George W. Bush’s legacy may benefit from bin Laden’s death

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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It would be a mistake for Republicans to attempt to deprive President Barack Obama his due credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Any effort to minimize Obama’s contribution — while praising President George W. Bush’s past efforts — would be both transparent and counterproductive.

At the same time, it would be a mistake to think this will not impact how many Americans view the last president, whom I have always thought will be remembered more fondly by history than most people realize.

George W. Bush always made the case that his post-9-11 foreign policy — including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — were part of a broader war on terror. In this regard, there may be an analogy between the Cold War and The Global War on Terror.

Early Cold War presidents committed troops in places like Korea and Vietnam — and were punished by public opinion. After the fall of the Soviet Union, however, it became easier to place things in context and argue that their efforts — though costly at the time — were actually part of a larger winning struggle against the forces of Communism.

The analogy, of course, will be easier for historians to make if we ultimately see a full flowering of an “Arab Spring” in the Middle East.

Regardless, to the degree that bin Laden’s death signifies a symbolic denouement, Bush’s long-term historical legacy and reputation may benefit. We all, of course, know that terrorism will persist and that the struggle continues, but the death of bin Laden closes a circle and completes much of Bush’s unfinished business.

It matters little that he wasn’t in office when they finally killed bin Laden. In this regard, a rising tide lifts all boats …

Matt K. Lewis