Bush Changes Course, How About Harper?
Date: Monday, November 13 2006
The era of American militarism is coming to an end, notes Haroon Siddiqui
Nov. 12, 2006. 01:00 AM
Reality is setting in on the White House. George W. Bush seems ready to abandon, or at least radically modify, his failed approach to the world — the one Stephen Harper backs.
There are several signs that the era of American unilateralism and militarism is coming to an end. The process has already begun, with indirect American participation in multi-party talks on Iran and North Korea, and Bush ruling out military retaliation against the latter.
The Republican rout in the mid-term election has speeded up the policy reversal.
As important as the firing of Donald Rumsfeld was, the better clue to what's coming is Bush's choice of his successor.
Robert Gates is not just another faceless former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
He has been a strong critic of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has condemned the American isolation of Iran.
He is cut from a different cloth than Bush, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the clique of neo-cons that has caused so much havoc in the last five years.
Gates belongs to the pragmatic Republican old guard, which constituted the inner circle of former president G.H.W. Bush.
Gates is a member of the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, who, as Bush Sr.'s secretary of state, built the 1991 Gulf War coalition that overturned Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
Unlike Bush, Baker and Gates are proponents of dealing with one's adversaries. "It's not appeasement to talk to your enemies," Baker said recently.
Baker has already been exploring avenues of Syrian and Iranian co-operation in Iraq.
His group will soon propose an Iraq exit strategy. "Our commission believes there are alternatives between `stay the course' and `cut and run.'"
Bush is onto the script. He has admitted making many mistakes and acknowledged his tactics are not working in Iraq.
Reflecting Washington's new thinking is another member of the elder Bush's team, Richard Haass. He worked for Colin Powell at the State Department and now heads the Council on Foreign Relations, for whose journal Foreign Affairs he has just written a lengthy piece.
He makes many of the same points that regular readers of this column will find familiar.
"The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended," he writes. "One of the main reasons is the Iraq war, which has ignited sectarian warfare; emboldened Iran, given terrorists a base, ignited anti-Americanism throughout the region."