Real Contrition Means Real Change
November 27, 2003
By Tommy Ates
Without a change in foreign policy, the administrations tactic of hiding from the public will have diminishing results.
Earlier this week, President Bush privately met with the families of 26 soldiers who were killed in Iraq to console and to let them know the nation is thinking of them. Meanwhile, the Bush policy of preemption continues with barrage of attacks against likely targets (causing unknown civilian casualties) and the capture of the wife and daughter of top Saddam deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
And all the while, American deaths and injuries fall further from the headlines.
Lets be honest, as Bush attempts to comfort young soldiers families, real contrition would be evident in foreign policy changes to lower the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thats not happening.
Instead the American public is seeing classic bait and switch tactics, as the administration states their case for progress in war on terror as being synonymous with the war in Iraq. Bush operatives, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, continue display progress in Iraq to sympathetic conservative audiences (American Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation) which will rubber-stamp nearly any platitude these neo-conservatives give with applause, with their press secretaries pitching the footage as if the speech given to a random audience.
Sadly enough, (besides Cheneys occasional Meet the Press appearances) the Vice President tends to give few public words, so the rhetoric hits the mainstream news outlets as newsworthy journalism.
Likewise with President Bush, the photo ops coordinated on behalf on the White House press corps deliver only tightly-controlled scenes which support the Presidents agenda. For most journalists, it is understandable that a White House would like to control the agenda with meetings and events, that doesnt mean theyre able to do so. With the Bush administration, the terms control and event manage gain whole new meaning.
In his visit to Britain last week, the President had most security ever for a visiting head of state, consuming the resources of more than half of Londons police force. The President met again with the families of dead British soldiers, but only with the families who were silent about the feelings regarding the justification of Iraq war. Families who did speak out did not receive an invite.
No wonder the American public is so polarized over this President. For many, the notion of empathy in the midst of adversity is not present with this administration. Learning to brave the cold wind of resistance is a revolutionary principle upon which America built in founding spirit of success.
It is those principles passed on by the Founding Fathers that will steer Americans through and away from the fallacies of the being the last dominant super-power in the world. And within the administration no conflict has presented the problems in this dilemma than the epic battle of ideology between Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Until the stalemate in Iraq, Rumsfeld (in combination with Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz) has been able to exert much influence over the Presidents foreign policy decisions, such as the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. The pre-Bush hailed Powell Doctrine has taken a back seat until now.
Instead there is the Presidents absence when the going gets rough, and the flash of a camera when a bit of good news flickers in front of polished photographers. If the White House is to be believed, then the world outside the Beltway is nothing more than a stage, with conservative press as its spin meisters.
Luckily, what is worth reporting from the mainstream media is this new phase of the war on terror, finally negotiation in regards to the Iraq occupation between old Europe and the United States occurring continuously under Powells guidance. Though the administration has played down scenes of diplomatic begging, so far, both Germany and France (to no surprise) have decided to let us hang on our own rope.
Granted these developments in Bushs foreign policy may not make good press, but majority of Americans like to see someone who can carry through the fire with an open mind towards change, instead becoming a reactionary blasting all those who wish to forsake party and focus on the human toll. American and Iraqi deaths rising due to crumbling regional security, ethnic tensions, and the outrage of the international public. Through the greetings of bereaved loved ones mourning their loss, the President should see a better way of conducting the occupation, imagining Iraqis with choice over their future with a beholden American regime or free elections as advocated by Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Instead Bush is using the deaths of these brave men and women to highlight his fortitude as the war president. A war that should already been over.
Copyright © 2003 Tommy Ates. All Rights Reserved.
Theodore Myles Publishing