Bush has interests of world at heart in nominating friends

Michael J. Greenberg

The American conservatives didn’t expect any Easter gifts from George Bush. But we got two gifts from the president all right — big ones, too.

In the couple of weeks prior to Easter, our president surprised conservatives and liberals alike by appointing two of his most trusted lieutenants to two of the most important American international positions (in the eyes of the international citizens).

First and the biggest of all, Paul Wolfowitz, our deputy defense secretary, arguably the most neocon of all neocons, was nominated to take the helm at the World Bank, the feeding spoon of many an underdeveloped nation. Shortly before that, Bush nominated John Bolton, a harsh critic of the United Nations, to be America’s ambassador to that international body.

Bush then served up two side dishes: the nomination of Rob Portman, a respected Republican congressman, to be U.S. Trade Representative, and talented campaign manager Karen Hughes to a third-tier position at the state department in charge of overhauling America’s image in the eyes of the international community. Though I am an eternal optimist, I still doubt that Karen Hughes or, for that matter, anyone on earth would be able to accomplish her job within a few years’ time. (I am a Cheney sympathizer, regarding his view that multilateralism won’t work. My view is that in the time you get the United Nations to agree to go after one dictator, 50 other dictators have sprouted around the world due to the United Nations’ prolonged inaction and debates over technicalities). Nevertheless, I highly applaud the president’s choices, especially Wolfowitz’s for the World Bank and Bolton’s to the United Nations.

As the Economist argues, it is not fair for Europeans and others to argue against those appointments. In fact, nominating a neo-con heavyweight like Wolfowitz to the World Bank shows that President Bush “takes the World Bank seriously.” Similarly, nominating a guy like Bolton to the United Nations shows that the president intends to bring the United Nations to the cooperative platform in his multilateralist second term, rather than to sidestep the international body altogether. There is nothing that shows his huge belief in and hope for a greater role in an organization than to send his closest friends to those positions. And, Bush’s convincing long-time, personal friend Hughes to that lowly Washington State Department post shows Bush’s commitment and personal investment in attempting to change the world for the better. (Hughes is known for having rejected Bush’s previous offers of any full-time job away from her home in Texas).

After the polarized presidential elections last fall, conservatives have been divided into two camps. One, perhaps the minority group, thinks the president owes us a huge favor, and it’s high time we receive goodies in return from the White House. The other, arguably the larger one, is the more pragmatic camp, which realizes that moderation tends to be more common in second White House terms, when the reigning president typically prefers to leave a lasting, caring, kinder and gentler legacy, not only to the nation, but to the world as well. We had expected the president to skillfully move to the center to be tolerably “nice” to those on the left and right.

But, Bush is probably a man who answers to God and God only. No one else can effectively change his positions on things.

There is no political need to send arch conservatives to the United Nations or the World Bank. He could have just played along to the European tunes. But Bush not only cares about these international bodies, he also has high hopes for them and hopes they can do better. So he sent his best friends.

Let’s just hope they accomplish their jobs.

Michael J. Greenberg is a graduate student and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Editor’s note: Michael J. Greenberg is a pseudonym. He can be contacted through the editor at [email protected].