Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Give Them A "Golden Sombrero": Bush Administration Was Wrong On Iraq, Late On Iran And Syria, And Watched Egypt's Democracy Disappear!

"There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush."

Conservative icon William F. Buckley summed up the Bush foreign policy pretty well. We are engaging in a "Murphy's Law" policy -- whatever can go wrong is going wrong.

In baseball, getting a "golden sombrero" is striking out four times. Amazingly, when it comes to Bush's execution of a Middle East foreign policy, the hat fits.

The Bush Administration admitted it was wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, and that it underestimated the Iraq insurgency. A wide array of people, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former head of the Coaliation Provisional Authority Paul Bremer, and former Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shineski, were ignored when suggesting that the U.S.-led coaltion in Iraq would need significantly more troops.

With no positive ending to the war in sight, Republicans have been reduced to name-calling -- as Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote: "Anyone who dares criticize President Bush's Iraq policy is a "cut-and-run" Democrat. The White House's object here is not to engage in a real debate about an exit strategy from Iraq ... (but to) intimidate them into changing the subject to other, less-potent issues for fear of looking like unpatriotic pansies."

That's strike one.

***

As Buckley said, the administration has been so "engulfed by Iraq" that it failed to have proper perspective on "other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular."

How's this for leadership? Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Friday: "I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling, and it wouldn't have been clear what I was shuttling to do. … I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think that would be a mistake."

But that's a false choice. The choice is not the status quo or doing nothing. The choice is U.S. leadership in the region to create something better than the status quo, or accepting the status quo, or doing nothing.

Rice said earlier this month, "Hezbollah and Hamas and these other extremist forces ... have been developing and threatening the Middle East and arresting positive developments for decades."

And yet, the administration's policy was to talk tough, and not much more. We applauded democratic elections in Lebanon from afar, failing to take an aggressive stand here as we had with Iraq.

In other words, our administration chose the potential threat of Iraq over the real threat of Iran and Syria, the state sponsors of Hamas and Hezbollah. Then, it compounded the mistake by not paying attention to Iran and Syria via meaningful diplomacy with regional allies.

When the situation blew up between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, Rice stayed in Washington until this week, breaking from past precedent, which saw President Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, used “shuttle diplomacy” following the 1973 Yom Kippur War and President Clinton's Secretary of State, Warren Christopher shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem to negotiate a “truce between Israel and Hezbollah” in 1996.

That's strike two and three.

***

And now the final strike against Bush's Middle East policy -- allowing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to stomp on Egypt's fledgling democratic movement.

As the Washington Post editorial page wrote last week, Mubarak, with "tacit consent of the Bush Administration ... is continuing his campaign against the democratic movement that sprouted in his country last year. His latest target is the fledgling independent press. ... Last week Mr. Mubarak's ruling party reaffirmed a law that makes it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, to "affront the president of the republic" -- or insult parliament, public agencies, the armed forces, the judiciary or "the general public interest."

No free speech, no freedom of the press. Throw in no political opponents -- democracy activist Ayman Nour, a member of parliament, was thrown in jail following his attempt to challenge Mubarak.

And no reaction from the U.S., either. As Nir Boms, vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East, wrote in the Washington Times, "President Bush rejected a bill that sought to tie some of the American assistance to Egypt with democratic reforms. ... (W)hen Mr. Nour was arrested, the U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Francis J. Ricciardone, declined to comment, giving a subtle green light for (Mubarak) to accelerate his crackdown."

It's a far cry from pre-Iraq War days, when the adminstration was more active in the Middle East, offering its "Roadmap" for long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In 2002, the administration " threatened to withhold $130 million in aid" to Egypt if Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leading liberal dissident, was not released from prison. Ibrahim was quickly released.

The one bright spot is that no senior members of the administration have been quoted recently saying "No one could have anticipated President Mubarak cracking down on democracy," or "No one could have expected that Hezbollah would attack Israel."

Maybe the administration has learned how transparent those spin lines are. Or maybe they're so "engulfed" in the Iraq War that they haven't gotten around to saying anything just yet.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Norquist Nemesis said...

Quick! Call Ann Coulter!
Bush needs reinforcements!

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Lautremont said...

He also deserves the "Golden Yarmulke Award," which is the invention of an acquaintance of mine and involves peeing on someone's head.

1:42 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

JABBS' argument above is well-reasoned and airtight. It would be interesting to see Bushies attempt to poke holes in it.
Can Bush's approval ratings go even lower than the 31% reported by CBS news yesterday?
The only reason no American wants to come out and speak the truth, that the Bush Administration Mid-East policy is a complete f--- up, causing death and suffering to so many people, is due to a desire to salvage U.S. credibility in the world.
A better way to do that would be to have Congress remove the Bush cabal from the situation, by force if necessary, and put in charge a special envoy including officials from past administrations to repair the damage.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous MrToffeeLovesYa said...

Liberals may cite a lot of facts to argue that the Bush Administration has made mistakes in the Middle East.

The conservative response remains simplistic and straightforward: these "mistakes" only look like mistakes for the short-sighted. For the long-sighted, things don't look nearly as bad.

As Secretary Rice said in March: "I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure. But when you look back in history, what will be judged will be, did you make the right strategic decisions."

How much clearer do you need it, liberals? Come November, right-minded Republican voters won't remember, and those that do probably won't care, whether Secretary Rice was shuttling about the Middle East within a day or two of the first missile launches into Israel, or whether she waited a week or so to fly over. And that's going to be four-month-old history. Liberals can't possibly expect voters to remember the history that came during Bush's first term, right? Pow!

Like Rice said, Hamas and Hezbollah have existed for decades. Conservatives know, and if not they'll certainly be reminded by November, that Bush shouldn't be blamed for their existence now. At the same time, Bush has said that he is pro-Israel. Which is going to resonate more with the American people -- liberal finger-pointing, or Bush giving a speech at AIPAC, in front of American and Israeli flags, denouncing terrorism? Do the math, liberals.

thewaronterrible asks: "Can Bush's approval ratings go even lower than the 31% reported by CBS news yesterday?"

Wake up and smell reality, liberals. Bush has said he doesn't pay attention to polls. Polls don't dictate policy. Liberals who expect Bush to change his ways, even when the liberal "present-time" thinkers think things have gone wrong, just don't understand how this administration works. The wronger things get, the more conservatives look to Bush to not change course. They know that at some point in the future, perhaps long after we're all dead, they'll be proven right.

When the liberal poll-takers at CBS News ask: "Is it possible that at some point, long after we're all dead, President Bush's policies will be seen as a success," and a majority of respondents answer "Yes, it is possible," then maybe such a poll will be worth discussing.

Until then, conservatives will continue to trust what the hear from Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, and those that echo their words on talk radio and tv.

3:05 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

So, that's the latest spin, Toffee?
It does not matter what chaos Bush causes today because all that matters is the impact his policies will have in the future, however that might turn out to be?
Because we will not be able to determine what that impact might be until perhaps long after we're dead, there's no point in even discussing them now?
Let's see if I have this straight.
No action can be judged today unless you place it in the same context of what the result of that action MIGHT be tommorrow.
Flimsy, weak, argument indeed. Utter nonsense.
How can you possibly chew on that toffee, mister when your argument ain't got no bite or teeth.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Gen. Patton said...

Amazing, four strike outs and Bush still managed to win re-election and Democrats still managed to lose or rather never get up to bat. Democrats are playing "left out." Get it!? Ha, ha, ha. Baseball analogies are great, eh? At least Bush is still in the game. Anybody who knows baseball, knows slumps come and go. Just look at A-Rod. Democrats can't even get out of the minor leagues. With quizlings like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer on their roster here's hoping the never get called up....

4:15 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Patton, even you would have to admit that three of the strikes JABBS cites occurred after the 2004 election.

We'll see what the ballgame looks like in November.

As far as the long-term history, there's still time to change it, as I'm sure MrToffee would agree. Pow?

4:35 PM  
Blogger The Xsociate said...

No doubt Bush would like to emmulate a Mubarak crack down here in the States.

3:38 AM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Mr. forward-looking Toffee didn't read JABBS' four-strikes post or he would see that an analysis was indeed being performed on Bush Mid East policy three or four years ago verses the outcome today.
So did the planning or lack thereof portend the chaos today and nevertheless set the stage for a rosier future tommorrow? I think not.
We have Bush apologist number two Gen. Patton who essentially resorts to the baseless conservative standby: "Democrats would do even worse" argument.
One Democrat at least did demonstrably do better at keeping peace in the Middle East. His name was Bill Clinton. As for OBL and Al Queda, the Clinton administration was hot on their trail when Bush came in and dismantled the entire operation (until after 9-11 that is). I had to throw that in as a "pre-emptive strike" against a sure-fire conservative counter argument.

8:12 AM  

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