The London Times’ Charles Bremner has identified one positive aspect of President Bush’s foreign policy legacy:
With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to [Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, Jean-David] Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr. Putin declared.
Mr. Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr. Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”
Mr. Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr. Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”
Fear of “ending up like Bush” now functions as a deterrent.