Running out of time, and friends

Deepak Tripathi

I cannot help thinking that the recent trip of President Bush to the Middle East was a spectacular failure. In Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – in every country he visited and every speech he made, Bush managed to offend leaders, as well as people, in the region. Reverberations will be felt beyond.  

Whether it was by calculation, or sheer incompetence, I do not know. But it certainly was not proper conduct by a visiting head of state. Nor would it help fighting the fires that are burning in the most politically sensitive region on the planet. His optimism that ‘a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East is possible’ is shared by no one. And as he runs out of time, he is also running out of friends. No wonder Arabs are furious and depressed. More


Lebanon: A victim of foreign ambitions

Deepak Tripathi

If you want to put out a fire, stop pouring oil on it. But as George W Bush prepared for his trip to the Middle East this week, he proclaimed that he was ready to pour weapons on yet another conflict.

It is Lebanon this time – a country that has, in the past week, suffered probably the worst sectarian violence since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990. In an interview with the BBC, President Bush told the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, a Sunni Muslim, that ‘the United States is prepared to help strengthen the Lebanese army, so it can disarm Hezbollah’ – the pro-Iranian Shi’a movement. Hezbollah has acted against its own people, Bush declared, and is destabilizing Lebanon.

This is the latest among recent revelations about America arming one faction, only to use that faction to crush an adversary. More 

The problem with America

Deepak Tripathi

The world has fallen out of love with America since the ‘war on terror’ declared by President George W Bush. Much of the sympathy and popular support witnessed after the 9/11 attacks have faded away, overtaken by stories about Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition. It is surprising how soon the goodwill capital, and a strong economy, can be squandered.

True, the events of 9/11 had forced the world into an extraordinary security environment. But respect for the rule of law, the principle that an individual is innocent until proven guilty, above all proportionality in the use of force were bound to become core issues for many people. Today, America continues to be admired all over the world as a land of freedom and opportunity, scientific and technological advances and its capacity to do good. However, its policies generate strong opposition and apathy, creating waves of anti-Americanism.

What has gone wrong? The answer: America under the Bush presidency suffers from serious contractions between what it stands for and its actions in three major areas. More 

America’s clumsy diplomacy

Deepak Tripathi

We have seen several comical examples of America’s open diplomacy in recent weeks. Their aim appears to be either to bounce other parties into confronting a country regarded by President George W Bush as part of the ‘axis of evil’. Or, they are crude attempts at hedging the risks America faces in the region after the electoral humiliation of its ally, President Musharraf, and the emergence of a more independent civilian government in Pakistan. More

This comment appears in the online journal of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC