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University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast
1. The conference “Assessing the Presidency of George W. Bush at Midpoint: Political, Ethical and Historical Considerations” was held at the Gulf Coast Graduate Center of the University of Southern Mississippi on November 22 and 23, 2002. The conveners were Bryan Hilliard and Tom Lansford, with assistance from Robert P. Watson, and the conference was supported by the Frank Maria Center for International Politics and Ethics and the University of Southern Mississippi.

2. Arthur M. Schlesinger, “Historians Rate U.S. Presidents,” Life Magazine (November 1, 1948, 65-66, 68, 73-74; Arthur M. Schlesinger, “Our Presidents: A Rating by 75 Historians,” The New York Times Magazine (July 29, 1962), 12-13, 40-41, 43.

3. Alvin S. Felzenberg, “Partisan Biases in Presidential Ratings: Ulysses, Woodrow, and Calvin ‘We Hardly Knew Ye,” White House Studies 3, 1 (2003); Alvin S. Felzenberg, “There You Go Again: Liberal Historians and the New York Times Deny Ronald Reagan His Do,” Policy Review (March-April 1997).

4. Quoted in David E. Sanger, “A New View of Where America Fits in the World,” The New York Times (18 February 2001).

5. For instance, Sanger points out that Philip D. Zelikow, the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, argues that the Bush administration did not really envision an effort to “rachet down” US engagement in the world, but that “discipline and strategy” would be the basis for US action; ibid.

6. Richard Lister, “Analysis: Bush’s Foreign Policy,” BBC (7 April 2001).

7. Ibid.

8. Meanwhile, the Europeans urged the Bush administration to adopt a more “conciliatory approach”; Roger Cohen, “Storm Clouds Over U.S.-Europe Relations,” The New York Times (26 March 2001). This was before evidence surfaced that North Korea had been routinely violating its 1994 agreement with the United States and South Korea over the production of nuclear materials.

9. Martin Kettle, “It’s All the Rage in Europe,” Washington Post (7 January 2001). Kettle’s essay also correctly predicted the future raucous transatlantic debate over the International Criminal Court and the US refusal to join the body.

10. The crisis took on greater importance because of an internal debate within the administration over whether or not to sell sophisticated Aegis-class destroyers to Taiwan. China bitterly opposed the sale.

11. During the crisis, Bush offered the Chinese a half-apology and once the crew was back in American hands, he widely criticized Beijing. Bush ultimately rejected the sale of the Aegis destroyers, but instead provided Taiwan with an extensive list of other equipment. Hence, the President managed a “much more nuanced approach to China” than either the political left or right in the United States expected; Tom Carver,” Bush’s Delicate Balancing Act,” BBC (24 April 2001).

12. ”Dismay as U.S. Drops Climate Pact,” CNN.com (29 March 2001), online at http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/italy/03/29/environment.kyoto/.

13. Specifically, Bush called for “discussions with North Korea on a broad agenda to include: improved implementation of the Agreed Framework relating to North Korea’s nuclear activities; verifiable constraints on North Koreas missile programs and a ban on its missile exports; and a less threatening conventional military posture;” U.S., Department of State, “U.S. Completes Review of North Korea Policy,” (7 June 2001).

14. Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), 3-4.

15. George W. Bush, “The President in His Address to the Nation,” Press Release, White House, Office of the Press Secretary (11 September 2001), online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010911-16.html.

16. George W. Bush, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People,” Press Release, White House, Office of the Press Secretary (20 September 2001) online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html.

17. For more detail on US-Allied tensions during operations in the Balkans, see Wesley Clark, Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (Washington, D.C.: PublicAffairs, 2001).

18. Suzanne Daley, “NATO Says U.S. Has Proof Against Bin Laden Group,” The New York Times (3 October 2001).

19. NATO, “Press Availability: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson,” Brussels (20 September 2001).

20. Ibid.

21. Manuel Perez-Rivas, “U.S. Quits ABM Treaty,” CNN.com (14 December 2001), online at http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/12/13/rec.bush.abm/?related.

22. George W. Bush, “State of the Union Address,” (29 January 2002), online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html.

23. George W. Bush, “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” White House Office of the Press Secretary (17 September 2002).

24. Scholars were asked before the conference to arrive at a letter grade for George W. Bush. Several categories such as foreign policy, domestic policy, leadership, and so on as well as an “overall” grade encompassed the report card project. Using letter grades (pluses and minuses included) 20 of the 30 scholars attending the conference participated in the grading. To arrive at a grade, the 20 grades submitted were averaged (mean score). For further information, see Bryan Hilliard, Tom Lansford, and Robert P. Watson, George W. Bush: Assessing the President at Midterm (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004).

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