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A learning opportunity, Mr. President

Saturday, September 16, 2006
President Bush, on Friday morning, addressed the press and the country via a Rose Garden speech and I had the opportunity to listen to it on the radio. Here are some of the highlights that stuck out to me:
[On giving a speech to the UN]: I'm going to talk to world leaders gathered there about our obligation to defend civilization and liberty, to support the forces of freedom and moderation throughout the Middle East.
With all due respect, it seems that supporting the forces of freedom and moderation aren't working for us so far. I know changing your mind isn't one of your strengths, but perhaps we ought to revisit that policy or at least revisit how we're implementing it, 'cause those forces we want to support are getting the crap kicked out of them.
[On the "terrorist surveillance program"/"domestic spying program"]: The principle behind this program is clear: when an al Qaeda operative is calling into the United States or out of the country, we need to know who they're calling, why they're calling, and what they're planning.
Well, we know that when you used that phrase in your last State of the Union address there whttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifas a lot of support for that concept. But I ask this: how do you know it's an al Qaeda operative? If you know ahead of time that they're going to be calling, don't the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts allow you to tap their calls and get permission after the fact? Or do you simply monitor ALL calls and figure it out that way?
[On progress and building democracies]: Of course it's tough in Iraq, because an enemy is trying to stop this new democracy, just like people are trying to stop the development of a Palestinian state, which I strongly support; or people trying to undermine the Lebanese democracy. And the reason why is because the ideologists understand that liberty will trump their dark vision of the world every time. And that's why I call it an ideological struggle.
The problem with that statement is that you ARE declaring it an ideological struggle, a fight against right (that's us!) versus wrong (anybody opposing "right", which is, of course, us). In an ideological struggle there can be no compromise. There can be no middle ground reached. Ideologists don't back down; they hurt other people. We bomb the bejeezus out of them and they kill us in return. The biggest mistake we can make in dealing with "rogue" or hostile countries is to create an unbridgeable gap between us and to give our enemies allies. Yet that's what we're doing and I submit to you that we should change something. Even Colin Powell thinks we're on the wrong track!
[Asked whether he'd use the UN speech as an opportunity to meet face-to-face with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attempt to achieve a "breakthrough" in the nuclear negotiations]: No, I'm not going to meet with him. I have made it clear to the Iranian regime that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program. I meant what I said.
Let's refer to what I just said about alienating countries hostile to us. This sort of "do what I say because I have a bigger stick than you" mentality only leads to brinkmanship, a terrible path I don't want our country to go down again.
[On fighting al Qaeda]: The best way to protect the homeland is to stay on the offense and keep pressure on them.
What about not giving them a safe place to operate from? What about building world-wide alliances (not just among countries with white people in them!) to change the climate so that they are the world's enemy, not (perhaps) us? What about building a culture of tolerance around the globe such that the enemy of everyone is al Qaeda? Have we thought about that? I know it's easier to send in the Marines and bomb the hell out of everyone, but it may not be a viable long term solution. Ponder that, please.

All I'm trying to say here is that on matters of foreign policy I disagree vehemently with the President and I don't think (based on his actions and various biographical information that's I've seen and read) that he really ponders these viewpoints or gives much thought to changing his strategy and I see that as one of the major weaknesses in his presidency. His unwillingness to change strategies in Iraq is just one of many examples, and I think it can be shown that he's doing more harm to this country globally than good, yet he won't see it. He won't see it because he so firmly believes (as evidenced above) that he's right and that he speaks for the American people... and he's not, and he doesn't.

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