Wednesday, December 10, 2003

LESS PREACHING, MORE LISTENING
I see now that the US government is now going to formally ban from reconstruction in Iraq businesses from any country that didn't fully support the conquest. This just proves how much the Bush administration doesn't get it.

Deputy Secretary of War Paul Wolfowitz said that contracts were being restricted to protect America's "essential security interests." Which is as believable as when the movie theaters ban you from taking in backpacks for "security" reasons.

From a purely emotional standpoint, this is sensible. I mean, they didn't lick the president's boots, so why should they get any part of the booty? But as with most things, the administration is penny-wise and pound foolish (or cutting of its nose to spite its face; you have your pick of aphorisms).

This could be a perfect opportunity for the administration to show American magnamity. To show that Bush is not the bloodthirsty warmonger so many people in all parts of the world think he is. To show we didn't conquer Iraq to enrich American corporations.

(I wonder how banning companies from bidding on contracts fits in with the adminstration's free trade ideas)

But although the snitfit may be emotionally satisfying, it's infinitely counterproductive.

-It does nothing to boost anyone's trust that the conquest was done for benevolent reasons and gives a further boost to those, especially Arabs, who say the motive for the invasion were purely economic.

-When the Bush administration pleads for international cooperation in re-building Iraq or addressing the humanitarian, what incentive are "dissenting" countries going to have to listen? Canada, a large contributor to Iraq reconstruction, has already said it would be difficult for them to keep donating money if such a ban remains. To exclude Canadians just because they are Canadians would be unacceptable if they accept funds from Canadian taxpayers for the reconstruction of Iraq noted the country's deputy prime minister.

-When the Bush administration pleads for more non-American troops in Iraq, what incentive are "dissenting" countries going to have to listen? There's talk of bringing NATO into Iraq to relieve the burden on American troops. But governments of key NATO members France, Germany and Turkey all raised questions about the manner of the invasion.

-When the Bush administration pleads for more international cooperation and non-American troops for Afghanistan (remember that place?), what incentive are "dissenting" countries going to have to listen? Do you think the Germans appreciate how much they've been smeared on the Iraq question after they dutifully contributed large number of troops to the Afghanistan cause at the request of President Bush? I wonder how Germans can be ok for American security in Afghanistan but not Iraq?

-When the Bush administration demands cooperation on fighting international terrorist groups, will "dissenting" countries return the snub back to Washington? For example, has the government in Paris received any kudos from either Washington hawks or the sensationalist press for the numerous arrests of al-Qaeda suspects in France? No, but the French arrested the suspects anyway. Fortunately, they weren't put off by the 1st grade level insults from the other side of the pond but the administration's legendary ability to lose friends and influence people against it does not bode well for it or for us.

The people of this administration just don't get it. They gratiutiously piss off our allies then have the audacity to ask those same allies for help. They preach "the spread of democracy" to the Arab world but rage against European governments for representing the democratic will of their people. They limit contracts to cohorts and then get indignant when anyone suggests it amounts to conquest for plunder. They anger the rest of the world with obtuseness, bluster and self-righteousness and then are truly surprised at the anti-Americanism that ensues.

So much of our foreign policy ills could be rectified if we did a little less preaching and a lot more listening. We don't do that very well. Maybe we should learn.

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