Paul Glastris contends that Bush made enemies of our allies by following a confrontational diplomatic strategy. He compares Bush’s approach to building a coalition against Iraq with Clinton’s technique in the Kosovo case, “a comparison that is so apt that it can serve as a pretty reasonable test.” This may be among the silliest pieces I’ve read in a while–and I read a lot of very silly articles in my duties as blogmaster.
The two situations are entirely different. For one thing, Kosovo was a Blair-led coalition; Clinton was drug along reluctantly because popular sentiment was against intervening in the Balkans and in “nation building” in general. For another, it’s always easier to get international organizations to take on “humanitarian” missions than those based on potential security threats.
The idea that Bush should have ceded control of the Afghanistan campaign to NATO is odd. For one thing, Afghanistan is in Asia, not Europe. It’s totally out of the NATO theater of operations. For another, that one was “personal” given the events of 9/11. There was no way an American president could have justified turning that war over to the dithering of 19 member states.
Bush 41 gets way too much credit for the “miracle” of the Gulf War One coalition. Saying that Bush 43 should have been able to pull off the same kind of coup is absurd. In 1990, Saddam had just invaded a UN member state and alienated the Arab world. He was threatening to invade Saudi Arabia and thus control 40-odd percent of the world’s oil supply. In 2002, Saddam was simply building weapons of mass destruction and thumbing his nose at the international community. It is a damned sight harder to make the case for a preemptive war now that it was a reactive war then.