Will the George W. Bush we once knew please stand up? Suddenly the President who soared by standing on principle seems to have been replaced by an imposter who's lost his foreign-policy bearings. (Wall Street Journal free featured article; registration required)
And about the only possible response to this is: DUH! I mean, let's get real; before September 11, he in fact appeared to be a bumbler in foreign policy. (If we're being brutally honest -- and we are -- he appeared to be aggressively disinterested in foreign policy, with the signal exception of now-ignored Mexico.) This isn't an aberration; this is a return to type.
That said, at least as far as the Middle East mess is concerned, his only options were to appear utterly heartless and cynical, or utterly bumbling and cynical. Effective and noncynical just wasn't an available option, with neither party being at all ready to make peace. (Heartless and cynical would have been by far the better option.)
THAT said ... the Venezuela mess is his own damn fault. A duly elected (or, you know, not) American president simply can't afford not to grit his teeth and support other democratically elected leaders under such circumstances, no matter how much he may loathe and despise them.
As for the dustup over arms inspections in Iraq ... the problem isn't really that it seems to point out differences in policy. After all, I can't imagine that anyone with a brain in their head at the State department truly believes that arms inspections in Iraq will do even the slightest bit of good. The problem, administratively, is that it reveals the official administration position rather prematurely. After all, it's quite likely that the proximate pretext for going into Iraq will be one final demand to allow UN inspectors, which Iraq will probably refuse. Granted that everyone knows it's a pretext; nonetheless, as long as nobody says so in public beforehand, face is saved ... only now everyone's officially alerted, and using the same excuse would be cynical in the extreme.Posted by iain at April 17, 2002 03:10 PM