Tuesday, October 22, 2002

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BUSH'S MULTILATERALISM: First impressions count

BUSH'S MULTILATERALISM: First impressions count a lot in the media coverage of presidents, and the first impression of the Bush administration was a foreign policy of "gratuitously unilateralism" in the words of John Edwards. However, this tends to overlook or minimize the areas where the Bush administration has reached out and cooperated with other countries.

Today's Washington Post and this week's issue of Time carry a story about how U.S. aid to Georgia is bearing fruit in the hunt for Al Qaeda Click here for the article in Time, which broke the story.

Back when military aid to Georgia was first proposed, the media treated it as an example of an expanding American empire. However, this is clearly an example of successful international cooperation, as Time notes in its article:

"When Washington announced early this year that it was sending 150 military trainers to Georgia in the wake of Sept. 11, the former Soviet republic seemed an unlikely new front in the war on terrorism. At that time only about a dozen Arab militants were said to be living in the heavily forested Pankisi Valley. But six months into the antiterrorism campaign there, it is clear to Georgian authorities that the Arab presence was at least five times that strong, that the local jihadi cells were highly sophisticated and that they were plotting mayhem that went well beyond supporting the battle of their fellow Muslims the Chechens against Russian rule....

The crackdown on al-Qaeda became possible only after sweeping changes in the Georgian security structures. Until the end of last year, top Georgian officials say, the Arabs were well protected by high-ranking and corrupt officials and able to operate with impunity. In late 2001, however, the ministers of State Security and Interior were dismissed, and in early 2002 Georgia's longtime ambassador to the U.S., Tedo Japaridze, was appointed National Security Adviser.

The new security hierarchy is trying to make up for lost time. Since the initial raid in May, Georgia's forces have nabbed, among others, Saif al Islam el Masry, a member of al-Qaeda's Shura, or consultative council. By late August, the jihadis had taken enough of a beating that their leaders ordered a retreat from the gorge. But the fight isn't over."

Let's see if commentators give the Bush administration the credit it deserves on this initiative.

posted by Dan on 10.22.02 at 09:40 AM