2005-03-17 / View From the Middle

Using That

Capital , George W. Bush Is Coming Into His Own
By Charles Rogers

, George W. Bush Is Coming Into His Own

View From The Middle

He’s a hard-nosed, stubborn s.o.b., that President of the United States, isn’t he? It is becoming more clear every day that when he took office for his second term and said, “now I’ve got some capital to work with,” he knew there was no backing down on some of his plans.

Oh, yeah, the plans he had after he started his first term — and after the 9/11 disaster — may not have been so good, or well-conceived, shall we say. The way the debacle that is the Iraq War was, and is, carried out is still a danger and an unrelenting, sad embarrassment. While there is no excuse for it, his reasoning is rational: Our intelligence agents said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and, by god, we’ll get ’em. Well, they didn’t and we didn’t and, yes, there was and is a quagmire. Enough said. I still support him and hope we can get the hell out of there with some face to save. They did have democratic elections there, after all, and that counts for something. More about that later.

Meanwhile, however, there is much to be said about how that capital George W. Bush garnered for himself is, in the long run, paying off as far as that word “democracy” goes. You must admit — no matter how painful it might be — that if you look around at the Middle East now you’ll see an area in change, swaying (not too softly) with the tide of democracy, and persuading a few other countries to rethink their priorities.

For instance, who would have thought, in their wildest dreams, that Egypt would even think about having democratic elections when President Hosni Mubarak steps down? He even ordered his parliament to establish free elections with not one, but multiple parties. Look at Lebanon. When their puppet, Syrian-run government resigned recently, although there have been pro-Syrian demonstrations there, Syria has decided to, essentially, leave that country by May. King Assad has balked, true, saying he didn’t want to pull all of his troops out, but our Mr. Bush stared him in the eyes and gave him the imperative “ everybody out!” telling him it’s “non-negotiable.” It wasn’t necessarily a military threat, but a threat having to do with sanctions (and if that doesn’t work, folks, there’s always the military: a last resort, but an arm-bender nevertheless).

The changes we’ve been seeing not only include the democratizing of Iraq, but look at Afghanistan and even those nuclear negotiations in Iran, not to mention the recent very diplomatic move whereas we’re doing an about-face and siding with European factions by telling Iran that if they play nice and don’t make nuclear weapons, we’ll work with France and Germany and, if that doesn’t work, the whole subject will go to the U.N. The good move here is that, if Iran doesn’t toe the mark, the U.S. can’t be blamed for igniting the fire by being too belligerent. Next, maybe we’ll even see North Korea take a second look at their nuclear program, no matter how crazy they may be.

On another front, a couple of appointments the president made recently solidifies his coming to full maturity: Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State and John Bolton as United Nations Ambassador, although the latter position hasn’t been completely approved yet.

Ms. Rice has already embarked on her odyssey as chief diplomat, a journey that has won bipartisan approval in the U.S. and in the international diplomatic community. Choosing her was a wise, wise move, obviously.

Choosing Bolton, known as a real tough guy who won’t take guff from anyone, for the U.N. post will be a message to the world that, although we want tobe everybody’s friend, we aren’t going to kiss anyone’s, uh, ring, in order to get their approval.

We’re still a power in the world — no, we’re still THE power in the world. The Middle East is changing, as are nations that didn’t want to back us in this Iraq thing. A lot of people and countries are rethinking their priorities too, suddenly getting a different respect for George W. Bush, who seems to be coming into his own….whether you like it or not.

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