Destiny is not chosen.
DAVID SANGER'S Week in Review piece in the Jan 1 issue of the NY Times says that George W has been indirectly addressing questions of his legacy. This indicates to me that both men have a sense of destiny.
Destiny is often thrust upon the unwilling, the road to Damascus reluctantly taken. A few years ago I pondered what our country's course of action would have been had Al Gore been president at the time New York and the Pentagon were bombed with airliners. Al Gore could have followed his predecessor's lead and used some cruise missiles to obliterate something somewhere. John Kerry's response might have been milder, the nuisance in New York no justification for the possible discomfort of ''innocent'' people in some foreign land.
Big events make the man fit the needs of the times. It is rarely the other way around. George W, frat boy, lush and man placed by destiny to fulfill God's plan is just such a man. I pray for him.
Tyler Bede is author of AMERICA IS... THE FULCRUM OF DESTINY.
I have reposted the Sanger article blow:
January 1, 2006
The Bush Legacy
2006 Is So Yesterday
By DAVID E. SANGER
BEFORE he retreated behind the fences of his ranch here to ring out a bruising year, President Bush made it clear that even with three years to go, he already regards his presidency as a big one in the sweep of American history.
He insists that his real motive in conducting the war in Iraq is to democratize one of the least democratic corners of the earth. He regularly quotes Harry Truman, who rebuilt Japan and Germany while remaking American national security policy from the ground up. Several of his speeches have deliberately included Churchillian echoes about never surrendering to terrorists and achieving total victory, along with made-for-television imagery to drive home the message.
Mr. Bush, of course, is trying to give larger meaning to a war whose unpopularity dragged down his presidency last year. But at moments he often seems to also be talking directly to historians, tilting the pinball machine of presidential legacy. It may not be too early: the year 2006, many in the White House believe, will cement the story line of the Bush presidency for the ages. And there is growing acknowledgment, perhaps premature, that his standing will rise or fall with the fate of Iraq.
Maybe so, but presidential legacies are complicated - a point proven by Truman himself, whose reputation has aged so well that it is almost forgotten that he left office mired in the intelligence failures, early mistakes and the ultimate muddle of the Korean War.
"They have learned to love the Truman analogies in this White House because it's a reminder that legacies are built out of events that happen long after most presidents leave office, when we see things through the lens of later events and one or two ideas look like big turning points," said Richard Norton Smith, who heads the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Ill. Only in retrospect do we regard Truman's decision to integrate the armed forces as a precursor to the civil rights movement, something he did while containing Stalin and establishing NATO.
These days, you can almost hear this administration struggling to find its own combination of domestic and foreign programs - Supreme Court appointments and education initiatives, tinkering with domestic liberties in the name of facing down foreign enemies - that makes the difference between an F.D.R. and a Franklin Pierce.
What if Iraq in a few years is a muddle of its own, neither a great democratic success nor the battleground of a sectarian civil war? Or if it takes decades to sort out? The history of American interventions is littered with such examples. In the Philippines, victory in 1898 was followed by more than a decade of insurgency, and democracy did not begin to take full root for nearly a century.
And is fighting Islamic radicalism really akin to fighting fascism and communism, as Mr. Bush insists?
Even some of Mr. Bush's aides wonder if, in a few years, the battle against Al Qaeda might look more like the fight a century ago against anarchists who set off bombs and even managed to kill an American president and a host of European heads of state. Of course, those anarchists operated in a prenuclear age when only states could kill hundreds of thousands of people at a time. Mr. Bush argues, in effect, that he is the first president to reorient the country to face superempowered fanatics seeking weapons Hitler dreamed about and Stalin possessed.
So he may have the raw ingredients needed: A big idea, driven by a big event, 9/11. "One thing that makes for great legacies are great crises, and we have had that," said John Lewis Gaddis, the Yale historian who just published "The Cold War: A New History" (Penguin, 2005). "But it then requires not only the right diagnosis of the problem, but a strategy that proves durable enough that it survives the end of the administration that invented it, and is picked up by subsequent administrations of either party."
The prime example comes, not surprisingly, from Truman's time: containment.
Over the years, with input from the likes of George Kennan, that strategy evolved to exploit the divisions behind the Iron Curtain. Mr. Gaddis said the White House is starting to do the same among the jihadist groups. "The question historians will be asking is whether the Bush people will have established a similarly durable legacy," he said.
Clear victory helps a legacy, too. The Cold War took decades. As Mr. Bush's poll numbers began to fall last year, his aides clearly decided he couldn't afford the wait. So they put "victory" backdrops behind the president, and for the first time he described what victory against a shadowy enemy might look like. It comes in three stages.
"We think we changed the debate," one of the designers of that strategy said in Washington recently. "But it only worked because we married it up with admitting some mistakes and that was quite a fight, because the president doesn't talk that way."
To some historians, spinning the meaning of victory seems an exercise in futility. "It's ridiculous talk," John Dower, the historian who has chronicled war propaganda and written the definitive history of the American occupation of Japan. "People know what victory looks like," he said, and are unlikely to adopt the president's definitions.
But what truly sets Mr. Dower off are Mr. Bush's comparisons between rebuilding Iraq and the postwar rebuilding of Japan. He and others note that Japan was religiously unified with some history of parliamentary government and a bureaucracy ready to work as soon as the conflict ended.
Mr. Bush's team is already acutely aware that even if Iraq ultimately proves a success - far from a sure bet - a major part of his legacy hinges on his performance on the home front. Mr. Smith, of the Lincoln Library, argues that the president got a good start his first year, when "he changed the Republican orthodoxy on education from dismantling the Education Department to actually paying attention to the issue."
With a new chief justice confirmed, and an associate justice on deck, he has a shot at reformulating the Supreme Court, though a real judicial legacy might require one or two more resignations. There is little time left for a Social Security overhaul and fundamental tax reform, the two domestic issues Mr. Bush once thought would be his.
And then there is the big legacy question of how well Mr. Bush persuades the country that extraordinary times truly called for the assumption of extraordinary presidential powers. Mr. Bush argues that authorizing domestic wiretaps without warrants was part of his inherent power as commander in chief. His defenders cited Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War.
But as David Donald, the Lincoln biographer, notes, there was an uproar at the time. It all might be remembered differently had the war taken another turn. "A lot of people believed it wasn't necessary for Lincoln to do these things, just as a lot of people think that about Bush," he said.
Copyright 2006The New York Times Company
Before Jesus' Second Coming, before the Khilafah, the worldwide Islamic Nation and/or before the end of the world in nuclear Armageddon, the United States of America has a divinely ordained role to play. How this role plays out -- how the world responds to our efforts -- is yet to be seen. We can be a light onto the nations or, to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, we can let this opportunity slip through our fingers.
- Name: tylerbede
- Location: New York City, New York, United States
Tyler is a Mensan, polymath and an ex-Demimondiste. He hopes he will not be ex-communicated.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Destiny is not chosen.