• A View from the Hill on US Foreign Policy in Bush II

    Friday 28th January 2005 - 3:15pm - 4:30pm

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  • A View from the Hill on US Foreign Policy in Bush II


    Annual Meeting 2005

    Division over Iraq and perceived American unilateralism have given rise to rancour among historic allies in the US and Europe. Is there a gap between global perceptions and the reality of US policies? What trends and discontinuities will characterize the second Bush Administration s foreign policy? Will the US next go to war with Iran?

    Although James A. Leach, Congressman from Iowa (Republican), USA, held that the same values characterized both regions, the panellists all agreed that the United States and Europe have to repair their relationship to foster security on both continents and throughout the world. "At the very least, it s a frayed relationship," said Christopher J. Dodd, Senator from Connecticut (Democrat), USA.

    Europe still "hasn t gotten over" Bush s re election, said Joseph R. Biden, Senator from Delaware (Democrat), USA. Biden acknowledged that in its first incarnation, the "Administration was somewhat arrogant and somewhat unilateral." But, prior to the election, Biden had warned Europeans: "If Kerry wins, you ll no longer have Bush as an excuse for your irresponsibility." In Europe and the United States, said Dodd, "it is incumbent on those of us in leadership positions to focus on commonalities." In particular, Dodd advised President Bush to come and listen to Europe.

    Bush has matured, contended Orrin G. Hatch, Senator from Utah (Republican); Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, USA: "He is a listener," but also "a person of deep convictions." Hatch held that Condoleezza Rice would be an asset to Europe, as well as the United States, and said "I believe Western nations better work together" to combat terrorism. Bill Owens, Governor of Colorado, USA, agreed, saying he "can t imagine" why Europe is not more engaged in the fight to bring democracy to Iraq. Invoking Tony Blair, Owens said: "As a progressive, I remember when progressives were supportive of freedom and democracy."

    The panellists felt that the United States does not favour a military solution to stop the Iranian nuclear programme and that such a solution is unlikely but that the Administration nonetheless holds the option in reserve. Leach who, like the others, was strongly disinclined to launch a war against Iran, said that if it does come to pass, it would be "an intervention from 30,000 feet." Hatch held out hope for "the millions of young people in Iran who are pro Western," but said that the US is under no illusions about the Iranian regime itself.

    Biden supported negotiation with Iran, but said that the United States, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, have ample evidence of Iran s intent to go nuclear. He added that, as "the Godfather of Hizbollah," Iran supports terrorists, and President Bush is confronted with three options regarding the country. First, he could try (and, Biden held, probably fail) outsourcing the problem or, as Thomas L. Friedman, Columnist, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, USA, put it, to tell "Europe: Yer up!" Next is the military option, which Biden felt would be the least desirable. Finally, the Bush Administration could seek a diplomatic solution in coordination with its friends in Europe, involving carrots as well as sticks. Biden recommended this option, and added there is bipartisan consensus within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding engagement with North Korea to address their nuclear threat.

    On the subject of the United Nations, panellists agreed that the need for reform exists, but that the UN, conceived and designed originally by Europe and the United States is an indispensable organization. Hatch and several others held that Senator Norm Coleman "is almost singular" in his call for Kofi Annan s resignation, but that many others shared his enthusiasm for reforming the institution. Hatch said that the United States wants to work within the UN if possible, and cited as evidence the fact that President Bush has spoken before the General Assembly more than any other US president.

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    Annual Meeting

Chaired by

  • Thomas L. Friedman Thomas L. Friedman
    Columnist, Foreign Affairs

    1975, degree (Hons) in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University; Marshall Scholarship, St Antony's...