Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Next Presidents "Must Prepare For War"

As we've noted here many times before, President Bush spends a lot of time in interviews musing on how historians will come to view his presidency long after he's dead.

Sometimes these comments from Bush come after questions seeking his thoughts on the subject, but more often Bush drifts away from talking about Iraq, or the 'War on Terror', to muse away on one of his favourite subjects - his own presidential legacy.

In a recent interview, the president was at it again :

"The lesson you learn with the presidency is that it takes a long time - if you're doing big things, it takes a while for history to be able to fully analyse your presidency. There's no such thing as accurate short-term history of a president."

He was asked, directly, what he believes will be his legacy.

"Whatever it is, I'm not going to be around to see it. I hope it is that George Bush fought the war, he laid out a strategy for America and her allies to ultimately defeat these ideologues; he recognised the nature of the enemy" and put in place measures to deal with the threat, he said.

In the same interview, Bush said whoever becomes the next president cannot enter the White House under any illusion that they won't be a President At War. They will be. And so will the next president, and the one after that.

"If the people who say we're not having any war on terror ever gets elected, they'll sit in the office, the Oval Office, and realise we are in a war on terror. They'll realise there are people that are out plotting and planning. They'll see the complexities of taking on this enemy."

"...the realities of sitting in the Oval Office are different from the realities of the campaign, of being on the campaign trail".

"This is a very tough world with an enemy that's determined to hit us. And a president who listens to the intelligence being gathered will realise that the main job for the president here in this part of the 21st century is to defeat the enemy by staying on the offence and, therefore, securing America," he said.

Bush remains firmly of the view that the 'War on Terror' will live to its rebranding as 'The Long War' and will rage on, for many presidents to come.

"Presidents are going to have to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda by using good intel and finding him and pressuring him. At the same time, presidents are going to have to promote ... an alternative ideology to that espoused by these extremists and radicals, and that happens to be one based on liberty."

Bush also said nothing troubles him more than the Americans who have died because he sent them to war.

"My biggest regret thus far is the loss of life, for US casualties. It's the hardest thing for a president when you commit our troops into harm's way, is to know that they have died as a result of your decision."