George Bush: The Accidental President? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Roll The Dice

For a man who enjoys calling himself "The Decider", George W. Bush, seems more like a hapless dog chasing his tail. Even worse, his most recent spate of initiatives to address growing hot spots in the world appears to be a near wholesale reversal of prior positions.

One is left to wonder if his new efforts are simply a realization that his intransigent approach to complex issues has been an unmitigated failure...or if his awareness that his time in office grows ever shorter has left him fearful of his questionable legacy.

The following news reports reflect some of the more recent shifts in strategy that may well be the next iteration of the Bush pattern and practice of too little, too late.

From Reuters - U.S. Calls For Middle East Peace Conference:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush called on Monday for a Middle East peace conference bringing together Israel, the Palestinians and some Arab neighbors and led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Under pressure from Arab allies to break years of stalemate, Bush said the conference -- meant to pave the way to a Palestinian state alongside Israel -- would take place this autumn.

Bush said the United States would provide the Palestinians with more than $190 million in assistance this year. Welch said this is not new funding, but comes from money already in the pipeline.

Western countries rallied behind Abbas with promises of renewed aid after the Gaza seizure. Their hope is to isolate Hamas, branded a terrorist group by Washington, and spur peace moves between Palestinian moderates and Israel.

Some political analysts said the strategy could backfire as Abbas will be viewed more as a collaborator with Israel and the United States.

U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have long wanted Bush to get more involved in Middle East peacemaking.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but what would have been wrong with pushing forward with a two state solution before the Palestinians were divided into two regions under different political control. Isn't the task of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution far more complicated now that Hamas controls Gaza?

Further, it remains to be seen if this last minute attempt to bolster the Abbas government in its efforts to combat the aggressive moves of Hamas will prove to be another futile effort and a waste of money. If a two state solution makes sense now, didn't it make sense before we were essentially dealing with three states?

From The New York Times - Aid To Pakistan In Tribal Areas Raises Concerns:

GHALANAI, Pakistan — The United States plans to pour $750 million of aid into Pakistan’s tribal areas over the next five years as part of a “hearts and minds" campaign to win over this lawless region from Qaeda and Taliban militants.

But even before the plan has been fully carried out, documents and officials involved in the planning are warning of the dangers of distributing so much money in an area so hostile that oversight is impossible, even by Pakistan’s own government, which faces rising threats from Islamic militants.

Who will be given the aid has quickly become one of the most contentious questions between local officials and American planners concerned that millions might fall into the wrong hands. The local political agents and tribal chiefs in this hinterland on the Afghan border have for years accommodated the very groups the American and Pakistani governments seek to drive out.

“Delivering $150 million in aid to the tribal areas could very quickly make a few people rich and do almost nothing to provide opportunity and justice to the region," said Craig Cohen, the author of a recent study of United States-Pakistan relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In light of the latest assessment that al Qaeda has regained much, if not all, of it's pre-9/11 strength along with word that the Bush administration abandoned an assault on the remote Pakistani region in 2005 to take out a number of prominent leaders, this latest endeavor also seems like a high risk gamble precipitated by a declining ability to limit the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The obvious question is whether the Bush administration's focus on toppling the Hussein regime led to a de-emphasis on bin Laden and al Qaeda. Keep in mind the President's own words a couple years ago suggested that bin Laden wasn't all that important.

Apparently that belief is now changing and the threat posed by those aligned with al Qaeda seems to have gotten the attention of the President. Again, one has to wonder if the newly announced efforts will be effective given President Musharraf's diminishing popularity and rising anti-American animosity.

From The Associated Press - Pace: Another Troop Buildup Possible:

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military's top general said Monday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff is weighing a range of possible new directions in Iraq, including, if President Bush deems it necessary, an even bigger troop buildup.

"We're (doing) the kind of thinking that we need to do and be prepared for whatever it's going to look like two months from now," he said in an interview with two reporters traveling overnight with him from Washington aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo jet.

"That way, if we need to plus up or come down" in numbers of troops in Iraq, then the details will have been studied and the military services will be in position to carry out whatever policy Bush chooses, Pace said.

After replacing generals who disagreed with the Bush administration's evaluation of troop requirements like cheap retreads on a demolition derby vehicle, we're now supposed to believe that we might need even more troops in Iraq? Would that mean that those generals who earlier called for much higher troop levels were right all along and would it mean that our President prefers generals who operate like puppets on a string...mouthing the words that fit the Bush equation...even if the equation is little more than a demonstration of arbitrary arrogance?

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post may have stated it best, "President Bush says that he should be trusted on military issues because he listens to his commanders. But he has a tendency to celebrate his generals when they're providing him political cover -- then stick a knife in their backs when they're no longer of any use to him."

I guess the American public is supposed to understand that nearly five years into the war, we might now need the troop levels that the President scoffed at while making scapegoats of numerous high ranking military officials.

One thing is for sure, "The Decider" must think the voting public's mental capacity is suspect and/or irrelevant. Then again, a President who is convinced he is operating in consort with a higher power need not trouble himself with the trivial opinions of lowly and lesser beings.

Daniel DiRito | July 16, 2007 | 5:18 PM
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