These days, when we think of George W. Bush, we think mostly of what a horrible mess he made of the economy. But his even more tragic legacy is the loss of our moral authority, and the transformation of the United States of America from global champion of human rights into an outlaw nation.
History is likely to judge Bush most harshly for two things in particular: Launching a war against a country that had not attacked us, and approving the use of cruel and inhumane interrogation techniques.
And that’s why the two most essential lies — among the many — in his new memoir are that he had a legitimate reason to invade Iraq, and that he had a legitimate reason to torture detainees.
Neither is remotely true. But Bush must figure that if he keeps making the case for himself — particularly if it goes largely unrebutted by the traditional media, as it has thus far — then perhaps he can blunt history’s verdict.
It may even be working. Extrapolating from the response to the book, former vice president Dick Cheney on Tuesday told a crowd gathered for Bush’s presidential library groundbreaking in Dallas that “judgments are a little more measured than they were” and that “history is coming around.”
The ‘Decision’ to Go to War
In “Decision Points,” Bush describes the invasion of Iraq as something he came to support only reluctantly and after a long period of reflection. This is a flat-out lie. Anyone who paid any attention to the news at the time knew Bush was dead-set on war long before he sent in the troops in March 2003. And there is now an abundant amount of documentation, in the form of leaks, unclassified memos, witness interviews and other people’s memoirs to prove it.