A Review of the Book “Bush’s Wars” by Terry H. Anderson

In a book that begins by performing historical surveys of the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, author Terry H. Anderson sheds light on how these nations came to fall in the cross-hairs of an American nation turned bloodthirsty with revenge following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

But rather than finding out that America was justified in bombing the lights out of Afghanistan and taking down Saddam Hussein, we discover that truth was the greatest casualty of the Bush administration and that millions of Americans ultimately realized the costs of turning so much power and authority over to a small group of ideologically motivated individuals.

If Americans do not understand by now that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (and many others) led America into war with Iraq based on false information, the book Bush’s War provides irrefutable proof of that fact.

Author Terry Anderson really does not need to exaggerate the actions or words of the Bush administration to make the case for political indictment. Anderson simply lets the words spoken by Bush administration officials speak for themselves. Applying an historical perspective, Anderson helps readers connect the dots and come to their own conclusion about what went wrong for America under leadership of George W. Bush. One almost begins to wish the truth about the Bush administration really were not so ugly. Then America might be able wake up from this hangover we’re in. But the Iraq and Afghanistan wars drag on.

The habit of lying for political manipulation was so rampant during the Bush years that even Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska admits, “The administration cherry-picked intelligence to fit its policy, used fear and threat of terrorism to intensify its war sloganeering…and dampened the possibility of dissent by denying that it had decided to go to war even though it had already made that decision before the debate even began. It is shocking how little Congress or the media challenged the Bush administration.”

What is also shocking to find out is how little attention the Bush administration paid to multiple and specific warnings of terrorist threats before the 9/11 attacks. Officials such as George Tenet and Richard Clarke fairly begged Bush and his cabinet to take action against Osama bin Laden. But they were ignored, and even ridiculed.

For example, by July 10 of 2011 counterterrorist officials who had served years in the federal government were desperate to the get the attention of the president and his cabinet; “the CIA’s counterterrorism team had intercepted al Qaeda communications and other intelligence and presented it to Tenet; he was so alarmed that for the first time in seven years as CIA director he picked up the phone and requested an immediate meeting at the White House.” They told Condoleeza Rice in no uncertain terms the threats were real and imminent. But she dismissed the men.”

Right up to the day before the attacks on 9/11, supposed leaders such as Paul Wolfowitz continued to dismiss the threat of terrorist attacks in America. “You give bin Laden too much credit,” Wolfowitz insisted. “He could not do all these things…not without a state sponsor.” Right there you find evidence that the Bush administration was a priori focused on linking al Qaeda terrorist networks to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The Bush administration only wanted to believe in terrorism if it came from their favored enemies.

Bush’s War documents the ideological focus of the Bush administration and how it drove a frighteningly naive ideology about what would happen in Iraq after America conquered the country. Bush and Co. entered Iraq with arrogant confidence, declared victory too soon and squandered billions in American wealth while acting too late to protect the nation they had just forced into submission. We also learn that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars helped create the extremist military and political culture that condoned torture, promoted illegal spying on Americans and browbeat the media into reporting only what the Bushies wanted people to hear.

For American citizens who were branded “Bush-haters” for questioning the legitimacy of the Bush presidency from the start, there is vindication of sorts in now knowing that those original suspicions about the poor character of the administration were correct. But there is little satisfaction in being right, because the nation and world has suffered dearly for the actions of the man who called himself “the decider” even as his decisions and ideology proved so corrupt that some accused Bush and Cheney of war crimes.

Of course some members of the Bush administration were tried and found guilty. Scooter Libby, one of the closest advisors to vice president Dick Cheney was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the leak of the covert identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, an officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. The case illustrated just how far the Bush administration would go to undercut its perceived enemies, even to the point of endangering key CIA operatives. One could argue that is treason.

Early in the chronicle that is Bush’s War, Terry Anderson quotes George W. Bush himself speaking during the debates leading up to the 2000 presidential election. Bush’s words reveal the misleading nature of his campaign promises, especially in context with his ultimate actions. Bush insisted he would be a cautious Commander in Chief: “I would take the use of force very seriously…I think we’ve got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president (Al Gore) and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders…If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem down the road. And I’m going to prevent that.”

Bush supporters might argue that 9/11 changed everything, and that Bush had to take action to combat terrorism worldwide. But when one realizes the huge Bush failure to respect credible information about terrorist threats leading up to 9/11, that excuse falls away. Ultimately Bush needs to be held accountable for all that happened under his watch. And so much tragedy cannot be written off to bad luck. But it can be credited to arrogance and bad management. That is the legacy of George W. Bush and his wars.

Bush’s Wars chronicles a sad chapter in America’s history. There’s no way to turn back the clock, but we can use what we know about the lies and misappropriations of that administration to avoid electing others like them to power. And well we should.

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