Saturday 21 October 2006

Many U-turns required

Can you pull back?

It would appear the Bush Cabinet is in the process of trying to negotiate the U-turn of an Australian wagon train in a cul-de-sac on Iraqi strategy, we can only wait and see what becomes of the surrounding buildings and lawns as people are left askance at the stupidity of getting into the cul-de-sac first place.

As the debate goes on about what to do about Iraq ranging from sating the course to pulling out, one fundamental we seem to be forgetting is that the US and Britain opened this Pandora’s Box and there is no easy way to shut it back up tight.

The fact is, Iraq was like a grenade with the pin ready for pulling out, Saddam Hussein for all his evils kept that powder keg from exploding – very much like how Josip Tito kept the Yugoslavia bottled up till he died and the whole place became a conflagration of ethnic conflicts.

Much as many would like America to cut and run, the fact is there is a lurking ethical complex that requires that the mess after Saddam be becalmed to some pre-invasion quality of peace, something that I would think impossible in the foreseeable future.

Squandering the Clinton legacy

Then for all that can be said about the Clinton administration, I must highlight a few seminal points, they at least got the Israelis and Palestinians talking, the highpoint which was that handshake between Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn.

With North Korea, Madeleine Albright did do to Pyongyang and there was a possibility that Clinton could have visited – however, more striking is that North Korea did not become nuclear on Clinton’s watch.

In fact, with Carter and Clinton, the Democrats did much more with the symbolism of getting the Arabs and Israelis to talk to each other than the Republicans have in 30 years.

Bad diplomacy

In the six years of Mr. Bush’s tenure, what we have gained is a consuming obstreperousness to refuse to talk in a bilateral relationship with Iran, North Korea, Syria, Hezbollah or Hamas as well as Iraq before the war.

This really cannot go on; it does not help the cause for diplomacy if there is no dialogue and hiding behind the Europe initiative with Iran or the 6-party talks about North Korea does not cut the muster.

In the end, it leaves US with second-hand information that lets Condoleezza Rice say that she does not believe the promises given to China by North Korea are as iron-cast as they are supposed to be.

Well, at least China sent someone to Pyongyang to hear from them; Europe and Russia have send people to Teheran, the UN Secretary General has been to Damascus and Teheran too, America has just been skirting the issue rather than getting stuck into really seeking world peace.

I am not hot on Rice at all

At this juncture, I have come to the conclusion that Condoleezza Rice, though a highly accomplished scholar in the dynamics that exemplified the cold war is a lightweight in the New World Order – she is no Henry Kissinger (that would be to besmirch him, though in these present times he could be indicted for a good number of civil rights and human rights misdemeanours), nor is she a James Baker III who is now co-heading a group to rethinking the American Iraqi strategy – probably because the administration has run out of ideas and she is no Madeleine Albright, at least she got the President to do something – Yugoslavia for example, though she denies influencing the situation.

Where America could have been the impartial arbiter with the respect due to a superpower they have taken sides and lost the ability to leverage resources and power that they have become bit-players in areas where they should be prime-movers.

No hope for resolution

With this approach to global issues, not only will North Korea conduct a few more tests, they would manufacture nuclear warheads, Iran definitely would develop a nuclear weapon just to show they can, the nuclear race would hot up with other countries in the Far East and the Middle East considering their options.

So, somehow, this leads to a new Republican National Convention political advertisement which plays on the fears of Americans with the premise that they might suffer a nuclear attack brought on by terrorists.

Well, the fear factor did work in 2004, I would hope it would be a damp squib in this year’s mid-term elections, because, the whole Bush administration attitude to terrorism with their untrammeled control of the Congress has lead to a more unsafe world – change is required and checks are needed – the Congress in the hands of the Democrats is the only alternative between the partisan evils we have to contend with.

As Clinton once surmised, we have the choice to choose between someone exciting our fears or lifting our hopes, this terrorist message is now old hat.


The Fear Factor video

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