Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bush, War President or Scaredy-Cat?

Reuters headlined the non-meeting at the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas this way:
Bush avoids direct battle with Venezuela's Chavez
By Steve Holland, MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina: US President George W. Bush carefully avoided taking on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez directly at the 34-nation Summit of the Americas.
Now there's a war president for you!

According to, the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) is dead in the water. Supposedly Mexico is in favor of FTAA, which is odd, since they are so unhappy with NAFTA. Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay are opposed to FTAA. So is Cuba, who sounds like they were not at the summit meeting.

Time and Matthew Cooper (does that name sound familiar?) softshoe the debacle at Mar del Plata. It helps when Cooper writes the revisionist history from Brasiliera, Brazil. The best the White House could do was have Stephen Hadley change the expectations of the summit from putting FTAA into effect by April '06 to "
We went from a summit which was supposed to bury FTAA to a summit ... in which all 34 countries actually talk in terms of enhanced trade and an FTAA."

Science Daily puts a different spin on it.
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Leaders of South, Central and North American left the Summit of the Americas in Argentina Sunday with no trade agreement and none in sight.

The International Herald Tribune reports how Bush was able to escape without running into Chavez:
Bush abruptly exited an international summit meeting as talks over a U.S.-promoted trade deal hit an impasse.
The next day, an administration official said Bush would skip a two-hour Saturday lunch with the leaders because of "time served" at dinner the night before. But the president's planned escape was soon moot because the contentious summit talks ran so late, some three hours over schedule at that point, that Argentina simply canceled the lunch. So by 3:30 p.m., evidently on an empty stomach, Bush said he was sticking to his plans - his itinerary called for a 4:05 p.m. Air Force One departure from Argentina to Brazil - and he did.
He left an assistant secretary of state to sweat out the trade talks. In the words of IHT, "they ended hours later in failure." Matthew Cooper, would you like to go over your column again? Lousy administration hack.
The IHT also gets this dig in:
In short, the president of the United States is not in charge when he is one among many big-winded leaders and another nation's guest.
A quick survey of headlines around the world could explain why newspaper circulations (WSJ) are falling off precipitiously:
ABC News
Bush Loses Nothing, Gains Little At Summit
Taipei Times
Bush opposed both inside and out at summit
Bangkok Post
Americas summit ends in free-trade split

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