Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Shake 'em up

Fred Barnes is always an intersting commentator, whether on TV or in his writing. Today he has a short column in the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription) talking about President Bush's recent spate of controversial appointments. Mr. Barnes believes that anyone who is surprised by these appointments simply has a basic lack of comprehension of what President Bush is all about — he sees these appointments as totally in characters...and as predictable. Some of his key points:

Anyone shocked by the nominations of Messrs. Wolfowitz and Bolton doesn't understand the president's approach to multilateral organizations. The conventional idea is that these organizations are wonderful, though perhaps flawed and infused with too much anti-American sentiment. And the chief task of U.S. representatives is to get along amicably, not buck the system and cause problems. This idea is popular in the press, the State Department bureaucracy and diplomatic circles, and with foreign-policy "experts." But not with Mr. Bush.

The president's idea is simple: No more Mr. Nice Guy. He believes international organizations have failed largely and must be challenged and reformed. He was miffed when outgoing U.N. Ambassador John Danforth rushed to the defense of Kofi Annan in the midst of the Oil for Food scandal. Mr. Annan opposed the war in Iraq and even declared it illegal. More important, he's viewed by Mr. Bush as part of the problem at the U.N.
The nominations of Messrs. Bolton and Wolfowitz produced shock and awe around the world. Ms. Hughes's didn't. But what's significant is that all three have agendas that reflect the president's own world view. Or, put more precisely, their agendas stem from Mr. Bush's shake-up-the-world view.

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