The Current Discussion: The G-8 summit is Bush's last hurrah as a world leader. What's one thing he can do to strengthen his legacy?
This is a biased question against Bush: it already prejudges Bush’s legacy as horrible. But to be fair to the man, this is not the case. Unless you live on Mars, you can’t claim that there’s nothing good associated with President Bush. Of course, you don’t expect Bush’s detractors --- and those who have political points to score by poking holes into his presidency – to paint him white. They’d rather paint him black.
Bush has been generous and kind to Africa, far more than his predecessors. This is an uncontestable fact.
Under the Bush presidency, U.S. aid to Africa has tripled. Trade - the most effective tool to spur growth in poor countries – between Africa and the U.S. has almost doubled since Bush came to power. Under the Bush presidency, the U.S. has also increased its fight against malaria, a disease that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates kills one child in Africa every thirty seconds.
President Bush’s effort to bring peace to Darfur can’t be underestimated. Some say that pressure from his administration, in the form of sanctions and trade embargo, was the force that compelled the Khartoum government to sign a peace deal with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM.)
At the Summit this week, President Bush issued a vociferous condemnation of the Zimbabwean government for holding a sham election and suppressing the opposition. Bush’s call for the Zimbabwean government to respect democratic principles has been loud and consistent.
Yes, his international standing has been seriously bruised by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility continues to taint his push for democracy and respect for human rights in such despotic regimes as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Iran. And closer to home, Americans are hurting from high gas prices, the mortgage meltdown, unemployment and an economic downturn that many attribute to Bush’s economic policies. Bush's domestic unpopularity is so intense that his party-mate and possible successor, John McCain, is still agonizing whether to share a podium with him during the upcoming GOP Convention.
Those are high hurdles, and it remains to be seen if Bush can do enough on these issues during his remaining tenure in office to leave a good legacy in the eyes of the American people.
But to folks such as those in Africa, who have benefited from increased trade with the U.S. and access to malaria treatment, Bush will leave a good legacy worth writing about.
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