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March 22, 2003

America's 'high horse' (Ted Belman)

Ride 'em, cowboy

Thomas Friedman in his NY Times column, "D-Day", today, restates his position
This column has argued throughout this debate that removing Saddam Hussein and helping Iraq replace his regime with a decent, accountable government that can serve as a model in the Middle East is worth doing — not because Iraq threatens us with its weapons, but because we are threatened by a collection of failing Arab-Muslim states, which churn out way too many young people who feel humiliated, voiceless and left behind. We have a real interest in partnering with them for change.
You will note that he accepts that, it is not just about Iraq, it is about “a collection of failing Arab Muslim states”. After arguing that “it had to be done with maximum U.N legitimacy and with as many allies as possible”, he levies his indictment
Though the Bush team came to office with this Iraq project in mind, it has pursued a narrow, ideological and bullying foreign policy that has alienated so many people that by the time it wanted to rustle up a posse for an Iraq war, too many nations were suspicious of its motives.
And then some support
The president's view is that in the absence of a U.N. endorsement, this war will become "self-legitimating" when the world sees most Iraqis greet U.S. troops as liberators. I think there is a good chance that will play out.
And then he gets back on his hobbyhorse, i.e. the need for world support and international legitimacy.
To maximize our chances of doing that, we need to patch things up with the world. Because having more allied support in rebuilding Iraq will increase the odds that we do it right, and because if the breach that has been opened between us and our traditional friends hardens into hostility, we will find it much tougher to manage both Iraq and all the other threats down the road. That means the Bush team needs an "attitude lobotomy" — it needs to get off its high horse and start engaging people on the World Street, listening to what's bothering them, and also telling them what's bothering us.
He is not willing to accept that the world, more particularly, Old Europe, has become a hindrance, not a help. He places the onus on the US to patch things up and not on France. He assumes that an unworkable coalition has a better chance of doing it right than a coalition of the willing. Finally he condemns the foreign policy principles that were the hallmark of the Reagan administration, to great success, and are the hallmarks of this administration by advocating an “attitude lobotomy”. Essentially he is arguing for multilateralism and not unilateralism.

No doubt he is in favour of the Road Map for the same reason.

To my mind, this is a prescription for half measure, compromised goals and principles, emasculation, inaction, status quoism rather than boldly and uncompromisingly riding off into this century on our “high horse”.