Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Lame Duck Bush

lame duck
n.

An elected officeholder or group continuing in office during the period between failure to win an election and the inauguration of a successor.
An officeholder who has chosen not to run for reelection or is ineligible for reelection.
An ineffective person; a weakling.


True, the election may be six months away, but when it comes to foreign policy, the Bush administration is definitely lame. For some reason, the media don't appear to appreciate the significance of the latest evidence:


NATO Balking at Iraq Mission
Amid rising violence and public opposition to the occupation, allies want to delay a major commitment until after the U.S. election.

By Paul Richter, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's hopes for a major NATO military presence in Iraq this year appear doomed, interviews with allied defense officials and diplomats show.

The Western military alliance had expected to announce at a June summit that it would accept a role in the country, perhaps by leading the international division now patrolling south-central Iraq. But amid continuing bloodshed and strong public opposition to the occupation in many nations, allies want to delay any major commitment until after the U.S. presidential election in November, officials say.



What's clear from this is that Europeans are ready and willing to help the United States in Iraq. What is also clear is that they have recognized the gross incompetence with which the Bush administration has handled the Iraq situation every step of the way, and while they are willing to help the U.S. out, they are not going to make the safety of their troops incumbent upon the judgment of George W. Bush.

So while the Bush administration has clearly cost the United States a great deal of credibility and respect around the globe, much of that could be immediately regained should he be replaced come November. And for Americans who don't like Bush, but are unsure how Kerry would do about handling Iraq, the choice is crystal clear: with Bush, the U.S. can continue to shoulder the increasing burden of Iraq alone, with no strategy for victory, or with Kerry, many of our recently estranged long time allies will return to our side, and help extricate us from this mess.

That NATO members have taken this approach is truly extraordinary. Imagine if NATO had said to Clinton, we want to wait to make a decision on whether to support you in Yugoslavia until after the impeachment process is complete. It would have been perceived as an extraordinary rebuke of Clinton. NATO didn't do that because its members had great confidence in Clinton's foreign policy handling and confidence.

There are still six months till the election, so Bush may not be a lame duck by traditional political standards. However, as the NATO example shows, he is a lame duck internationally. The United States has lost a great deal of respect, and a great deal of power, thanks to his incompetence. And unless Kerry wins, we're not getting it back.

Shouldn't Kerry be campaigning on this stuff?

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