The Bush Administration and Posthumous Diplomacy

by Uzoma Nduka

Post 9/11 United States of America’s posture to the outside world was belligerent. It was one that initially placed America on a political sound footing all over the world. But all that political capital was squandered by the White House. At the heels of the attack on the World Trade Centre and the rest, the South rose in condemnation of it, the East vehemently voiced out their ire against the attackers and the West stood and wept with the U.S. In all, these political clouts and camaraderie vaporized.

The world spoke with one voice.

However the discordant tunes trickled in when Washington came out with not-too-familiar terminologies, lexicons and phrases. The comity of nations stood at akimbo with mouth agape because of what came out from the White House. Phrases like “axis of evil”, “why do they hate us?” “you are either with us or against us”, “Saddam Hussein poses imminent threat to us”, “Saddam Hussein has links with al Qeada”, “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction”, “we have to fight our enemies on their home grounds rather than allow them attack us in our own”, “we will not meet with our enemies” “we will not negotiate with our attackers and terrorists”, reverberated in the media.

Quite a few people and institutions questioned and opposed Bush’s line of thought and policy initiatives. What astounded me was the paralysis of thought, the seizure of reasoning, the collapse of congressional contests of executive excesses, and the deafening silence of the populace. All over the United States of America, there was this kind of cemetery agreement not to talk about government reaction or over-reaction to the attack on American homeland.

Looking at the catastrophe meted on American soil by the terrorist from individual point of view, the spontaneous feeling will be considered ok. It is just natural to react swiftly when punched or slapped by someone especially if it was done in the public glare. Chances are that ninety-nine point nine (99.9%) percent of all human will throw a punch back.

But for a nation a lot of factor will be factored in.

As a democracy, deliberations, planning, organization, strategizing, wooing, consultations, should take place. That is the way democracy works. But post-9/11 American administration demonstrated otherwise.

Chalmers Johnson in his National Bestseller book called “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire” opined that post 9/11 United States of America should have asked “how good are we? If we are so good, why do we inspire such hatred abroad? What have we done wrong to bring so much “blowback” upon ourselves?”

These should have been a primetime query on the lips of the media, on the hearts of the congress, in the minds of the executive and on the fingertips on the voting masses.But many in the U.S. failed to ask these questions and forgot to flip through history (if they actually know historical facts).

The actions of the administration demonstrated a premeditated and predetermined combatant and belligerent approach. It was as if they have concluded on policies to be pursued even before the elections took place. And this may be why the election that ushered in Bush junior went the way it did.

North Korea, Iran, Iraq were all labeled “axis of evil”. No diplomatic nexus was sought by these countries by Bush administration to straighten the crisis going on in Asia and Middle East. Considering the fact that the U.S. interests spreads along these regions and that chaos usually breathes from these regions, efforts should have been made to pointing out to the above independent countries the outcome of global terrorism to the entire world. It should have been tabled out and discussed in a round table conference. Global terrorism and the possession of nuclear weapons pay no nation. It does no good to any country. And at the same time no single country should claim control over curbing out global terrorism and possession of nuclear weapons. This is the crux of the matter. Nations don’t want to be intimidated and embarrassed by one single country. Countries want to be recognized and respected as autochthonous or independent. Countries want to be accorded their place in the comity of nations.

But all these were waived away by the Bush administration. Even when the United Nations implored the Bush administration to retard from regime change and attack on the Iraqi government, it was ignored. Even when France, Russia, China etc voted against and vetoed the U.S. attack on Iraq, it was ignored as well. There was concordance of opposition by so many countries of the world against U.S. decision to attack the Saddam Hussein regime of Iraq with a smokescreen excuse of Saddam possessing weapons of mass destruction even when the weapons inspectors led by Mohammed El Baradei have established no weapons possession by Saddam Hussein.

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction have been found as was demonstrated by the revered and venerated Colin Powell at the United Nations. And no link to al Qeada has been established between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist group/s.

It is unarguably correct to conclude that diplomatic gains of the post-Russian collapse or the emergence of a lone global power has been squandered by Bush administration posturing. It is right and fit to describe and declare diplomacy dead in Bush administration. By declaring nations evil and telling the rest of the world that if they are not with you that they are against you was a blunder and embarrassment. It was an indecent and uncensored act of government.

To say the least, those comments weren’t acceptable by so many countries which led to powerful opposition to the U.S. Except the United Kingdom and Australia which have been solidly behind the U.S. aggression and invasion over Iraq, the rest support came from countries not known to people in the streets of the U.S.

In the recent weeks and months, we have been noticing some executive junketing and scrambling by the Bush administration. The Vice President, Dick Cheney, has been on the air traversing through Jordan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, on her own part has been doing a great deal of foot work after the last U.S. election. And this week the President himself, George W. Bush is on Latin American (Bolivia, Columbia, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and not Venezuela?) hemisphere and dinner table.

The most ironic of these shuttling happened at the instance of Al Maliki of Iraq. Al Maliki called a conference of Iraq, Iran, Syria and United States of America. We hope it will not be a meeting in vain. We hope it’s not going to be empty rhetoric and use of language. The second most comical was the U.S./North Korea reaching some compromises on the nuclear deal.

The question therefore arises: for six years or more of this administration, what have it been doing? Was it worth the diplomatic shut-offs and door closures? Was it wise posing adamantly to other nations of the world and wading off the United Nations declarations? Why were all these belated steps being taken in the recent days, weeks, and moths not done after the attack of 9/11? Why the reversal of thought? If the above deals and tete-a tete could be worked out now, why not then? It is all why, why and why.

Will this be seen as a posthumous diplomatic attempt? It is an attempt too little too late. It is a remediation without force and effect. Any agreement reached now will be taken with a pinch of salt by all parties involved. It will only be ephemeral and short-lasting. Iran knows its’ goal. Syria knows hers. And North Korea knows her interest, same with the U.S. And in pushing and protecting the various interests skepticisms and skirmishes will arise and lead to the zero elasticity of agreements reached. The recent moves-political restructuring or diplomatic reconstruction- will neither secure peace in Baghdad nor ameliorate violence and suicide bombing among the Sunnis and Shiites.

If the Bush administration wants to achieve stability in the Middle East and secure the trust of, not only North Korea but, France, Russia, China and other major players, it should accept whole-heartedly the submissions of the Baker-Hamilton commission instead of “stealing” from it. Serious and non-partisan approach should be pursued to face-lift the U.S. battered and destroyed picture by this administration before its term expires in 2009.

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