Friday, April 26, 2002

In the National Review, Martin Sieff observes:

President Bush's now famous - and notorious - inclusion of Iran in an international "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech this year is widely regarded in Tehran and, indeed, throughout the region, as a crucial turning point. Since then, pro-American sentiments in Tehran have been less enthusiastically expressed and popular feeling has coalesced anew behind a government that, for all its faults, is seen as a representative of the national interest against a potential direct threat from the dominant superpower.


The Bush administration has shown itself repeatedly willfully blind to the radical changes taking place in Saudi policy under Crown Prince Abdullah's direction and they have also shown themselves deaf and blind to the prospects of improving relations with Iran offered by President Mohamed Khatami in Tehran. As a result Saudi policies are changing in ways inimical to U.S. interests while Iranian polices are not changing at all.

The sentiment is not just held on the right wing; at his book reading at Wordsworth the other day, Tariq Ali made the same point rather forcefully.

Meanwhile, following his meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah, Bush issued a statement praising his "personal bond" with the despot, and demanding that Israel "finish its withdrawal, including resolution of standoffs in Ramallah and Bethelem, in a non-violent way" --- which he has just reiterated again, telling them "it is now time to quit it altogether". This comes a week after he infuriated the Saudis by calling Sharon a "man of peace".

It would be easy to lampoon this as the Rodney King school of foreign policy --- "We're all men of peace here. We're all good folks. Can't we all just get along?"

But Bush's defenders on the net say this would be misleading. The true Bush diplomatic strategy, they claim, is deep and complex, and cannot be understood by simply taking the administration's public positions at face value. It is an elaborate series of bluffs, feints, and jabs, a kind of diplomatic blindfold chess, at once treacherous and Machiavellian in its methods, and nobly Jeffersonian in its outlook and aspirations --- which just happens to require, at this point in time, in service of its recondite tactics, that the President appear to be a dim-witted rube who agrees with whatever he most recently heard from anyone with a manly voice and a firm handshake.

(More: The WaPo sees "The signs of growing disorder and lawlessness in Afghanistan are abundant", and that the United States seems to be walking away from the problems created by its operation there. But if the administration did that, then they'd once again be creating a dangerous anarchy in which the forces of evil could take root. Surely, there is a deeper plan...).

(Update: Attributions corrected; I'll be trusting one source a bit less in the future. Don't blog on the job).


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home