Center for American Progress

President Fails To Answer Critical Questions Before United Nations

President Fails To Answer Critical Questions Before United Nations

President Bush today addressed the United Nations. Here are six critical questions he neglected to answer:

Bush made no mention of North Korea is his speech today before the United Nations. Charles Pritchard, formerly Colin Powell's top official dealing with North Korea, has warned for months that "the White House lacks an effective strategy to dissuade North Korea from building up its nuclear arms." Under Bush's watch, "North Korea's nuclear arsenal, which was once thought to number one or two weapons, appears to be growing substantially." According to Pritchard, the situation has deteriorated because "the administration has neither offered much of a carrot nor wielded a stick." The administration has refused to engage North Korea in direct negotiations or "put the North Koreans on notice that further developments will trigger economic sanctions or perhaps even military actions." In short, the Bush administration has no real policy for dealing with North Korea. According to Stuart Taylor of the National Journal, North Korea may already have eight nuclear weapons and could be on its way to "making about a dozen a year, with every intention of selling them to terrorists and other willing bidders."

New York Times, Warnings Go Unheeded Over North Korea Threat
National Journal, Nuclear Terror: Has Bush Made Matters Worse?
American Progress Report Card

President Bush also neglected to mention Iran, even as the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) prepare to address the country's growing nuclear challenge. Even after President Bush famously named Iran to the Axis of Evil in his 2002 State of the Union address, the White House has done nothing to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions. By threatening Iran rhetorically, President Bush emboldened Iranian hardliners and fed their desire to develop the ability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material as quickly as possible. The White House then abdicated all responsibility, leaving the hard work to the Europeans; today the U.S. lacks almost any influence to keep the Iranian nuclear genie in the bottle.

Boston Globe, "US turning more to UN for help"
Journal, "Nuclear Terror: Has Bush Made Matters Worse?"
New York Times, "Bush Aides Divided on Confronting Iran Over A-Bomb"

President Bush said Iraq was "on the path to democracy and freedom" and claimed his invasion of the country was "good for the long-term security of all of us." What he didn't mention: A classified National Intelligence Estimate, given to him in July but reported on only last week, "spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq." The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the most favorable outcome being an Iraq "whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms." As for the president's war making the world safer for "all of us," the available evidence flatly contradicts such a claim. The International Institute for Strategic Studies says the war in Iraq has swelled the ranks of al Qaeda, focusing the energies and resources of the terrorists, while diluting those of the global counter-terrorism coalition. Meanwhile, the security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that September threatens to be one of the deadliest months for American troops since the war began, and the administration has had to divert crucial funds from reconstruction projects just to maintain a semblance of order.

New York Times, U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's Future
BBC, Al-Qaeda 'spurred on' by Iraq war
LA Times, September Proving to Be One of the Deadliest Months for U.S. Troops
New York Times, Iraqis Warn U.S. Plan to Divert Billions to Security Could Cut Off Crucial Services

President Bush cited success in Afghanistan as an accomplishment of his global leadership. What he didn't mention: Escalating violence forced the United Nations to evacuate its staff from the city of Herat last week after a mob turned "international aid facilities into smoldering, looted ruins." President Karzai's government currently has little to no authority outside the city of Kabul; the rest of the countryside is controlled by warlords and the reconstituted Taliban. The $2.2 billion opium racket is booming, with money going into pockets of terrorists worldwide. The United States has not captured Osama bin Laden nor his deputy, who are thought to still be directing attacks in Afghanistan. Voter registration fraud coupled with rampant violence have led to serious doubts over whether the country will be able to hold elections – which have already been postponed twice – in October.

Washington Post, U.N. Pulls Workers From Afghan City
Boston Globe, Crackdown on Afghanistan's cash crop looms

AP, Rice Won't Speculate on Bin Laden's Fate
Los Angeles Times, Bin Laden's Hand Seen in Afghanistan
Toronto Star, Afghan Vote Threatens Bush's Credibility

President Bush told the General Assembly today that, "Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy." But Bush ignored his good friend Vladimir Putin's attack on democracy in Russia. In recent weeks, Putin has decreed "the most sweeping consolidations of presidential power since the fall of communism." On Sept. 13, Putin "announced a plan to eliminate the general election of regional governors and of independent seats in parliament, essentially removing the last real checks on his personal dominion over the largest nation on Earth." Putin now has control over "an absolute majority in parliament, all major television stations, the Russian gas giant Gazprom, the country's corrupt judicial system and a massive state security apparatus." According to the pro-democracy Committee 2008 organization's Vladimir Kara-Murza, "Putin is now past the point where his regime can be removed peacefully by democratic means. There's no independent media, there's no parliament to speak of, there are no real parliamentary elections and now with the decision about the regional governors, there are no elections at all."

Los Angeles Times, Whispered in Russia: Democracy Is Finished
Washington Post, Democracy in Trouble

President Bush today proposed the creation of a Democracy Fund to be set up through the United Nations. He has a poor track record when it comes to follow-through on his ambitious U.N. proposals. For example, President Bush two years ago promised the United States would lead the global fight against AIDS and made a commitment to provide $15 billion over five years. He subsequently underfunded that promise, asking Congress for only $2 billion last year. He also tried to cut funding to the Global Fund, the existing international group which has been devoted to fighting AIDS, by 64 percent in 2005. The Bush administration also failed to fund U.N. peacekeeping missions which the United States voted to authorize. Since February, President Bush has authorized four new peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Cote D'Ivoire, Sudan and Burundi through the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. share of the missions is estimated to be $600 million, but the administration has failed to request these funds from Congress.

Miami Herald, America's global AIDS policy criticized
San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. takes solo course in global AIDS fight

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