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Bush faces crossroads
Midway through his first presidential term, George W. Bush is tiptoeing down the primrose path towards calamity. International tension and an economic slowdown are threatening the Teflon nature of his reign, and he stands now at a monumental crossroads.
Pending war in Iraq, nuclear proliferation in North Korea and a sagging economy are the three critical and interwoven issues that face the president, and he has stumbled on all of them already.
Bush’s military ambition in Iraq seems to be working in an inverse relationship to support for such an effort – his desire to wage unilateral war is increasing as public and international support is waning.
Saddam Hussein is a violent, ruthless war criminal, and the United Nations has found him in violation of international code. There is no debating the fact that he should and must be removed, and that the Iraqi regime must change; this is not the issue. It is the manner and method in which these transitions take place that must be carefully contemplated now.
It is the duty of the United Nations to police rogue nations, and it is attempting to do so. We must allow the weapons inspectors to finish, and then reconvene the U.N. and make a cohesive decision on a course of action.
No satisfactory material evidence has been presented to the American people or the rest of the world to support a pre-emptive military invasion of Iraq. Great Britain is our only notable western ally, and it is most likely that if war were to breakout, the entire Arab world, including those nations at odds with Iraq, would unite in an attempt to repel the Western world that it, at least generally, so deeply resents. Barely 50 percent of the American public currently supports military action, a number sure to swiftly plummet as the reality of war grows closer.
Advocates of pre-emptive strikes argue that the U.S. doesn’t need France, Germany or any other allies to win in Iraq, and that is almost certainly true, but perceived arrogance and disregard for the rest of the world creates a diplomatic catastrophe in what is becoming an increasingly interdependent international environment.
Other nations have expressed concerns about what war would do to the already tenuous Middle East, and if their voices are not heard, the United States will be forced to face the possibility of being completely isolated in world affairs, no longer able to garner the moral support that it usually automatically demands by its virtue and altruistic endeavor.
Unilateral military regime change sets a dangerous precedent. If the United States decides on its own what is necessary for the world, what is to stop a militant, anti-west dictator from lobbing scud missiles towards the White House?
Is this really the game we want to initiate? The U.N. was founded for these specific situations, so that the powerful nations of the world would not be forced to presume how to protect the international community while simultaneously attempting to maintain partnerships between disagreeing states. If the United States does not allow the U.N. to do its job now, it might as well discontinue its relationship with the body altogether.
The world is more dangerous than it has ever been, as regional conflict has been replaced by global warfare. Finishing what your father couldn’t is a classic and romantic notion, but entirely unwarranted and premature here.
And what of North Korea? Why has Bush virtually ignored this nation that we know has a nuclear capability, and that he himself singled out just one year ago as one of the rogue states featured in his now infamous “axis of evil speech”?
It is not fair to deem the motives for his monomaniac focus on Iraq to be purely personal- avenging his father’s failure- but his ambition is predominantly political. Bush desperately wants to be the man to eradicate Saddam Hussein from power, to end his vile and oppressive rule, and his aspiration is a noble one, but it is unfortunately clouding his objectivity and compromising his ability to view the entire scope of the international picture.
Bush’s team has launched a media blitz, as he must control the propaganda if he is to gain enough support to wage Middle Eastern War. Any debate on North Korea would deflect animosity away from Saddam, and worry people more about the consequences of war – an obstacle that Bush will surely have to face if and when fighting starts in Iraq, as the blood thirsty, image-driven 24 hour news channels will repeat all polarizing images until they become ingrained in the psyche of every American.
Bush’s third challenge, and possibly his most important in winning the war of public opinion, is stimulating an economy that will inevitably be linked to his success in foreign affairs. The stimulus package recently sent to Congress, however, is a laughable repeat of his previously unsuccessful tax cut legislation, and 1980’s Republican policy.
Bush’s plan, which calls for massive tax breaks for corporations and wealthy Americans, assumes that high-end investment will create job opportunities and private sector expansion and reduce the need for government funded programs and entitlements, but it comes at a time when almost no one is investing due to domestic and foreign uncertainty.
Trickle-down economics, despite the ardent objections of Alex P. Keaton Reaganites, is an abject failure. It was the catalyst for the massive deficit spending of the early 1990’s; it creates unlimited inflation, and benefits some while large segments of society go wanting as the foundation that protects their rights and liberties is dismantled.
De-emphasizing stabilizing factors like social security and Medicare, while siphoning funds that could go to education to provide the highest tax bracket with a little more cushion is always bad policy, and inconceivably negligent at this time.