In an unusual irony of history, Obama is succeeding in rehabilitating his predecessor Bush through his weak and ambivalent actions.
Upon taking office, American President Barack Obama made no secret of the fact the he viewed the past policies of his predecessor George W. Bush in the Middle East as completely wrong and misguided. He wanted to use entirely new strategies and set new priorities. Obama believed the Bush administration had become obsessed with defeating al-Qaida, overthrowing Arab dictatorships and wanting to bring democracy to the countries of the Middle East. George Bush had made this a personal crusade, and [Obama wanted] all that to come to an end.
This opinion prevailed in Europe as well, and it partially explains the exceedingly positive mood — yes, euphoria — with which Obama was met. In hindsight, awarding the new President Obama, who had only been in office a few months, the Nobel Peace Prize was downright grotesque and clearly motivated as an anti-Bush action: Barack Obama received the prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
George W. Bush possessed one thing, though: a firm conviction. He wanted to bring democracy into Iraq and in further succession, perhaps also to other countries of the Middle East. [He also wanted to] put a check on fundamentalism. It is difficult to judge how great Bush’s contribution to the diverse uprisings in the Arab world was and what their results will ultimately be. But in any case, Bush was resolute and made many a decision against the advice of the majority of politicians, military brass and journalists. Many of [those decisions] — for example, adherence to the deployment to Iraq and even its expansion into a very precarious phase — have in the meantime proven to be absolutely correct.
If a leader does not signal any clear convictions and dodges clear decisions, then his actions convey an atmosphere of uncertainty, ambivalence and detachment.
In conversation with a long-term CEO of an international firm, we discussed the importance of intensity and the exact quality of intelligence for a leading executive. His summary: Intelligence is very important, but overly intellectualized thinking impairs the ability to make decisions and is therefore detrimental to successful leadership.
A few months ago, former CIA director Leon Panetta said in an interview about Obama, "Too often in my view the president relies on the logic of the law professor rather than the passion of a leader." Certainly, the professorial stance of Obama has its strengths under different circumstances. For a political observer, the so-called helicopter view — that is, a view from a certain distance — is of great importance to be better able to judge processes and prognosticate future developments. Oversimplification and emotional entanglement are great obstacles to being able to judge complex political situations.
It may well be that this was Bush’s greatest deficit. If, however, a leader who must act and make important, often difficult decisions is aloof, then withdrawal and defensive demeanor ultimately lead to political mistakes. The fact that U.S. President Barack Obama quite apparently finds himself caught in this dilemma leads increasingly by implication to a rehabilitation of his predecessor George W. Bush. His brother Jeb Bush is already chomping at the bit in the starting blocks for the presidential election of 2016, and his chances are rising daily.