Two years into Barack Obama's presidency, it has become a cliché to observe that the newish president, who spent his 2008 campaign promising a U-turn from his deeply unpopular predecessor's activities abroad, has ended up with a foreign policy that looks surprising like George W. Bush's. The United States has more troops in Afghanistan than it did at the end of the Bush years, Guantánamo is still open, efforts to engage Iran have failed, and while American soldiers may have begun pulling back from Iraq, they've left plenty of Western defense contractors in their wake.
In anticipation of tomorrow's release of Bush's memoir, Decision Points, this line of thinking is reinforcing one of the Beltway press corps' favorite rituals: the "was he really that bad?" nostalgia for a president that the same reporters and analysts were happily pummeling only two years ago.
Don't believe a word of it. George W. Bush's presidency really was that bad -- and the fact that Obama has largely followed the same course is less a measure of Bush's wisdom than a reminder of the depth of the hole he dug his country into, as well as the institutionalized groupthink that dominates the U.S. foreign-policy establishment.
Decision Points has 14 chapters, each one pivoting around a key decision that Bush made in his adult life. So, in honor of America's newly published ex-president, here's my own list of 14 decisions that Bush made -- ones that tell a slightly different history of the 43rd presidency.
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