firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
The Second Bush Administration
On January 20th, a familiar ceremony will take place in Washington. Forecasting what the second administration will be like is rather easy as it is led by the same leader and administration. Since Bush's re-election indicates that Americans trust and support the policies and achievements of his first term, it is expected that the second Bush term will not differ radically from the first one in terms of vision and main policies.
More precisely, Americans support the Bush administration's policies towards the war on terrorism. The 9/11 attack vividly demonstrates that America's main problem was Muslim fundamentalists' terrorism against the world. The Bush administration layed down countermeasures and steadily and swiftly pushed them forward to achieve a big success. Despite criticisms aimed at the Bush administration and the many errors committed thus far by Bush, it has been said that the war on terrorism was effectively carried out under the command of Mr. Bush. Various countermeasures on terrorism were set up and the US and its allies attacked Muslim terrorist groups and weakened them. Given the fact that war is usually miserable and most operations lose their effects in the initial fighting, America's achievements in Afghanistan and Iraq could be considered as unprecedented successes. Therefore, it is expected that the Bush administration will maintain its current policies and strategies towards the war on terrorism.
To forecast how the second Bush administration will be, it is necessary to study and understand his first term in office. In other words, we need to look into how Mr. Bush and his assistants see the world and what decisions they made.
Looking back to Mr. Bush's past four years, it turned out that the Bush and Reagan administrations shared significant common ground, especially in the areas of similar political viewpoints, grounds, and policies. Thanks to such similarities, it is somewhat easier to understand the Bush administration if we have a good grasp of the Reagan administration.
First, as members of the Republican party, Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan basically share almost identical political viewpoints and grounds that formed the foundation of their administrations.
Second, they successfully expanded and consolidated their political grounds during their presidency. and they were forecasted to be unelectable candidates while running for the presidency. Mr. Bush was considered to have a lower probability of being elected than then vice-President Mr. Al Gore. However, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan were elected despite unfavorable conditions, and re-elected four years later. The re-election proves the lasting nature of their political power.
Third, they activated their parties. Mr. Reagan successfully integrated the ideologically-divided Republican party and largely expanded its platform. Mr. Bush activated the Republican party that lost its vitality under the Clinton administration. These days, however, Republicans have made significant inroads into seizing congressional seats from Democrats, and it is thought that Republicans are highly likely to hold a majority of seats in the United States Congress for a considerable period of time in the future. There are some backup columns; "The Emerging Democratic Minority" in the journal "The Economist" and 'Character is Destiny' by William Safire, a political commentator.
"The Republican Party today is characterized by a mission to defeat terror while disseminating freedom abroad, and to maintain a policy of restraining tax increases while escalating social spending at home. Such a sharply defined character has led to electoral success and control of the White House, the Congress, state legislatures and the subsequent ability to control Supreme Court appointments. Though George W. Bush is not an overwhelmingly beloved leader, he won a clear majority because most swing voters felt he resolutely stood for what he believed in." [‘International Herald Tribune', Jan. 13, 2005]
Since Mr. Safire is a faithful Republican, we need to read his column critically but it is true that he clearly described the current status of the Republican party which gained its power.
Fourth, Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan successfully implemented policies that could reform the American society by relying on their firm political grounds. Mr. Reagan coped successfully with financial difficulties by carrying out economic policies based on economic liberalism (Conservatism under the US traditional practice) and stopped socialism that started to spread in the US. As for Mr. Bush, it has been pointed out that his policies brought about considerable changes in American society.
Fifth, they were well aware of their enemies and set up effective countermeasures. When Mr. Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States, cold war tensions between communism and liberalism were in a very charged situation. Even though the military and political threats of the Soviet Union increased, the free world had no intention of countering these threats, as it was believed that there was no way to stop expansion of the Soviet Union throughout the free world. Such defeatism was well described in the slogan, "Better red than dead". Even though the appeasement policy of establishing 'detente'was supported by the majority, Mr. Reagan believed that it was wrong to appease the Soviet Union. Despite harsh objections and criticisms, Mr. Reagan oppressed the Soviet Union which he referred to as the 'Evil Empire' for the purpose of ending it. As for the Bush administration, it initially seemed to be isolationist. However, the 9/11 event reminded Mr. Bush that Muslim terrorists were real threats to the free world, especially to the US. Soon after the 9/11 event, he declared the 'War on terrorism' and steadily and swiftly carried out the war against terrorist groups.
