Threats, Promises and Lies
New York Times | Editorial
Tuesday 25 February 2003
So it seems that Turkey wasn't really haggling about the price, it just wouldn't accept payment by check or credit card. In return for support of an Iraq invasion, Turkey wanted -- and got -- immediate aid, cash on the barrelhead, rather than mere assurances about future help. You'd almost think President Bush had a credibility problem.
And he does.
The funny thing is that this administration sets great store by credibility. As the justifications for invading Iraq come and go -- Saddam is developing nuclear weapons; no, but he's in league with Osama; no, but he's really evil -- the case for war has come increasingly to rest on credibility. You see, say the hawks, we've already put our soldiers in position, so we must attack or the world won't take us seriously.
But credibility isn't just about punishing people who cross you. It's also about honoring promises, and telling the truth. And those are areas where the Bush administration has problems.
Consider the astonishing fact that Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, appears unwilling to cast his U.N. Security Council vote in America's favor. Given Mexico's close economic ties to the United States, and Mr. Fox's onetime personal relationship with Mr. Bush, Mexico should have been more or less automatically in America's column. But the Mexican president feels betrayed. He took the politically risky step of aligning himself closely with Mr. Bush -- a boost to Republican efforts to woo Hispanic voters -- in return for promised reforms that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants. The administration never acted on those reforms, and Mr. Fox is in no mood to do Mr. Bush any more favors.
Mr. Fox is not alone. In fact, I can't think of anyone other than the hard right and corporate lobbyists who has done a deal with Mr. Bush and not come away feeling betrayed. New York's elected representatives stood side by side with him a few days after Sept. 11 in return for a promise of generous aid. A few months later, as they started to question the administration's commitment, the budget director, Mitch Daniels, accused them of "money-grubbing games." Firefighters and policemen applauded Mr. Bush's promise, more than a year ago, of $3.5 billion for "first responders"; so far, not a penny has been delivered.
These days, whenever Mr. Bush makes a promise -- like his new program to fight AIDS in Africa -- experienced Bushologists ask, "O.K., that's the bait, where's the switch?" (Answer: Much of the money will be diverted from other aid programs, such as malaria control.)
Then there's the honesty thing.
Mr. Bush's mendacity on economic matters was obvious even during the 2000 election. But lately it has reached almost pathological levels. Last week Mr. Bush -- who has been having a hard time getting reputable economists to endorse his economic plan -- claimed an endorsement from the latest Blue Chip survey of business economists. "I don't know what he was citing," declared the puzzled author of that report, which said no such thing.
What Americans may not fully appreciate is the extent to which similarly unfounded claims have, in the eyes of much of the world, discredited the administration's foreign policy. Whatever the real merits of the case against Iraq, again and again the administration has cited evidence that turns out to be misleading or worthless -- "garbage after garbage after garbage," according to one U.N. official.
Despite his decline in the polls, Mr. Bush hasn't fully exhausted his reservoir of trust in this country. People still remember the stirring image of the president standing amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm around a fireman's shoulders -- and our ever-deferential, protective media haven't said much about the broken promises that followed. But the rest of the world simply doesn't trust Mr. Bush either to honor his promises or to tell the truth.
Can we run a foreign policy in the absence of trust? The administration apparently thinks it can use threats as a substitute. Officials have said that they expect undecided Security Council members to come around out of fear of being on the "wrong" side. And Mr. Bush may yet get the U.N. to acquiesce, grudgingly, in his war.
But even if he does, we shouldn't delude ourselves: whatever credibility we may gain by invading Iraq is small recompense for the trust we have lost around the world.
Turkey Edging Open Door to 62,000 U.S. Troops
Disagreements on Deployment Conditions Delaying Vote
By Harmonie Toros
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 25, 2003; 3:31 PM
ANKARA, Turkey ---- The Turkish government asked parliament on Tuesday to authorize the deployment of 62,000 U.S. combat troops, 255 warplanes and 65 helicopters, but disagreements on the conditions of the U.S. deployment delayed the vote.
The bill also asks legislators to authorize the deployment of Turkish troops abroad but does not say how many Turkish soldiers would be deployed. Turks want to send their own troops into northern Iraq in case of war.
A vote on the bill could be held as soon as Wednesday, but diplomats said it was unlikely to be scheduled before Turkish and U.S. officials agree on the military, political and economic conditions of the deployment.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Pearson told reporters after talks at the foreign ministry Tuesday that the two sides were making "very significant progress." Pearson said there were still some outstanding issues, but he was optimistic that a solution could be found.
Private television CNN-Turk reported that one of the last sticking points was whether the economic aid package of billions of dollars of grants and loans should be under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund.
Diplomats have said the package would include $10 billion in grants and $5 billion in loans. Turkey wants the U.S. aid to be separate from its IMF-backed economic reform program.
Washington says it needs Turkey to decide on the deployment as soon as possible to enable the United States to use Turkish soil to open a northern front against Iraq. The northern front is a key part of a U.S. strategy that calls for attacks from the north and south that would divide the Iraqi army.
In the bill sent to parliament, the government said it had to take precautions in case of war -- in particular to prevent a refugee influx from northern Iraq -- and said the U.S. deployment would "constitute enormous pressure" on Iraq for it to disarm peacefully.
Although peace efforts had not yielded the hoped-for results, the government said it was important that such efforts continue.
Persuading lawmakers of the governing Justice and Development Party to allow in U.S. troops will not be an easy task, and the government underlined that the authorization was for the U.S. troops to deploy outside Turkey "as soon as possible."
The Justice party has a large majority in parliament, but many deputies have repeatedly spoken out against any war in Iraq, a war that an overwhelmingly majority of Turks oppose.
Justice party legislators meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the bill.
In a speech to legislators of his party, party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Monday's Cabinet decision, saying it was in "the best interest of the nation."
Although Erdogan said he would not order his party's legislators to vote for it, he hinted that he believed legislators would be persuaded to vote in favor.
"I believe you will make the final decision and take your steps without the need for a group decision," Erdogan said.
But Deputy Prime Minister Ertugrul Yalcinbayir hinted that he would vote against allowing the U.S. troops in.
"If it is not approved, democracy would be strengthened," he said.
Political analyst Ilter Turan said the government was likely to "twist as many arms as possible" for the vote to be approved.
On Tuesday, the party reprimanded a legislator for threatening to resign if parliament approves the troop deployment. A reprimand is usually a first step toward being ousted from the party, and Goksal Kucukali said the action against him was intended as a warning to other Justice lawmakers likely to vote against troop deployment.
Among other issues, Turkish and U.S. officials have been discussing the command structure in northern Iraq in case of a war and the disarmament of Iraqi Kurdish groups.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Kurdish officials who control an autonomous zone in northern Iraq condemned the Turkish government bill, saying it would lead to more violence. Iraqi Kurdish factions have warned of clashes if Turkish troops cross the border.
Turkey fears that the fall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could lead to the creation of an independent Kurdish state and boost aspirations of Turkey's Kurdish rebels.
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