The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, July 07, 2003  

Wanted: A Foreign Policy

Call it international justice, western style. Not “Western” as in Western Civilization, but western as in the wild, wild west.

Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer, for one, is having none of it (“‘Wanted’ Posters Our New Foreign Policy?”, July 7, p. 9):

Sometime recently . . . the finesse and credibility of Condi Rice [sic] and Colin Powell, not to mention the might and force of the combined U.S./British military, yielded to “Aw, hell, we can’t find him, let’s just put a price on his head.”

Thus, the U.S. government’s offer of a $25 million bounty for Saddam Hussein . . . , which raises at least a couple questions.

What about those zillion-dollar apiece “smart” bunker-buster bombs we sent seeking Saddam and fils in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom?

What about the long-focused, full-bore attention of the U.S. intelligence community, the “shock and awe” of U.S. forces[,] and that big sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1 that said, “Mission Accomplished?”

Seems to me we’ve already spent plenty “getting” Saddam, even though, as the president and his team often remind us, it’s not about one person.

One wonders what it is about. At the moment it feels like we’re hiring a housekeeper to clean up after the housekeeper. It also feels wrong and contradictory. . . .

If we just buy the death of tyrants we oppose, why bother with a State Department? . . .

Which makes one wonder why we didn’t just do this at the get-go. Why spend the time, fortune and effort to mount a full-scale war with its inevitable loss of life, suffering and clean-up costs if we can get some hired gun to plug the enemy?

Baer has a few choice words about the president’s “Bring `em on” comment as well.

That’s not an answer. It’s cowboy bravado. Like getting Osama (still missing) bin Laden “dead or alive.” Like a one-liner from Bush-aper/comedian Will Ferrell: “Don’t mess with Texas.” It’s not plain talk, it’s just plain useless.

Is it any wonder our allies are having trouble taking the United States, or at least the Bush administration, seriously? One need only check in on a handful of foreign newspapers to find ample evidence of that. Apparently the president thinks our foreign policy, national defense, and security are laughing matters. That’s diplomacy today. Diplomacy in the age of unseriousness.

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