Fred Kaplan: Bush’s Many Miscalculations
Painful as it is to recall those planes smashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon two years ago this week, it’s nearly as heartbreaking to think back on the moment of nascent harmony that ticked in the wake of the attack–until President Bush decided to reject the opportunity that History thrust before him.
Remember? The French newspaper Le Monde, never one for trans-Atlantic sentimentalism, proclaimed, “We are all Americans.” The band outside Buckingham Palace played “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a changing of the guard, as thousands of Londoners tearfully waved American flags. Most significant, the European leaders of NATO, for the first time in the organization’s history, invoked Article 5 of its charter, calling on its 19 member-nations to treat the attack on America as an attack on them all–a particularly moving gesture, as Article 5 had been intended to guarantee American retaliation against an attack on Europe.
But the Bush administration brushed aside these supportive gestures–and that may loom as the greatest tragedy of Sept. 11, apart from the tolls taken by the attack itself.