Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bush and the limits of freedom

Bush and the limits of freedom
By Thomas Oliphant  
Boston Globe
  January 23, 2005
THE REAL political clash here last week did not involve Republicans and Democrats. It pitted Bush Bromides against Rice Realities.
During the mildly contentious hearings for her confirmation as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice could not avoid grubby details of foreign policy that belied President Bush's focus on freedom as convincingly as they demonstrated what a diversion from the war on terror the mess in Iraq has become. The press's fixation on alleged fireworks during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony missed a more troubling review of specifics. Take, for example, Africa.
According to US officials, there are significant terrorist organizations operating today with virtual impunity in northern, western, and southern Africa.
Members of Congress have been pressing a recalcitrant Bush administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with one of the most dangerous (and heart-breaking) situations of all -- in Somalia.
Some Americans may remember military and intelligence activity in that area shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when there was great concern and confusion about where Osama bin Laden might be seeking sanctuary. Since that time, the attention paid Somalia has dwindled toward insignificance.
And yet as Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has noted with appropriate alarm, Somalia is a "country" where only 11 percent of the kids are getting a primary education.
Feingold can cite many other facts about the region that ought to be alarming -- whether one's concern is human rights or terrorism or both.....