The temperature is getting very hot indeed among Israel and her neighbors.
A humanitarian crisis looms in Gaza, and there is talk of turning the clock
back 20 years on Lebanon's infrastructure by some in Israel's military. Olmert
has talked very tough too (“act of war”), somewhat understandably,
as he must be seen to be able to step up into Sharon's big shoes as credible
guarantor of Israel's national security. Still, however, too robust action
in Lebanon (and even Syria, as some in Israel appear to be calling for)–in
conjunction with what is already underway in Gaza–neither is particularly
helpful from a U.S. perspective. (None of this will get significant coverage
in the major right-wing blogs, of course, as there are no 'protest babes'
or such filling the streets of Beirut, and so analysis gets a tad more complex,
you see, than 'hotties' waving flags and such, but major attacks on Lebanon's
infrastructure are not helpful to U.S. policy objectives there). As for Gaza,
the fact that some there are eating just one meal a day (the fruits of democracy!),
has already given the lie to our cheap talk of democratic elections there
proving a step forward for the Palestinians. To midwife democracy, you don't
only need elections, but also sustainable civil society and governance structures,
none of which are easily developed in the face of collective punishment techniques.
If the answer to the question above is yes, Bush is to blame. That's not me
saying it. Read Newsweek's piece by Michael Hirsh. It's a flamer.
Good foreign policy should be metronomic in paceâ€”measured, steady,
dependable. That's especially true when you're the world's only superpower,
and you want to keep things that way. The key is to inspire respect, trust
and faith in your judgement. That’s called leadership. But for six years
now, George W. Bush's foreign policy has resembled a pendulum swinging out
of control, lurching wildly from hubris to “help us.” Despite the
“stay the course” rhetoric, there's been little that is steady or
dependable about it, and not surprisingly it has inspired little respect or
trust around the world. In Bush's first term, the pendulum swung too far toward
in-your-face unilateralism. Now, in his second term it has swung dramatically
back toward the most squeamish sort of multilateralismâ€”the kind of thinking
that says, “Without partners, I don't dare make a move.”
We probably don't have to rehash the problem with too much unilateralism,
the subject of a Time magazine cover story this week, called “The End
of Cowboy Diplomacy.” The article arrives at a conclusion that most sentient
beings reached long ago: the old Bush doctrine, involving preemptive strikes
against rogue regimes, is over and done with, and so is the policy of acting
without caring what the rest of the world thinks. But for the better part
of Bush's second termâ€”the last year and a half, in other wordsâ€”the
problem has been the opposite one. The issue now is not the unilateralism
of yesterday, but the multilateralism of today. To wit: there's simply too
much of it. And without decisive American action in dealing with the Mideast,
Iran and North Korea, things can quickly spin out of control.
Nothing brought this home more than Bush's performance at his news conference
last week when he sounded utterly chastened by his Iraq experience. From fire-eater
in the first term, a man who once confidently said he would “not wait
on events while dangers gather,” Bush has become someone who seems afraid
of making a mistake in his second. … …
the Buck, by Michael Hirsh
Burned by his bitter Iraq experience, Bush is eschewing leadership and hiding
behind the skirts of multilateralism.
It's lack of leadership, people. Hirsh nails it. Read it.