When he was president, George W. Bush’s international leadership was widely mocked and derided by his liberal critics, who loudly declared that his plain-talking style was undermining America’s image in the world.... Even now, the Left cannot resists a dig at the ex-president, with former Obama adviser Rob Shapiro exclaiming to Fox News over the weekend:
The United States is no longer the out-of-control cowboy. Instead, we build global coalitions. We get the support of the Arab world. We get the support of Africa. We get the support of Europe.
Shapiro’s statement ignores the fact that the military alliance built by Bush to confront Saddam Hussein was significantly larger than the coalition on the ground now in Libya, that Europe remains divided over how to deal with Colonel Gaddafi (witness Germany’s abstention at the UN Security Council), or that the Arab League is barely lifting a finger, with one or two exceptions. As for Africa, so far not one member of the African Union has joined the no-fly zone operation. But the Left rarely lets reality get in the way of baseless conjecture.
This theme of Bush as an isolated “cowboy”, acting without the support of the wider international community, was commonplace in the liberal media throughout his presidency.
And both John Kerry and Barack Obama ran election campaigns that talked about “restoring” America’s standing abroad. Needless to say, Obama was cheered by hundreds of thousands of adoring Germans when he staged an election rally in Berlin, where he offered what can only be described as “European-style mush” in place of Bush’s hard-nosed and aggressive US approach.
But world leadership of course is not a popularity contest, as Obama himself is now discovering.
At the end of the day, a US president must be judged not by his poll rating in Berlin or Jakarta, but by the degree to which he successfully advances US interests, defends his nation, and projects strong leadership on the world stage..... And an examination of the foreign policy record of the two presidents shows they are a league apart..... President Bush after all liberated nearly 60 million Muslims from tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq, and launched a global war against Islamist terrorists – no mean feat....
If superpowers do not demonstrate an ability and a willingness to wield power (as Britain did on numerous occasions at the height of the Empire) their hegemony will be increasingly challenged. ....President Bush exercised U.S. military power to stunning effect in both Iraq and Afghanistan, an important reminder that America was still a force to be reckoned with after the 1990s humiliation of Somalia and the half-hearted missile strikes against Bin Laden in Sudan. In an age of growing threats and challenges, the projection of hard power matters, and America’s next president would be wise to take heed.
In contrast, President Obama’s foreign policy has been marked by a great deal of dithering and obfuscation, from his agonisingly slow decision-making on Afghanistan to the current war in Libya.....
His biggest “achievement”, the conclusion of the New START Treaty with Moscow, was in reality a humiliating surrender to Russian demands....
. While President Bush championed the strengthening of alliances with key allies such as Great Britain and Japan, the Obama administration has preferred to downgrade traditional partnerships such as the Special Relationship, and appease America’s enemies and strategic competitors.