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Archive for the ‘President Bush’ Category

Though she has come under much criticism from the White House for her visit to Syria this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D, San Francisco) has put more pressure on Syria than the current administration has. She has gone face-to-face with the President of Syria and confronted him about his support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. She has even gone to Saudi Arabia and questioned them on their refusal to allow women in politics.

While I’m not a fan of Pelosi, she has shown more international leadership in two days than President Bush has shown in seven years.

President Bush, who began isolating Syria when they refused to back his incursion into Iraq in 2003, has called the visit by Pelosi counter-productive. The President has often attempted to use the supposed “pressure” of diplomatic isolation during his time as President. He has refused to deal with Palestine, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. He has not seen much success:

– The Palestinians continue to refuse to recognize Israel, have moved closer to Iran and Syria, and the tensions between Israel and Palestinians continues to exist.
– North Korea tested a nuclear weapon.
– Iran continues its uranium enrichment program, continues to fund Hezbollah, and continues to help stir up fighting in Iraq.
– Syria has continued to fund Hezbollah and Hamas, and, during its isolation, drawn closer to Iran.

Back before World War II, the League of Nations was considered incredibly weak because one of the only forms of punishment it could incur was what was known as a “Diplomatic Sanction.” It was essentially regarded as a slap on the wrist, but it was all the League could do – part of the reason why the League was dissolved and the United Nations created in its stead.

Little has ever been accomplished by cutting off ties with a region. No progress was made with China until Nixon’s landmark visit in the 1970’s. Little progress was made with the USSR until the detente. Iran has been isolated since the 1970’s, and, by looks of it, that hasn’t worked.

How can you deal with a problem if you refuse to speak with those responsible. How can you broker peace if you refuse to speak with the other side?

In a political environment where the word “compromise” seems to have completely disappeared, the idea that we would not compromise in diplomacy seems inevitable. Our brusque attitude toward other countries, however, is hurting our global popularity. Our refusal to deal with potential threats to world security is being noticed by those in other countries, and as our popularity declines, another’s rises.

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President Bush is speaking out against increasing fuel efficiency and emissions standards in response to a ruling handed down by the Supreme Court this week.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). The President, as well as the domestic automotive companies, Ford and General Motors (GM), have opposed such regulations for the past several years, stating that the costs will hurt the industry.

Lacking federal action, several states have taken up the issue, most notably California, which has passed into law a bill that will require the states CO2 emissions to be reduced by 25% by 2020. Other states in the West and Northeast are passing or considering similar measures.

The automotive industries have long claimed that such regulations will increase production costs and harm the industry, spending millions on lawsuits in attempts to overturn emissions and fuel efficiency regulations. However, when examining the fiscal earnings for the automotive giants, one can see that they bleeding money as it is because of this issue. Almost every other industrialized country has higher emissions and fuel efficiency standards than the United States. Those include Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Taiwan, and even China. California’s plan, which has been lambasted by GM and Ford, would increase the standards for automobiles in the state by 2011 to the point that China requires right now. The emissions standards are so much higher in other countries that many of them no longer allow American-made automobiles to be sold in their countries, and so GM and Ford have seen a serious drop in sales and incoming money.

Honda and Toyota, in the meantime, are seeing steady growth and are not having the same kinds of fiscal problems that the American automotive industry is having.

President Bush has also stated that the U.S. should not have to increase its standards until the rest of the world does as well. He stated: “Whatever we do must be in concert with what happens internationally. Unless there is an accord with China, China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time.” First, as stated above, China has higher standards than the U.S. does.

Secondly, this is an embarrassing lack of leadership by the United States. We should not be waiting for “what happens internationally.” We should be leading the way, head and shoulders above everyone else. Instead we are lagging far behind. Instead of racing to achieve energy independence and cut back on our need for coal and foreign oil, we are languishing in the Age of Petroleum.

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President Bush continues to prod Democratic leaders in Congress, calling on them to pass the emergency spending bill that has drawn so much attention in the news – mostly due to the withdrawal timetables added onto it.

