September 16, 2002
World reaction to Bush UN speech
From In the National Interest, some analysis of how Russia, China, and France reacted to President Bush's recent speech before the UN. Some good quotes:
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 16, 2002 to Around the world
It remains unclear to us, however, whether the Bush Administration will be prepared to accept the results of successful international inspections in Iraq, i. e. a disarmed Iraq--with Saddam still in power.
What influences American policy still remains a mystery. President Bush's address reminds one of a comic-book plot, where the United States is cast in the role of the superhero (Superman, or Spiderman) who faces not complex political issues, but megalomaniac characters--Saddam Hussein as "the Joker", or bin Laden as "The Penguin." (ed. note: this guy needs to get his comic book characters straight.)
One cannot also ignore the domestic factors behind this speech. Bush's challenging international diplomacy takes place only weeks before midterm elections, and retaining control of the Congress is the number-one consideration of his staff. They have concluded that the Iraq issue would help the Republicans to win, since they are facing attacks from the Democrats, a troubled economy, and the President's own position is eroding. So, the president, by speaking before the General Assembly, and negotiating with the other permanent members of the Security Council, keeps the Iraq issue in the headlines through to November.
This isn't specifically a knock on you, Charles, or even the ItNI analyst, but I simply do not understand why there is the assumption that it is even a remotely realistic possibility that (a) Saddam will allow weapon inspectors to do their jobs, and (b) disarmament will occur.
I've even heard the joke that Bush believes he had better quickly invade Iraq before Hussein lets the inspectors in. That's like saying "Reagan had better invade Moscow before the Russians become a free, peace-loving people!"
If Hussein were the type of man to allow for this, none of this would be happening! The assumption that Bush wants a war for political and/or personal reasons has reached so far that it is dictating what Hussein might do contrary to all of the evidence of the past decade.
Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your enemy, too.
I like the take that Josh Marshall has today: Weapons inspectors either solve the problem (unlikely) or help make our case. As far as I'm concerned, only good things can come out of this.
I've had a problem all along with us going headlong into an invasion without bothering to convince anyone that it's the right thing to do. If that means explaining it in small words, then explain it in small words. If this really is the right thing to do, make sure people see it our way. Why should we be the bad guys if we're doing the right thing?
I understand where you're coming from and I'm not opposed to trying one last time, but I think even after another round of these games, Europe lefties and Arabs will still oppose it.
We should definitely try to convince them, and I'm glad Bush seems to be doing that, but I'm not convinced they can be convinced until it's too late.
And I agree that we'll never satisfy everyone. I'm looking for consensus, not unanimity. I think Bush's speech before the UN can be a step towards consensus, and I'm glad for it.