What AFJ giveth, AFJ taketh away. The arrogance of the administration, a disdain for the duties of democracy that begins with the president and is often magnified by his senior lieutenants, can undercut even Bush’s wisest policies. The ham-handling of the Dubai Ports World deal is in danger of crippling an important U.S. alliance — albeit an alliance of convenience — in the Persian Gulf and the war on terrorism. Indeed, compared to many others in the region, the United Arab Emirates have been a model ally. And Congress is proving itself to be a model of Jell-O, trembling in the face of public hysteria (and indeed fomenting that hysteria) over “Arab control of our ports!” Of course, the fear has no relation to the facts, but one fact is that the administration has long treated the people’s representatives like children. So maybe when they act that way, the administration should get the blame.
A repeat performance when it comes to India and the nuclear deal would be catastrophic. The greatest failures of public diplomacy in the Bush years have not been abroad — although those have been real enough — but at home. From the invasion of Iraq to defining the nature of the “long war” in the Middle East to articulating a strategy for China, the White House has fumbled and fumbled and fumbled. One of the reasons there is so little consensus on U.S. strategy is that the administration has not sought to create one.