Tolkien Internationalism

George W. Bush, it turns out, is actually Gollum.

As almost everyone knows, Gollum is the character from The Lord of the Rings trilogy with a severe split-personality disorder. He hates J.R.R. Tolkien's protagonist, Frodo Baggins, because Frodo's uncle took Gollum's precious ring -- the ring that Frodo now wears and that Gollum covets. At the same time, Gollum also loves Frodo, his "master," for treating him with kindness. Gollum expresses this inner war through his oft-repeated refrain, "We hates master. No! No! We loves master."

With that in mind, consider some of our president's recent foreign-policy pronouncements:

We hates the United Nations. No! No! We loves the United Nations.

The administration has managed to argue that America must go to war because the United Nations is ineffectual and irrelevant -- and that America must go to war to safeguard that institution's integrity: "If we need to act, we will act. And we really don't need United Nations approval to do so," Bush said at his press conference last Thursday. But back in September, he said, "How we deal with this problem will help determine the fate of a multilateral body, which has been unilaterally ignored by Saddam Hussein."

We hates military rule. No! No! We loves military rule.

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said last week that the United States would not impose military rule on Iraq after Hussein is deposed. "We believe that when Iraq has been liberated from this terrible regime, the Iraqi people will be perfectly capable of running their own affairs," she said. Of course, that's a far cry from the administration's position last fall, when this headline in The Guardian announced, "US plans military rule and occupation of Iraq."

We wants Hussein to disarm. No! No! We wants warsy anyways.

"If the Iraqi regime were disarming, we would know it because we would see it," Bush said at his recent press conference. "Iraq Begins Destroying Missiles U.N. Ruled Illegal," read a New York Times headline just days before.

We loves the Mexicans. No! No! We hates the Mexicans.

"It's comforting to know that our friend to the south is going to be a friend in good times and in tough times," Bush said of Mexico less than one month after September 11. Last week, according to Paul Krugman's New York Times op-ed column, Bush told the Copley News Service "that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, 'there will be a certain sense of discipline.'"

We hates the Europeans. No! No! We loves the Europeans.

Yesterday, The Associated Press reported the following: "Speaking particularly about French and German opposition to the U.S. plan, Bush said: 'We have a disagreement over how best to deal with Saddam Hussein.'" But then the president added, "Having said that, they're still our friends."

We hates talks with North Korea. No! No! We loves talks with North Korea.

In January, USA Today reported, "The United States refuses to talk until the North scraps its nuclear programs." A little more than a year earlier, however, Bush had said, "My administration wishes to begin a dialogue with the government of Kim Jong II."

We hates war with North Korea. No! No! We loves war with North Korea.

Early this year, according to this piece from the Chicago Tribune, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "Nobody's going to attack North Korea. Why would we want to attack North Korea?" But The New York Times reported last week, "Mr. Bush then added, almost as an aside, that if the administration's efforts 'don't work diplomatically, they'll have to work militarily.'"

We could go on. (We hates nation building. No! No! We loves nation building.) But you get the idea.

Alex Gourevitch is a Prospect writing fellow.

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