An open letter that was published in The Daily Mirror.
Christopher Hitchens’ open letter to George Bush as outgoing President visits the UK
Surely Mr President, you are not leaving so soon? Must you run? Very well then, since you say so.
Can it really be eight years since you ran against Vice-President Gore and criticised his schemes for “nationbuilding” and the export of democracy on the point of a US bayonet?
When you were first elected, our Prime Minister Tony Blair came to Camp David and you found you used the same brand of toothpaste. There wasn’t a great deal more overlap with our politics than that.
The general view was that you were a provincial Texan with no interest in doing anything much except shrinking the budget and cutting the maximum tax rate. (This general view was more or less right.)
The most unfair thing said is that you came in spoiling for a fight, especially in the Middle East. I think had you really long planned such a thing, it might have been better executed. But the shock of 9/11 led to … shall we call it improvisation? In practice, this means your name will be forever linked to Iraq where your best hope is that history will look more kindly on the attempt to salvage that ruined country.
In the meantime, the other members of the “axis of evil”, North Korea and Iran, are measurably closer to nuclear status than in 2001.
China, the biggest long-term rival (and creditor) of the United States has hugely increased its reach and grasp. The Russian Federation has evolved into a near-hostile autocracy. And there is less than nothing to show for all the effort to break the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. All around the world, people are marking time, waiting you out.
Opinions differ about the impact of all this overseas strain on the American economy. The mortgage crisis, and collapse of the dollar, could have befallen you anyway.
But one point seems inescapable: Sloppy book-keeping, profligate spending and unsupervised “outsourcing” of everything played their part. And nothing contradicts the ethos of your Republican party more than that. You might be surprised how many conservatives intend to vote for Senator Obama. These range from libertarians who oppose the Patriot Act and Guantanamo, to traditionalists appalled at the rise in spending, to those opposed to the war on grounds of prudence.
Your party’s new standard – bearer a man bored by economic questions and whose prestige depends on his part in America’s last foreign policy calamity. Perhaps Senator John McCain will be stage one in helping make you look good by comparison…