Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Arbusto Y Los Campesinos

I'm still reeling over a column by Ian Boyne in Sunday's Jamaica Gleaner, Why Bush is in Latin America.

Boyne gives me the impression that he's unable to imagine that what George Bush says might possibly be false. He writes:
Bush is anything but popular in Latin America. Polls show that 85 per cent of Latin Americans oppose his war in Iraq and approximately the same percentage oppose him personally. Says the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in its March 8 article on the President's trip: "These polls are indicative of the bitter fruits of the massive neglect of Latin America by the current administration and the inadequacies of Bush's personnel appointed to deal with the region. [...] The general distaste for the Bush administration within Latin America is now a profound fact of life."

But perhaps the council should be a little more cautious. Foreign policy blunders are not always irredeemable. International politics is comparable to a game. You might lose this round but there is always hope for winning the next one. It is clear that the Bush administration is making some important and corrective course action in foreign policy, having been humbled by its foreign policy failures, particularly its debacle in Iraq.

But we should not be disingenuous to the Bush administration and not make the point that it could have stubbornly refused to acknowledge reality while arrogantly clinging to its delusions.

The administration is demonstrating some wisdom and common sense in backing away from certain hardline and myopic positions, and no aversion to the Bush administration should make us fail to acknowledge that.

In the last few days the U.S. made important concessions on the issue of North Korea, and has brokered a deal through the Six-Party talks, while initiatives are afoot to bring in Iran and Syria in the loop for arriving at a solution to the Iraq civil war. Bush has been showing greater respect for the United Nations and for multilateralism, and has decidedly tempered his unilateralist rhetoric and superpower bravado. This trip to Latin America shows a Bush who is increasingly turning to diplomacy and negotiation rather than the purely muscular foreign policy which characterised the post-9/11 era.

Bush gave an important speech at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Centre on Monday where he outlined some key elements of his Western Hemisphere policy.

In terms of political strategy and effective positioning of a message, the speech was first-rate. In terms of tone, it was perfect. Bush in this speech basically took the wind out of the sail of the Latin American left, brilliantly adopted their own platform without the excess and absolutely disarmed the critics by the things which he conceded. The speech displayed an understanding of Latin American realities which was profound and gripping.
... and so on ...

It makes me want to grab Ian Boyne gently by the throat and shake him in a very moderate way and scream softly in his ears: "Watch what they do, not what they say! And read Lee Roberts!"
The Bush administration has committed its most flagrant act of arrogance since coming to power. It has allowed Bush to tour South America bringing a message of democracy and peace and proclaiming America's goal of defeating poverty in the subcontinent. This has stunned the populations to the south, the sheer gall of sending a reviled and utterly inarticulate puppet into enemy territory, carrying the usual agenda of lies and deceptions. Washington-watchers know that the real motive is to provide cover for an effort, without military invasion, to acquire control of Brazil's ethanol reserves. Bush's only concession to the international effort to combat global warming has been his announcement that oil will be replaced with ethanol. But Karl Rove, who designs such deceptions, had not done his homework, and in these somewhat heady days, the scam has been exposed by revelations that the manufacture of corn-based ethanol contributes significantly to carbon emissions, and the opposition of the meat industry, which needs corn to run the McDonald's economy. And as Bush lurches like a buffoon from country to country, he is being shadowed by his nemesis, Hugo Chavez, who reminds cheering crowds that this is the man who compared George Washington, the slave owner and richest man in America when he became president, with the liberator, Simon Bolivar, who gave up his personal wealth to free nations from colonial domination and end the institution of slavery.
There you go! I couldn't have said it half as well myself.