Article - Winter 2012

Responses to Our Autumn 2011 Issue

By Our Readers | November 30, 2011

Brushes With Bush

Dubya and Me” (Autumn 2011), by Walt Harrington, is a disturbing read. Though I can appreciate the author’s friendship with George W. Bush, I think that any look at the 43rd U.S. presidency should be framed in a larger context: many Americans and citizens of other countries judge Bush to be a war criminal.

By ordering an attack, invasion, and occupation of Iraq—a country lacking the means and the demonstrated intent to attack our country and with no involvement in the crimes of September 11th—the Bush administration committed, as defined by Robert H. Jackson, chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” One can argue whether Bush intended to seize “territory”; by traditional definition he did not. Instead, he claimed that “national interests” (often meaning private corporate interests) guided his decision to initiate aggressive warfare against another nation. Regardless of motive, according to our fledgling attempts at international law, the act itself is a serious legal and moral wrong.

Torture is another clear violation of international and U.S. law. Getting Away with Torture, published by Human Rights Watch, documents that Bush and numerous associates approved its use.

For these and other reasons, Harrington’s warm and fuzzy look at Bush’s personality and perspective on how history will judge him seems unreasonable and disingenuous.


San Francisco, California


Bush’s interest in history seems to be limited to a fascination with the will to exert power from a
patrician worldview rather than an attempt to understand the forces that shape nations and peoples derived from interdisciplinary thought.


Audubon, New Jersey


Harrington writes: “We don’t know if inaction would have resulted in a depression, [Bush] says—only that he did act and there was no depression.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Bush himself did not know what he was doing; did not understand the intended effect of the actions being taken; did not understand how the actual action taken was not at all the same as what was claimed as the action; did not understand that, according to Neel Kashkari’s testimony to Congress, the Treasury, including Secretary Henry Paulson, had internally decided on a use for the TARP money that was in direct contradiction with what Paulson was swearing under oath was the intended use, thus making one or both of them guilty of lying under oath to Congress; did not understand that his own treasury secretary was the person who had convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to remove the leverage limits on the banks a dozen years earlier and thus was as personally responsible as any human being can be for the entirety of the financial meltdown.

The current depression started in 2008 and is the result of policies undertaken, things done, and things not done under Bush.


Leesburg, Virginia


Prominent writers have indicated their belief that all segments of American society are showing more and more mediocrity. Although I don’t believe that your magazine fits this description, “Dubya and Me” is an exception in the Scholar. If H. L. Mencken were alive and read the essay, he would blurt out, “This is balderdash of the crudest kidney!”


Central, South Carolina


History will judge President Bush very kindly, much as it has judged Truman—another president who took decisive action that made him very unpopular. Sixty years of perspective have shown that Truman’s actions in Japan and in Korea changed the world much for the better—millions of lives saved by not invading Japan and the beginning of the end of Soviet and Chinese expansionism.

History will show that had Bush not invaded and remained in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arab Spring would not, and could not, have occurred. If Saddam Hussein, a man who had used chemical weapons several times against two different peoples, Iraqi Kurds and Iranians, were still in power, the first uprisings would have been extinguished with brutal mass casualties.

I am grateful that President Obama has broken nearly every one of his campaign promises regarding the Middle East wars. He has continued the work in Iraq begun under Bush, intensified the war in Afghanistan, kept open the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, regularly invaded Pakistan with drone attacks, and hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden. Obama has become a regular killing machine.

Evil must be confronted, and history forgives those who have the courage to do so.


from our website

Gays in Utah

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Out in the West”) is not a monolithic entity, and its membership runs the political gamut, though that may be less evident in a semirural community like Jennifer Sinor’s, in part because less-urban communities in any quadrant of the country tend toward political conservatism. To imagine that all Mormons think the same way about any issue, or on any point of theology, or about a favorite ice cream, or anything else, is to fall into the same pattern of thought that this essay purports to decry.


from our website


As a study in unreliable narration, Sinor’s essay works beautifully. As an attempt to shed light on a complex and sensitive issue in the Utah academy, it detracts a bit from the intelligent discourse that takes place seemingly without her knowledge.


from our website


I realize that Sinor’s piece is to some extent a story of her journey toward some tolerance of Mormons (individuals, not doctrines). It is without doubt a commendable journey, though its telling is marred by the author’s inability to present her opponent in any but the worst possible light. Surely the atrocities Sinor mentions are neither widespread nor sanctioned by the Mormon church. Even the telling of the story, despite its intended trajectory toward some modicum of tolerance, illustrates her persistent setting up of straw men.


from our website


Despite the palpable evils documented in this piece, Utah is a place with some interesting diversity as well. It is, as of the last census, 58 percent Mormon—still a majority, but down significantly from the figures in the last census, which appear to be the ones used in the article (about 70 percent then). Salt Lake City is itself majority non-Mormon—about 60 percent or more of us non-Mormons live here, we elect Democratic mayors over and over, we have one of the best public transportation systems in the West, we have a wonderful locavore food culture, and (best of all) a notable absence of intolerance.


from our website


I can appreciate Sinor’s concern for those who are gay and are being treated not only unfairly but also reprehensibly. Her thesis seems to be that the LDS Church is somehow responsible for the actions of the people in Logan. The church does not teach its members to be callous or demeaning or violent toward others. It teaches that we should love all people as Jesus Christ does, even those who decide they are gay, or any other color of the human spectrum. We see the gay-marriage issue as a moral one, believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that marriage is a sacred ordinance, ordained of God.


from our website

Not So Elementary, Watson

In “The Forgotten Churchill” (Summer 2011) George Watson rightly made the point that Otto von Bismarck and then the Liberal Asquith government led the way in “social” welfare. But as an avid reader of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, I can’t imagine what led to this fatuous passage by Watson: “I have never knowingly met anyone who read his History of the English-Speaking Peoples. … No doubt it comforted his declining years.”



Sydney, Australia

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Comments powered by Disqus