The Islamic Post Blog

George W. Bush on Defense in Farewell Address to the Nation by Khalida
February 2, 2009, 10:12 am
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, National | Tags:

By Umm Ali

Islamic Post Staff Writer

Days before President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, a seemingly defensive President George W. Bush gave his final address to the nation from the East Room of the White House.
After paying tribute to the American election process, sending his best wishes to President Obama and his family and thanking the American people for their prayers and support during his two terms as president, Mr. Bush immediately began to defend his presidential record.
While he exits the oval office with the highest presidential disapproval rating (70%, according to CNN polling), Mr. Bush attempted to protect his reputation by insisting that the two military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were necessary by stating, “ The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.” Characterizations of this nature have been commonplace during Mr. Bush’s tenure and often misinterpreted to signify all Muslims. There are those for whom such statements have deposited a stain of hatred and mistrust in the face of which Muslims all over the world have found themselves hard pressed to defend their religious convictions, as these sayings seemingly spoke not only to these two countries, but to Islam as a whole.
Later in his address, Mr. Bush solemnly admitted, “ Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks.  There are things that I would do differently if given the chance.”
While it is inarguable that  Mr. Bush’s presidency was plagued with many challenges, analysts have closely scrutinized his reactions to these demanding events  over the past eight years. From the tragic events that took place here on American soil on September 11, 2001, two subsequent wars, the lack of response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the borderline collapse of the economy Mr. Bush has had to make some tough decisions that were many times unpopular. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and the hinting of war with Syria and Iran) were the most troubling decisions and could smear his presidential record for years to come. “I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right,” Mr. Bush said, “You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope that you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.”
Mr. Bush seemed to cling to the notion that the United States is still vulnerable and another attack on U.S. soil is imminent. He quite ostensibly warned President Obama and the American public against complacency by stating, “Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again… We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.” Although President Obama’s also stresses the security of the homeland, in foreign policy he favors diplomacy over defense. During last year’s election Mr. Bush was an open opponent of President Obama’s ideology of starting a dialogue between the United States and her adversaries.
During his address, Mr. Bush stated, under no uncertain terms, that America’s presence in Afghanistan and Iraq has only enhanced their way of life and improved their social standing. In both cases he failed to mention the crumbling infrastructure and destruction that has taken place and how many soldiers and innocent lives have been lost in this process. However, the centrism of this ideology can be said to have distanced some foreign countries and, most unfortunately, spurred anti-American feelings abroad. The hope is that the new president’s philosophy of diplomacy will work against those sentiments.
Another prevailing issue that Mr. Bush spoke about was the nation’s failing economy, the cost of the two wars being partially at fault.
In closing, George W. Bush praised the American people for their resolve during times of crisis and he also praised the military for their support by saying, “I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. America owes you a debt of gratitude. And to all our men and women in uniform listening tonight, there has been no higher honor than serving as your Commander in Chief.”
“And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time, good night,” a somber Mr. Bush said, “May God bless this house and our next president, and may God bless you and our wonderful country.”


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