Yogi Berra, arguably one of the greatest catchers ever, combined solid defense with excellent offense to help the Yankees win many World Series Championships. Yet what endeared Berra to all fans was not necessarily his skill behind the plate, but his "Yogiisms" or stupid quotes. My personal favorite happens to be "People don't go there anymore, it's too crowded." Rarely, though, are people remembered more for their hilarious comments than their accomplishments.
Unfortunately, George W. Bush is fast becoming the Yogi Berra of presidents, which is bad for us, since he's the commander-in- chief dispatching our troops around the world, instead of directing a curveball down and in.
Bush prefers simple, straight talk to the intricate nuances required for international diplomacy. The newsworthy sound-byte beats the thoughtful statement preferred by so many of Bush's predecessors. In all fairness, some statements from Bush are quite comical, like his declaration that Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien would make an excellent Texan even if it wouldn't help him in Canada. Such a characterization must have given goose bumps to the wily Quebecer, career politician and true international statesman.
Consistently over the last year, Bush alienated foreign allies and set the United States of America on a difficult track, teetering on future unilateralist actions because he refuses to abandon his cowboy image.
By ensuring an eventual Iraqi regime change during the near future, Bush backed himself into an inescapable credibility corner. His gung-ho stance made invasion an imperative if he wished to command any future confidence and deny Saddam Hussein a moral victory. Bush prefers quick installation of a new American-friendly government, without carefully planning with allies in the Middle East and throughout the world a more sensible route to replacing Iraq's despot.
The campaign against terrorism currently finds itself eerily paralleled to the Cold War. While the United States lacks a clear enemy that can match it tank for tank upon a battlefield, it is fighting a destructive ideology with much the same strategic nation building policies. Instead of preventing the spread of communism, the Bush administration works to eliminate terrorist breeding grounds. By declaring to the rest of the world that "Either you are with us or with the terrorists" the President drew a line without defining what it means to be "with us." This ultimatum seemingly requires all nations bend to our will or face consequences.
The Karzai government in Afghanistan served as the first product of this policy after the Taliban refused U.S. wishes; the near future contains governmental construction in Iraq. After that task begins, the Bush administration may choose another member of the ill-grouped "Axis of Evil" to dismantle.
This fictional cooperation serves little purpose other than Bush-styled simpleton diplomacy. While there is no defense for Iraq's government, at the time he announced this terrible threesome, Iran looked to swing ever more to a liberal government under President Mohammad Khatami and North Korea was deeply engaged with South Korea over reconciliation and reuniting families. Placing these two nations in the same herd with Iraq only stiffened the resolve of conservative Iranian clerics and rebuilt their support, while it ended the discourse between North and South Korea and scared more allies away from aligning themselves with U.S. interests.
The threats did not end with labeling. Bush felt inclined now to justify his high noon shoot-outs with more inane speech and senseless comments such as: "By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem. We reveal a problem." Dictators need not be challenged to see they are a menace. The dilemma is always how to deal with the rogue state. Iraq currently tops Bush's quandary list, yet he eliminated quick and easy methods to attack the Iraqi question. His war rhetoric scared the international community, specifically the Arab states and thus alienated possible supporter's who prefer more diplomatic attempts to reach a resolution before calling upon armed forces to solve the conflict. France, Canada and Australia prefer United Nations approval before dispatching soldiers to remove Saddam Hussein.
It was not until last week that Bush appeared to realize the need for international support, yet in doing so revealed his single-track, war-inclined mind. He is so bent on war that while answering a question relating to Russian intervention in Georgia, Bush without any previous reference to the topic, reiterated his case against Saddam only a day after delivering the same evidence to the U.N. War is fast becoming the only topic he addresses.
Bush stated before addressing this same international body "I'm going to the United Nations to give this speech for a reason, because I believe this is an international problem and that we must work together to deal with the problem." Laughter likely erupted throughout the developing world upon hearing him claim to expose an international problem. This is the same man who chose to snub the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, which addressed societal problems afflicting the entire planetâ??poverty, health and environmental degradation, to name a few. He now pretends to be the champion of world dilemmas while ignoring the sentiments of nearly every single nation.
The regime changes Bush seeks are necessary not only for world security and to ensure basic human rights. This foreign policy should therefore necessitate the removal of every despot for those same purposes. The administration botched its golden opportunity to secure worldwide support to ensure a safer world through multi-lateral actions. It focused the tragedy of Sept. 11 as an affront simply to America, rather than humanity. Now it must regain international popularity and move ahead with clear purpose to help stabilize the world.
The next few years will prove quite possibly to be a new era of nation building. According to Bush, Saddam must be toppled; he always posed a threat to the world and should have been dealt with accordingly years ago after initiating two regional wars, persecuting Iraqi minorities and attacking non-combative Israel. For that matter, many other corrupt and oppressive governments deserve a change for the good of their people.
The only question remaining is whether Bush and his advisors have the tact and commitment to construct a coalition capable of the difficult task before them while avoiding alienating the country from the rest of the world. Thus far, he has proved himself incapable of swallowing peanuts let alone diplomacy without choking; hopefully someone will provide the United State's with CPR when we need it most.
Kevin Ogorzalek is a Trinity junior. His column appears every other Tuesday.
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