At the Telegraph, Nile Gardiner gives President Bush his due for the global war against Islamist terror.
Gardiner writes that the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke:
- Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. More than eight million voted in Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region's first free Muslim society may become a reality.
- The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network.
- There has not been a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and for all the global condemnation of pre-emptive strikes, Guantanamo and the use of rendition against terror suspects, the fact remains that Bush's aggressive strategy actually worked.
- There have been no successful terrorist attacks in Europe since the July 2005 London bombings, in large part due to the cooperation between U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies.
- The decision by Bush, with Blair's support, to sweep the Taliban out of Afghanistan was a brilliant move, one that not all U.S. presidents would have taken. A weaker leader would have gone to the United Nations Security Council and sought a negotiated settlement with Kabul. It was a risky gambit that was vindicated by a stunning military victory in the space of a month, with a small number of U.S. ground forces involved.
- Bush succeeded in building a 41-nation NATO-led coalition to support Afghanistan. The notion that the resurgence of the Taliban is America's failure is nonsense. The U.S. has more than 30,000 troops in the country under U.S. or NATO command, making up over half of all Allied forces there. Continental European allies have simply failed to step up to the plate with more troops.
- President Bush also recognized the importance of reshaping the NATO alliance for the 21st Century, backing an ambitious program of NATO expansion, culminating in the addition of seven new members in 2004. He also had the foresight to support the development of a missile defense system in Europe.
Much of the left's relentless criticism of the President is driven by personal animosity without any rational analysis of his achievements.
I have my quibbles with President Bush, but I will always be grateful for his steadfast leadership in the war and the fact that his administration managed to keep the terrorists from attacking the U.S. for the more than seven years since 9/11.