As I read a transcript of President Bush’s State of the Union Address
Wednesday morning, I could not
help but feel nostalgia for the days of Clinton diplomacy. Instead of continuing Clinton’s policies of
constructive engagement in dealing with North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, Mr. Bush decided to take a
confrontational stand. Reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s depiction of the Soviet Union as "the Evil Empire",
the President called these countries an "axis of evil" that pose a threat to the United States.
In invoking this language, President Bush accomplished nothing but harm.
As far as diplomacy goes,
Mr. Bush has succeeded in not only eliciting a greater level of non-cooperation from these countries,
but has managed to alarm our allies as well.
In an editorial, Britain’s The Independent said "the forthright views
expressed by the president will
go down well at home, but many outside America may find them distinctly disturbing…America is already
envied and disliked because of its domination…The danger is that Mr. Bush's speech, with its simple
certainties and pronounced unilateralist flavor, will merely fuel that resentment further."
While I can understand President Bush’s frustration in dealing with
Iraq, relations were beginning to warm
with both Iran and North Korea. During Clinton’s final year in office, he visited North Korea and met with
President Kim Jong Il. By engaging the communist leader, President Clinton helped set the stage for increased
cooperation between North and South Korea. However, since Bush took office, antagonism again reigns in
the relationship between the two nations. Mr. Bush’s comment did nothing but destroy any hope of a peaceful
resolution to allegations of North Korea’s weapon’s program.
Similarly, after the tragedy of September 11, Iran, led by reformist
president Mohammad Khatami sought to
normalize relations with the US. While Bush could have used cordial relations between the two countries to put
pressure on Iran to halt its support of anti-Israeli groups, he instead opted to further isolate the international pariah.
With his catch phrases, Bush seems to be trying to fashion himself as
a sheriff in the Wild West. "Dead or Alive",
"The Evil One", and now, "Axis of evil", give me a break. President Bush must understand that threats and
aggression will not work. Instead of being so quick to turn to the military, he should try using diplomacy and negotiations.