Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Wars Man of the Year: President George W. Bush

George Bush is living proof, as Ronald Reagan once showed us, that one man can overcome all obstacles to make a difference. Faced with a resurgent Democrat Party at the start of 2007, which now controlled both Houses of Congress, the President might have been forgiven for abandoning the seeping wound that was Iraq in the New Year. Al Qaeda terrorists seemed to dominate the country, as they fueled the civil war between Shiites and Sunnis with terror and paranoia.

Bush also was blamed for the falling fortunes of Republicans, as they lost control of the government to antiwar liberals for the first time in 12 years. Whether it was his refusal in previous years to veto excessive spending by conservatives politicians, or to crack down sufficiently on illegal immigration, many of his supporters were decidedly frustrated. He was widely chastised by the Right for refusing to let go Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld until after the 2006 elections, too late to aid members of his party seeking reelection. Rumsfeld was once hailed a hero 0f 9/11, but was now seen as a liability and responsible for the failure to bring peace and security to Baghdad.

Democrats had a mandate from their radical base to end the war despite the cost to the nation, and impeach the president for presumed untruths leading up to deposing dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. The liberal dominated Old Media was sensing their chance to bring about another Watergate, hoping to restore their own plunging ratings in the Age of Talk Radio and Internet Bloggers. The year ahead seemed as dismal as it could be for the President and the War on Terror.

Quitting, however, seemed a far worse prospect for Bush. If America was to prematurely withdraw from the Middle East while democracy there was in its infancy, as some such as liberal Congressman Jack Murtha was advocating, disaster was widely seen as inevitable. The best that could be hoped for was an Iranian-like radical theocracy, armed with nukes and dominating the oil fields, gaining control of the entire Arab World. At worse was the likelihood of these religious fanatics spreading their dark jihad into America and Europe, armed with these same Persian WMDs.

Faced with such a no-win scenario, Bush decided to roll the dice for another chance at a stable Iraq. This would not be a Nixonian "peace with honor", seen by many pundits as the best the US could hope for, but a plan worthy of General MacArthur who once declared "there is no substitute for Victory!"

Nine months later, the tide of war had altered dramatically. Al Qaeda had been driven from the central environs near Baghdad, and casualties throughout the country were down 60%. The once combative Iraq tribes were joining together, most notably in the Anbar Province, to fight the common terrorist foe. Democrats have been consistently thwarted in their quest to end the fighting, despite their majority, and have funded the troops time and again.

Others might have been considered as outstanding leaders in the past year. Most notably is Senator John McCain who was himself consistent in urging a change in strategy, but hardly in a position to bring this about himself. Then there was General Petraeus, the architect of the Surge, who would be the first to admit he was merely doing the bidding of his commander in chief. For being daring and decisive against insurmountable odds, and uncompromising against the terrorists who threaten our citizens and way of life, President George W. Bush is our Man of the Year.