President George W. Bush addressed the elite of Britain Nov. 19 and asked them to join the United States in his administration’s imperialist campaign to democratize the Middle East. Bush’s visit to our closest – or should I say, only – ally cost $8.5 million in security alone. But don’t think London wasted its money – Bush graciously toasted the Queen of England, gave her a set of Lenox china plates and then said a few words about foreign policy.
Although the president’s speechwriters carefully chose phrases to explain the deep sense of morality inherent to the administration’s endeavors in the Middle East, I still thought the speech was a desperate plea for the British to do our dirty laundry. After all the criticism of American involvement in the Middle East, asking the British to help us out now is basically saying “Look at this giant hole we dug for ourselves – would you like to jump in?”
It seemed this trip was more about boosting Bush’s image in the eyes of American voters and proving that he is still allowed to cross the Atlantic than motivating Britain to help with Iraq. The speech sounded like a Hallmark “Thinking of You” card for the British, not a strong attempt to influence their foreign policy. President Bush did not even discuss the U.S. rationale for going into Iraq or whether we found any weapons of mass destruction. The only persuasion technique the president employed was a guilt trip about Europe’s infinite indebtedness to the United States for rebuilding it after World War II.
But when America helped rebuild Europe post-WWII, there were clear economic benefits – namely, ending the Great Depression. In this situation, there do not seem to be any benefits of Europe helping the States, other than the fact that “both our nations serve the cause of freedom.” Which isn’t to say freedom is not worth fighting for, but previous criticism has shown that American efforts in Iraq are not as honorable as they seem.
Before America engaged in war with Iraq, it had a great economy, a great reputation and a president who had a reasonable grasp of the English language. Since the war, Britain has seen a suffering economy, a divided country and a president who has been mocked across the globe. Europeans are smarter than they dress – of course they would want to avoid the economic and social ramifications the United States has faced. They know that once America finds any country na?ve enough to “help out” in the Middle East, it will find some superman excuse to avoid all responsibility.
After failing to find Osama Bin Laden, creating the ambiguous connection between Iraq and 9/11 and going to war in Iraq over the sudden threat of weapons of mass destruction, President Bush still thinks he might honestly be able to persuade Europe to join in the Iraq quagmire. So what did Bush propose as a solution to the current situation in the Middle East? Following the “three pillars” of peace and security – duh!
The three pillars consist of “encouraging the strength and effectiveness of international institutions, using force when necessary and upholding the ideals of democracy in every part of the world.” While those are very idealistic and diplomatic solutions to a major world conundrum, it gives us nothing new and proposes nothing that hasn’t already been tried in the past two years. Overall, if President Bush really wants to rope other nations into the Iraq situation, which could have been handled a lot differently from Day 1, he has a lot more work to do than giving the queen some plates.
When the United States went against the United Nations to move ahead with the war, it knew what it was in for – fighting a long battle on its own. The momentum initiated by a few men in the White House trying to become so-called heroes has brought a lot of adversity onto our country and its citizens. It is something I just cannot bear to see another country go through.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in journalism.