POLITICA - USA
The real State of the Union: judging the Bush Doctrine on Iraq
DUNLAP, Ill-President Bush had no grand strategy for the Middle
East when he took office, but that changed after September 11, when
he defined U.S. policy in the simplest of terms: "Either you
are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
The Bush Doctrine was then outlined further in a series of speeches
beginning with his January 2002 State of the Union address, which
introduced a new "axis of evil" as a threat to proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush subsequently rounded out
his doctrine, adding themes of American hegemony, unilateralism
and "preemptive" action. By February 2003, he was telling
the world that a free Iraq would serve as a democratic catalyst
for that region, setting "in motion progress toward a truly
democratic Palestinian state."
When he campaigned for the presidency, there was no hint of any
of this-in fact, he stated the reverse. Candidate Bush scoffed at
the notion of nation-building, promising an administration that
would lead without arrogance. Instead, President Bush has pursued
a narrow, ideological and bullying foreign policy, alienating much
of the world. Globally, U.S. foreign policy today is seen as reminiscent
of George Orwell's Animal Farm where "all animals are equal,
but some animals are more equal than others."
Once in office, the Bush administration quickly challenged, vetoed
or withdrew from a series of international agreements, including
the Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming and the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty. This unilateralist approach squandered all the international
goodwill America enjoyed after 9/11.
Moreover, this approach continues to block progress in Iraq. The
checkered success of October's Iraq donors' conference is the most
recent example of the limits of Bush unilateralism. When asked by
the White House to help out with $36 billion, participants pledged
only $13 billion-about two-thirds in loans instead of grants. Key
Arab and European states remain unwilling to support postwar reconstruction
plans dominated by the United States.
While stressing moral clarity, the Bush administration has also
introduced moral confusion. The war on terrorism puts us in league
with some of the most oppressive regimes in the world. For example,
the newly-minted states of Central Asia, like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan,
are increasingly estranged from their own people. In Azerbaijan,
a former Communist party boss carefully "managed" recent
elections to deliver control to his son. In Uzbekistan, the use
of torture is systematic, according to a recent UN report. In search
of overflight rights, military bases and petroleum reserves, we
are making pacts with the devil, just as we did with brutal dictatorships
from Latin America to Southeast Asia during the Cold War. We cannot
succeed in the war on terrorism with a "do as I say, not as
I do" policy.
Six months after the president declared "mission accomplished"
in Iraq, there is no sign of the promised democratic transformation
of the Middle East. Israeli-Palestinian talks appear dead in the
water and both sides again are responding to violence with more
violence. Israel is building more settlements on the West Bank and
continuing construction of its version of the Berlin Wall. In bombing
a deserted training camp in Syria, Israel is in danger of opening
a new war front in an already unstable region.
Is it any wonder that the Bush administration's promises of peace
and freedom ring hollow in the ears of people inside and outside
the Muslim world?
Mr. Bush and his team need to stop talking about terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction and focus on the democratic values,
systems and institutions needed to make Iraq a regional model. At
the same time, White House leaders must recognize that our national
security is inextricably tied to global security and to the strengthening
of the international community.
Iraq is the crucible that will define this president's administration.
And the Bush Doctrine is the strategy that made Iraq Mr. Bush's
Unilateralism, "preemptive" action and the unbridled
pursuit of American hegemony have put us in a real fix in Iraq.
Intended to remake the Middle East, the Bush Doctrine instead has
generated conflict and confusion throughout the region. A failed
policy deserves a failing grade-and an overhaul of U.S. foreign
By Ronald Bruce St John
ABOUT THE WRITER
Ronald Bruce St John, an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus, has
published widely on Middle Eastern issues. His latest book on the
region is "Libya and the United States: Two Centuries of Strife"
(Penn Press, 2002).
© 2000 New York University. All Rights Reserved. The Global
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