What Bush Can Learn From Osama: Transparency

What if George Bush were to say tomorrow that our motivation for going into Iraq was to secure oil wealth for the west and to protect Israel—might that reverse his slide in the polls?

A splendid post on Syria Comment, Oklahoma U. Prof Josh Landis’s blog, says that Bush needs to do just that to win support in the Middle East. “Ehsani2″ writes that Osama Bin Laden has always been transparent about his motivation: He wants Islamists to take full control of the oil fields, rid the region of dictators, and then deal with the west from a position of strength. Ehsani says that Bush should take a page from Osama’s book.

Rather than articulate the need to secure the long term security of the region’s oil fields, the need to cut off any possible future state-sponsoring of Jihadist movements and to ensure the security of the state of Israel, when it comes to explaining the rationale behind America’s Middle East policy, this administration decided to use the “spread of democracy” as the stated objective. In my opinion, President Bush made the strategic error of failing to explain how the spread of democracy is the “means” and not the “end” when it came to conducting his Middle East policy.

Ehsani suggests a program for Bush that includes these points:

We have an enormous strategic interest in the Middle East. We must make sure that the region’s critical energy resources do not fall into the wrong hands…Our support for the state of Israel will not dissipate. This admitted policy bias towards Israel will mean that we will always have a credibility problem in the Arab world.

Ehsani lives in the Middle East (and Landis says he doesn’t know who he is). But a lot of the rage in the U.S. toward Bush springs from the same feeling: Bush was not upfront about the gravest decision a President can make. I would still oppose his policy if those hidden agendas were out on the table. But other Americans might rally to his side. God knows he can’t do any worse.