The recent failures in Iraq are just a "sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy." So writes Edward Luttwak in his article "A Truman for Our Times." He goes on to say that the ideological war between democracy and Islamist extremism has ended with a "spectacular global victory for President Bush."
Luttwak argues that before 9/11, every government of a Muslim country (except Algeria and Egypt) was willing to co-exist with Islamist extremists like the Taliban, with Pakistan even welcoming such radicals into the government. "All this came to an abrupt end after 9/11." Muslim governments around the world decided to stand with the US and against the terrorists, even Pakistan; we witnessed the "conversion of Muslim governments from the support of jihad to its repression."
Those who would like to bash the Bush foreign policy record must also contend with his successes in denuclearization. Libya surrendered all nuclear equipment in 2003, Syria lost its reactor in a Bush-supported Israeli air strike, and North Korea's program may soon shut down. In Iran, Bush largely succeeded where European diplomacy failed, as it usually does: as Luttwak writes, "Now matters with Iran are coming to a close."
It is fashionable to suggest that the US and Europe are on the decline, as countries like China, India, and Brazil are stepping into the spotlight of the world stage. Not true. Popular authors, such as Fareed Zakaria, confuse relative and absolute change. While China, India, Brazil, etc. have indeed grown causing a relative decline in US and European power, in absolute terms both remain strong. Furthermore, emerging countries are much more likely to cooperate with the West than they are to oppose it.
Luttwak concludes: "Not even Zakaria can discern any evidence that the spirit of discovery and invention that has made the US and the rest of the west so powerful is being relinquished. [...] On to the next boom."
Dear Members of atlantic-community.org,
Do you agree with Luttwaks's assessment of the Bush legacy?
Has the Islamist extremist ideology been conquered? And was its defeat caused by the Bush policies?
Do China and other emerging countries threaten the power of the United States and Europe, and did the Bush policies contribute to this power shift?