Bush in Mongolia

by Nathan Hamm on 11/21/2005 · 6 comments

I’ll refrain from doing my own little roundup in favor of pointing you to all the other blogs discussing Bush’s visit to Mongolia.

Gateway Pundit has plenty of links and pictures.

Coming Anarchy has a bit of trivia regarding the visit and a second post with one of the cooler pictures from the visit.

Mongolian Matters has posts on Bush’s visit here, here, and here.

Nick Tay, meanwhile, has video. There are also roundups at Democracy in Central Asia and AsiaPundit.

Update: Check out Prime Minister Elbegdorj Tsakhia’s op-ed in WaPo (via Ace).

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Laurence November 22, 2005 at 12:40 pm

Wonder if Bush thought through all the public diplomacy ramifications of his visit, before going to Ulaan Bator?

As Bush’s official White House terrorism expert Michael Doran noted in his Foreign Affairs article Somebody Else’s Civil War:

When thinking about the world today and their place in it, the extremist Salafis do not reflect only on the story of the foundation of Islam. They also scour more than a millennium of Islamic history in search of parallels to the present predicament. In his “Declaration of War,” for instance, bin Laden states that the stationing of American forces on the soil of the Arabian peninsula constitutes the greatest aggression committed against the Muslims since the death of the Prophet in AD 632.

To put this claim in perspective, it is worth remembering that in the last 1,300 years Muslims have suffered a number of significant defeats, including but not limited to the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate by the Mongols, an episode of which bin Laden is well aware. In 1258 the ruthless Mongol leader Hulegu sacked Baghdad, killed the caliph, and massacred hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, stacking their skulls, as legend has it, in a pyramid outside the city walls. Whatever one thinks about US policy toward Iraq, few in America would argue that the use of Saudi bases to enforce the sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime constitutes a world-historical event on a par with the Mongol invasion of the Middle East. Before September 11, one might have been tempted to pass off as nationalist hyperbole bin Laden’s assumption that U.S. policy represents the pinnacle of human evil. Now we know he is deadly serious.

The magnitude of the attacks on New York and Washington make it clear that al Qaeda does indeed believe itself to be fighting a war to save the umma from Satan, represented by secular Western culture. Extreme though they may be, these views extend far beyond al Qaeda’s immediate followers in Afghanistan. Even a quick glance at the Islamist press in Arabic demonstrates that many Muslims who do not belong to bin Laden’s terrorist network consider the United States to be on a moral par with Genghis Khan.

Nathan November 22, 2005 at 12:52 pm

Laurence, I find it rather strange that you’d make this point, and it suggests you’re making a knee-jerk criticism of Bush.

One way of putting it would be to say that you’re not particularly interested in accomodating Islamist ideology. I think I’m right to assume that this means you agree with Andrew McCarthy on Iraq’s constitution. The propriety of Islam’s enshrinement in the document isn’t something I want to debate, but I am closer to Krauthammer on it.

And I go through all that to wonder why you would, more or less, preach sensitivity to the Islamist’s stubborn insistence to let distant history be fodder for burning rage and knock Bush for visiting Mongolia. Sure, some Islamists are going to flip, but I’m sure there is some Islamist out there whose fires are stoked by the fact that Bush visited the Arabs’ enemy at Talas right before Mongolia.

I also fail to see why this would be any more of a public diplomacy problem than the actual stationing of Mongol troops in Muslim lands.

Why the sensitivity for the public diplomacy implications for an intractable enemy with whom we are locked in a struggle to the death? Would you make the same point about the Yalta conference during WWII?

Laurence November 23, 2005 at 8:33 am

Nathan, I’m glad Bush went to Mongolia, it’s a nice country, every Mongolian I’ve met has been intelligent and well educated. The country has a good educational system thanks to the Soviet legacy. I’d like to visit someday, myself.

However, my point is about Bush’s strategy–or lack thereof–in his Global War on Terror. President Bush historically appeared to pay deference to Islamists in public appearances. For example:

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – (AP) President Bush deleted word “crusade” — considered an inflammatory reference by Muslims — on Wednesday as he recalled Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s message to allied troops before the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France, 60 years ago. [link at dhimmiwatch

I’m making the point that Bush probably didn’t think about reaction in the Islamist world towards paying tribute to Genghis Khan. I bet he didn’t realize it might further inflame the terrorists.

Of course, I have nothing against Genghis Khan or the word “crusade.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the latter to describe WWII and the New Deal, and he’s my favorite President.

The former is a hero in Central Asia and an ancestor by marriage of Uzbek national hero Amir Timur–who also sacked Baghdad.

My point is that unlike FDR or Eisenhower, Bush is sending out mixed messages, and so may be leading America to defeat rather than victory.

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