Q&A Friday #24: What Do You Think Of Bush’s Foreign Policy?

Question: “Iraq seems to have been put on the back burner with the Miers debacle. You, no doubt, agree with Bush in his recent speech to stay the course in Iraq however given the growing concern with domestic issues ie Katrina is there anything you might add to his argument? I mention this because I believe the President is under tremendous stress with the hurricanes and Iraq and a show of support for his foreign policy would certainly be welcomed.” — libliever

“..a show of support for his foreign policy would certainly be welcomed.”

“I concur and second that, libliever.” — Good_Ol_Boy

Answer: To say that I’m down on George Bush right now over the Harriet Miers nomination is like saying that the sun is hot, but I’d still give him high marks for his foreign policy.

Iraq: By the summer of next year, it’s likely that the Iraqis will have voted their Constitution into law, they’ll have had another election that’ll have an even higher level of voter participation than the first one, there will have been a trial of Saddam (and hopefully a hanging), and it’s also likely that a significant number of our troops will be headed home as the Iraqis start to police their own country. So not only are we moving in the right direction, we seem to be picking up momentum. If all goes as expected, that should become more and more apparent over the next few months.

North Korea: We’ve made some progress here as well, but it’s hard to say how much. Six party talks about getting rid of North Korea’s nukes start next month, but when you’re dealing with a kooky Commie regime, it’s hard to say how serious they actually are or how long they’ll want to dicker. So, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up yet, but again, we’re going in the right direction.

Iran: It’s hard to judge how much progress we’re making in Iran because so much of the key info and action is occurring behind the scenes. You have to wonder: how close are they to getting nuclear weapons? The European talks with Iran seem to be going nowhere, but are they making any progress in private? Are we sending aid and weapons to Iranian groups that oppose the regime? Is the CIA working on a coup? Have we talked about who’s going to have to bomb their nuclear facilities — if it comes to that — with the Israelis? There are just no reliable answers to those questions, so it’s hard to say for sure how we’re doing.

Israel & The Disputed Territories: Pulling out of Gaza and building a wall was a bold step for the Israelis and it has the potential to improve their security situation long-term, significantly lessen the drain on their military, and put the onus of responsibility for the conflict back where it belongs: with the Palestinians. That’s not to say that there aren’t negatives as well or that peace is on the horizon, but again, things have improved.

Then there’s a now democratic Afghanistan, Syria’s pull out from Lebanon, Libya giving up their nukes, the first (admittedly flawed) multi-party elections in Egypt, a weakening of the UN, and the US pulling a lot of troops out of Europe. All in all, when you look at the big picture, Bush deserves an enormous amount of credit for what he has accomplished on the foreign policy front and it’s entirely possible that the best may be yet to come: the flowering of democracy and death of terrorist organizations with global reach across much of the Middle-East. It’s too much to hope that we’ll see progress of that magnitude before Bush leaves office, but like Reagan, the seeds he’s planting abroad today are going to eventually bear fruit and he’ll deserve credit when they do.

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