George Bush needs to get a grip and stop Churchill-izing Zelensky
The New York Post reports that former president George W. Bush called Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky "the Winston Churchill of our time." Bush spoke to Zelensky on May 5, 2022 via videoconference. Then, on Instagram, Bush posted that he thanked Zelensky for "his leadership, his example, and his commitment to liberty." Bush also said, "We will continue to stand with Ukrainians as they stand up for their freedom."
One would think after that the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush would be a little more humble when he talks about war.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, Bush gave some stirring, Churchillian speeches to Congress and the American people. He portrayed the struggle against al-Qaeda and their sponsors as an existential battle of good versus evil. And he told the world that you were either with the United States in this struggle or against us. He then waged war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and waged war in Iraq based on intelligence that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction and was associated with Islamic terrorists.
Initially, both wars went well, as American forces hunted down al-Qaeda terrorists and attacked their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan and toppled Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. But soon thereafter, things started going awry. Instead of finding Afghan and Iraqi "strongmen" to impose order and stability in those countries, as, for example, Eisenhower did in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s, and Nixon did in Chile in the 1970s, Bush acted more like the Kennedy brothers in South Vietnam (who supported the coup against Diem) by sacrificing stability and order for the promise of Western-style democracy. It didn't work in Vietnam, and it didn't work in Afghanistan or Iraq. Bush soon transformed the Global War on Terror into a crusade to spread democracy — a crusade that lasted twenty years and failed miserably, as most crusades do.
As the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq grew in size and deadliness, Bush resembled not the Churchill of the Second World War, but instead the Churchill of the Dardanelles campaign in the First World War, when, after it became clear to almost everyone in the British government that the attempt to force the Dardanelles and take the Gallipoli peninsula was too costly in men and treasure and doomed to failure, Churchill poured more materiel and men into the meat-grinder to no positive effect.
Zelensky is also not the Churchill of the Second World War. The struggle in Ukraine will not decide the fate of Western civilization the way the struggle against Hitler did. But by portraying it as such, Bush has sided with those in our country who want America and NATO to get more deeply involved in the war, which would heighten the already serious risk that the war will widen to engulf all of Europe and beyond, especially if the nuclear threshold is crossed.
We are in very dangerous times. The last thing we need is a former president who botched two wars, and who thought it wise to bring Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia into NATO, and who offered NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, giving us advice about the current war and cheerleading for Zelensky. Hasn't he done enough harm already?
Image: CBS Sunday Morning via YouTube.