In appreciation of George W. Bush

U.S. presidents with their wives after the inauguration of Barack Obama
Jan. 20, 2009: (L-R) First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, former president George W. Bush and Laura Bush chat in front of the United States capitol (source: dpa)

George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, a Republican, was confronted with the 9/11 attack only eight months after he assumed office. Then, he was denounced around the world for the invasion of Iraq.

At the end of his second term, after the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, won the election, President Bush facilitated the handover of power in the interests of the United States. Even though his administration had been harshly criticized in the campaign and Mr. Obama had promised to alter a lot in the country’s policies – among other things, the incumbent declared that he was going to improve U.S. relations with Russia, especially with its leader Vladimir Putin – Mr. Bush did everything that was needed to help his successor in the period between the election and the inauguration. His primary concern was not his personal legacy but the future security and well-being of the nation.

Today, unfortunately, the situation during the transition is quite different. We have an outgoing president who appears to be more concerned about preserving his legacy than assisting his successor. Certainly, this is not helpful. Both sides are damaging the office’s reputation.

Unhelpful signal

Donald Trump has joined Barack Obama as the second U.S. president who believed at the start that he would improve relations with Russia. By making such a promise, the new executive signals to the world that bad relations between Washington and Moscow are the fault of the past U.S. presidents, and not of the Kremlin. This cannot be in the interest of the U.S.

It is highly probable that in the presidential election Russia hacked the campaigns of both candidates. The conclusion, though, that publishing e-mails stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign decided the election in favor of Donald Trump appears rather far-fetched. In my opinion, the hacking of the Trump campaign unearthed fewer awkward revelations than the candidate’s own public statements.

The discussion over Russia taking place right now in the U.S. is damaging to both rivaling sides. The winner of that quarrel sits in Moscow.

Looking back eight years, we can only bow our heads to the responsible and gentlemanly behavior of George W. Bush.

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