One of the points that Steyn makes in this column is about the remarkable job that Bush did on General Musharraf, Pakistan’s dictator, just after the 9/11 attacks. It was an arm-twisting, all right, but more along the lines of an arm bent back to the breaking point. The Bushies never tried to humiliate Musharraf, and wisely so, but it was pretty clear that they would accept only one answer from him and that answer would be “yes.”
Steyn contrasts that to the more recent efforts to get the nutty Iranian president to follow the bread crumbs along with other administration efforts to “work with the UN,” which is like herding cats.
My long-time take on Bush policy is that he’s playing at being Woodrow Wilson in 1918, in the fervent and sincere hope that he won’t have to be Harry Truman of August 1945. Those who think Bush is an adventurer don’t understand the gravity of the problems he has faced: in 2001 with al Qaeda’s “olive oil business” (Afghanistan), in 2003 with the revanchist psychopath Saddam Hussein, and now, with the nuclear ambitions of Iran. Throw in Hezbollah in Lebanon, the murderous insurgency in Iraq, and the little creep in North Korea, and you begin to understand that Bush is hardly an adventurer, but a man who has to know that the August 1945 moment is much to be dreaded and avoided at nearly all costs.
Yet it is always there, always the backdrop, always the final option for dealing with people who simply don’t care how much murder they inflict on the world, including especially their own part of the world, as well as ours.