Time refers to it as “The End of Cowboy Diplomacy,” while the New York Times portrays it as “Bush’s Shift: Being Patient With Foes.”


What “it” is, in this case, looks to be this week’s conventional wisdom concerning the future of the White House. Apparently, the Bush administration is done with twisting arms, stepping on toes and showing up uninvited, and is ready to talk through problems - or at least according to Time and the Times.


But not everyone is so sure. Bark Bark Woof Woof says “anyone who is familiar with the work of real cowboys wouldn’t slander them with the comparison to Bush’s foreign policy. Real cowboys know that their work requires patience and compromise, especially if you’re dealing with nearsighted animals that outweigh you by ten times and can kill you with one swift kick. Anyone who swaggers into a barn is more likely to leave a lot more bow-legged than they were when they arrived.”


The Moderate Voice doesn’t see much new here, as “This not the first time this has happened to a President who had his own approach to foreign or other affairs — it’s just that it has taken a bit longer with this one. Sooner or later there seems to be a kind of convergence of various geopolitical, international and domestic factors that cause Presidents to adjust their course or approach.


“The question: is this limited to the touchy North Korea situation or part of a more general shift that’ll become more apparent as Bush’s second term winds down?”


Liberty and Justice takes the tack of defending the very policies that Time says the president has abandoned: “Of course Time does not propose another way of dealing with the problems, instead it notices that Bush has changed his approach in the last year or two…” and takes the magazine to task for being short-sighted. “Time seems to forget that the world wasn’t all rozy [sic] before Bush came to power. Heck, what convinced Bush of the need of an aggressive foreign policy in the first place was an attack on America. This attack was a sign that the foreign policy used before then had failed. There had to be a change.”


Expose the Left unsurprisingly attacks the messenger, on the premise that the media is more to blame for the president’s woes than the president. This time, the simple act of running down a list of pressing international problems (“A grinding and unpopular war in Iraq, a growing insurgency in Afghanistan, an impasse over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, brewing war between Israel and the Palestinians—the litany of global crises would test the fortitude of any president, let alone a second-termer with an approval rating mired in Warren Harding territory,”) gets the knee-jerk stock response, “I just love how the MSM makes up these silly stories just to get their anti-Bush opinion across.”


Problem is, we never learn which of the stories in that litany is “made up,” or “silly.” Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Israel? Palestine? Too bad…


Strata-Sphere is similarly exercised, with an often-tenuous grasp on grammar, “The media elite are [sic] getting a chance to peer out of their elitist ivory towers and see why Clinton’s feel-good rhetoric was just a charade meant to hide the ugly truth of the world from those who have no intestinal fortitude.”


Strata also thinks Time is focusing on the bad news, while ignoring the good, since it “ignores the successes in Pakistan and the break up of the AQ Kahn nuclear weapons underground ring…”


To this we suggest a dip into Ron Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine, or William Langewiesche’s earlier long piece on Khan. Both make it clear that, by any definition, the wrapping up of Kahn hardly qualifies as an unalloyed “success” or a victory worth boasting about.

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.