Bush errs yet again in foreign relations with threats to Iran

Column by Linsen Li

President George Bush is giving the world orders again, and this time his finger is pointing at Iran.

In yesterday’s speech in the United Arab Emirates, Bush called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and said the world must “confront this danger before it is too late,” according to a transcript on the White House Web site (www.whitehouse.gov).

Bush said Iran funds terrorist extremists, undermines peace in Lebanon, sends arms to the Taliban, seeks to intimidate its neighbors with alarming rhetoric, defies the United Nations and destabilizes the entire region by refusing to be open about its nuclear program.

Bush’s speech came in the wake of the naval dispute between the United States and Iran on Jan. 6, in which the United States accused Iranian speedboats of harassing U.S. warships, BBC News reported.

If you are alarmed by these comments, you should be. The longstanding animosity between the United States and Iran has been heating up recently. But instead of solving the differences with Iran through diplomacy, the Bush administration is opting to fan the flame with agitating comments.

Are Bush’s words on Iran a call to arms? No, at least not yet. Even if Bush openly calls for military actions, I trust that the Congress has learned its lesson from Iraq and will reject such a proposal soundly.

But with much of the world seeing U.S. foreign policy as militaristic, following the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, some people will naturally think these words imply imminent military intervention. Even though such an implication is not true, Bush’s comments severely damaged chances of repairing diplomatic ties between the two nations.

On the other hand, while the Iranian regime has many conflicting views with the United States, it has shown that it can be open to reason. The International Atomic Energy Agency announced yesterday that Iran has agreed to clarify all outstanding questions over its past nuclear activities within a month, according to BBC News.

Unsurprisingly, the other focus of Bush’s speech was democracy. A self-proclaimed champion of democracy, Bush aims to export his version of democracy to the Middle Eastern countries. But with a war-hawk mentality and limited ability in international relations, his exportation business is faring worse than the subprime mortgage market.

Even worse, Bush has yet to understand his self-perceived success in the Middle East is in fact a complete failure.

In the speech, Bush continued to talk about Iraq as a feel-good, justice-prevails-in-the-end story. Among other things, he commended Iraqis for “standing firm in face of terrible acts of murder” and promised to “defeat our common enemies” together.

Talk about irony. Either Bush has a twisted sense of humor or he is totally oblivious to the situation in Iraq. Many “terrible acts of murder” are committed by American soldiers under the stress of war and private security firms such as Blackwater. And if there is anything the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds can all agree on, it’s that their common enemy is the U.S. occupying force.

To win over hearts in the Middle East, Bush must drop his holier-than-thou, obey-or-be-destroyed attitude. But after seven years in office, I doubt that Bush will change his outlook on international relations now.

Bush had his opportunity to improve relations with Middle Eastern countries and bring stability to the region, but he only brought havoc to the region and its people. Now that his days in office are numbered, he should exercise damage control and refrain from further instigations so that the next president will have a manageable situation to work with.

Linsen Li is a history and journalism junior. E-mail [email protected]