What's Wrong With
American Foreign Policy?
In a word: Bush
What's wrong with American foreign policy is actually a lot more complicated than the subhead of this piece would have it, but I just couldn't resist the temptation: besides which, our president is a major cause – albeit not the only cause – of the dysfunction that afflicts us. A grand example of this is his recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he trotted out every neocon fantasy – and then some – in his effort to promote what he termed, on another occasion, his "global democratic revolution."Yes indeed, it was such a triumph of "public diplomacy" that Hugo Chavez was cheered when he referred to George W. Bush as the devil.
The remnants of the president's conservative fan club over at National Review, in the person of one Mario Loyola, hail Bush's oration as a triumph of "public diplomacy," but this kind of diplomacy is straight out of Bizarro World: it is designed, seemingly, to alienate the world's peoples, instead of drawing to them our banner and cause.
And who is using terror as a weapon?
Odder still is the president's conception of the "great ideological struggle" supposedly taking place between advocates of 9th century medievalism hiding in caves and the most powerful, the richest, and arguably still the freest country on earth, one with a combined "defense" budget that equals the budgets of the world's top 10 spenders on military items. Yes, it's true, the psychopathic cult of al-Qaeda and its allies "use terror as a weapon to create fear" – but so, in at least one important sense, does the Bush administration. This, after all, is the same administration that conjured visions of an Iraqi nuclear attack if we didn't invade and occupy that country with dispatch: "we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." The same people bullied Congress into passing the "PATRIOT" Act unread, and now maintain that unless we torture people halfway to death we'll live in the shadow of terror forever. If this isn't using terror as a weapon to create fear, then one wonders what would qualify."Global revolutionaries" and the march of democracy.
This self-designation of Bush and his fellow global revolutionaries as exemplars of moderation is a new tack, and the president tries it on for size with limited success:Embarrassing
"Algeria has held its first competitive presidential election, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emirates recently announced that half of the seats in its Federal National Council will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, in parliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multiparty presidential elections in Yemen and Egypt."
Let's take at least some of these presidential talking points one-by-one:
- Algeria – Although widely touted in advance as a sterling example of the "democratization" trend supposedly inspired by Bush and his fellow ideologues, the sweeping "victory" by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, longtime strongman and virtual dictator of the country, was viewed by many with deep suspicion, and the opposition immediately charged fraud. Pre-election polls showed El Presidente coming in around fourth place, so his stunning 85 percent vote total came as quite a surprise – although not to those hopeless cynics (er, realists), such as myself, who don't plan on seeing a Jeffersonian republic arise in the desert sands of North Africa anytime soon.
- UAE – The United Arab Emirates is a federation of absolute monarchies, presided over by the emir in chief. The Federal National Council, which will now – yippee! – have half its members elected, instead of appointed by royal decree, is a purely consultative body. All power is safely ensconced in the hands of the emirs, chiefly the emir of Dubai.
- Kuwait – So Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote. Welcome to the 20th century, folks – but, hey, didn't the same thing occur in occupied Palestine, without much controversy? In Palestine, 139 women ran for office, with 52 getting elected to the lower branch of the legislature and two elevated to the higher chamber. Bush didn't mention this great advance for democracy, perhaps because Hamas came out the clear winner. And, yes, you could say that the victory of Hamas in Palestine was inspired by American actions in Iraq and elsewhere – albeit not in the way Bush means us to understand.
In this same spirit, Bush regales us with tales of the great "progress" being made in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as those two countries are ripped apart by rising anti-American insurgencies. It is, frankly, embarrassing to have to listen to an American president utter such nonsense aloud on the world stage, all the while preening and lecturing the assembled delegates as if he were some sort of Universal Hegemon, the Emperor of the Earth. If you're an American, the overweening arrogance of Bush's act is breathtakingly painful to watch. One dares not imagine how the rest of the world takes it.Yes, Justin Raimondo almost gets it right. Bush is just the mouthpiece -