In his column for Newsweek–some of which I don’t agree with–Fareed Zakaria writes this (which I do agree with):
We live in remarkably peaceful times. A University of Maryland study shows that deaths from wars of all kinds have been dropping dramatically for 20 years and are lower now than at any point in the last half century. A study from Simon Fraser University finds that casualties from terrorism have been steadily declining since 9/11. It is increasingly clear–look at their voting from Indonesia to Iraq to Pakistan–that very few Muslims anywhere support Islamic fundamentalists. More countries than ever before now embrace capitalism and democracy.
Now I wouldn’t for a moment ascribe all the credit for this to the Bush presidency; some of these trends began before he got into office, and others have happened apart from his efforts. On the other hand, President Bush had clearly accelerated some of these good trends.
Mr. Zakaria’s summary badly undercuts those who have argued that President Bush left the world in a manifestly worse situation. In fact, the opposite seems to be true; in many respects, the progress we’ve seen during this decade has been heartening and, when it comes to the fall-off in support for jihadists and in the number of casualties caused by terrorism, remarkable.
When the Iraq war was going badly, it acted as an eclipse of the sun, making it impossible for many people to see either the impressive national security achievements of the Bush Administration or the progress being made on various fronts. The surge’s success is putting an end to the eclipse, and we are seeing more and more signs of a favorable reassessment of the Bush presidency. That will only increase with the passage of time, especially if we eventually succeed in Iraq (we are certainly on the right path now).
What matters to the history books is whether a President gets many–not all, but many–of the most important issues of his time right. President Bush has, in my estimation; and that explains why, when it comes to history’s judgment, he’s very comfortable with how things will shake out.