Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bush Defends the Contracts

More on the contracts issue.

Honestly, the more you think about this, the more predictable this action was. The Bush administration places high value on loyalty and has a history of personalizing its opposition to the extent that those who honestly dislike the Bush administration's policies are characterized by Bush proxies as "rabid Bush haters". These countries are "disloyal to their American allies", and it's pretty clear by now that diplomacy is irrelevant, so there's little reason to believe they wouldn't do this. There's even less reason to believe they'll relent, although the negative media coverage might affect things somewhat.

In any case, the real story, to me, is how the targets of this policy will respond. Europe going to the WTO is a no-brainer, and I wouldn't discount that affecting Bush just yet. The precedent of Bush backing down on the steel tariff does suggest that he might back down.

Russia is torn- they (and by "they", I mean Vladimir Putin) want to be a U.S. ally, but nationalism is the watchword in Russia right now, and this is a profound insult to Russia, especially considering their relatively benign reaction to the end of the ABM treaty.

Again, it's Canada that's really the one to watch here. The CNN piece notes this, too:

In Ottawa, incoming Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said the decision was difficult to understand because his country already spent $300 million to support Iraq and also has troops in Afghanistan.

"I find it really very difficult to fathom," said Martin, who will take the helm of Canada's government Friday from Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"There's a huge amount of suffering going on there, and I think it is the responsibility of every country to participate in developing [Iraq]."
The fact that Martin didn't even try to dodge around this or make much of any reference to "our American allies" speaks volumes, at least to me. Saying "I find it really very difficult to fathom" easily translates to "those bastards screwed us over" in this case. This will make Martin's hoped-for good relations with the U.S. difficult at best. Canadians won't stand for it, no matter how much they like him, it'll hurt Canada's international reputation, and he'll face the prospect of losing a significant number votes and seats to the leftist NDP in the next election.

(This would seem unlikely, but voting for the NDP carries little risk in the next election. Martin will almost certainly not lose to the new Conservative party, so "strategic voting" isn't necessary, and there could be a great reward in it if the Conservatives stay unpopular and the NDP gets a shot at becoming the official opposition. The NDP will be pushing these ideas HARD in Atlantic Canada and in Toronto, and it's quite possible that it'll stick.)

It's funny- Bush came this close to having a strong ally to the North. Now, he's just embarassed the most popular politician in the most successful political party in North America, and possibly in the developed world. Good job, Mr. President.

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