the 'bully' pulpit
Slate's Fred Kaplan: The president is botching the Iraq crisis with his clumsy, naive unilateralism
It is becoming increasingly and distressingly clear that, however justified the coming war with Iraq may be, the Bush administration is in no shape—diplomatically, politically, or intellectually—to wage it or at least to settle its aftermath. It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign-policy crisis or been so distrusted by so many friends and foes as a result.
...What's particularly disturbing about these failures is not so much their legal implications as their political and diplomatic ones. If the administration lacks the acumen or persuasive power to deal with such familiar institutions as the U.N. Security Council or the established governments of France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, China—even Canada—then how is it going to handle Iraq's feuding opposition groups, Kurdish separatists, and myriad ethno-religious factions, to say nothing of the turbulence throughout the region?
[L]ack of nuanced thinking on Korea—the substitution of cliché for analysis and the unnerving certainty that all will turn out well in the end, that America's unrivaled military muscle will yield results, respect, and redemption—parallels the blithe unilateralism of his gulf policy. Maybe Bush will get lucky. Maybe he will turn out to be right. But others are unwilling to take the risk; they have heard nothing to lure them to his leadership, in part because he has revealed his indifference about whether or not they follow.
Great stuff. Bush and his supporters may not care what damage to US prestige his obsession with Iraq may be doing, but at the heart of the optimism that functions for them as foreign policy is an implication that the world will bow down before American military might. How dare they insult the noble principles of this great nation that way?