An open letter to President George W. Bush

An open letter to President George W. Bush

Dear Mr. President,

Next week, Americans will come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. The day will be filled with eating, playing and celebrating. Americans will also use the day to give thanks and will devote their prayers and thoughts to all the things for which they are grateful. This year, I choose to devote my Thanksgiving to the U.S. military personnel who are protecting my liberty, and to you.
As in years past, a new president will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, marking the end of your tenure. Your eight years in the White House have been filled with challenges and opportunities. Here are just a few reasons why I’m so grateful for your presidency.

Thank you for keeping us safe.
More than seven years after the brutal attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there has been no subsequent attack on U.S. soil. This is no accident and it isn’t for lack of trying by our terrorist enemies. Certainly, the various foiled attacks that have been reported, attest to that fact. And no doubt, there have been many other unsuccessful terrorist plots about which we know nothing. This amazing success is a result of policies you enacted after 9/11. It stems from your commitment to reorganizing our national security bureaucracy and to devoting new resources and new technologies to combating terror in the 21st century. And to taking the fight to them rather than waiting for the next attack here at home.
Thank you for your love and support for Israel.
There have been many pro-Israel presidents, from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. But you have outshined them all. Mr. President, your commitment to Israel’s prosperity and security is heartfelt and enduring. Your speech at the Knesset this past May in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary is a perfect example. “The alliance between our governments is unbreakable,” you declared, “yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.”
What makes your support for Israel so powerful is that it is based not just on strategic realities or shared democratic ideals, but on a common set of Judeo-Christian values, as well. You understand, as Michael Oren has written, “there is no alliance in the world today more durable and multifaceted than that between the United States and Israel.”
Thank you for removing Saddam Hussein.
The world is a safer place without the Butcher of Baghdad. He gassed his own people, subjugated them and terrorized them. He paid for terrorist attacks against Israelis and Americans. He attacked and tried to conquer a neighboring country and he would never have been removed except by force of arms. Whatever else results from the Iraq War — not least the possibility of a new, pluralistic, free and functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East — Saddam no longer threatens the world and for that you deserve thanks.
Thank you for calling evil by its name.
As you’ve rightly declared, the fight against terror is “the defining challenge of our time.” It is “a great ideological struggle” waged with the “technology of the 21st century but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil.”
Strapping bombs to young women and forcing them to blow themselves up in crowded markets is evil. Flying planes into buildings to kill unsuspecting workers is evil. Firing missiles at school children and playgrounds is evil. Men who commit such acts are not frustrated, diseased or misguided. They are most certainly not fighting for freedom. They are choosing to commit evil acts. You have said so, repeatedly. You have committed yourself and this nation to confronting these enemies and to defeating them.
Thank you for establishing the annual White House Chanuka party.
Along with many other Americans, Jews have often been invited to celebrations at “The People’s House.” But you are the first president to invite Jews to the White House for the purpose of celebrating a Jewish holiday. You have invited hundreds of Jews of all denominations to come and light the menora, enjoy kosher food and celebrate the Festival of Lights together with you and the First Lady.

For all these accomplishments and attributes, and for numerous unmentioned others, for your service and love of this great country, thank you Mr. President.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Abby Wisse Schachter, a Pittsburgh-based political columnist, can be reached at