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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bush's Legacy: Coddling Dictators

For all the machismo that George W. Bush's administration conducted his foreign policy with, the lasting legacy of the Bush years could be the coddling of dangerous dictators. President Bush and his administrations foreign policy team have now been responsible for taking two very dangerous nations, Libya and North Korea of the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This list which includes Cuba and Iran still, has been used for many years as a political tool more than an actual list of state sponsors of terrorism. For example Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Tunisia (who for years "hosted" the PLO) were never on the list.

The decision a few years back to take Libya off the list and to normalize relations was shocking. Yet the mainstream American media, so fundamentally misinformed about global politics allowed this to pass without any criticism. They accepted the Administrations tired line that the action against Iraq scared Libya and that Mummar al Qaddafi was somehow a changed man. The reality is Libya has been responsible for more terrorism directly aimed at American citizens than any nation on earth, with Qaddafi pulling the trigger.

  • The Achile Lauro hijacking where American citizen Leon Klinghoffer was murdered
  • The hijacking of a Pan Am plan in Karachi
  • The bobing of a TWA flight in Athens
  • The murder of two American serviceman in a Berlin discotech
  • The Pan Am 103 bombing
  • The first World Trade Center bombing.
Conservatives often times state you can deal with terrorists. John McCain and his campaign have labeled Barack Obama's plans to talk to Iran, et al as dangerous. Let me state as an Obama supporter I'm not in love with these plans. Terrorists are dangerous and talking directly to them is a risky idea. Making deals with them is even worse as the Bush administration has done with Libya and is doing currently with North Korea.But Iran is a more stable and legitimate government than North Korea's or Libya. Iran has existing democratic institutions and has acted at many times more responsibly on the global scene despite the bravado of their current powerless president than Libya or North Korea. Iran is after all on fairly good terms with the U.K., Germany France, Russia and China. For years the US has gone at Iran alone, unlike Libya and North Korea who were until Bush's actions essentially boxed in.

North Korea's record of despotism and support for terrorism is arguably unmatched on the planet. Yet the decisive unilateral actions Bush supported against a tin pot dictator who posed no threat to the US in Saddam Hussien have not been even tried with North Korea. Instead Bush hid behind the Chinese, who national growth has been accelerated by his Presidency (as has India's and both nations posses a long term threat to our economic and political interests globally.) and tried for multilateral talks. Now Bush and his Secretary of State Condelezza Rice have given North Korea approval of their bad behavior with defacto recognition of their nuclear program and a removal of the nation from the list of terrorist nations.

We need a President who will stand up for America, not for Libya, North Korea, India or China. George W. Bush. We entered the Bush years as a preeminent nation on the planet. We had the goodwill of those across the globe and could have spread our empire through our culture and corporations abroad. Instead we resorted to unwise military adventurism in Iraq, an inconsequential nation and when that went badly panicked and made deal with dangerous dictators. Our empire is in taters: the American brand so to speak has never been less marketable. Ben Franklin and John Quincy Adams, two legendary diplomats who projected American weakness into power in the courts of European rules should be rolling over in their graves. The Bush years have been a disaster and the next President would be hard pressed to do worse.

P.S. The initial opening between Libya and west may have been when Qaddafi gave the British Government information about the IRA which he had armed for years. While Qaddafi cooperated when he needed to keep power, the fact that he so closely sponsored DOMESTIC terrorists in the UK should have given both the American and British governments pause about dealings with him.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.