Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bush keeps going, going

Checks and balances for Bush

From The Statesman
ND Batra

In spite of the fact that now a majority of Americans believe that the Iraqi invasion was a mistake, George W Bush continues to believe that toppling Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do to prevent Iraq from becoming a hub for terrorists. It’s a struggle for civilisation, Mr Bush said, not a war between civilisations.

Foreign policy, of course, cannot be run on public opinion polls, which go up and down so often that it would be politically crazy to be solely guided by them. National leaders sometimes take measures that are unpopular but necessary according to their perception of the problem the country faces and their political vision. What hurts their cause, however, is the language in which they frame their thoughts, as Pope Benedict’s recent remark equating Islam with violence and evil have shown. That the result of Iraqi invasion turned out to be much different, much bloodier than expected has not lessened the Bush administration’s resolve to bring about changes in West Asia.

Gone is the tongue-lashing optimism of defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld who said after the Iraq elections: “Just having elections in Iraq is an enormous success and a victory. Following the elections in Afghanistan and the election recently in the Palestinian Authority, the Iraqi vote will mark still another success for democracy and a defeat for pro-dictatorship and extremist elements in the region.” The future did not happen they wanted it to happen. Spreading democracy still remains the policy, but only if US forces could move beyond fighting terrorism. Mr Bush now admits that his ill-famed utterances like “Bring em on,” challenging insurgents to attack US forces in Iraq was a mistake, though he still does not realise how much damage the expression “Axis of Evil” has done to US diplomacy.Evil is, of course, everywhere and the world has become a dangerous place.

No nation is safe from evil-doers, jihadis and non-jihadis, but by characterising that evil is limited to a small axis of three countries, Mr Bush absolved others by default. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis said some time ago, “The terrorists of September 11 exposed vulnerabilities in the defences of all states,” which compelled Mr Bush to preside over “the most sweeping redesign of US grand strategy since the presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt. The basis for Mr Bush’s grand strategy, like Roosevelt’s, comes from the shock of surprise attack and will not change. None of FDR’s successors, Democrat or Republican, could escape the lesson he drew from the events of December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor): that distance alone no longer protected Americans from assaults at the hands of hostile states.

Neither Mr Bush nor his successors, whatever their party, can ignore what the events of September 11, 2001, made clear: the deterrence against states affords insufficient protection from attacks by gangs, which can now inflict the kind of damage only states fighting wars used to be able to achieve.” The USA was not the first country to bear the brunt of terrorists. Countries like India have long been suffering terrorists’ attacks sponsored by their neighbours. But earlier the USA looked at the situation differently. Now it sees terrorism as a global threat to civilisation and it must be eliminated.

The horrific events of September 11, 2001 led to the establishment of US presence in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and destroy Al- Qaida terrorists.But US presence has been having some unintended consequence in the region, in the sense that India and Pakistan have been opening up to each other at several levels and the ceasefire is holding up on the Line of Actual Control.The settlement of disputes, including Kashmir, and long-term peace is still a possibility in spite of recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Terrorism breeds in failing states. The Bush administration needs to reframe and rephrase its policy of pre-emption in terms of international cooperation to eliminate terrorism.

Pakistani military rulers know that breeding and financing terrorists can bite back. England and other European countries too have begun to realise that Islamic terrorism is growing in their midst and must be purged whatever the cost. Prof Gaddis said: “It is a failure of both language and vision that the United States has yet to make its case for pre-emption” in terms of the self-interest and survival of each nation; and a collective security system, which could best be under the US leadership.The US leadership must have a strong moral foundation to persuade others to join in its efforts to eliminate the global scourge of jihadist terrorism.Many senior political leaders both Democrats and Republicans believe that moral leadership begins with how the USA treats the captured terrorists.

The Abu Ghraib prison abuse has been a shameful embarrassment at home and abroad. The US Supreme Court recently ruled that the President must not ignore the Common Article 3 of Geneva Conventions which prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity” or “humiliating and degrading treatment”of terrorists, who must have their day in the court with all the rights of fair trial under the criminal justice system of a civilised society.President Bush said the war against terrorism is a struggle for civilisation. True; but in the process the USA should not lose its own soul and descend into the heart of darkness.

No comments:

Post a Comment