However, along with his calls for them to pass the bill as soon as possible, the President has also stated that if any bill comes to his desk with a withdrawal timetable on it, he will veto it – which would further prolong the process.

Due to the narrow margin by which both bills were passed in the House and Senate, it is highly unlikely that any bill with a withdrawal deadline could overcome a presidential veto, but, in the end, it’s more about the message Congressional Democrats are trying to send to the President.

Just the mere fact that they were able to pass the bills with timetables attached – even among defections from their own party – was a big step, but just one step. The Democrats need to pass the spending bill, timetable or not, and knowing that the President will veto the bill, it will be interesting how they respond when he does. A deal will have to be brokered, seeing as the bill needs to be passed, but cannot be with a timetable attached.

Vice President Cheney echoed President Bush’s sentiments, calling for the Democrats to pass the spending bill, or the Pentagon would start feeling the “financial pinch,” as the Times puts it.

In response to this, Senator Reid (D, Nevada), the Senate Majority Leader, stated that he would attempt to pass Senator Feingold’s (D, Wisconsin) bill which calls for an immediate financial cut-off for all troops in Iraq. Such a measure would most likely not pass in the Senate, and if it did, would also be immediately vetoed by the President, so Senator Reid’s remarks were, in reality, empty threats.

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Today the Senate passed a $97 billion appropriations bill for the U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with a stipulation that U.S. troops must begin withdrawing within 120 days after the passing of the bill, with the goal of complete redeployment by the end of March 2008. The House of Representatives has a similar bill that calls for all troops to be removed by September 2008. These bills will have to be reconciled, but the more pressing issue is the imminent presidential veto.

President Bush has stated numerous times that any spending bill calling for a withdrawal would be vetoed, and, as of right now, he appears to be sticking to his guns.

The bill passed by a vote of 51-47, with Michael Enzi (R, Wyoming) and Tim Johnson (D, South Dakota) again not voting.

While it is an accomplishment for the new Democratic Congress, the Democrats will probably not be able to sway the necessary 15 or so more Senators they will need for the 2/3 majority required to overcome the President’s veto.

For my opinion on this, see my previous post.

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Senate Democrats are contemplating rewriting the 2002 authorization to go to war in Iraq. The new version would include rules on how U.S. troops can be used (helping defend borders, fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqis) and would call for the removal of U.S. troops not following those rules to be removed by March 2008.

The Iraq situation is a mess, and that’s an understatement. I was against the war in the beginning back in 2002/2003. I argued that the intelligence that Saddam had nuclear weapons seemed shaky, and that we hadn’t had clear intel since Desert Storm in the early 90’s. The idea that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 was ludicrous, as Osama bin Laden is on record as having approached the Saudis to see if they wanted his help in removing the “infidel” Saddam.

However, it has taken the U.S. government 3 to 4 years to reach the same conclusion, and that’s 4 years too late. We’re over there now, and we’ve got to clean up our own mess. If we leave now that’s like telling someone “You’ve got a serious mold and rot problem in your siding, we’re going to need to replace all of it with new siding,” then ripping off all their siding, realizing that its all fine, and saying “Whoops! Guess I was wrong!” and leaving them up sh-t’s creek.

This new resolution seems fine in theory, but 1) the Democrats will have to fight President Bush big time on this, as there is no way he’s going to allow them to pass it, and 2) does it really accomplish anything?

We’ve got serious problems in Iraq, but is this really going to do anything about them? Yes, it will, in theory, bring some of the troops home, but that’s in theory. President Bush could also, in theory, label all of the troops as assisting in border security, training Iraqis, or fighting al Qaeda. Aren’t they all “fighting al Qaeda” right now anyway?

Iraq isn’t going to fix itself, and only history will be able to tell whether or not it was a colossal mistake. Right now it looks more like a colossal mistake, but one that we’ve got to try to fix.

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