National Security Network

This Week Confirms an Undeniable Legacy of Failure

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Press Release Washington, D.C. 12 December 2008

Afghanistan al qaeda Bush administration conservative foreign policy Detainees global warming intelligence international law iraq Pakistan President Bush Taliban Torture UN

Despite attempts by the Bush administration to tout its legacy, it is very clear that President Bush is bequeathing his successor eight years of incompetence and failed policies that have left America significantly weaker. Any last minute attempts to resurrect the President's legacy, particularly on national security, have been put to bed by the news this week. Stories on Iraq, Afghanistan, detainee abuse, intelligence, North Korea, and climate change all highlight the failed legacy of this administration.

  • Iraq, experienced its deadliest bombing in months, aimed at inflaming ethnic tension between Arabs and Kurds, reminds us that contrary to conservative claims that country remains dangerous and unstable.
  • A new report noting expanded Taliban influence throughout Afghanistan, highlights the administration's poor planning and management of the war. 
  • Reports today indicate that talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program have failed. 
  • The President was rebuffed in his attempt to blame the start of the Iraq war on the intelligence community by a recently retired Bush intelligence official who said that administration officials bear much of the blame. 
  • A new report from Senators Levin and McCain concluded that top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the abuse of detainees. 
  • Finally, a conference in Poland this week has highlighted the administration's legacy of obstruction on climate change - a legacy that has alienated many of our closest allies.

Conservative claims of victory in Iraq are premature as the worst bombing in months reveals continued instability and political strife. "A suicide bomber attacked a packed restaurant on Thursday where Sunni Arabs and Kurds were meeting to ease friction in the tense northern city of Kirkuk. At least 48 people were killed in the bombing, apparently aimed at provoking extremists along widening ethnic fault lines just as American plans to withdraw militarily from Iraq became official."  The bombing highlights persistent flashpoints that could send the country tumbling back into chaos. [NY Times, 12/11/08]

New report shows grim situation in Afghanistan, with the Taliban maintaining a presence in 72% of the country.  A new report by the International Council on Security and Development called attention to the worsening situation in Afghanistan, a result of Bush Administration neglect.  According to the Council, "[t]he Taliban now holds a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year ago." [International Council on Security and Development, 12/08/08]

Bush fails in negotiations with North Korea. "North Korea balked yesterday at agreeing to a written plan for verifying its nuclear claims, handing President Bush a diplomatic defeat and the incoming Obama administration a new diplomatic headache." Bush's legacy on North Korea: "During Mr. Bush's presidency, North Korea has tested its first nuclear weapon and has accumulated enough nuclear fuel to build eight more weapons, according to American estimates." [Washington Post, 12/12/08. NY Times, 12/12/08]

Top intelligence analyst says White House shares blame for the war. "Gently admonishing President George W. Bush, the nation's newly retired chief intelligence analyst on Tuesday suggested that the Iraq war was as much the failure of policymakers as it was the flawed intelligence on which they relied... Part of the blame goes to time pressure, Fingar said: The Bush administration ordered the report to be produced in less than two weeks. Similar intelligence estimates can take months or years."  Fingar said, "It's my observation that it's very hard to dislodge a mistaken interpretation once it gets into the head of a decision maker who has used it in a speech, built it into a policy, conveyed it to colleagues around the world.  That puts to me an awfully high premium on taking the time to get it right." [CBS News, 12/10/08]

Bipartisan report blames Bush administration for abuse of prisoners.  "A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere." The Senate Armed Services Committee report, released by Senators Carl Levin (D) and John McCain (R), says "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the report states. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees." [Washington Post, 12/12/08. AP, 12/12/08]

History of obstruction from Bush Administration on climate change stifles hopes for a breakthrough at UN Conference.  At the UN Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland, John Kerry's remark that "President Obama will be like night and day compared to President Bush," put a cap on eight years of Bush administration obstruction and neglect on the challenge of global warming.  The new U.S. approach is being met with "elation" after the obstruction of the past eight years.  According to an article in Scientific American, Bush's policies have "put the United States at odds with other major developed countries." [NY Times, 12/12/08. Scientific American, 12/09/08]