When you think back to 2000-08 when George W. Bush served two terms as president of the #United States, what do you think his historical legacy in the long-term will be? Invading Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11? Finishing off daddy's work in Iraq in 2003? Flying over the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005? His presidency ending with the tumultuous 2008 Recession which continues to plague economies across the globe?
All of these events together certainly summarise Bush's presidency, and historians throughout the political spectrum will debate whether he dealt with each unfolding crisis in the appropriate manner. But in the wake of the United States' recent airstrikes against Syria provoking hostility from Russia, I cannot help but ponder there was a more positive aspect to the former president's legacy, and that was his positive relationship with Vladimir #Putin.
Bush was without doubt the man who knew how to deal with the current Russian President.
For those of you who failed to pay attention to their own 'special relationship', do a Google images search of 'Bush and Putin' and then 'Obama and Putin', and you will notice the body language between the former compared to the latter was much more cordial and friendly. Bush dominated international news headlines in the 2000s, yet Putin barely made an international impact until 2008, when he invaded Georgia. Some will argue Bush and Putin were too friendly with each other, but at least the Russian President knew where he stood with his former American counterpart.
The two engaged in a friendly disagreement over Iraq, but in the wake of Bush's 2002 speech to Congress declaring he will take action against the three rogue states (Iraq, Iran and North Korea), Putin was clever enough to recognise Bush was not a man to be messed with, despite their blossoming friendship at the time.
There was no talk of a post-Cold War crisis between Russia and the United States in the 2000s. Yet there was no talk of Bush being 'in the pocket' of Putin back then, was there?
As I argued in my recent article, Obama got his approach to Putin completely wrong. Trump may be dealing with him in a heavy-handed manner now, but this is only in response to Russia's aggression that started whilst his predecessor was president. But Trump must also use this as an opportunity to rebuild those bridges so that Russia does not continue to behave in a domineering manner whilst being tough with the Russian bear at the same time.
Russia should never be trusted under Putin, but it's times like this I miss the days of peaceful cooperation between the United States and the Russians. #George W Bush