Top Bush aide confuses Tibet with Nepal

Freddie Lee/FOX News Sunday/Getty Images As McClatchy’s Tim Johnson notes, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley confused Tibet with Nepal five times yesterday on ABC’s This Week. Whoops. (To be fair, host George Stephanopoulos didn’t correct him, either.) Perhaps, as Johnson suggests, Hadley had just been briefed on the Maoists’ great victory in Nepal and ...

By , a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
595482_080414_hadley2.jpg
595482_080414_hadley2.jpg

Freddie Lee/FOX News Sunday/Getty Images

Freddie Lee/FOX News Sunday/Getty Images

As McClatchy’s Tim Johnson notes, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley confused Tibet with Nepal five times yesterday on ABC’s This Week. Whoops. (To be fair, host George Stephanopoulos didn’t correct him, either.)

Perhaps, as Johnson suggests, Hadley had just been briefed on the Maoists’ great victory in Nepal and got mixed up. But perhaps he was so focused on not giving any hint as to whether President Bush will attend the opening ceremonies in Beijing that he lost focus. Stephanopolous tried repeatedly to get Hadley to commit Bush one way or the other, but he wouldn’t budge from his talking points.

So, why hasn’t Bush announced his plans? If you think about it logically, it’s actually a wise move on his part. His administration has no wish to antagonize the Chinese government and people by boycotting (just look at what has already happened to the French). But if Bush commits to attending and there is some kind of major, Tiananmen-style atrocity, he’ll come under tremendous domestic pressure not to go. Even without such an event, such pressure could steadily build and he’ll have to skip the opening ceremonies, at a minimum. Better to preserve ambiguity for now and potentially save the Chinese a huge embarrassment down the road.

Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.
The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose

Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.

The West’s Incoherent Critique of Israel’s Gaza Strategy

The reality of fighting Hamas in Gaza makes this war terrible one way or another.

Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.
Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.

Biden Owns the Israel-Palestine Conflict Now

In tying Washington to Israel’s war in Gaza, the U.S. president now shares responsibility for the broader conflict’s fate.

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.
U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.

Taiwan’s Room to Maneuver Shrinks as Biden and Xi Meet

As the latest crisis in the straits wraps up, Taipei is on the back foot.