While Experts Shake Their Heads, Bush Sees 'Opportunities'
It's now 2006 and Bush is threatening to challenge that record of peace in a difficult part of the world. In the last five years, Bush has put very little effort into the Middle East and has allowed a number of initiatives to flounder. Bush has no experience in diplomacy or war and in the sixth year of his presidency, he still does not learn from his mistakes. His began his presidency without any interest in foreign policy or the world abroad. He has been shown to have made blunder after blunder and a series of misrepresentations that undermine the credibility of the United States. And yet, he wants us to believe he knows what he's doing? Where's the evidence of his genius?
Peter Baker of The Washington Post has an article on the puzzling American response to the latest outbreak of fighting in the Middle East:
Although the United States has urged Israel to use restraint, it has also strongly defended the military assaults as a reasonable response to Hezbollah rocket attacks, a position increasingly at odds with allies that see a deadly overreaction. Analysts think that if the war drags on, as appears likely, it could leave the United States more isolated than at any time since the Iraq invasion three years ago and hindered in its foreign policy goals such as shutting down Iran's nuclear program and spreading democracy around the world.
"The arrows are all pointing in the wrong direction," said Richard N. Haass, who was President Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director. "The biggest danger in the short run is it just increases frustration and alienation from the United States in the Arab world. Not just the Arab world, but in Europe and around the world. People will get a daily drumbeat of suffering in Lebanon and this will just drive up anti-Americanism to new heights."
The White House recognizes the danger but thinks the missiles flying both ways across the Israel-Lebanon border carry with them a chance to finally break out of the stalemate of Middle East geopolitics.
Haass, the former Bush aide who leads the Council on Foreign Relations, laughed at the president's public optimism. "An opportunity?" Haass said with an incredulous tone. "Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?"
In the long run, he and others warn, the situation could cement the perception that the United States is so pro-Israel that a new generation of Arab youth will grow up perceiving Americans as enemies. The internal pressure on friendly governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere could force them to distance themselves from Washington or crack down on domestic dissidents to keep power. In either case, Bush may have little leverage to press for democratic reforms.
Gamblers, particularly when they're on a losing streak, always see 'opportunities.' Bush gambled on Iraq and what has he won? Bush is a gambler who has lost a number of gambles in his life. Gambling with the money of his daddy's friends is one thing. Gambling with our future is another. The right wingers see a visionary, the rest of us see a fool that Congress needs to hold in check.