Friday, February 17, 2006

President Bush at the State of the Union 2006

At State of the Union address on January 31, President Bush has set important agendas for domestic and foreign policy. To begin with, he asserted that the United States should not be wary of global commitment. Despite rampant criticism from antiwar liberals, President’s steadfast attitude to reject isolationism is worth to be appreciated. Also, President Bush demonstrated his enduring quest to prevail democracy and freedom throughout the world, in order to prevent another 9-11 attack and defeat terrorism.

According to Ivo Daalder, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, this is a political strike against opponents on the Iraq issue. Those who call for early withdrawal are labeled defeatists like Neville Chamberlain. While agreeing to US engagement abroad, Daalder raises a question whether this is done by unilateralism or multilateralism (See p.9 ~ p.11 in “Analyzing State of the Union.”).

Also, it is very noteworthy that President Bush declared his unyielding objective for victory in Iraq. Obviously, early withdrawal without completing the mission will invigorate terrorists and ruin coalition efforts since the war broke out. The problem is whether the President has a clear strategy to deal with sectarian conflicts among Iraqis, as insurgents shift their targets from foreign troops to domestic rivals.

This year, the President mentioned repressive and dangerous regimes, including Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran. Among these states, special focus is on Iran. President Bush accuses Iran of provoking Shiite uprising in Iraq, sponsoring terrorists in Lebanon and Palestine, and developing nuclear weapons. At this stage, the war is not imminent, though the US forces makes preparation for it. This issue will be brought to UN Security Council. Actually, some strong phrases like “the Axis of Evil” or "We will not allow the worst dictatorships or the worst men to possess the worst weapons," were absent.

Finally, let me talk about the most media-focused agenda, “America is addicted to oil.” People are surprised to hear this message because it is commonly believed that the Bush administration is closely associated with oil business. In addition, environmentalists accuse the US of rejecting to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and continue gas-guzzling economy. However, a careful review of America’s foreign and national security policy will tell you that there is nothing strange with this agenda.

America has been committing itself to developing alternative and cleaner energy from national security viewpoints. The Nunn-Lugar Initiative is aimed at reducing weapons of mass destruction and shifting nuclear scientists and technologies for cleaner nuclear energy in Former Soviet Union since 1991. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said that nuclear weapons reduction in Russia would be a great help to cut carbon dioxide emission, at the Carnegie nonproliferation international conference, in which I participated last November.

Russia and Former Soviet states are not the only target for US assistance to convert military use of nuclear technology to peaceful objective. For India, the Bush administration offers technological assistance to stop the gas pipeline project from Iran.

Interestingly, the Atlantic Review points out that Europe is more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than America. Those who criticize the Bush administration’s close ties with oil industries must reconsider their agenda. Whoever the President is, once elected, the person acts as the President of the United States of America. Petty conspiracy theory is meaningless.

In any case, we should not trust pinpoint attacks by anti-American opinion leaders so blindly. Long-term observation, comprehensive understanding, and careful analysis on US foreign and domestic policies are necessary.

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