You hear it a lot, from both Republicans and Democrats: “No matter how you feel about George Bush, at least he kept America safe.”
Since I prefer to question what I hear, I’ve been musing, “Did George Bush really keep America safe?” Let me pose some contrarian ideas.
- On 9/11, we suffered the largest attack on the US homeland since, I believe, the War of 1812. 2976 people died on 9/11, which is 500 more than died at Pearl Harbor. This happened on George Bush’s watch, and warnings were communicated to him through security briefings. He most definitely didn’t keep us safe on 9/11. It’s like saying FDR kept Hawaii safe AFTER PEARL HARBOR.
- There was a minor attack on the World Trade Center under Clinton, but no such attacks under Bush Sr., Reagan, or any other president going back to Truman. Only under GWB were we attacked successfully. So you CAN say Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. kept America from being attacked. You can’t say that of GW Bush.
- Since 9/11, over 6100 US soldiers have died and many thousands more have been severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. On top of the 3000 already killed on 9/11.
- When 9/11 occurred, it’s estimated that the number of committed Al Qaeda operatives was only 500-1000, most located around Afghanistan. Now, it’s estimated at around 200. We lose 200 US soldiers every 3 months. Are we okay with that kill ratio? Is that necessary to keep us safe?
- In Afghanistan, we mainly fight the Taliban, not Al Qaeda.
We’re involved in a civil war, not the War on Terror. The same argument
could be made for Iraq, where the conflict is pretty much Sunni vs.
Shiite, with Al Qaeda playing a small role. Does keeping America safe require fighting in civil wars?
- By invading and occupying two Muslim nations, we radicalized thousands of additional Muslims, including many already living in Western countries. They will continue being a threat for decades to come.
- Our military is stretched thin. If a conflict occurred somewhere else in the world, we would be hard-pressed to respond. We certainly couldn’t respond with overwhelming force, since our forces and equipment are focused in the Middle East. We are secure…as long as nothing else happens.
- While we were bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, two rogue countries, Iran and North Korea, developed nuclear capabilities. We were simply too distracted to deal with them. Plus, another nuclear power, Pakistan, is in chaos (though things are looking better).
- Under previous presidents, we went into Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Haiti, and the Balkans. We did what we needed to do, then got out, or turned things over to international peace-keeping forces. Very few soldiers died in any of those engagements.
- Consider how different the world would be if we had gone into
Afghanistan, beat the crap out of Al Qaeda, finished the job, then gone
home. Instead, Bush switched his attention to Iraq, and we ended up with two
- When we invaded Afghanistan, Iran’s moderate (for them) government helped us in significant ways. But then Bush, for some reason, included Iran in his “Axis of Evil” speech. Iran’s moderates were discredited in their attempts to make nice with America, and they were replaced by hard-liners. Now, instead of a potential friend, we have a sworn enemy on the verge of having The Bomb.
- Bush left with the US economy in ruins and deeply indebted to China. China practically owns us. How safe is that?
So–did George Bush really keep us safe? I’m just asking.