Archive for the ‘George W. Bush’ Category

Turkey Tells Obama: Redefine Terrorism; Bush Misunderestimated “Realities” of Middle East, Hezbollah Says

January 30, 2009

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that he doesn’t much like the definition of terrorism adopted after 9-11 by George W. Bush.

Erdogan, whose country has played a key role in trying to mediate among Israel and Syria and the Palestinians, said Obama’s new Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, will be in Turkey for talks Sunday.

“President Obama must redefine terror and terrorist organizations” and make a new policy for the Middle east and elsewhere.

When 9-11 happened and President Bush declared the “war on terror, many though israel immediately looked at palestinians as terrorists, Russia looked at Chechens the same way, China saw Tibetans as terrorist and so it went around the globe.

No maybe a re-alignment or new definitions are in order.

In his remarks toward President Obama and the U.S., most observers said the Turkish leader appeared to be referring to the US position toward Hamas and Hizbullah, which the United States considers terrorist organizations.

The Jerusalem Post:


Bush Accused of Trying to “Remake” Middle East; Misunderestimated “Realities”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the administration of former President George W. Bush worked with its Arab allies to try and change the “realities” in Gaza before Barack Obama took office.

Nasrallah says Bush administration worked with its Arab allies to "change the realities" in Gaza.

Nasrallah says Bush administration worked with its Arab allies to “change the realities” in Gaza.

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday marking “Freedom Day” — a celebration of the release of Hezbollah prisoners from Israeli custody — Nasrallah said the Bush administration worked with its Arab allies “in order to take advantage of the short time of Bush’s term and before (Barack) Obama takes office in order to change the realities” in Gaza.

There were no U.S. forces involved in the 22-day Israeli military operation in Gaza; the United States is a key supporter of Israel.

Read it all from CNN:


Brit View of Obama on Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009

“‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.”

By Toby Harnden, US Editor in Washington
The Telegraph
An economic crisis and a collapse of confidence in American capitalism.

The departure of a reviled predecessor who bequeathed an unpopular war.

These were the challenges faced, respectively, by presidents Abraham Lincoln in 1861, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 and Gerald Ford – the last United States commander-in-chief to arrive from Congress – in 1974.

President Barack Obama will have to deal with not just one of these situations but all three. Not only that but the expectations of him in some quarters, which aides are now frantically trying to manage, border on the divine.

Like John F. Kennedy in 1961, he arrives as a former Senator with an attractive young family who has just broken through a historic barrier and upon whose shoulders the hopes and dreams of Americans now rest.

Of these four former presidents, two were cut down in their prime by an assassin’s bullet and have been judged reverently by historians. Mr Roosevelt completed two terms and is judged as a great president. Mr Ford, however, was rejected by voters and only in death was accorded a verdict of grudging, and limited admiration.

While great challenges present the opportunity for a president to make his mark on history, falling short in testing times is a quick route to ignominy.

The signs for Mr Obama are propitious. His predecessor George W. Bush departed office with an approval rating of just 22 per cent, making him the most unpopular outgoing president since polls began after plummeting from record poll support after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

As the first black president of a nation founded by slave owners, Mr Obama has a deep well of goodwill from which to draw. Already, he has enough political capital to act boldly and risk making some mistakes.

During the 77-day transition of power, the former Illinois senator has drawn praise even from his detractors for a deliberate and well planned organisation – helped greatly by gracious co-operation from Mr Bush – that avoided the pitfalls and chaos that so many incoming presidents fell victim to.

Mr Obama himself has hailed his post-election efficiency, highlighting another potential problem – a self-confidence that occasionally borders on smugness.

“Early on, maybe we made it look too easy,” he said last week. “I think people should just remember what we accomplished here. We put a cabinet and White House staff in place in record time in the midst of the biggest emergency since World War Two. That’s a pretty good track record.”

Mr Obama’s most significant move has been to enlist his campaign opponent Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. But while this may have neutralised a potential enemy, he also runs the risk of allowing the former First Lady – who still harbours presidential ambitions for 2012 – to build up a rival power base from within.

He might also have sowed the seeds of disillusionment among some of his more idealistic activists, who took him at his word when he said he would change politics and draw a line under the Bush-Clinton White House years stretching back to 1988.

Now, Mr Obama is filling his administration with former Clinton advisers and it is an open question whether this strategy is clever magnanimity or folly.

Invoking a spirit of bipartisanship, Mr Obama has kept on Robert Gates, Mr Bush’s Pentagon chief, and assiduously wooed Senator John McCain, his general election opponent and a foreign policy hawk.

Mr Obama has been lauded for dining with conservative columnists in Washington. But this olive branch might owe more to a concern about shaping elite opinion as it does to a genuine desire to take heed of opposing viewpoints.

In his career thus far, Mr Obama’s bipartisanship has seldom extended much further than the rhetorical flourishes of his speeches.

