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The White House has officially made public the program of US President George Bush’s Middle East tour.

So far President Bush has only paid brief and well-calculated visits to region, i.e. to Sharm al-Sheikh, to Doha (to visit Al-Udayd Air Base to inspect the US troops), and to Iraq for the same reason.

The visit may look, as they would like us to believe, as an effort to support the momentum created by the Annapolis Peace Conference in the Middle East, and set up for it the necessary platform inside the countries of the region.

However, there are a number of facts that one should remember here, i.e. the fact that George Bush is himself not convinced of the usefulness of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and that he said on more than one occasion that he cannot do more than what former US President Bill Clinton had done in the Wye [Camp] talks. This means that he does not have the necessary “enthusiasm” that previous presidents, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had and were ready to devote both their time and energy to see their mission through. Therefore, what he is required to do by his party is merely to create the minimum favorable atmosphere for his Party’s successor (if he wins the upcoming presidential elections) in a region where a large US military troop concentration is present.

It is a well-known fact that three out of the four of the Republican candidates have strong views that support the war in Iraq, i.e. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Only Mike Huckabee has described George Bush’s foreign policies as “arrogant.”

Therefore, Bush’s tour is nothing by a routine and ceremonial one. For he is keen to keep, after leaving politics, an open channel of communication with various regions of the world that have political and economic weight.

It is important therefore that one should deal practically and rationally with Bush’s upcoming tour to the region by accepting that he is a captain of “administrative” that looks like a ship stuck in the mud of Iraq, in enormous internal economic problems, in an environmental impasse, and in unprecedented international controversies surrounding his leadership.

However, one should also remember here the very fact that dealing with America is quite different from dealing with Bush, i.e. America has laws, agencies, and institutions that can be criticized and improved, and therefore channel of communication with them should be kept open in order to give them a true picture of the reality regardless how painful that might be as whatever is right will be accepted at the end — a fact that is respected by any free and honest human being.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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