Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Allies Steadily Giving Up on Bush

The McCain Doctrine, the 'surge,' the 'augmentation,' the escalation, whatever one wants to call it, cannot mean very much if our allies continue to pull out troops. It's been a long time, for example, since Tony Blair had over 40,000 British troops in Iraq. While Blair has been drawing down, the Spanish have left, the Poles have left, the Italians have left and on it goes.

Steve Soto of The Left Coaster caught this on the news today:
The BBC and NBC are reporting at this hour that Tony Blair will be withdrawing 1500 troops from Basra within weeks, and that he wants 3000 of their 7700 troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007, if security warrants it. According to the BBC, Blair told Bush of this revised timeline just this morning.

By the end of the year, the British could have less than 5,000 troops in Iraq compared to the more than 40,000 they once had. That's a drop of 35,000 troops, considerably more than the troops that Bush is including for his 'surge.'

The British aren't the only ones among our alllies in recent weeks who are increasingly unhappy with Bush. The Japanese have been among our strongest allies but even their patience is wearing thin. Dick Cheney, of all people, has been sent to patch up the problems. Here's the story from John Brinsley of Bloomberg:
Cheney, 66, arrived in Tokyo late today, less than three weeks after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso called U.S. policy in Iraq ``naive.'' Last month, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said President George W. Bush made a ``mistake'' in starting the war.

The belittling of the U.S. shows that support for the war in its closest ally in Asia is waning after Bush ordered an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who succeeded Junichiro Koizumi in September, said his cabinet was united in its support for the ``surge.''

``When the defense minister and foreign minister of one of your allies criticize your policies, you cannot reasonably interpret it as being happy with what's going on,'' said Gerald Curtis, a political science professor at Columbia University in New York specializing in U.S.-Japan relations.

The mixed message from the Japanese seems to imply that they would like to see a change in policy by their staunchest ally. It may also be a signal that the Japanese want nothing to do with a war in Iran; they are, after all, heavily dependent on oil from the Middle East. Steve Soto also suspects that Tony Blair is sending a similar message to Bush. The British and Japanese are clearly among our strongest allies. If Bush's incompetence is giving them second thoughts, that doesn't leave many people supporting Bush's failed policies. It is well past time for Republicans in Congress to join Democrats in asserting Congress as a co-equal branch and start holding the president accountable while insisting on changes that makes sense.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Ah, but neither the British nor the Japanese have oil.

Japan, tenuously any more, tolerates the presence of our military bases. But under the Bush administration, those are anachronisms and bad-PR liabilities. That's because Bush & Co. will do nothing but kowtow to the PRC, regardless of what the PRC says or does.

And Britain? Well, with them it seems to be a tradition thing more than a passion for being a substantial source of military support for the Iraq fiasco. Not that I blame them.

Notable by its near complete abscence from discussion of the surge is Israel, the one country, except possibly Iran, that's sure to be pleased as punch.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

S.W., I was briefly startled for a moment when I read your first sentence. Just three years ago it wouldn't have been quite true to say that the British don't have oil. They had the North Sea oil wells. North Sea oil production has been dropping lately like the 1929 stock market. It's a sobering situation.

While Bush and the Republicans continue to dither, the British and Europeans have launched a major wind power building 'surge' over the last few years.

I'm not clear what the situation is for the Japanese these days except of course that they have to import nearly all their oil. Maybe I'll dig into that soon.

P.S. Thanks for your thoughts on the infection. It's licked finally. I don't recommend the experience!

10:56 PM  

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