This morning at the United Nations, President Bush declared premature victory in Iraq and Afghanistan but failed to mention some of the world's greatest threats to the American people.
The president touted the worldwide march of democracy, but sugar-coated grim challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan, where growing turmoil threatens to disrupt upcoming elections. And while he called on the United Nations and its member-states to step up to the plate in Iraq, he failed to outline a plan or vision that could provoke any meaningful international support. Nor did the president make any reference to Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or other hotspots where democracy has taken a step backwards.
Stunningly, the president also failed to mention Iran and North Korea. Iran – topic number one at the United Nations – has just announced that it will continue to enrich 37 tons of uranium, enough material for five nuclear weapons. And North Korea, which has quadrupled its nuclear stockpile over the past three years, continues to make aggressive moves unchecked. The record on both is particularly ironic given the administration's admission that a terrorist armed with a nuclear weapon poses the greatest threat to the American people.
The president's proposal for a United Nations democracy fund is a welcome idea, but will he treat it like his other high-profile initiatives? The administration and Congress have failed to fully fund the president's Millennium Challenge Account and his plan to combat HIV/AIDS. And both initiatives are designed to work around rather than strengthen international cooperation.
Robert O. Boorstin is the senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress.