In a recent lecture, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman said he favors going into Iraq, if we do it right. Doing it right means that we are still there on Day 3.
On Day 3, we own Iraq. The responsibility of nation building is ours.
Friedman went as far as calling President George W. Bush the new Saddam Hussein, in charge of keeping the volatile mix of ethnicities in Iraq from boiling over.
Judging from Bush’s recent behavior, he is well on his way to becoming a formidable dictator.
Many registered with shock Bush’s reaction to worldwide peace demonstrations a couple of weekends ago.
“Some in the world don’t view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace. I respectfully disagree,” Bush said.
He also likened lending an ear to the millions of protesters to deciding policy according to findings from a focus group.
The arrogance displayed in these statements is stunning. Bush is wearing blinders, and he is bent on going to war. Unclear is only whether he put them on himself, as to not be distracted by dissent, or whether the staff he carefully assembled by borrowing his father’s Rolodex slipped them on when he wasn’t looking.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. The fact is that Bush, who has never fought in a war, is moving thousands of Americans to the Middle East to confront a dictator that large parts of the world’s population consider a minor threat at this time. In the process, he has alienated long-time allies France, Germany, Russia and large parts of the U.S. public.
Bush’s “You’re either with us or against us” rhetoric couldn’t be less conducive to his cause. There are good, valid arguments for forcing a regime change in Iraq, but instead of presenting those, the administration has behaved like an only child. There is only one way to do this, it says. Our way. The disinterest in others’ opinions rests on the United States’ unquestionable military might and shows contempt for the rest of the world.
Along with the United States, there are four nations with equal weight in the Security Council. Three of them oppose military action based on what we now know about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But Bush and his cohorts have been throwing their weight around while warning the United Nations of rendering itself irrelevant. The administration’s argument, of course, is that irrelevance will result from inaction against Hussein. A more analytical look at the situation reveals that the real threat to the Security Council’s irrelevance comes from the United States.
Should Bush embarrass the Security Council by invading Iraq without consent, the irrelevance would be obvious. The United Nations would no longer be a supranational body governing the world. An attack would effectively give that role to the United States.
Should the Security Council embarrass itself by signing off on an attack under pressure from Bush, it would have all the relevance of a lapdog.
In just two years, black-and-white Republican foreign policy has managed to push a 50-year-old institution to the brink of irrelevance.
There have been other examples of Bush’s egotism.
In 2001, Bush abandoned the Kyoto Protocol. The 1997 treaty was designed to reduce the world’s output of so-called greenhouse gases. The United States is responsible for 25 percent of those gases, which are the leading cause for global warming. The Bush administration conveniently found scientists who rejected claims that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and pointed to cyclical warming and cooling of the planet through history. The world was exasperated.
In 2002, Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missle Treaty with Russia. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush pushed a pet project of his, a ballistic missile defense system, into law. Critics have pointed out that such a system could hardly defend the United States from suicide bombers or hijacked passenger planes flown into buildings. Bush’s withdrawal from the treaty and the implementation of the system were viewed as slaps in the face of the international community.
Nationally, Bush and his cronies are not so slyly moving the country toward a brave new world. The Patriot Act gave sweeping new powers to domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies and eliminated the checks and balances that previously allowed courts to ensure that these powers were not abused. George Orwell may have been off by 20 years or so in 1984, but his bleak outlook on our civil liberties now appears to be sharper than ever.
Throughout his political career, Bush has been the subject of jokes about his intelligence. As a consequence there are doubts about whether the president is responsible for the White House’s decisions. His Cabinet speaks with one voice, and it is hard to determine whose, exactly, it is.
In any case, the U.S. administration, with Bush as its front man, is canceling treaties with the world at its leisure and implementing laws at home that give more and more power to the executive branch of government. Patriot Act II is in the works.
It appears Bush already has a good number of the tools he will need as Saddam’s successor.
Alex Zesch is a senior majoring in email@example.com