In preparation for his second term in office, President Bush laid out an aggressive foreign policy agenda in his inaugural speech. Impressing the full spectrum of political pundits and world leaders with his decisively liberal, internationalist and human rights driven rhetoric, Bush marked a course toward the “end of tyranny.” Somewhere in their rosy analysis, pundits failed to confront the president on the grounds that the policy he outlined runs in stark contrast to his well articulated foreign policy of supporting despots when they serve U.S. interests.
In his speech, Bush stated, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Uttering such words in a speech is irrelevant if the president refuses to confront the world’s most tyrannical regimes, many of which the United States considers important allies. Saudi Arabia, for example, is among the world’s most vicious violators of human rights. They oppress women, stifle democratic dissent and malign the freedom of the press. Given its large oil reserves and its cozy relationship with the Bush administration, it would be delusional to think Bush would fulfill his promise of a crackdown. Other autocratic regimes such as Egypt and Pakistan are critical Bush allies in the war on terrorism. If President Bush wants to enjoy the goodwill stemming from making such a progressive declaration, he must follow that up with real action in places where it is hardest to do so, not easiest.
The hypocrisy inherent in American foreign policy is a precipitating cause in global hatred of the United States. There is little coincidence that all of the 9-11 terrorists came from two countries – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – that serve as the most trenchant examples of American hypocrisy.
This page is not surprised to hear such demagogic rhetoric from Bush. This president is ill reputed for continuing to say one thing for political benefit and doing the exact opposite. In the best of circumstances, Bush merely is unaware of contradictions in his policy. However, we are inclined to fear the worst; Bush is fully aware of the inconsistency and insists on carrying it out regardless.