The Second Term of President George W. Bush – A Foreign Policy Success Story

What a title? Surely we are terrible satirists, rabid fans or utter idiots?

  • We might be terribly incompetent as satirists, but that is irrelevant. Satire is not our aim here. 

  • We have not been fans of Mr. George W. Bush. In fact, in December 2000, we loudly expressed our opinion that President Bush would end up being regarded as the worst President in American History (& that President Clinton, reviled at that time, would be heralded as one of the best Presidents). Frankly, the performance of the first Bush Term proved our forecast.

  • But, we could still be called utter idiots and many who know us might find that accolade as overly flattering. But let us tell you why we dare to come with up with the title we did.
Look at the foreign policy challenges President Bush faced in his second term. No President in recent memory faced such a daunting array of challenges.

  • Iraq was so bad that it was being termed as the greatest foreign policy mistake in American History;

  • North Korea loomed as an unmanageable nuclear menace to the entire Pacific region and

  • Iran, under Mr. Ahemadinejad, was emerging as a Hitlerian nuclear threat. 

Facing these major challenges was a lonely President Bush, derided in America and across the world as an unintelligent, inflexible and unimaginative cowboy who was “all hat and no gun”.  


By 2006, Iraq had disintegrated in to a disaster. Staying in Iraq seemed impossible while leaving Iraq presented a specter of utter defeat that could have damaged America for decades. The Democratic Congress was outraged and asking for Mr. Bush’s figurative head. Senators Obama and Clinton were competing with each other to disparage the plan outlined by General Petraeus who was savaged as General Betrayes by

Today Iraq is a success story. This success is due to the sheer tenacity, will, the sense of purpose and the innate intelligence of President Bush. President Bush alone had the intelligence to understand the tactics suggested by General Petraeus. He understood what General Petraeus was proposing and stood behind him. The results are visible in Iraq today.

We described the critical importance of Iraq to America in our July 26 article “Iraq &Tibet – Strategic Will of The American and Chinese People”–tibet–strategic-will-of-americans-and-chinese.aspx

If America stays in Iraq for the next 10-20 years, it would change Iraq in to a modern state. This would be an extraordinarily important and perhaps a transformational development for the Middle East. The presence of American troops in Iraq would serve as a constant influence on Iran and have the potential of changing Iran in to a modern society as well.

Such a development would transform President Bush’s intervention in Iraq into one of the greatest foreign policy successes in American History. The very fact we can think of such a prospect shows how successful President Bush was in turning around Iraq. 
It is critically important to understand that had President Bush failed in Iraq, what we write below would have been impossible. A failure in Iraq would have emboldened America’s enemies and turned America into an inward-looking, isolationist country with disastrous consequences for its trading and economic standing.

America owes an enormous debt of gratitude to President Bush for his intelligence and his fortitude. This gratitude should be shared by people who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well. By 2006, the invasion was history and what mattered was the present and the future. President Bush saved both.

North Korea

North Korea was a totally different challenge. There were no easy solutions. President Bush was derided for being a cowboy and not dealing directly with Kim Jong Il of North Korea. It turned out to be the right strategy. Dealing with North Korea would have meant giving up the only card the US had and providing Kim Jong Il the only card he really wanted without getting anything in return.

Instead the Bush Brain Trust played a smart game. They realized that China was the only country that had leverage with North Korea. However, China saw North Korea as a chip in its own game with the US. Somehow, the US had to get China to pressure North Korea for its own sake and not as a favor to the US.

This is exactly what President Bush achieved. He realized that China’s greatest fear was a re-militarized, nuclear-armed Japan; that China could countenance all other risks except the emergence of a military danger from a nuclear-armed Japan. President Bush shrewdly and beautifully played this card. The public belligerence of North Korea against Japan had already made Japan seriously consider changing its pacifist profile. The US was able to persuade China that unless China made North Korea accept a reasonable deal, Japan would go nuclear. The result of this shrewed diplomacy was the neutralization of North Korea as a nuclear menace.


