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Bush Administration and the art of diplomacy

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"Two Audiences, Two Speeches" May 19

Speculation in Jerusalem was that Bush will return in October, this time to try to push the parties over the finish line, and the White House was not discouraging that view Sunday. [emphasis added]

The "parties" are the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hmm, and just what is the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks?

However, the US's failure in rolling back Syrian and Iranian influence in Lebanon pales in comparison with the withering away of the US-sponsored Arab-Israeli "peace process". The latter hung like an albatross's cross on Bush's Middle East tour. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' credibility has greatly suffered; Fatah has been eliminated from Gaza; Hamas is significantly gaining ground in the West Bank after its consolidation in Gaza. Thus, there were no takers when Bush told the Arab audience in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Friday, "All nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with continued acts of terror and violence."

What might be one of the reasons that negotiations aren't going anywhere? Well,

In particular, Elliott Abrams, Mr. Bush's deputy national security adviser, has cautioned against an Israeli-Syria negotiation, according to Israeli and Bush administration officials. Administration officials said they feared that such a negotiation would appear to reward Syria at a time when the United States was seeking to isolate it for its meddling in Lebanon and its backing of Hezbollah. [emphasis added]

This appears to be a real theme in how the Bush Administration deals with those who are outside their inner circle. CBS News asked in August 2005: "Should President Bush take an hour out of his vacation to sit down for a chat with Cindy Sheehan?" Bush somehow couldn't make any room in his tremendously busy summer vacation schedule to tell Ms Sheehan just what the glorious cause was that her son, US Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, died for. CBS got in some snark: "[Bush] ... found time to go mountain biking and went to one of the regional Little League playoff games." Bush's stated reason as to why he wouldn't see her was

''And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.''

''But,'' he added, ''I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.''

In other words, it's a privilege for citizens to have an audience with their president and the president gets to pick and choose who gets to receive that privilege.
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As with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, if the administration considers merely talking to be a reward that they are free to grant or withold, then it shoudn't be terribly surprising when serious negotiations never really get off the ground.

As with First Lady Laura Bush and the Myanmar/Burma junta and Cyclone Nargis, the Bush Administration doesn't seem to have any real clue (3rd letter) as to how to conduct negotiations. Fortunately, Laura Bush appears to have backed down a bit on her earlier heavy-handed efforts to get US aid into that country.

From yesterday's interview with Voice of America:

Q. "Now, there's some who have said that there should be no criticism of the Burmese regime in the context of trying to get aid there. Should -- in the course of the aid relief efforts, should it just be sort of hands off and no criticism of the regime at all?"

Bush: "Well, you know, if that would make the regime accept aid -- and I'm sure that that's the point -- but the regime knows that many, many countries have been critical, that many leaders of many countries have already been critical, long before this disaster.

"I think it's just important now to focus on the needs of these people who have been -- whose lives have been destroyed by the cyclone and try to get as much aid as possible there. But I think we can't lose sight of the real long-term goals for Burma, and that is a free Burma and a democracy that can be a part of the world."

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If I were a member of the junta, I'd be concerned with this talk about "real long-term goals" and the possible desire of the US to conduct another "regime change," keeping in mind that the Iraq War was preceded with many protestations that the US just wanted to see to the safety of America.

The Bush Administration appears to have very serious problems conducting diplomacy. The possible reasons could fill up a good-sized book, but the feeling on their part that merely communicating with both inconveniently petitioning citizens and various "bad guys" appears to reward them seems to be a really large part of it.

 

http://www.prawnworks.net/

PN3(Ret), USN, 1991-2001. Done a number of clerical-type jobs. Computer "power user," my desktop is a Windows machine, but my laptop is an Ubuntu Linux. Articles usually cross-posted at http://www.prawnblog.blogspot.com Personal details at (more...)
 

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Another good one, Rich! Keep it up.... by Hans Bennett on Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 10:20:45 PM