Now that Mr. Bush Has Won
By Dr S. Amjad Hussain

Four More Years! Four More Years!
The chant reverberated across the land and a majority of Americans, decidedly a thin one, agreed. Whether John Kerry, who went down fighting for very last vote, would have been a better choice is now a moot question. If Mr. Bush wishes to unite a bitterly divided and polarized country he ought to be guided by his own words he delivered in his victory speech. ‘A new term, he said, ‘is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation’.

Apart from the fissures within, we are also confronted with an unprecedented distrust and hatred of America in the rest of the world. The new term ought to be a new start to re-assess our priorities as a nation and try to extricate us from the shackles of past misadventures and miscalculations. Here is my short list of foreign policy issues that beg for a change in our approach.

Iraq: The first priority has to be to contain the worsening situation in Iraq. We need to know what the President means by the refrain ‘staying the course’, that he was fond of saying during the campaign. It is time Mr. Bush accepts that things have gone horribly wrong in Iraq. He needs to come down from his high horse and get the UN and our European allies on board and offer them a stake in Iraq. Let us accept that the Coalition of the willing is really a cosmetic coalition of the reluctant (with notable exception of Great Britain) and unless we get others involved we will not be able to finish the job. We just do not have enough forces to do all that is needed and unless we are willing to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren there is not enough money either.

Afghanistan: In some ways Afghanistan is a bigger challenge than Iraq. While terrorists activity in Iraq is a recent phenomenon it is deeply entrenched in Afghanistan. Three years after the fall of the Taliban the country is still in turmoil. The writ of Hamid Karzai is limited to the capital Kabul and the warlords reign the country with impunity. Poppy cultivation is in full swing and most of that crop ends up on our streets. Reconstruction, stabilization of Afghanistan has be a top priority in Mr. Bush’s second term.

Mr. Bush also has to be sensitive to religious feelings of Afghan people and rein in the proselytizing men and women masquerading as aid workers. These zealots could stay home and help save wayward Christians in this country than insulting the sensibilities of people half a world away. Afghan women also need emancipation but not according to the gospel of American Feminist Movement. Yanking away a woman’s burqa in Afghanistan is not the same as throwing away one’s bra in Manhattan.

Palestine: Mr. Bush in his first term all but gave a cart blanch to Mr. Ariel Sharon. Mr. Sharon, using the guise of his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, has shredded the Middle East Road Map. Even the much-touted exit from Gaza, according to Mr. Sharon’s close advisor Mr. Dov Weisglass, is nothing more than a smoke and mirror act to pacify Mr. Bush.

All the posturing and rhetoric aside the Israeli people have to decide if they are willing to give back, in return for peace, the Palestinian land they have occupied since 1967. In Israel the agenda is being driven by the far right, the Jewish Hezbollah as Tom Friedman of the New York Times call them, who have vowed not to cede an inch of the Palestinians land to its rightful owners. Their claim on Palestinian land is no more valid than the claim a group of squatters might make in a court of law in a civil society.

Greater Muslim and Arab World: The President needs to repair relations with the greater Muslim and Arab world. There is a groundswell of resentment and hatred against our country in that part of the world. In his efforts to connect the dots between 9/11, Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussain President Bush has, inadvertently, delegated the rest of the world to the enemy camp. His simplistic you-are-with-us-or-you-are-with-the-terrorists approach has offended a great number of our friend around the world.

Mr. Graham Allen, a member of the ruling Labor Party in British Parliament, summed it up rather eloquently when he said that if America does not reach out to its friends then its enemies would reach out to America.
I hope Mr. Bush is listening.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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