As described above, Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan share a great deal of similarities. Since Mr. Reagan's achievements are considered to be successful nowadays, Mr. Bush will probably try to follow his example, especially, his policy towards the Soviet Union.
When Mr. Reagan assumed power, the American Sovietological community supported an appeasement policy toward the Soviet Union. They thought the conflict with the Soviet Union would bring about a nuclear war that they believed the US couldn't win, and they urged his administration to take a conciliatory stance towards the Soviet Union. To back up such counter-proposals, they argued that communism and liberalism conceptually converged at an ethical juncture and this argument was supported by the majority since it gave comfort to those who were afraid of nuclear war.
On the other hand, those who were aware of the essentials of Communism pointed out that it would never cooperate with liberalism. So, these so-called 'cold warriors' argued that the cold war, middle position between nuclear war and an appeasement policy was reasonable and effective. (The attitudes toward communism are always described with asymmetrical titles. Those who actively argued against Communism were labelled as 'hard-liners' who represent 'irrational and unrealistic people' while those who supported an appeasement policy were called 'rational and realistic moderates'. The latter group could never be called 'soft-liners' which refer to 'people who dislike addressing potential threats with diplomacy only).
Mr. Reagan was well aware of the characteristics of Communism and the fact that the Soviet Union would never cooperate with liberalism whose existence was a fundamental threat to the Soviet Union. He was certain that he was highly likely to win in the Cold War as he believed that the Soviet-styled communism had an intrinsic flaws in its system. With such beliefs, he and his followers steadily fought against the Soviet Union.
His policies received a great deal of harsh criticism domestically and internationally.
The Sovietological community, especially most state personnel opposed his policies.
All allies except for the UK criticised his hard vision, and France and Germany
actively disturbed his polices. Richard Piples who drew up the policy against
the Soviet Union described the situation in his memoirs,
Another problem arose with certain members of the United States based on their presumed airs of ‘professionalism.'As indicated above, their principal business was with our European allies and in that capacity they assumed the role of spokesmen for the NATO alliance. The difficulty with this was that the alliance, forged after victory in World War II, was very much a one-sided affair. Although in theory the North Atlantic Treaty called for mutual assistance by its members to one another in case of aggression by an outside power, in reality the United States committed itself to the defense of Europe but the reverse was not the case. The Europeans (with the possible exception of the British) acted on the premise that the responsibility for countering communist aggressions globally fell exclusively on America's shoulders. Whenever the established order was threatened outside Europe's geographic confines, we took action while European countries either did nothing or gave token support; on some occasions, they publicly opposed U.S. policies. The European allies simply refused to acknowledge that the Cold War, in which the U.S. acted as their ultimate protector, and instead refer to it as a global conflict. To make matters worse, they accepted the post-World War II order as permanent and viewed with alarm any American attempts to tamper with it. […] All this anticipated the kind of problems we would experience later on in the 1990s and early 2000s after the communist threat had vanished and the European governments began openly to resist the U.S.'s efforts to cope with the new global threat: Islamic terrorism."
As we discussed above, the Reagan and Bush administrations are very similar
in terms of the characteristics and structure of the situations they faced.
Therefore, these are two identical stories with the same topic and plot but
with different cast members. Therefore, it is necessary for us to refer to the
Reagan administration's achievements on ending the Cold War and to evaluate
the Bush administration's 'war on terrorism'.
Considering the fact that the Reagan administration finished its mission with happy ending, it is highly likely that the story with the Bush administration will end up similarly. It seems to be okay to have a 'carefully optimistic view' on the future of the Bush administration.
Bok, Kohill (Novelist)