Bushondartsboard_1William Hague et al return from a trip to Washington that was notable for a little bit of finger-wagging at the Bush administration.  Finger-wagging that provoked disapproval from The Times.

Mr Hague’s remarks were pretty measured, on the whole, however.  In contrast, Bush-bashing is an endless sport on the Today programme.  For the umpteenth time this morning’s 8.10am interview was dedicated to the Guantanamo Bay controversy (although, for once, platformed a defender of America’s policy).

When was the last time that the Today programme dedicated its plum slot to the situation in Darfur where at least 200,000 – and, perhaps, 400,000 – people have died?  Is the loss of life in Darfur really less serious an issue than the decision of the USA to detain enemy combatants at Guantanamo (under rules of war entirely consistent with the allies’ containment of WWII PoWs)?

Today’s Washington Post and New York Times report on Bush’s attempts to double the peacekeeping force in Darfur.  America’s President hopes to use his country’s chairmanship of the UN Security Council to add 7,000 NATO troops to the 7,000 African Union troops.  These NATO troops would do more than double the scale of commitment – they would add a professional and technical edge that the less well-resourced African troops cannot match.  Bush hopes to use the interim period to encourage NATO to provide more support to the AU deployment.

The US has already provided $190m for training of the AU deployment and President Bush has just asked Congress for another $500m for assistance to Darfur.

David Cameron made a passionate commitment to Darfur during his leadership bid and it must be hoped that the Conservative Party presses the British government to match the White House’s (belated) commitment to this sad corner of Africa.


As the Tories return from America I would like to briefly highlight three other areas that we could learn from Bush…

(1) The role that tax relief plays in encouraging economic growth… Bush has established a Dynamic Analysis Division to increase understanding of the incentive benefits of certain tax cuts: "Unless policymakers can see that some tax policy changes support more vigorous economic activity while others do not, they may (and indeed have) enact tax laws that are, at best, economically meaningless or, at worst, downright harmful. Dynamic scoring can help to sort the good from the bad." (Heritage Foundation).

(2) The importance of investing in marriage and fatherhood.  The administration has just invested $150m pa in voluntary sector services to build healthy marriages.  Its part of a bid to reduce the cost to taxpayers of family breakdown and should be studied by the pro-marriage David Cameron.

(3) The campaigning skills of the Republican party and wider conservative movement.  Donal Blaney has written about this on today’s Platform.