When Barack Obama ran for President of the United States in 2008, he was adamant about setting himself apart from President George W. Bush. However, given Obama’s recent announcements regarding the war in the Middle East, it has left many wondering just how different Obama is from his predecessor.
In his campaign for election in 2008, and in his campaign for re-election in 2012, Obama emphasized the fact that he intended to “end the war in Iraq.”
While Obama followed through on his promise, and all troops were removed from Iraq by December 2011, his recent decision to attack Islamic State militants in both Iraq and Syria via airstrike has left the country wondering whether ground troops returning to Iraq will be the next step.
Despite his attempt to set himself on the opposite end of the spectrum from Bush, Obama’s latest strategy has many looking back at Bush’s actions prior to sending ground troops into Iraq in 2003.
In January 2002, President Bush gave a State of the Union Address, in which he warned the American people of the danger posed by the Iraqi regime, and insisted that the United States must take action.
“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.“
Bush vowed that the United State would work closely with their “coalition” to deny terrorists and their state sponsors “the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction.”
Bush also highlighted the fact that Americans should fear the Iraqi regime, because of its hostility toward America, and its support for terror.
“This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children,” said Bush. “This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.”
On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, to garner support for his war against the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL).
“There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
Both Bush and Obama vowed that the United States would not be alone, but would instead work closely with a coalition. In the same way Bush used the tactic of fear, and described why Americans should be wary of the Iraqi regime, Obama highlighted the gruesome actions of the Islamic State.
“Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death,” said Obama. “In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.”
Obama also mirrored his predecessor, when he used the phrase “network of death,” which has a similar context to the “axis of evil” used by Bush.
However, a former White House speechwriter, Michael Gerson, who helped to coin Bush’s “axis of evil,” claimed that “When dealing with an ideology that inspires beheadings and mass murder, the English language only offers so many words that carry sufficient moral weight. ‘Evil’ and ‘death’ are two of them.”