I saw this article at the Times Online a few days ago and meant to write about it here, but it slipped through the cracks.
It’s pretty bad when even George W.‘s Dad is speaking out against war without international unity:
The first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity.
Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations.
He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany.
“You’ve got to reach out to the other person. You’ve got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity,” he said.
Of course Bush Sr. didn’t say this to his son directly. No, instead he said it in a speech at Tufts University in Massachusetts to a bunch of strangers, which is arguably worse than if he had said it to him directly. Not that George W. seems to be affected by public humiliation at the hands of his father.
In an ominous warning for his son, Mr Bush Sr said that he would have been able to achieve nothing if he had jeopardised future relations by ignoring the UN. “The Madrid conference would never have happened if the international coalition that fought together in Desert Storm had exceeded the UN mandate and gone on its own into Baghdad after Saddam and his forces.”
Also drawing on the lessons of 1991, he said that it was imperative to mend fences with allies immediately, rather than waiting until after a war. He had been infuriated with the decision of King Hussein of Jordan to side with Saddam rather than the US, but while criticising the Jordanian leader in public and freezing $41 million in US aid, he also passed word to King Hussein that he understood his domestic tensions.
Mr Bush Jr, who is said never to forget even relatively minor slights, has alarmed analysts with the way in which he has allowed senior Administration figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, aggressively to criticise France and Germany.
He’s alarmed analysts? He’s alarmed a lot more people than just the friggin’ analysts. Not that he cares as he has already publicly admitted.