Alienating our allies

Apparently, Russian President Valdimir Putin and French Foreign Minister Huber Vedrine are with the terrorists. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Putin warned President George W. Bush against acting unilaterally against Iraq. Vedrine called the U.S. approach “simplistic.” Their voices are part of a growing chorus of foreign leaders urging the United States to temper its bloodlust against Bush’s so-called “axis of evil.”

Both Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have backed away only slightly from the condemnation of Iraq, Iran and North Korea introduced during the State of the Union address. But Bush and Powell continue to issue strong warnings to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. These warnings come much to the consternation of Putin and other world leaders.

The threats against Iran and North Korea have waned as the international coalition so supportive of U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan has withdrawn its backing.

Putin urges following traditional diplomatic channels such as the United Nations to solve any problems the United States might have with Iraq. Putin’s solutions consider the long-term results of military action in a highly unstable region. Evidence of the challenges faced when replacing a government have already emerged in Afghanistan, and U.S. allies, more concerned with global stability than revenge, recognize this.

Bush’s goal to establish a multilateral group to rid the world of governments hostile to the United States seems to have backfired. Efforts to categorize foreign nations as either supportive of terrorism or opposed were recognized as the United States seeking to impose its own will on the world.

As the president and his administration examine strategies for ousting Hussein, considering diplomatic options that incorporate global support is the best course of action. Foreign nations remain sympathetic to U.S. concerns, and rather than ignoring their sympathies, the United States must utilize this support.

In the early months of his presidency, Bush indicated his administration would pursue the foreign policy of a unilateralist and his true colors might finally emerge. Bush and his administration must resist these leanings and continue to seek support of the international community for its actions. Otherwise, all the coalition-building efforts made by the president will have been for naught.