Day By Day

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Triumph of Bush's Diplomacy

You probably haven't heard much about this because the MSM just isn't interested, but the U. S. under President Bush has racked up some pretty amazing diplomatic triumphs. The left-wing charge that Bush has alienated the rest of the word may have had some credibility during the run-up to the Iraq war, but things have changed a lot over the past few years.

Greg Sheridan, foreign affairs editor for the Australian, writes:

THE US war in Iraq has strengthened its strategic position, especially in terms of key alliances, and the only way this could be reversed would be if it lost the will to continue the struggle and abandoned Iraq in defeat and disarray.
He cites an analysis by Michael Green, who holds the Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which notes that:

The US's three most important Asian alliances - with Australia, Japan and South Korea - have... been strengthened by the Iraq campaign. Each of these nations sent substantial numbers of troops to help the US in Iraq. They did this because they believed in what the US was doing in Iraq, and also because they wanted to use the Iraq campaign as an opportunity to strengthen their alliances with the US.
And that doesn't even mention the enormously important strategic alliance Bush has forged with India.

Sheridan also notes:

More generally, in a world supposedly awash in anti-US sentiment, pro-American leaders keep winning elections. Germany's Angela Merkel is certainly more pro-American than Gerhard Schroeder, whom she replaced. The same is true of France's Nicolas Sarkozy.
And let's not forget the recent return to office of pro-American Italian President Silvio Berlusconi.

More importantly in terms of Green's analysis, the same is also true of South Korea's new President. Lee Myung-bak, elected in a landslide in December, is vastly more pro-American than his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.

Even in majority Islamic societies, their populations allegedly radicalised and polarised by Bush's campaign in Iraq and the global war on terror more generally, election results don't show any evidence of these trends. In the most recent local elections in Indonesia, and in national elections in Pakistan, the Islamist parties with anti-American rhetoric fared very poorly. Similarly Kevin Rudd was elected as a very pro-American Labor leader, unlike Mark Latham, with his traces of anti-Americanism, who was heavily defeated.

Even with China, the Iraq campaign was not a serious negative for the US. Beijing was far more worried by the earlier US-led NATO intervention into Kosovo because it was based purely on notions of human rights in Kosovo. Such notions could theoretically be used to justify action (not necessarily military action) against China over Taiwan and Tibet. Iraq, on the other hand, was justified on the basis of weapons of mass destruction, a justification with which the Chinese were much more comfortable.

Further, the Chinese co-operated closely with the Americans in the war on terror, especially in tackling what they alleged was extremism among some of the Muslim Uighurs in the vast Xinjiang province.

He concludes:
The overall picture is infinitely more complex than the anti-Bush narrative of the Iraq war would suggest.
Read the whole thing here.

There seems to be general agreement among experts [for what that is worth] that in the future Asia will eclipse Europe as a focus of international relations. If that is the case, Bush has laid an excellent groundwork upon which his successors can build.