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In critical times we need to be cool. Equally important we need insight, concise and to the point. Andrew J. Bacevich of the Boston Globe provides just this. We excerpt:

What Bush hath wrought

      By almost any measure, [The Bush administration] constitutes a record of substantial, if almost entirely malignant, achievement

      Bush's harshest critics, left liberals as well as traditional conservatives, have repeatedly called attention to this record. That criticism has yet to garner mainstream political traction. Throughout the long primary season, even as various contenders in both parties argued endlessly about Iraq, they seemed oblivious to the more fundamental questions raised by the Bush years: whether global war makes sense as an antidote to terror, whether preventive war works, whether the costs of "global leadership" are sustainable, and whether events in Asia rather than the Middle East just might determine the course of the 21st century.

      Now only two candidates remain standing. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both insist that the presidential contest will mark a historic turning point. Yet, absent a willingness to assess in full all that Bush has wrought, the general election won't signify a real break from the past.

      The burden of identifying and confronting the Bush legacy necessarily falls on Obama. Although for tactical reasons McCain will distance himself from the president's record, he largely subscribes to the principles informing Bush's post-9/11 policies. McCain's determination to stay the course in Iraq expresses his commitment not simply to the ongoing conflict there, but to the ideas that gave rise to that war in the first place. While McCain may differ with the President on certain particulars, his election will affirm the main thrust of Bush's approach to national security.

      The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict.

This very point has been made by others and is a centerpiece of this web site.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He is an acclaimed conservative and he wrote Limits of Power.


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