Bossism or Bushism ?

The address of United States President George W Bush at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday will go down as one of his more important speeches to the world audience coming as it does in the backdrop of a deep political and religious divide that appears to have polarized world opinion with regard to the US led War on Terror, the crisis in the Middle East, Iran Nuclear standoff, the growing sectarian violence in Iraq, to name a few. The direct appeal made by Bush to Muslims and assuring them that the US is not waging war with Islam may not find many takers including in the West but it is nonetheless an important message that will hopefully create a space for addressing the myriad of problems that today threatens peace and order.

As the most powerful, the US must engage with several dialogue partners on different fronts if it wants to remove some of the hurdles that stalls it effort to create ‘a better world’ of liberty and democracy. And more importantly, the US must ensure that it acts not unilaterally but in partnership with the United Nations and according to the values and principles on which the great institution of the UN was founded. Whether it is the War in Iraq or Afghanistan, Washington must shed its arrogance and earn the respect of UN Member States and the millions of people that they represent. By taking a benevolent approach, there is a greater chance that the US will be able to address its concern and play its rightful role as a legitimate super power. 

On top of agenda for the Bush Administration should be to reengage itself in the volatile Middle East and reinvigorate the stalled peace process in the region. For starters, Bush must ensure that the bold initiative of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to begin the ‘Disengagement Plan’ remains on course. The US must persuade Tel Aviv that this is eventually necessary for the Israeli nation to ensure security while allowing the aspiration of the Palestinians for a separate State. 

No one will disagree that there is a direct causative link between the Israeli policy of building and expanding settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip and Palestinian violence, which is now spreading as a convenient tool for fundamentalist forces to defend their violence and terror acts. This has to be nipped in the bud. And the only way to do this is to help secure a Palestinian State that is living peacefully side by side with Israel. It is therefore crucial for the Bush Administration to return to the Middle East and help restore the land for peace deal written into the historic Oslo Accord. 

On the Iran Nuclear issue likewise, Tehran must be engaged rather then confronted. The Bush Administration must find a diplomatic solution rather than imposing its agenda. Here, a country like India can be roped in by the US to use its influence with Tehran and work within the framework of the IAEA which will address Iran’s need for civilian use of nuclear technology while at the same time putting in place monitoring mechanism under strict international supervision. 

In the backdrop of a growing Islam vs. West divide, how the US and its allies will approach the global war on terror, the crisis in Iraq and Afghanistan without triggering further violence will remain fundamental to securing just peace. Much therefore depends on President Bush and how he is able to steer US foreign policy towards a more benevolent and engaging approach. With time running out for the second term Republican President, opportunity presents itself for Bush to leave behind a legacy that history will honor and not one that will put the blame on him for being the architect of a great divide to be thrown into the dustbin of history.