The best thing that I did during my holidays was to read the memoirs of former US President George W. Bush, “Decision Points”. It was a bargain. I bought it for ony two euros. The price is still handwritten on the first page.
In fact, it was something more than a bargain. It was almost a heresy because I acquired it in Jaimes, the last surviving French bookshop in Barcelona (Spain). There was on sale.
But it was a great acquisition. And I vividly recommended it. Of course, the Spanish press –and I presume press worldwide- received the book when it was published in 2010 with contempt, almost scorn. Mainly, of course, the liberal press.
“The lies of the memories of George Bush” said Publico, a left-wing Spanish newspaper long-disapeared. “Bush says in his memories that torture at Guantánamo helped save lives and prevent attacks” published El País, the Spain’s premier newspaper.
It doesn't matter. It’s a great book. I had never read a book written by a former president of the United States –or any other country- talking so frankly about himself. "My problem- he said- was not only drinking; it was selfishness" explained on page 2.
Of course, politicians usually use this kind of books to rewrite history and try to give off a good image of themselves. But George W Bush didn’t make up the truth. Thanks a lot, Mr President.
I know that his presidency –two terms- had hits and misses. Even great mistakes like the invasion of Iraq. Or miscalculations like the Katrina hurricane. But he did his best.
In the first case, the author explained that the CIA reached the conclusion that “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons” (p 240). Obviously, it was a grave misinterpretation of the intelligence sevices.
And, regarding to Katrina, he regrets not having ordered the evacuation of New Orleans and not having deployed troops after the disaster. Even if he's fast making decisions, he was probably right.
There is no excuse but probably any president has been under such a political pressure since Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt had to cope with the surprise attack in Pearl Harbour.
George W. Bush with a terrorist attack that costed 3.000 lives in American soil, the economic crisis and Katrina, the most terrible hurricane in decades. As he writes: "there is no textbook on how to steady a nation rattled by a faceless enemy" (p 140).
Personally I think that the Irak invasion had two main mistakes. First, taking advantage of the wave of sympathy that emerged in muslim countries for the USA after the attack against the Twin Towers.
Second, to disband the entire Iraq's Army after the invasion. The power vacuum has always had terrible effects in history. Remember, if Mr Bush loves history, the Spanish Republic after the coup d'état of general Franco in 1936.
The army was also disbanded. Probably, the Republic lost at that moment the war. Hitler himself is the result of vaccum power. When the economic crisis and hyperinflation devastated the German middle class.
Needless to say that the author -there is an audiobook read by himself that I listen when I am going for running- outlined other achievements like the investigation with stem cells.
Now it looks pretty common, even an old-fashioned subject, but wasn’t easy to take decisions like this twenty years ago for a person with deep religious beliefs.
Buy the book -you can find it on Amazon for only 11.54$ in kindle edition-: First of all, because it holds your attention from the first page. You can redad it as a bestseller. It’s very well written.
Sometimes, it looks more as screenplay of a Hollywood's film or a House of Cards series than a political book. Maybe thanks to the contribution of Chris Michael, the chief speechwriter in the White House during Bush presidency.
Secondly, because Mr Bush was a better president that the liberal, CNN or intellectuals said. Beyond his appearance of a tough guy, he seems a nice guy with a sharp sense of humor.
I am not a politician, a I am only a reporter but I learned a lot from this book. Like Machiavelli's The Prince or Sun Tzu The art of war, there are some interesting political advices:
- "Market conditions can change quickly, so you'd better prepared for the unexpected" (page 30)
- "Voters don't want a leader who fails in anger and coarsens the tone of de debate" (page 54)
- "The importance of properly structuring and staffing an organization. The people you choose to surround you determine the quality of advice you receive and the way your goals are implemented" (page 66)
- Trust your instinct (or your wife's instinct): "Laura had an instinctive feel for the pulse of the country" (page 99)
- Take the bull by the horns: "When I entered politics, I made a decision: I would confront problems, not pass them on to future generations" (page 272)
- "Common sense, good communications skills, and ability to make decisions" are needed in politics (page 323)
- "A president must work for the best case, and prepare for the worst" (page 442)
And the last one (among others):
- "Pursued your convictions without wavering but change course when necessary" (pag 476)
Probably, as a Spanish reader, there is only a regret: the former prime minister José María Aznar deserves only a few lines, many less than the British prime minister Tony Blair with full com compliments like "strategic thinker" (page 231) or "had the courage" (page 232).
Mr Bush had to know that the Azores photo between him, Blair and Aznar cost probably to the Spanish president his political career. The Spanish public opinion was not ready to support the war against Iraq. But this is another story. Thanks, Mr Bush, for being so honest./ Xavier Rius is a journalist and the editor of e-notícies, an online newspaper in Barcelona (Spain).