Saturday, December 23, 2006

America Needs Its Own Foreign Policy

Ronald Reagan didn't know much about foreign policy when he became president and beyond his interest in a bigger military and another point or two that he raised during his time in office, it's clear that he often deferred to others in his administration—but, after all, he had some competent people (okay, there was Iran/Contra and some other nonsense but comparatively speaking.....).

George W. Bush knows less about foreign policy since a guy in the 1920s named Calvin Coolidge occupied the White White—one could argue that it didn't matter since we were isolationist and, besides, everyone was making a fortune in the stock market of the Roaring Twenties (never mind that the markets crashed less than a year after Coolidge left office and Hitler was on the rise a year after that).

But if foreign policy is not Bush's strong suit, then who's the smart, competent one in the current administration who handles that stuff? Answer: virtually no one, at least no one who shows signs that they're competent. Colin Powell was competent but he had to fight Cheney and Rumsfeld to get any foreign policy work done and he lost out anyway on the big issues.

Condi Rice doesn't know what she's doing and although she's smart and knowledgeable, she just doesn't have her hands on the machinery of foreign policy in the way others in her position have demonstrated; and she's way too anxious to keep Bush's ear and therefore quickly defers to Bush when the Decider-in-Chief is out riding his mountain bike and gets a brainstorm.

So that leaves Cheney who can't shoot straight and whose record of guessing right in foreign policy is nil. And of course Bush is there to handle public relations which seems about all that junior is capable of handling. Sure, Bush is in charge, but he's the blind baseball manager who depends on Cheney to tell him what's going on.

In the meantime, there's growing evidence of other nations not merely advising but meddling in our foreign policy. Israeli right wingers seems to have a strong influence in the Bush Administration. But so does the royal Saudi family. Tony Blair is not shy about ignoring Congressional Democrats and the American public while giving Bush help when it comes to rattling sabers or cranking up the fear of terrorism. And there is still the role the Italians—and perhaps Berlusconi—played in the Iraq/Niger scam. America had its own foreign policy once and it worked for many decades. Bush and his friends have clearly failed to create a foreign policy that makes any sense.

In the three weeks ending December 19th, 480 Americans have been injured, more than 200 for more than three days. The number killed for Bush's war is nearing 3,000 of our military but it's over 3,000 if one includes American contractors.

Bush could have handed America a magnificient Christmas gift this year: an exit strategy in Iraq. But it's not to be. The hour has come and gone. Instead, after months of indecision, the president continues to dither while Iraq descends into chaos. Cheney remains on the job despite a few dozen reasons for him to leave. There is a real danger that there will be no significant course change in Iraq. Given Bush's history, one cannot discount the possibility of broader war. But, no matter what is decided, we can expect in January a new and full-throated public relations campaign from the president justifying his failures. Bush has no more elections to win and instead of doing what's best for the country, there is real potential that he will continue to do more harm to our nation. It's doesn't have to be that way.

It is a difficult world but the idea of Peace on Earth is a good one this Christmas season. We need to find a way to bring meaning back to that idea. And that necessity.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

An excellent analysis, as always. However, and understandably, you don't mention one other key Bush administration player: Karl Rove.

I say understandably because we'll probably never know how much input Rove has had on foreign policy and Bush's Iraq misadventure. I don't doubt he's had quite a bit, at the least of the kind intended to mold public opinion to Bush & Co.'s advantage.

Here's wishing you a fine Christmas and a great new year.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., you're right about Karl Rove. I haven't seen anyone actually nail it down but he may have been involved in the Fallujah fiasco in the spring of 2004 (mostly in a political way). We do know he was very active in the White House Iraq Group which was involved in the selling of the war.

Hope you have a fine Christmas too!

1:36 AM  

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