Bush's comments in front of the Knesset leave me infuriated on so many levels: 1) It was untrue; 2) it was an inappropriate time, being a 60th anniversary celebration of Israel; 3) it was the wrong place; 4) It is the wrong policy; and 5) it invoked Adolf Hitler which is both outrageous and disgusting.
But I wish to focus on #4 - the wrong policy. Or more accurately I wish to call attention to a 2003 op-ed piece from the Boston Globe that discusses the so-called Bush Doctrine
The article is written by two senior fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, Lawrence Korb and Ben Steil, and discusses the "three-legged stool" of Bush's doctrine
The Bush Doctrine is in essence a three-legged stool, relying on the credible threat of overwhelming military force to constrain enemy behavior, acting unilaterally in the interests of avoiding external constraints, and doing so preemptively in anticipation of future enemy action.
The article discusses this primarily in terms of North Korea, but of course the doctrine applies to Iraq and is exactly the point Bush was trying to make today.
But as the op-ed piece shows, the doctrine is absolutely wrong headed. It was wrong-headed then and unfortunately I think it has proven to be wrong-headed by demonstration of this doctrine through the money-draining, blood spilling Iraqi war.
The Doctrine is untenable, as the article states. It creates an instant game of chicken. It's great if the other guy swerves, but if he doesn't then you are screwed. By going straight to the, "Do a I say, or else" card, you are forcing the "or else" or losing credible. Unfortunately "or else" for Bush is either not credible (for example, N. Korea) or worse than the current state of affairs (Iraq War).
And even more importantly, leaders have a great responsibility to avoid force whenever possible. I don't mean appeasement, I mean agreement and negotation. It can be tricky, and it can be highly effective. Even leaders who fail in other regards have grasped the concept. But a leader with a narrow world view and pea-brain has only the Bully's perspective on diplomacy and that is hardly the stuff of greatness.
Two quotes, about talking with N. Korea are illustrative of theauthor's view:
Thus, the application of diplomacy as opposed to military force is not a sign of weakness, but of sanity.
The Bush Administration is learning the hard way that diplomacy is not merely the first refuge of scoundrels, but rather the first line of defense in a dangerous world of sovereign wills.
Unfortunately, that final quote is not accurate, because clearly Bush has learned nothing. Every President with an ounce of competency realizes the truth of this statement. In fact, that is the heart of being a stateman, avoid conflict while maintaining your interests. Done effectively, this produces long-run results. But Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive action and agreement through force as a first and last resort is untenable, ineffective and contrary to what we expect out of our real world leaders.