The decider-in chief has made a choice. In his radio address, Bush says he'll support "moderates" and "reformers" in the Middle East. Every nation must make a choice he says.
"We can support the moderates and reformers working for change across the broader Middle East," Bush said in his address, "or we can yield the future to the terrorists and extremists. America has made its choice -- we're standing with the moderates and reformers." How nice that Bush is offering the nations of the world a choice. Or, is it actually an ultimatum?
Pakistan's president talked this week during his visit to the U.S. about the 'choice' the Bush regime offered him as they began their hunt for bin-Laden. Musharraf claimed that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had warned Pakistani intelligence officials in 2001 that the United States would bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age'' if the country didn't align with Bush's contrived terror war.
The residents of Pakistan, many of whom openly align themselves with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, are more likely to view these with a great deal more sympathy and support than they would the Americans who operate in support of Bush's reflexive militarism. If anything, Bush actions have made it impossible for the nation, which Bush still refers to as an ally, to fully embrace the U.S. as a 'reformer' in the region. The reality of Taliban forces operating across his country's border into Pakistan has prompted Musharraf to seek a truce with them, perhaps preventing his country's forces from pursuing bin-Laden if he happens to settle into the no-man's land specified in the agreement.
Certainly, Musharraf is presenting himself as a 'moderate' as he seeks a peaceful relationship with the Taliban. The Bush administration didn't think so. They vowed earlier in the week to pursue bin-Laden across Pakistan's border, if necessary; to which Pakistan responded that they would do the job themselves if they were presented with the opportunity. Bush later backed off a bit, asserting that, "American and Pakistani officials are " on the hunt together."
The problem for the world in living up to Bush's expectations of 'reform' is more than just their necessary defensiveness against his demonstrated willingness to use the awesome power of our military forces against them. It is impossible for anyone to view Bush as a 'moderate' who has found themselves in the way, or might find themselves in the way of Bush's unilateral, preemptive reprisals and their bloody, collateral effect on defenseless innocents. Even more confounding has to be the emergence of these U.S. compliant puppet regimes which have been installed by Bush in these sovereign nations after he overthrows the ones he decides threaten.
Moreover, there has been a definite reaction from some of the countries who Bush would have knuckle under in the face of his disapproval, like Iran and Venezuela. Both countries have elected leaders who have directly and aggressively challenged their respective oligarchies as they have assumed power, and created their own nationalistic regimes which actively resist the U.S. efforts to overthrow and replace them with whoever Bush decides is a "reformer." Quite simply, they see through Bush's lies about "spreading democracy" and building "free societies in the heart of the Middle East."
It should be obvious that America's interests will not always mesh with the interests of the Mideast. It should be more than clear now that Bush regards America's interests as paramount and inviolable of any and all resistance to them. That's an invitation for resistance; not cooperation as Bush claims. No country should resign themselves to Bush's choice of being "with him, or against him" without demanding that Bush respect their own sovereignty and right to self-determination in their conduct in their own country, and in the peaceful relationships they establish with their neighbors.
"All civilized nations, especially those in the Muslim world, are bound together in this struggle between moderation and extremism," Bush told Americans in his radio address.
It matters a great deal, though, that these same nations have grown weary of waiting for Bush to actually make that choice between moderation and extremism in his own actions and attitude toward their part of the world.