After losing both houses of Congress in the
1994 election, Bill Clinton expostulated: The president of the United States
is not irrelevant!
On learning his trusted aide from Texas Scott McClellan has denounced as
an "unnecessary war" the same Iraq war McClellan defended from the White House
podium, George Bush must feel as Clinton did.
The synchronized savagery of the attacks on McClellan as turncoat suggests
he drew blood. For what he has done is offer confirmation to the president's
war critics, from within the White House inner circle, that Bush's motive in
going to war was not a clear and present danger of attack by Iraq with weapons
of mass destruction, but to advance a Bush crusade to impose democracy on the
Neoconservative ideology, not U.S. national interests, McClellan is saying,
motivated Bush to launch one of the longest and most divisive wars in U.S. history.
When loyalists defect and seek to profit from that defection, it is usually
a sign of a failing presidency. And, indeed, events suggest that history is
passing Bush by.
Despite the administration's designation of Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist
organizations, and of Syria and Iran as state sponsors of terror with whom we
do not negotiate, America's clients are ignoring America.
Israel has ignored Bush's demand that it stop building and expanding settlements
on a West Bank that is to be the heartland of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert has been secretly negotiating with Syria for the return of the Golan
Heights in exchange for peace.
When America refused to play honest broker between Jerusalem and Damascus,
Turkey, at Israel's request, stepped into the role.
The pro-American Lebanese government of Prime Minister Siniora has negotiated
a truce and power-sharing arrangement with Hezbollah, giving that militant Shiite
movement and party veto power in the Beirut government. Egypt is negotiating
with Hamas for a truce in the Israeli-Gaza war and to effect the exchange of
a captured Israeli solider held by Hamas for Hamas fighters held in Israel.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, designated a terrorist organization by
the Senate, helped to arrange the ceasefire between government forces and the
Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City. While the United States has used the roughest
of language to denounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president has been
received as an honored guest by the Iraqi government we support and by the Ayatollah
Sistani, who has yet to meet a high-ranking American.
When Bush went to the Middle East to celebrate the 60th anniversary of
Israel as the Zionist he has become, he was criticized by a Palestinian leader
who survives on U.S. aid. When he went to Riyadh to plead for an increase in
the flow of oil, he got a token concession from the king.
In Pakistan, the new government has been negotiating a truce with the radicalized
frontier provinces, which would leave the Taliban with a privileged sanctuary
from which to prepare their annual offensives to overthrow the government in
Kabul and expel the Americans, as their fathers expelled the Russians.
As Russia and China move closer together to oppose U.S. missile defenses
and the U.S. presence, military and economic, in the Caucasus and Central Asia,
Latin America seems to be going its own leftward way. The halcyon days of the
Alliance for Progress are long gone.
The world seems to be waiting for Bush to depart and for the next American
president. For the foreign policy differences between John McCain and Barack
Obama are as real and stark as they have been since the Reagan-Carter election
of 1980, or the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972.
Looking back on the years since 9/11, it is hard to give the Bush foreign
policy passing grades. We pushed NATO eastward and alienated Russia. We have
140,000 Army and Marine Corps troops tied down in Iraq in a war now in its sixth
year, from which our NATO allies have all extricated themselves. We have another
war going in Afghanistan, where the situation is as grave as it has been since
we went in.
The Bush democracy crusade was put on the shelf after producing election
triumphs for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And the Bush
Doctrine of preventive war, after Iraq, appears to be headed there, as well.
America remains the first economic and military power on earth. But after
seven years of Bush, we no longer inspire the awe or hopes we once did. We are
no longer the world hegemonic power of the neocons' depiction. And the reason
is that Bush embraced their utopian ideology of democratic empire and listened
to their siren's call to be the Churchill of his age.
Of Bush, it may be said he was a far better politician and candidate than
his father, but as a statesman and world leader, he could not carry the old
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