Accuracy in Media

The 2004 Presidential Election featured President Bush running on his record.  According to Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, this means that Bush’s “second term will be much like the first.”  Thomas Donnelly, also of AEI, argued that Americans in this election “accepted the role we play in the post Cold War era.” <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

 

A recent forum held at AEI discussed foreign policy in the President’s second term.  Speakers addressed the role we must play in the world and explored issues dealing with <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Russia, and the European Union. 

 

Iraq

 

“The first major hurdle of the second Bush term in regards to success or failure will be Iraqi elections,” said Michael Rubin of the Middle East Forum.  Potentially bad news for the U.S. is brewing as Allawi is unlikely to remain Iraq‘s Prime Minister, and Iraq could end up with a “Japan or Mexico style democracy” where one dominant party with many factions leads.  But Rubin warns, “Iraq might not have American style democracy,” but it is better than the alternative.

 

The election results legitimate the administration’s argument that Iraq was a vital part of the greater war on terror.  Rubin criticized Senator Kerry’s rhetoric, following a recent visit to Iraq. “Kerry’s irresponsibleness on Iraq has had an impact; the Iraqis are waiting to see that our commitment is sincere.”  The American public backed the President’s firm stance on Iraq; this will lend confidence to the Iraqi people when their elections begin in January.  These elections will help solve the problems in Iraq, according to Rubin.

 

Iran

 

In response to diplomatic action by Britain, France and Germany, Iran recently agreed to suspend uranium enrichment programs pending negotiation of a longer-term agreement with the United Nations. The enrichment processes are a key part of developing an atomic weapon and the move comes amid charges that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons. However, past deals with the Iranians have fallen through.   According to AEI experts, “the great debate is in the process of beginning: “Are we going to accept Iran with nuclear weapons or will we strike preemptively?”  Hopefully diplomacy (i.e. ‘talking and bribing’) will work where it has failed in the past.

 

North Korea

 

“There has been much criticism for the Bush Administration’s North Korea policy, or lack thereof,” said Nick Eberstadt.  “And much of it is justified; we have to do better.”  Eberstadt presented two main problems we face in North Korea: First, the exceedingly unlikelihood of being able to ‘talk or bribe’ them out of their program, and secondly, the North Korean government.

 

Eberstadt offers a number of solutions:

 

  • Regime change at the State Department;

  • The next round of six party talks must outline parameters of success and failure;

  • Help China take more ownership of the problem and process (so far they have been able to ‘hunt with the hounds and run with the hares’);

  • Invite our European friends to help – they are very persuasive when dealing with human rights issues; and

  • Prepare and think clearly about non-diplomatic solutions. “Unilateral pre-emptive action is not unthinkable, but only under a very limited range of parameters, ones we hope never to arrive at.” 

 

On Russia

 

Russia is a growing concern.  According to Leon Aron, Russia is vital to the “triad of America‘s interest:  The flow of energy to world markets, the war on Islamic terror, and nuclear proliferation.”  The U.S. must watch Russia more carefully in the next four years to prevent the country’s destabilization.  Aron argues that Putin’s policies could lead to an eventual major crisis.  Many of Russia‘s growing problems stem from a recent proposal to strengthen the federal government.  The plan is to reduce the Nation’s regions from 89 to 60 or even to 40.  Most Russians are opposed to this proposal, which could spark resistance as some provinces have even discussed secession. Other factors that could contribute to revolution include bad economic conditions and charges of unprecedented corruption.  There are also looming fears of another terrorist attack, which “could include the seizure or sabotage of a chemical or nuclear plant.” 

 

What the President must do in his second term is to use his relationship of friendship and mutual respect with Russian President Vladimir Putin to warn him of the “dangers in the current policy and point out that our vital interests are at stake.”  The new Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is an expert on Russia and should prove integral in helping the country maintain its democratic course.

 

On the European Union:

 

French President Jacque Chirac’s recent criticism of British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his attempt for Britain to be a “bridge across the Atlantic,” and his comments that “backing Bush has won you nothing,” makes the Trans-Atlantic divide seem wider than ever, and indeed it may be.  Radek Sikorski, of The New Atlantic Initiative, suggests that the biggest issue in the coming years will be the new European Union Constitution.  “EU enlargement should not be a problem for the U.S.  America should “forge security relationships with allies in need.  This would be a cost effective way to deter Europe from its anti-American path,” Sikorski says.  President Bush also could bolster old alliances by calling “a joint EU and NATO Summit.  The President could forge a new Trans-Atlantic program by sketching a common agenda.”

 

Whatever the challenges of the next four years are to be, one thing is for certain, the days of U.S. isolationism are over.  The second Bush Administration must develop clear, well-thought out policies that will be effective in meeting these pressing challenges.

 




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