Today at the final luncheon at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, President Bush was chatting with his friend British PM Tony Blair, speaking informally and presumably off-camera and off-microphone. Only problem is, they weren’t–off the record, that is. Cameras were rolling when Bush spoke plainly with Blair about what should be done in respone to the violence between Israel and Lebanon. In short, Bush said that the pressure should be on Syria to weild its influence to reign in Hezbollah. The content was nothing groundbreaking; in fact in being congruent with his public statements it demonstrated again the President’s no-nonesense approach. What made such a splash was Bush’s use of an four-letter word in his analysis. “See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this sh*t and it’s over,”
Bush told Blair.

In reality, while I tend to shy away from such language personally, I find it amusing to hear such candid words from the mouth of a world leader. It is a reminder that someone like the President actually breathes the same oxygen we do. But what I like in this is that the President was not left scrambling to cover up some embarrassing admission. There’s was nothing to hide in what he said. And I think that is generally what I have come to expect from the President, whether or not I like what he says. He usually says what he thinks. Think the polar opposite of Bill Clinton. This lack of political acumen is detrimental to Bush’s success in diplomacy and PR sometimes, but I don’t think he cares. Have we ever seen the President afraid to push an unpopular agenda?

So we can return to the question posed in advance of the G8 last week: Is Cowboy diplomacy dead? I think the President’s steadfast refusal (right or wrong) to call on Israel to calm itself, and the content of his little chat with Tony Blair show that Cowboy Diplomacy is still alive. But the return to the nuclear issue with North Korea and Iran, as well as the apparent ratcheting up of violence in the Middle East, will provide further tests of the Bush Doctrine. Looking at precedent, I don’t anticipate the President going soft.

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No Peace in the Mideast

Hamas and Hezbollah have succeeded in riling up the military might of Israel. Now there is something going on that has surpassed the normal mild hostilities that erupt in the area. No short battle followed by cease fire and talks this time. This is something different, yes. Is the picture bigger? Yes. Someone is being forgotten here because they are not involved hands-on. Very wily of them–that is Iran. Indeed Iran is a strong supporter of Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah. As they said today on FOXNews’ Beltway Boys, “this is a proxy war between the US and Iran.” And we already had a little tiff going with Iran over nukes that has stalled a bit. To adapt a quote from Teddy Rooselvelt, as the talks go on, the nuclear weapons program does also. And now, as war goes with Israel and its naughty neighbors, the nuclear weapons program still goes on but now with the focus diverted elsewhere. This is certainly one of the least stable times in the Middle East’s recent history. It begins to lend some sense to the argument that stable deomcracies in the region are very desireable. It also reminds us just how difficult a task that is.

It would seem logical to predict further heightened tensions in the Middle East, perhaps further progress in Iraq in the meantime, and then a Kim Jong-Il who, jealous for more attention, launches a more audacious batch of missiles. The trend could be extrapolated a bit, the results of which would be discouraging indeed. The pushes and pulls and equal and opposite reactions in today’s international relations are maddening, and frightening at worst. If I were a national leader, I would have my think tanks and intel resources working overtime. We have not yet settled into a long-term international power alignment. Power is being jostled about in this ongoing, still-uncertain post-Cold War international mosh pit of nations.

This is the stuff think tanks were made for. Perhaps a cyber think tank can erupt here at american-revolution. Post comments. Ask questions. Get involved. Join the Revolution.