Fareed Zakaria writes:
.... A broad shift in America's approach to the world is justified and overdue. Bush's basic conception of a "global War on Terror," to take but the most obvious example, has been poorly thought-through, badly implemented, and has produced many unintended costs that will linger for years if not decades.
.... The foreign policies that aroused the greatest anger and opposition were mostly pursued in Bush's first term: the invasion of Iraq, the rejection of treaties, diplomacy and multilateralism.
.... Change has not extended to all areas, and in many places it's been too little, too late. But that there has been a shift to the center in many crucial areas of foreign policy is simply undeniable.
Zakaria offers rubric of a dozen points for his report card.
- World Bank appointments:Bush followed his first appointment of the under-qualified Paul Wolfowitz, "an arch neoconservative with little background in economics" with Robert Zoellick.
- Policy point man/woman: poster child Dick Cheney has been replaced by pragmatists Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates, Stephen Hadley and Hank Paulson..
- Iraq: with too few troops; without support of neighboring Arab states or ; dismantled Iraq's Army; bureaucracy and state-owned factories, arrests tens of thousands of Iraqis, mistreated and tortured some of them, use of overwhelming military force against all perceived threats.
- Afghanistan: American attention, energy, troops and resources were wrongly diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq-is devastating and hard to dispute.
- On North Korea: Within months of entering the Oval Office, Bush publicly repudiated his secretary of State, Colin Powell, for even suggesting that the administration would continue Bill Clinton's efforts to negotiate with Kim Jong Il.
- On Iran, Forget the muttering of various proponents of military action, periodically leaked to newspapers.. The general thrust of Bush administration policies has now evolved into the correct one.
- The same could be said for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Bush began his term in office vowing that he would not involve himself in Clinton-style efforts at peacemaking. His administration adopted a hands-off approach, allowing resentments to build and conditions to worsen.
- Lebanon: It gave free rein to irresponsible policies from all parties, encouraging, for example, a thoughtless and ill-planned Israeli attack on Lebanon that ended up weakening Israel, devastating Lebanon and empowering Hizbullah.
- Global HIV projects, treating AIDS patients, billions more than Clinton did
- Darfur: admittedly a tough nut to crack. Bush has totally fucked up Somalia, but he had the consent of Euopean members of the Security Council on this one.
- China: Changed from Clinton theme of "strategic partnership" to competitor and back again when , a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter plane four months into his administration. Now Bush is present at the opening of the Chinese Olympics and blind to China's role in Burma, Darfur, and Tibet.
- India: Bush broke the deadlock by accepting, in large measure, that India would have to be treated as an exception and be brought into the nuclear nonproliferation regime as a nuclear power, not a renegade.
All this is not meant as a defense of George W. Bush. The administration made monumental errors in its first few years, ones that have cost the United States enormously. The shift in impressions about America's intentions across important sections of the globe, the sense in much of the Islamic world that America is anti-Muslim, the vast and counterproductive apparatus of homeland security-visa restrictions, arrests and interrogations-are lasting legacies of the Bush administration. Its dysfunction and incompetence have left a trail of misery in countries like Iraq and Lebanon, which have been destabilized for decades. The embrace of torture and other extralegal methods has violated America's noblest traditions and provided little in return.
. . . . . Bush 43 has surely been the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, taking surpluses that equaled 2.5 percent of GDP and turning them into deficits that are 3 percent. This is a $4 trillion hit on the country's balance sheet. On the central issue of energy policy-the greatest economic challenge and opportunity of our times-Bush has been utterly obstructionist, recycling the self-serving arguments of industry lobbyists. On the whole, Bush's record remains one of failure and missed opportunities....
A sorry tale....