush vaguely invoked a post-Cold War "new world order," he effectively invented the role of the United States as the world's policeman, a role that presidents, with the possible exception of Donald Trump, continue to glory in.

    Wow. A backhanded compliment to the most libertarian POTUS since Silent Cal: Donald J. Trump.

    Are the prissy libertarians at Reason finally getting a clue?

  • antiestablismentarianism||

    I've been subscribed to this publication for a few years now and this is the first time I've considered cancelling it. I would expect an article like this on the one year anniversary or something, but not the day after his death. Show some class, Reason!

  • HG1371||

    Distinguished Flying Cross

  • FireAnt||

    Distinguished Navy Cross should not be confused with the Navy Cross that ranks second to the Medal of Honor.

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