Bush's New-Found Diplomatic Style
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
Three-quarters of the way through his term in office, President Bush has apparently decided to put away his cowboy spurs and try a softer touch.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: Inherent powers and pre-emptive attack are terms that have almost disappeared from the White House lexicon. The President has bowed to the Supreme Court, and for the first time, acknowledged that detainees have rights under international law spelled out in the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners.
The Pentagon has issued a memorandum to that effect, covering service personnel. It is unclear whether intelligence agencies will follow suit. Some of the arrogant favoritism to administration friends may be diminishing. The Army is ending its no-bid contract with the giant Halliburton company, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
American diplomacy has taken on a softer tone. North Korea and Iran are admonished to give up their threatening arms programs, but there are no ultimatums. Iran is offered a bag of economic and energy goodies as an incentive to cooperate, and when no reply is forthcoming, the United States joins other countries in referring the issue to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.
The summer session of the G-8 Industrial Powers in St. Petersburg this weekend may provide a test of President Bush's current diplomatic style. If he does not seize the opportunity to criticize his host - President Vladimir Putin - for backsliding on democracy, he will disappoint his core conservatives at home.
But the confrontation will provide an indication of whether cowboy diplomacy for President Bush is really over. This is Daniel Schorr.