The Council on Foreign Relations' Richard Haass on Bush's Unjust Iraq War Blunder

The Council on Foreign Relations' Richard Haass talks to U.S. News about his latest book.

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Do you think his unpopularity is deserved?


History is going to be very critical of him. I believe that history is going to judge that the 43rd president entered office with a rare opportunity. The United States was economically strong, we were growing at 3 percent or so a year, our budget was in surplus, our military was at rest, and even after 9/11, the United States enjoyed a position in the world that was quite unprecedented if one looks at the sweep of history. When one looks at what the United States did with that position of economic strength and international primacy, I believe historians are going to be extraordinarily critical. They're going to say we squandered a moment where the United States could have put into place international machinery that could have helped bring about a world that was protective of our interests for decades to come. I also think history will be quite generous toward the 41st president, seeing him as an effective steward of America's position in the world at a time of transition from the Cold War to the post-Cold War era. Should Obama read your book?


I would hope he would because, like all good case studies, I'd like to think there are lessons for the present and future about decision making. He is facing and will face some of the same decisions about wars of necessity and choice. I would suggest he's already embarked on a war of choice in Afghanistan. I believe he will have to decide whether to keep U.S. forces in Iraq for longer than he signed up for. And he may well have to decide whether to use force against North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran. Will he decide to use force against any of those three countries?


Well, he's already decided it in a limited way in Pakistan with the drone attacks. I can imagine if political instability in Pakistan were profound, the United States would find itself using force either to go after terrorists or to protect or secure nuclear materials.