The one thing the Bush administration has been criticized about more than anything else is its foreign policy.
Many believe that the war in Iraq was a mistake or that it was conducted for purely economic reasons.
Because of it, the United States has lost favor in Europe, which has traditionally been an American ally.
One large complaint is that this administration has no real plan for its policies and is acting recklessly. These are all problems facing newly appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
To put it simply, Rice’s plan for the Middle East is to promote democracy. That is why there was war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both countries had regimes that were unpopular among their people. In his last term, President Bush decided it was better to remove them than allow them to make the region more unstable.
Some believe that this takes the focus of the war on terror off dismantling al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Rice, however, defends the president’s previous actions by saying that the aim “is to have allies in the war on terrorism in the heart of the Arab world and to have a fundamentally different kind of Middle East than we have.”
If the governmental changes in these countries are successful, it could mean a whole new chapter in Middle Eastern politics. Iraq and Afghanistan were both known to harbor terrorist organizations and both worked to undermine U.S. actions for the personal gain of each regime and not necessarily of its people.
With these regimes gone, friendlier ties with the United States and a whole new form of economic stability are possible.
As a result, terrorist power within these countries will decrease and make America safer, especially since both countries had great turnouts for their elections and have elected secular governments.
As long as people are indoctrinated in how evil the United States is and are harmed by their government’s irresponsibility towards them, the terrorist organizations will only grow.
If, however, they see that the United States is helping nations become successful and free, it may undermine the terrorists’ goals.
Some are skeptical that Rice will succeed in promoting democracy, but two recent events give hope.
First, a new cease-fire has been declared between Israel and Palestine. The new president of Palestine has stated that his first priority is peace.
In response, the secretary of state is pressuring Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and is offering Palestine $350 million in aid and is otherwise staying out of the situation.
Second, Indonesia has announced that it wishes to restore military ties with the United States. Indonesia is the largest Islamic nation and will be useful in the upcoming years to show that not all of the Islamic world is hostile toward America.
To further show that the United States can be extremely helpful to countries that cooperate with it, Rice has supported giving aid to Pakistan and Jordan as well. These changes could be an impetus for great change in the Middle East.
The world might appreciate that Rice has policies that use more persuasion than force.
In North Korea, Rice refused to enter bilateral talks because she believes it is a regional problem and not an American one.
Instead, she supports the multilateral talks already in place.
She has also convinced Europe to apply economic pressure to Syria for not cooperating with the investigation of a former Lebanese prime minister and for possibly hiding Saddam Hussein’s supporters.
In Iran, she is supporting similar action because of its developing nuclear program. With her “whirlwind” tours of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, she has reached out to more countries than I thought this administration ever could.
Overall, we are at a great crossroad in the history of the world. There are many who say we should immediately withdraw from Iraq and stay out of world politics. Those who say so forget what potential there is in this region.
Given recent events, there is a good chance that peace in the Middle East can be achieved in our lifetimes. If we withdraw now, that possibility will end.
If America is to reach its full potential in promoting democracy and peace in the world, then Rice is the right woman for the job and I hope that her next four years are as successful as her first month.