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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Lone Voice Among Historians?

The vast majority of those in academia are critical of the Bush administration. During a recent lecture, John Lewis Gaddis, a professor of history at Yale, was no exception. His many criticisms of Bush included the following:

[Bush] had failed miserably in getting United Nations support for the invasion of Iraq.

The phrase “axis of evil” originated in overzealous speechwriting rather than careful thought.

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had diminished, in advance, the credibility of whatever future intelligence claims Bush and Blair might make.

The so-called “coalition of the willing” there had been more of a joke than a reality.

Within a little more than a year and a half, the United States had exchanged its long-established reputation as the principal stabilizer of the international system for one as its chief destabilizer.

Nonetheless, Gaddis concludes the following:

"This historian is also leaning, somewhat more controversially, in the direction of acknowledging that George W. Bush is likely to be remembered as the first great grand strategist of the 21st century."

"Somewhat more controversially" is a stunning understatement in that as far as I can tell, he is the only one (of any stature) who thinks that. Indeed, Gaddis acknowledges that "he is ... somewhat ahead of most of his faculty colleagues ... in this respect".

We'll see if he's right.

The transcript of the entire lecture can be found here and I highly recommend it.

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