One phrase from President Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address made me sit straight up and wonder what he was smoking.
No, I'm not talking about his dire warnings of "human animal hybrids." I'm talking about this statement: "In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting -- yet it ends in danger and decline."
This phrase confused me, not least because it is, in fact, true. My question was, who the hell is he talking to? But he continued:
"America rejects the false comfort of isolationism."
"Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. "
"American leaders -- from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan -- rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march."
Given that Bush doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with his foreign policy direction, I have to assume that he intended to criticize Democrats with these statements.
This is the same President who backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. The same President who views the Geneva Accords as archaic and non-binding. The President who believes he has the authority to exempt India from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The President who threatened to veto the anti-torture resolution which passed the Senate 90-9. The President who won't ratify American participation in the International Criminal Court. The President who used a recess appointment to install the U.N.'s biggest critic as our ambassador.
Speaking of the U.N., this is the President who only submitted a resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq to the Security Council because Democrats insisted on it. The President who then withdrew said resolution when it became clear it had no chance of passing and invaded anyway.
The President whose supporters accused John Kerry of giving too much deference to international opinion, and mocked his ability to speak French, even as they praised Bush's much rumored, never heard, ability to speak Spanish.
Maybe the President has seen the error of his ways, and now understands that to move forward in terms of the War on Terror, the global economy, the environment and human rights, going it alone is much less effective than working cooperatively.
Fat chance, unless the President has also developed a new interest in compromise. What the President fails to understand is that we are isolated not because of liberal distaste for globalization, but because of his attitude. His arrogance, his ignorance and his willingness to lie to advance a private agenda has left America lonelier than a penguin in Greenland.*
The run-up to the Iraq war taught us everything we need to know about Bush's interest in working cooperatively. He believes diplomacy is bribing or threatening allies into doing our bidding. America needs allies, now as much as at any time in our history. But allies don't stick around if you refuse to listen to them.
* Thank you, KR.