February 03, 2005

The Others Bad Guys (And What of Our Friends?)

Other bad guys? One sentence on NoKo. No mention of the "outposts of tyranny." Pretty skimpy. Our soi disant friends? Europe? Barely mentioned (only in context of Iran related diplomacy and defeat of fascism there). No Germany or France. No U.K. Bush is really focused on democratizing the Middle East. Fine, as this is the fulcrum of the war against radical Islam and the generational task that confronts us. But we need to do it with help, and we need to remember that Latin America, Asia, Africa, you know, still exist. As do, btw, Russia and China--not mentioned once in the entire speech.

P.S. Maybe this is just B.D's bias for more foreign policy content. A SOTU, after all, is about the panoply of domestic issues too. Still, didn't this feel a bit thin:

Other nations around the globe have stood with us. In Afghanistan, an international force is helping provide security. In Iraq, 28 countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the European Union provided technical assistance for elections, and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers. We are cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine other countries have captured or detained al-Qaida terrorists. In the next four years, my Administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.

How? A little more detail would have been nice.

Posted by Gregory at February 3, 2005 04:08 AM | TrackBack (7)

"Coalitions?" Plural? So ad hoc as required? Just who might be interested in joining another one after the last time?

Posted by: Linkmeister at February 3, 2005 07:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The use of "coalitions" in the plural was deliberate and telling. It recognizes that the ready-made coalition offered by the UN is useless.

As far "after the last time" in the above comment, note that Mr. Howard was easily reelected in Australia, and Blair's position in domestic UK politics does not seem to have been measurably weakened.

Posted by: sammler at February 3, 2005 10:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...not mentioned once in the entire speech."

America can only focus on one foreign policy objective at a time. It will ruthlessly focus on whatever is grabbing the news, then drop it as soon as another crisis emerges. And it takes its allies for granted except when they show signs of independent thought, and then it treats them almost as enemies. Its flawed constitution, disfunctional system of government and mostly ignorant, inward-looking population are to blame. Given those negatives, it is surprising America gets things right as often as it does.

Posted by: PJ at February 3, 2005 04:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"blair's position in domestic UK politics does not seem to have been measurably weakened."

Labour's position in UK politics hasn't been weakened (mainly thanks to a shambolic tory party) but blair's personal position has been very weakened. He lacks any 'political capital' to push through changes and his approval ratings are currently lurking around the 30 mark. If the tories had got their act together then blair would already be writing his memoirs.
One of the main reasons he's still there is that a significant part of the party dislike brown more than they dislike blair.

Posted by: kenny at February 3, 2005 07:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I noticed the lack of references to old Europe, too. There was, if you squint hard enough, perhaps an oblique poke in the "community of free and independent nations" phrase. This might be construed as an affirmation of the Westphalian order denounced by Joschka Fischer and Osama alike.

Posted by: ArtD0dger at February 3, 2005 08:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Would Tony Blair's political position really be stronger if it were based entirely on his record with respect to domestic issues and Europe?

My impression had been that notwithstanding opposition to the Iraq war Blair's status as a prominent international figure was a net political asset, in its own right and also because his success in domestic policy has been limited, and his Europe policy equivocal. It probably also helps that having relations with the United States comparable to Mrs. Thatcher's is one of the things that keeps the Conservatives "shambolic."

Posted by: Zathras at February 3, 2005 11:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Any details given would be used by Bush's political enemies against him, and would hardly help him achieve any of his foreign policy goals.

So, why would you want more details, if you supported his goals? (spreading democracy.)

The Tories haven't agreed to be fully Eurosceptic yet -- since so many businesses want more Brussels, less Downing Street. This "divided" and impotent Tory opposition is matched by the US Dems not being in agreement about exporting democracy (Bush Doctrine), or being Isolationist.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 4, 2005 02:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There are really five parties in Britain. From "left to right": Liberal Democrats, Old Labour (maybe switch those two), New Labour, Conservative, Tory Nationalist. Two of them, Old and New Labour, caucus together; the Conservative party is tring to keep the nationalists in the tent without coming out against Europe, but UK Independence Party and the like are making inroads.

As the undisputed leader of his bloc, Blair has the tiger by the tail. Nobody much likes him (nor ever has) but very many people think he is better than the likely alternative.

Posted by: sammler at February 4, 2005 08:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What makes Bush not totally a Wilsonian is that his idealism is tied to the US's strategic interests. Sure it would be nice if he cared as much, or even a little, about extending freedom to central Asia or Africa, or to the largest country in the world; but the Arab world is the source of the most recent attack on our soil and our citizens and it is the source of most of our energy supply. Democracy in that part of the world is going to be good for the US.

I don't know much about UK politics, but it seems to me that Blair is a beneficiary of the "can't beat somebody with nobody" theory. As much as folks in the UK may hate Bush, I'm sure that not many would rather be France's surrogate in foreign policy or go back to the pre-Thatcher days at home. These are the promises of the Liberals and Old Labour.

Posted by: jim linnane at February 6, 2005 10:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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