National Security: Has George Bush Abandoned Global Leadership?

For almost three years now, the world has been given quite a different view of the United States than the one to which it had been accustomed. It has seen global leadership abandoned and replaced with what now is known as American unilateralism — the Bush administration’s disdain for international agreements and sometimes for diplomacy itself. The unilateralism has been a virtual addiction — a truculent constant in a presidency otherwise marked by inconstancy.

Source: Walter Cronkite, “The Unilateral President,” Denver Post, November 23, 2003

What Conservatives Think:

Global leadership isn’t defined as waiting for a thumb’s up from the U.N. secretary general.

The war in Iraq, easily the most significant international action of this Bush’s presidency, was not one in which the Bush Administration acted alone. Nearly 50 sovereign nations are providing political, military, intelligence and/or economic support to the Iraq effort.

The notion that the U.S. should subsume its national security policy under the U.N. deserves to be addressed, however. The U.N. leadership was elected by governments, not peoples, and as such, it lacks the moral authority to govern. It would be wrong for President Bush to place U.S. national security policy under the control of a body not elected by the American people.

Walter Cronkite argues that George W. Bush’s “unilateralism” is out of the presidential mainstream. Yet, during the Reagan Administration, Cronkite also complained that President Reagan acted unilaterally.(1) It sounds as though Cronkite’s actual complaint is that Bush is a president in the Reagan model.

Bush isn’t out of the presidential mainstream at all — just out of the liberal mainstream.

Source: (1) Media Research Center CyberAlert, September 17, 2002, citing the following Cronkite quote from the December 5, 1988 edition of Newsweek: “I know liberalism isn’t dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice….We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that ‘Star Wars’ means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child….Gawd Almighty, we’ve got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie ‘Network,’ we’ve got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we’ll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we’d ever dreamed possible.”

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