Reality Check – Improving Foreign Relations Due to Bush Change of Course

The hopeful signs of democracy in the Middle East are not a consequence of the Bush administration’s unilateralism but a significant reversal of its policy, so says former Clinton official Nancy Soderberg via Alternet:

The positive developments of the last few months are indeed encouraging and are to be embraced. They are not, however, a consequence of the Bush administration’s harsh, unilateral foreign policy, but instead the result of a not-so subtle shift to a more realistic foreign policy favored by past presidents. It seems diplomacy—that much-maligned policy option—gets results.

For most of his first term, Bush was under the spell of the myth that, as a superpower, America could bend the world to its will, primarily on its own and through military means. The results of that muscle diplomacy are in. America is bearing the burden of rebuilding and securing Iraq essentially on its own, while Iran and North Korea have been pursuing their nuclear weapons programs unchecked. Because the administration has undermined myriad arms control conventions, weapons of mass destruction may be now more accessible to terrorists. Anti-Americanism has spiked to unprecedented heights, making the world less willing to act with us to share the superpower burden. Who could imagine student protestors in Tiananmen Square today building a replica of the Statue of Liberty as they did in May 1989?

While it has been loath to admit it, the Bush administration is quietly shifting back to the tough work of diplomacy. After the administration claimed America could protect itself on its own, and that it did not need “old Europe,” working in partnership is suddenly back in fashion. And it is getting results—not, as some have claimed because of events in Iraq, but rather because American diplomats are seeking once again to return the United States to its rightful role as a persuader, not just enforcer.


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