NEWPORT, R.I. – A book authored by U.S. Naval War College Professor Stephen Knott that critically examines the presidency of George W. Bush was published earlier this month.
Knott said his book, “Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, The War on Terror, and His Critics,” offers readers not only a perspective on the extent and use of executive power but also a hard look at the misuse of scholarship in examining a presidency for partisan political purposes.
“I’ve been interested in the American presidency for much of his life,” said Knott. “But while I have my differences of opinion regarding a number of issues from the Bush presidency, it struck me that much of the academic criticism of Bush’s actions during the War on Terror was driven by ideology.”
According to Knott, presidents have always been the target of heated rhetoric from their political opponents and the media. Knott chose to write about Bush because he felt that much of the prejudice directed toward the 43rd president came from historians, law professors, and political scientists.
“Professional historians will tell you that first account of any event is almost always wrong. The passage of time and the cooling of passions are essential preconditions for those seeking to explain the past,” said Knott. “The assessment of any presidency requires a ‘decent interval’ before judgment can be pronounced.”
Knott says there was a rush to consign Bush to the ash heap of history. He acknowledges the former president made mistakes but hopes his book will help acknowledge the faithful manner Bush handled national security issues following Sept. 11, 2011, in contrast to those confronted by his presidential predecessors.
“You have to ask yourself what you would have done sitting in that same chair on Sept. 12, 2001,” Knott said.
Knott is uncertain whether or not Bush will read his book.
“His staff received a copy of the book but I haven’t heard whether he read it or not nor what he thought of it,” said Knott.
Knott is a professor in NWC’s National Security Affairs Department. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College and taught previously at the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Virginia. He authored “Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth,” and “Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency. Knott is also a co-author of “The Reagan Years and At Reagan’s Side: Insiders’ Recollections from Sacramento to the White House.”
By Brie Lyons, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs