The Strangeness of the Bush Era


After something happens, it can begin to seem inevitable. The extent to which the actual has its origins deep in the past, and the present-day has been unfolding for decades, becomes clear to us all. On occasion, it’s useful to have a jarring reminder that things didn’t always seem that way. Here, for example, Joschka Fischer, a very admirable and savvy foreign policy thinker and the German Foreign Minister who tried to lead opposition to the invasion of Iraq, recalls how things seemed to him eight years ago:

We thought we were going back to the old days of Bush 41. And ironically enough Rumsfeld, but even more Cheney, together with Powell, were seen as indications that the young president, who was not used to the outside world, who didn’t travel very much, who didn’t seem to be very experienced, would be embedded into these Bush 41 guys. Their foreign-policy skills were extremely good and strongly admired. So we were not very concerned. Of course, there was this strange thing with these “neocons,” but every party has its fringes. It was not very alarming.

Needless to say: Oops.