Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bush and What Passes for Conventional Wisdom

In Bush's first term, Colin Powell put out a number of foreign policy brushfires while Bush sat in Crawford watching the dry grass grow. That's not to say Colin Powell couldn't have done better; his February 2003 presentation at the UN alone will always be an albatross around his reputation along with his failure, perhaps, to resign and expose the utter nonsense that was going on. When over the course of five years we have a secretary of state who isn't fully supported by the president and a weak national security adviser and an overbearing vice president who works at odds with the secretary of state, and a president who doesn't understand foreign policy very well and tends to play to the home crowd, it is a rational assessment to assume that foreign policy is going to drift.

David Broder of The Washington Post sees it differently after assessing a number of trouble spots (and missing two or three):
Bush is largely blameless for all these troubles. The nations involved have made their own choices for their own reasons and probably would be behaving that way no matter who was in the White House. But the same cannot be said of the final and largest trouble spot:

ยท Iraq -- This country was transformed by Bush's war of choice, and it is increasingly doubtful that the change is for the better. Instead of the tyranny and brutality of Saddam Hussein, Iraqis are facing the daily carnage and bloodshed of an undeclared civil war between Shiite and Sunni militias.

If Broder's assessment represents today's conventional wisdom, God help us all. Before 9/11, Bush was already making a mess of foreign policy. He broke a treaty or two, ignored international calls on a numbers of issues and made it clear early on that cowboy diplomacy was the new order of the day. After 9/11, Bush ignored tremendous opportunities for changing international relationships in a more positive direction. He had found his bogeyman and swung to the hard right and launched a new Cold War without a clearly identified enemy or a clear strategy or even a goal that made any sense.

The situation might have been recoverable after the emotions of 9/11 had spent themselves if Bush had not put Afghanistan on the back burner and severely damaged America's credibility with a war in Iraq based on fraud and micro-managed by incompetent civilians.

Yes, Broder is somewhat correct that a number of nations have made their choices. But those choices were made in the absence of real leadership from the United States in a time when our credibility was further damaged by such events as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and rampant corruption, just to name three. Without moral leadership from the US, it's every man for himself. And given how we're tied down in Iraq, Bush has single-handedly damaged his ability to pursue other foreign policy options. This is a lesson for both conservative and liberals. Foreign policy is serious business and there are consequences when it is either handed over to ideologues and cronies or simply neglected for domestic reasons.

Instead of ignoring the larger picture of Bush's failed foreign policy and giving in to the 'woe is me' spin coming out of the White House, Broder could make himself far more useful by borrowing a page from the past and identifying some possible wise old men to help Bush repair his presidency. It would also help if Broder recognized that Condi Rice is inadequate to the task. She needs help and we need to see the vice president removed from handling any aspect of foreign policy. And we need a national security adviser who isn't almost completely invisible.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even as the administration exploited this Official Story (or "Official Conspiracy Theory") as the pretext to launch new wars long in the making, independent researchers began to accumulate a vast body of evidence suggesting a different narrative for 9/11: that of the Inside Job.
The 9/11 events and the anomalies in the official story raised Unanswered Questions about:
- the unprecedented failure of the US air defense system on the morning of the attacks;
- the AWOL military chain of command during the actual attacks, including the inexplicable behavior of the presidential entourage;
- the seeming impossibility of official claims with regard to Flight 77;
- the evidence that Flight 93 was shot down;
- contradictions and dubious evidence in the official claims about the alleged hijackers and masterminds, and doubts about their real identities;
- signs that the alleged hijackers enjoyed high-level protection against discovery by honest investigators;
- evidence that the alleged hijackers were financed by states allied with US intelligence;
- suspicious and massive international financial trades suggesting foreknowledge of the attacks;
- widespread signs of official foreknowledge and, in fact, advance preparation for the 9/11 attack scenario;
- the long-running links between Islamist fundamentalist terror cells and US covert operations, dating back to CIA support for the anti-Soviet mujahedeen and Osama Bin Ladin himself;
- the demolition-like collapse of the Twin Towers and of a third skyscraper, WTC 7;
- and questions concerning who could have logically expected to derive benefit in the aftermath of a massive attack on the United States.
The suspicions received further confirmation a few weeks after September 11th, with the arrival of anthrax letters targeted only at opposition politicians and media figures, and timed to coincide with the introduction of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Google: 9/11 inside job

8:03 PM  
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