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george_w_bush73

If you ask a right-leaning American to name the greatest President in modern history, they will almost certainly answer with Ronald Reagan – the great slasher of budgets, and cold-warrior par excellence.

So great is the reputation of the actor-turned-politician that he often outranks Lincoln and Washington in polls to find the greatest historical American. The ex-President’s surname can be used to denote an entire system of economic policy, and he remains the standard against which Republican candidates measure themselves, often using – if they are wise – the term ‘Reaganite’ to describe their agenda.

To a foreigner like myself, this consensus – though understandable – seems a tad warped. Ronald Reagan was a great leader, a charismatic speaker and a fine diplomat, but to call him the greatest President in US history is surely excessive.

For me, he is at least equalled by the achievement of a more recent incumbent of the White house, George W Bush.

Reagans reputation derives largely from two things – his economic liberalism in the second place, and in the first, his aggressive handling of the Cold War which led to the dismantling of Soviet communism.

The latter achievement obviously deserves to be remembered, and Reagan and Thatcher will forever be ‘victors’ in the historic imagination, regardless of their (many) domestic failures. Soviet Communism was an affront to human dignity, human aspiration and the very idea of liberty. The downfall of socialism in Eastern Europe should, like the moon landing, rightly count as a triumph for the human race, rather than a merely Western or ‘capitalist’ one (let alone a merely ‘Republican’ one). Tens of millions of Soviet citizens were starved, often if not always deliberately, by a deathly-cold bureaucratic Moscow regime hell-bent on extending the privilege to the rest of the world. Reagan provided a muscular resistance against such vile ambition, and we are all the better off for it.

But Communism is only the second of the 20th century’s 3 great evils. Churchill and Roosevelt deserve enormous credit for dealing decisively with the first, that of Fascism in its German, Italian and Japanese manifestations.

And finally George W Bush deserves more credit than he receives for beginning to address the third evil of that turbulent century, that of radical Islam – the movement to violently Islamize the planet which began in Cairo during the downfall of Arab socialism in the 1960s.

Is this movement not as much of a threat to human dignity as the first two?

I would venture that it is an even more potent threat, as well one better-placed to succeed.

Pat Robertson, the much-mocked Evangelical tycoon and author, stated a few years ago that, since there are 1 Billion Muslims in the world, that would mean that if even 10% were Islamist (an understatement I would say) then the resulting 100 million-strong army would count as a greater military threat to Europe than Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union did at the height of their powers.

Is he wrong?

Robertson has spoken so much quackery in his time that his wisdom too easily goes unnoticed. This way of describing the Islamist threat is a tidying and clarifying one, and he should be thanked for it. Demographically, the pastor is right on the money. Islamism has greater (as least numerically so) human resources than Nazi Germany or the Soviets ever had. They are also encamped in some of the worlds most crucial regions.

For years the Soviet Union dreamt of breaking through to the Arab world and becoming a player in the global oil game. The Islamists are already there, and in many cases, in-charge. Moscow desperately wanted a presence in waters significant to global trade, like the Suez canal, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Islamist regimes have naval claims in all of these, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey respectively. Russia lustfully sought the latest military technology. Muslim Brotherhood-administered Egypt, Erdogan’s Turkey and Saudi Arabia all have large and modern US-equipped Air Forces/defences.

This threat then, in many ways superior to those which came before it, requires brave and visionary leadership. I believe that such leadership was briefly displayed by George W. Bush.

After the 9/11 attacks, America had for a brief moment, the sympathy of the entire world.

For many, George W, Bush squandered that sympathy. For others (myself included), he stood up to protect his country without regard for the sympathy of others.

Bush is remembered for “going it alone” on Iraq. But this is a lie. He didn’t go it alone at all. Britain, Spain, Italy and many other important powers lent support to the project, but even this is beside the point.

In the President’s mind he didn’t require the permission of Finland to defend America. Nor did he need the approval of Russia or China. He was willing to stand against the world in defence of the interests of his country.

Good for him.

Were I an American during the diplomatic heat of the build-up to the lraq invasion, I would have been filled with pride that my President cared so little for foreign opinion when defending my nation.

Why should the security of a country of America’s importance depend on the say-so of the Faroe Islands?

People may find US foreign policy arrogant, even offensive, but such is life. America as a nation is indispensable. The sooner we in Europe realise this the better. These days, with Islamism bubbling over onto our shores from North Africa and the Middle East, we need Uncle Sam more than ever. 

For now we must await a new President. A new George, W Bush.

D, LDN.

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