Bush’s One Hour Argument With Himself

Last night, President Bush conducted a one hour argument with himself, otherwise known as the State of the Union.

First, he warned of the dangers of isolationism. He is right. However, it has been the President himself that has pursued policies that have isolated the United States from the rest of the world. Beginning in 2001, the President retreated from international agreements regarding missile defense, the environment and non-proliferation. It was the Bush administration that retreated from engagement policies regarding North Korea and the Middle East Peace Process. It was the President who decided to rush into Iraq without a real international coalition, and then blocked open bidding on contracts that could have drawn the international community into efforts to reconstruct Iraq. It is the arrogance of the Bush administration that has turned world opinion against the United States and caused the world to fear rather than embrace us.

Second, the President advocated the advance of democracy and freedom around the world. He is right. However, the promotion of democracy around the world cannot come at the expense of the rule of law and transparent government here at home. We must practice what we preach. When confronting difficult and unprecedented questions regarding the imperatives of security and privacy, the American people ultimately get to decide after an open and vigorous debate that demonstrates to the world – and to terrorists – what freedom and democracy really mean. These decisions cannot be made by one man, acting in secret and operating above the law.

And, finally, Mr. Bush challenged the country to reduce its dependence on Middle East oil by 75 percent by the year 2025. He is right. Unfortunately, we have squandered five years as the President and his administration chose the opposite course – maximum production that made us more dependent on imported oil, not less. To paraphrase the Vice President, conservation and a balanced approach to our energy security is not a virtue, but a 21st century national security necessity. Current rates of global consumption of oil are unsustainable. Unless we change course, oil will be the most likely future source of international conflict. We need greater diversity in our energy supply – bio-fuels, renewables and even nuclear energy within a stronger international framework. We need to build greater redundancy in our delivery systems to avoid costly market disruptions like we witnessed following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Unfortunately, the President’s vision will take 20 years to achieve. We would be more secure had he put the national interest ahead of special interests when he first came into office.

P.J. Crowley