Disclaimer: This is a piece of writing that I did in my sophomore year of High School for a presentation to attend Close-Up in Washington D.C. I rediscovered it and thought how sadly it has remained relevant nearly four years later. It was also an interesting look at how I was reacting to the growing “war on terror.”
11 November 2004
On one hand we are told by some that Bush is pushing war and bent on abandoning the international system of rules and instructions built up by previous presidents. Others argue that Bush has drawn a necessary line in the sand between America and a dangerous coalition of stateless terrorists and rogue nations.
As a presidential candidate Bush stressed the need for America to act like a humble nation in foreign policy and substitute narrow national interests. But, President Bush has led the nation in a less than humble manner. Since September 11th, the Bush Administration has aggressively deployed U.S. troops around the globe or has promised military aid to dozens of countries. Bush seems to have taken a very unilateral approach to global arms-control – all in the name of a “war on terrorism “. In these few months In these few months Bush has pledged or provided military aid and training to over two dozen countries, including Colombia, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in which the U.S. hope to establish a national army.
Some say it is because the Democrats had eight years to deal with challenges posed by Al-Qaeda and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and largely failed.
But, the real debate on Bush’s foreign policy is not discrediting Democrats or between divided political parties. Some argue that America is gaining overwhelming power and we strike out on our own with no allies. Unilateralism is putting the interests of the U.S. first in foreign affairs. This steps on the toes of our enemies as well as our allies. This policy produces anti-American sentiment which most recently has occurred in the Middle East.
Unilateralism and bypassing the UN are not new, however, there is a dramatically accelerated military build-up in response to September 11th, almost hidden from detection there are now U.S. armed forces all over the globe.
All these events go along well with a Pentagon document that was leaked. It plans for the world order enforced by the U.S. preventing the emergence of another rival world power. American military intervention will be seen as a constant and although the U.S. cannot become the world’s policeman it will assume selective responsibility for threats to American interests and that of its allies.
What is all this leading to? We know the Bush Administration can wage war well – what we don’t know is whether it can produce peace as well. Can Bush translate power into influence?
Israelis and Palestinians kill each other without American interference. North Korea marches on towards nuclear weapons as we argue who will negotiate with them. The conflict in Kosovo of ethnic cleansing is still not resolved. In the African country of Sudan hundreds of thousands are being murdered by their own government. Where is American intervention now? Today many countries fear American power more than anything. Our failure in international public diplomacy most likely is the cause for failure to build a UN supported coalition against Saddam Hussein. There is a rising violence in Iraq and it seems we are torn between being the sole player in establishing a democracy and letting outsider’s impact the politics of the small yet diverse country of Iraq.
The Bush Administration needs to apply the same energy and focus to peace making as it has, since September 11th, to war making. The transition may not be easy, but the greater risk our country now faces is the world population will become convinced that the U.S. is the enemy of positive progress and change. We need to show the people of our interdependent globe that America is not a risk.
We must demonstrate that we can be as unified and directed in the pursuit of peace as we have proven in war.