The National Catholic Review
As George Bush’s poll numbers sink lower than did Nixon’s in the middle of the Watergate investigations, it is no surprise that most Americans can’t wait for next January 20th when either John McCain or Barack Obama will be sworn in as our next president. But, Americans are not alone. The entire world is filled with challenges that have gone unmet and even unaddressed by this president who has precisely no moral sway over anyone. Hydra, you will recall, had the body of a serpent and many heads. This is the legacy of George Bush abroad , a many-headed monster of foreign policy conundrums. The most recent is in Zimbabwe where opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced yesterday that he is withdrawing from the presidential race in the face of an onslaught of state-sponsored violence against his supporters from the regime of incumbent dictator Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai probably won the presidency outright in the first round of voting in March, but Mugabe’s government said no majority had been attained, necessitating a runoff. Then the voter rolls from March were put to evil use by Mugabe, identifying for his thugs those who had supported the opposition. Soon, torture and murder had become the currency of political debate. Tsvangirai realized that as much as his country needs to throw of Mugabe’s tyranny, continuing in the election would only guarantee more violence without any real prospect of Mugabe relinquishing the reins of power. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the violence made fair elections impossible. But, no one is mounting any kind of diplomatic effort to remove Mugabe. His people are suffering the worst inflation on the continent and widespread food shortages in addition to the indignity of being unfree in their choice of government, but the U.S. has no quivers in its arsenal. Bush has two choices abroad, send in the Marines or sit back and do nothing. His capacity for moral suasion has expired as the list of deceits and self-deceptions that led to the Iraq War become more obvious and more undeniable. Consider, for a second, the impact of an announcement by, say, President Barack Obama, that he was meeting with Tsvangirai and the leaders of neighboring nations to discuss ways of bringing democracy to Zimbabwe. Let us be more precise. Consider the impact of such an announcement on the minds and hearts of the military and police leaders upon whom Mugabe, aged 84, relies for support? Washington, D.C. is the center of the strangest empire in history. America has few colonial possessions left, but our reach – financially, culturally, militarily – is greater than any previous empire. English is now the lingua franca of the business and diplomatic worlds not because of any concentration of power or wisdom on the banks of the Thames but because of the cultural reach of the United States. Whoever is the next president will be the recipient of an enormous amount of good will simply because his name will not be Bush. I hope the McCain and Obama policy teams are busy planning on how to capitalize on that good will. There is no shortage of difficulties to address and there is much human suffering to assuage. Michael Sean Winters

Comments

Anonymous | 6/25/2008 - 11:35am
"Whoever is the next president will be the recipient of an enormous amount of good will simply because his name will not be Bush." A very sad comment, but very true. Let us all hope the next President capitalizes on that sad fact.