Bush’s Last Chance??

Posted March 2, 2007 on 5:39 pm | In the category Iran, North Korea, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Graham Allison has written an op ed about diplomacy and power in the Kennedy era for today’s Boston Globe. Reading the piece suggests that the Bush administration – after six years – may be beginning to look for a philosophical center for its foreign policy. The piece compares the recent negotiations with North Korea and the planned multilateral discussions with Iran, to the approaches taken by Kennedy with the Soviet Union. The article quotes former Bush advisor and UN ambassador John Bolton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the merits – or lack thereof – of negotiating with the likes of Iran and N. Korea. The money quotes are:

From Gates in 2004:

“Iran is not on the verge of another revolution . . . The durability of the Islamic Republic and the urgency of the concerns surrounding its policies mandate that the United States deal with the current regime rather than wait for it to fall.”

From Bolton in 2007 re: the agreement with N. Korea:

“[The N. Korea agreement] contradicts the fundamental premises of the president’s policy he’s been following for the past six years.” (Vice President Cheney is quoted: “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”)

Bolton’s and Cheney’s comments represent the Bush-Cheney approach of power without diplomacy that has given us the Iraq “thing”, N. Korean nuclear weapons, and a stronger Iran headed for nuclear self-sufficiency. While it is late in the game for the Bush presidency, he actually has an opportunity to leave a legacy that will not be the raving insult that he currently courts with history.

The N. Korea agreement, while only a beginning, is after all, better than we had come to expect from this administration.  Similarly, the movement towards talking with Iran hints at possible advances. The question is whether the Cheney gang will come back into dominance or whether diplomacy can proceed. Cheney is unlikely to watch the latter happen without a fight. We shall see.

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