Iran and its flamboyantly-in-your-face prime minister Ahemadinejad presented a very different and more frightening nuclear threat to the world. His pursuit of nuclear power and his proclamations about wiping the state of Israel from the face of the earth presented Israel with an existential threat that it could not tolerate. 

President Bush handled this problem with dexterity, a quality not attributed to him by the American and International Media.  He seems to have played Iran, Israel and the world media beautifully.

He allowed Israel and perhaps, encouraged Israel to conduct large scale exercises to practice air attacks on Iran and to demonstrate the seriousness of Israel’s determination.  He dispatched US Aircraft Carrier groups to the Persian Gulf to create a serious threat to Iran. Vice President Cheney kept making hawkish comments about the need for an air war against Iran. This combination was serious enough to rattle the Oil Markets which in turn persuaded Iran’s leaders to take the risks seriously.

We see clear signs that this escalation of pressure on Iran worked and Iran’s posture became more subdued. At the same time, President Bush made it clear to Israel that he would not tolerate any action against Iran and acted on this warning by denying Israel the systems it needed for the air strike. He also denied Israel the use of Iraqi Airspace. 

Frankly, this was a masterly performance by the Bush Administration. When Iran’s posture became subdued, the US started engaging Iran in deliberation on Iraq.

Again, none of this would have been feasible without the success in Iraq. Once Iraq was stabilized, Iran realized that the US was in Iraq to stay and, like a shrewed bazzar bargainer, the Iranian regime changed its calculations and its tune. Today, USA and Iran seemed to have reached a status quo in Iraq which favors the US.

Both USA and Iran realize that they have similar interests in Afghanistan. Taliban is the common enemy of the US and Iran.  Unlike the old adage “the enemy of your enemy is your friend”, President Bush does not consider Iran as a friend but is flexible enough to consider working with Iran in a joint front against the Taliban.


With the success of Iraq and the possible short-term stabilization of Iran, President Bush has embarked on the most critical problem that faces America. In July 2008, he gave the necessary orders that allow American Troops in Afghanistan to conduct military operations inside Pakistan-occupied Pashtunistan without the permission of the Pakistani Army.

This is the beginning of the end-game in the Pakistan-Afghanistan sector. For details, see our article on August 9, “Afghanistan-Pakistan – Will the sins of England be visited upon America?”–will-the-sins-of-england-be-visited-on-america.aspx

The conclusion of this end-game will be the responsibility of the next American President.


President Bush leaves the White House having achieved a strategic breakthrough in the American relationship with India. In our opinion, very few people understand the scope of President Bush’s vision or the importance of what he has achieved. We will discuss this in a separate article.

A Record of Spectacular Success

In our opinion, the accomplishments of President Bush in his second term in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China and India create a track record that will be regarded as one of the finest in recent American History.  It rivals the successes in President Nixon in establishing d├ętente with the Soviet Union and in opening a new relationship with China. President Nixon’s achievements were tactical; President Bush’s achievements will prove to be strategic.

It took America about 25 years to recognize President Nixon’s achievements in Foreign Policy. We wonder how long it would take America to recognize President Bush’s achievements.

As we write this, we are struck with a note of caution and almost despair. Many of the achievements of President Nixon were wasted away by President Carter, a man of strong moral and liberal views but sadly bereft of any strategic vision.

We hope that the next American President has the intelligence and the strength to build on President’s Bush’s achievements and not to turn back from today’s successful course.

America’s Standing in the World

European-American Television Pandits routinely accuse President Bush of having lowered and damaged America’s  standing in the world. So we thought it would be useful to look at how the world looks at America and President Bush.

Countries where President Bush is liked are marked with green lines; countries which are neutral to President Bush are marked with yellow lines and countries where President Bush is disliked are marked with red lines.

A cursory look at this map shows that President Bush is liked in India, China, Brazil, Far East Asia, England, Eastern Europe, South Central Asia and Australia. Africa and Canada are marked as neutral towards President Bush. He is disliked in Western Europe, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Seems to us that the majority of the World’s population either likes President Bush or is neutral towards him. Specifically, three out of four BRIC countries like President Bush.

So next time, TV Anchors or Writers tells you that President Bush has damaged America’s standing in the world, question their judgment!

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