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Jim Hoagland

From Friends to Framework

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, November 14, 2004; Page B07

Bringing stability to Iraq and continuing the fight against al Qaeda's terrorist network top President Bush's second-term agenda in foreign policy. But he will not have the luxury of dealing only with those urgent tasks.

Bush will need to spend much of the four more years that he won on Nov. 2 in constructing policy frameworks for Asia and Europe to buttress his visionary commitment to change in the Middle East. Change gears, Mr. President, not direction.

_____More Hoagland_____
Fighting For Minds In Fallujah (The Washington Post, Nov 11, 2004)
Beyond Arafat (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2004)
Second-Term Options (The Washington Post, Nov 4, 2004)
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Bush has dealt with Asia and Europe less as continents or geographic collections of countries and more in terms of his relations with national leaders and their reactions to Sept. 11, 2001, and to Iraq. But the second term should emphasize principles as well as personalities, consolidation as well as challenge.

The temptation to stay the present crisis-directed course will be strong. Like all presidential candidates, Bush has had to spend months repeating a few simple promises and pledges to cheering audiences. Unlike others, Bush enjoyed the experience immensely, his aides report.

His determination to stay on the offensive abroad, even when it means being offensive abroad, has no doubt been deeply reinforced by his experiences in the echo chamber of stump-speaking. But a successful second term will depend on adjustments in style and in substance that may not come naturally to Bush. They will require discipline and design as well as audacity.

Bush has dealt with foreign policy in highly personalized terms thus far. In both his most publicized speeches and his most private consultations, he has framed problems and prospects as people. His thoughts turn to Vladimir Putin rather than to Russia, to Tony Blair instead of Britain, to Jacques Chirac, not France, and most often to Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il as what's wrong with the world.

The reflex is not unique to Bush nor necessarily misguided. But in his second term, the president should build on that instinctual approach to consolidate the changes already created by the radical, often confrontational foreign policy of the past four years. Channeling as well as causing change is an art of true leadership.

Yasser Arafat's death opens the way for positive change in the Middle East. Bush should move quickly to show how his material and unrelenting support for Israel's Ariel Sharon connects to the more rhetorical and episodic pushing of a broader U.S. vision of encouraging democracy and prosperity in the Arab world.

Bush met and reportedly was favorably impressed by Mahmoud Abbas during his brief tenure as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. The United States, which is investing lives and treasure to underwrite moderate Muslim leadership in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere, cannot afford not to reach out to Abbas and other Palestinian moderates if they emerge with substantial power in the post-Arafat era.

In East Asia, the president's strong personal relationship with Japan's surprising prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, provides the basis for a new regional policy design that would encourage that nation to take on a more active strategic role to supplement and enhance U.S. power there and help balance China's ascent.

Koizumi, in his second term, has revived a long moribund economy, galvanized public support by fighting his own party's entrenched factions and backed up Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council by taking on global security responsibilities, including dispatching troops to Iraq.

Koizumi is both Bush's friend and politically popular. In Europe, Spain's Jose Maria Aznar, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and Blair did not fare as well. That fact of political life counts now in recrafting U.S. policy.

Bush must resist the false choice of intervening in the European Union to strengthen pro-Atlanticist leaders. They will be helped in fighting their own battles by a clear and strong U.S. commitment to working with a European Union that has as much political and military strength as its member states desire, and will pay for, to supplement the U.S. global umbrella.

In a first term marked by an attack on the U.S. homeland, the president necessarily focused on vanquishing enemies. He now faces the unprecedented dilemma of reconciling America's great power and deep involvement abroad with the widespread distrust, envy and resentment that this nation now inspires abroad.

Those emotions are driven in part by America's actions and in part by the dimensions of its success, size and reach. To combat both reactions, Bush will need to design a foreign policy that encourages and enables friends as much as it confronts enemies.

jimhoagland@washpost.com


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