As I See It |

As I See It

Hal Sundin

“Bush Diplomacy” is an oxymoron. If you are serious about resolving international differences through diplomacy, you don’t start out by publicly insulting your counterpart, treating him with disdain, if not outright contempt, and threatening his country with destruction.

By so doing, you have closed the door on any possibility of a peaceful resolution of whatever differences may exist. Successful diplomacy requires leaving your opponent a way out – a way to save face.

Just about anywhere, and particularly in Texas, calling someone a low-down lyin’, cheatin’ varmint will be taken as “fightin’ words.” After that, there’s little possibility of a peaceful outcome.

Early in his administration, when a U.S. spy plane was forced down on the Chinese island of Hainan, President Bush sent the Chinese government a terse demand for the immediate return of the plane. This was met with an equally terse rebuff from the Chinese. Only when Bush adopted a more conciliatory attitude was he able to get the plane back.

Since then, our president expressed a loathing for North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, and did not rule out the possibility of a nuclear attack against that country.

Then, much to his surprise, he received in return a similar threat from Kim Jong Il – what else would you expect, especially from a loose cannon like Kim Jong Il? It is no wonder that Kim Jong Il, in his paranoia about U.S. intentions, felt threatened enough to feel justified, even obligated, to redouble his efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal.

What President Bush has to take into account in his dealings with the leaders of other nations (also in dealing with the United Nations) is that these people have egos as great as, maybe even greater than, his. Even though the leaders of many of the countries he has to deal with may be unsavory at best, he has to learn to conceal his loathing and contempt for them and treat them, not necessarily with respect, but at least with civility. This goes equally for our hoped-for friends and allies as well as for our supposed enemies. You will not win many arguments with these people by lecturing them like errant children or incompetent servants. And with an overweening attitude of superiority, it will be almost impossible to arrive at a peaceful resolution of differences. This could commit us to an unending series of conflicts with countries whose leaders are not acceptable to our president.

In his dealings with Iraq, Bush has let Saddam Hussein know that if the United Nations inspectors find any weapons of mass destruction, he will launch a war on Iraq; he has also stated that if the United Nations inspectors do not find any weapons of mass destruction, it must be because they are being hidden from the inspectors, and therefore he will launch a war on Iraq. Sort of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. What it all adds up to is that George W. Bush is totally obsessed with attacking Iraq and is determined to let neither facts nor public or world opinion stand in his way.

The arrogance which dominates Bush’s foreign policy carries over into his dealings with Congress. He advocates a bipartisan policy on both foreign and domestic issues, but his definition of bipartisanship is that it has to agree with what he wants.

A friend of mine kept an admonition pinned on the wall near his telephone which read “Engage brain before putting mouth in gear.” It might be a good idea if he would send a copy to our President. But he would most likely totally ignore it, and we will pay the price in lives, and money for which so many domestic needs cry out.

Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday.

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