Already, Mr Obama has tempered some of his more liberal campaign pronouncements, even praising Dick Cheney, who has a public approval rating of 13 per cent and was branded by his successor Joe Biden as “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had”, for advocating caution over changing legal and intelligence rules.

After Mr Cheney said tartly that “before you start to implement your campaign rhetoric you need to sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it” Mr Obama responded: “I think that was pretty good advice.”

Although Mr Obama intends to issue an executive order directing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp after seven years, his aides concede that it may take at least a year to achieve this. Freeing inmates, he concedes, could put America at grave risk.

In his November 4 victory speech, Mr Obama proclaimed “to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world” that “a new dawn of American leadership is at hand”.

The reality might not be quite so simple. Israel used the transition to mount a ferocious assault on Gaza in a blatant attempt to change the facts on the ground before the new president was sworn in.

Nothing Mr Obama said on the campaign trail indicated he would depart from America’s traditional staunch support of Israel. The domestic financial crisis, moreover, not to mention the weakening of Israel’s peace lobby, is likely to limit the chances of a serious attempt at negotiating a Middle East peace in his first term.

Elected on the basis on ending the Iraq war, Mr Obama will need to safeguard the gains the Iraq troop surge – which he opposed – if he is to keep the US on the path to victory.

In Afghanistan – the “good” war for which Mr Obama has pledged his own troop surge – the dangers of troops becoming bogged down and facing an ever-fiercer insurgency are acute.

Among Mr Bush’s greatest achievements has been to prevent an attack in the more than seven years since al-Qaeda struck the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, slaughtering more than 3,000.

While Mr Obama’s pledge to outlaw torture and follow international law have earned him international plaudits, American opinion could turn swiftly against him if he is blamed for leaving his country vulnerable to Islamist extremists.

Mr Bush’s unpopularity abroad has tended to mask the extent to which many of his policies have been fairly standard approaches to promoting enduring American interests. The world might well be disappointed to find out that Mr Obama might not adopt a radically different foreign policy.

During the campaign, a loose-lipped Mr Biden warned that Mr Obama would face an early test by terrorists or a hostile foreign power. In 1993, President Bill Clinton has to respond to an attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in New York and deal with a failed American humanitarian mission in Somalia.

Mr Bush’s aversion to “nation building” and plans for a “humble” foreign policy were shelved after the 9/11 attacks. Mr Obama is likely to face challenges that could knock him off course and make him question his foreign policy instincts.

Asked by a homeless shelter worker on Tuesday whether he was sweating, Mr Obama – a supremely fit 47-year-old who is devoted to the gym and basketball – responded: “Nah, I don’t sweat. You ever see me sweat?” Keeping his cool in government might be more of a challenge than he imagines.

As Christopher Hitchens, who voted for Mr Obama put it this week, “there’s an element of hubris in all this current hope-mongering”.

While many presidents have entered the White House with similarly thin foreign policy experience, few have been as green as Mr Obama.

A United States Senator for a mere four years, he has never held executive office and it remains to be seen how his calm, deliberate manner will translate into dealing with the hurly-burly of governing and unexpected events.

Mr Obama prides himself on his normality and his ability to relate to ordinary Americans. As recently as 2000, he made an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles in which he had his credit card rejected and failed to gain admittance to the Democratic party convention. Four years ago, he could shop in Washington unmolested.

Already, Mr Obama is chafing against being inside “the bubble”, insulated from life beyond his inner circle. Against the advice of his lawyers, he appears poised to keep his beloved BlackBerry, a link to the outside world.

But power and security – already at unprecedented levels for Mr Obama – can be distorting. Mr Bush was mocked for declaring himself “the decider”, as if it did not matter what anyone else thought.

Responding In November to claims that his appointment of Clinton associates was an abandonment of his campaign slogan of “change”, Mr Obama seemed to say that he was the personification of change and his very presence should be enough to reassure.

“Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” he said. “It comes from me.”

The comedian Chris Rock has compared Mr Obama to a celebrity who is beyond mockery. “There’s no Brad Pitt jokes. You know, what are you going to say? “Ooh, you used to have sex with Jennifer Anniston. Now you have sex with Angelina Jolie. You’re such a loser. There’s nothing to say about Brad Pitt.”

Mr Obama was similar. “It’s like ‘Ooh, you’re young and virile and you’ve got a beautiful wife and kids. You’re the first African-American president.’ You know, what do you say?” As president, however, this sweet spot cannot last and one of Mr Obama’s biggest tests might come when his poll ratings slip and, as he inevitably will, he occasionally looks a little foolish.

Mr Obama’s inauguration speech contained clear echoes of Mr Kennedy’s 1961 address. The former Massachusetts senator called for patience, telling Americans: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days.

Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime… But let us begin.”

Mr Kennedy also called Americans to service with the famous exhortation: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country… My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

But Mr Kennedy proved to be a cautious even timid president and, buffeted by events and slowed by a desire to remain popular, Mr Obama might yet be slow to match the fineness of his words with effective action.

Recognising the daunting task ahead of him, Mr Obama told crowds on Monday: “‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.

“Our nation is at war, our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes. They’re worried about how they’ll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen tables.

“And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future, about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what’s best about this country to our children and their children.”

The fact that the economic crisis erupted in the final days of the Bush administration will allow Mr Obama some respite. The nearly one trillion dollars he will be able to release in economic stimulus funds could pay for many of his campaign spending promises.

But Wednesday, which new White House aides are calling “day one”, will mark the moment when Mr Obama’s uncommon eloquence and ability to encapsulate America’s ills will become mere prologue.

If can overcome the huge challenges that he spoken of so lyrically then greatness awaits him. But other new presidents who have promised to change Washington and usher in a new era have found that events and the limits of the power of the White House have conspired to stifle their dreams.

Obama Has Lunch With Bush, All Living Former Presidents

January 7, 2009

“I want to thank the president-elect for joining the ex-presidents for lunch,” Bush said.

“One message that I have and I think we all share is that we want you to succeed, whether we’re Democrat or Republican we care deeply about this country,” Bush said. “All of us who have served in this office understand that the office itself transcends the individual.”

See the resport from the Associated Press:

President-elect Barack Obama is welcomed by President George ... 
President-elect Barack Obama is welcomed by President George W. Bush for a meeting at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, with former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Bush: Iraq Has Hope Due To Difficult, Sustained U.S. Effort

December 14, 2008

His legacy forever linked to an unpopular war, President George W. Bush flew under intense security to Iraq on Sunday and called the nearly six-year conflict hard but necessary to protect the United States and give Iraqis hope.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

President George W. Bush, right, walks with Iraqi President ... 
President George W. Bush, right, walks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Bush visited the Iraqi capital just 37 days before he hands the war off to President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged to end it. At the end of nearly two hours of meetings at an ornate, marble-floored Salam Palace along the shores of the Tigris River, Bush defended the 2003 invasion and occupation.

“The work hasn’t been easy, but it has been necessary for American security, Iraqi hope and world peace,” the president said. “I’m just so grateful I had the chance to come back to Iraq before my presidency ends.”

The president wanted to highlight a drop in violence in a nation still riven by ethnic strife and to celebrate a recent U.S.-Iraq security agreement, which calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

But in many ways, the unannounced trip was a victory lap without a clear victory. Nearly 150,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq fighting a war that is intensely disliked across the globe. More than 4,209 members of the U.S. military have died in the conflict, which has cost U.S. taxpayers $576 billion since it began five years and nine months ago.

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Bush Kisses Streisand (NOT a Pretty Sight)

December 8, 2008

Barbra Streisand got an awkward kiss on the cheek from the president, and yes, she gave him a smooch back.

Streisand, a vocal critic of President George W. Bush, was a guest Sunday at the White House just before one of Washington’s few A-list events: the Kennedy Center Honors.

By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press Writer

“Art transcends politics this weekend,” the longtime Democrat said beforehand. Still, she said it would have been “lovely” if she could have received the award while President-elect Barack Obama was in office.

The singer and actress was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, along with actor Morgan Freeman, country singer George Jones, dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who.

The honors recognize individuals who helped define American culture through the performing arts, part of the living memorial to President John F. Kennedy.

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From left, Kennedy Center Honors producer George Stevens, Jr., ... 
From left, Kennedy Center Honors producer George Stevens, Jr., Kennedy Center President Michael M Kiaser, Kennedy Center Honoree, Roger Daltrey, Barbara Streisand, Morgan Freeman, Pete Townshend, George Jones, Twyla Tharp, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 at the State Department in Washington.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)


Bush, Key Advisors Say No Iraq Invasion Without WMD Intel

December 6, 2008

In a TV interview this week, George W. Bush said his number one regret was than no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were discovered after Iraq was invaded — even though multiple intelligence saources said Saddam Hussein had WMD….


George W Bush would not have ordered the invasion of Iraq if the intelligence had shown that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, according to his former chief adviser and closest confidant.

By Philip Sherwell
The Telegraph (UK)

Mr Bush would not have ordered the invasion of Iraq if the intelligence had shown that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, according to his former chief adviser.

Karl was the architect of George W Bush’s two White House election triumphs Photo: AP

Karl Rove made the claim as the president’s inner circle launched an unofficial “Bush legacy project”, with their old boss preparing to leave the White House next month.

The final mission on behalf of President Bush is reportedly being spearheaded by two trusted member of his Texan kitchen cabinet – Mr Rove, the architect of his two White House election triumphs, and Karen Hughes, his former communications chief.

They have been meeting senior figures in the current Administration to discuss how to “roll out the president’s legacy”, according to Stephen Hayes, a prominent conservative commentator and Vice-President Dick Cheney’s official biographer.

Part of that strategy is to “set the record straight”, a senior Republican strategist told The Sunday Telegraph, and Mr Rove’s assertion on Iraq appears to have been an opening salvo in that campaign. He is the most senior White House insider to state so firmly that the president would not have gone to war had the intelligence been different.

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