I happen to think that he did mean it; and that despite the wishful thinking we have been reading about in the press-- that he has abandoned "cowboy diplomacy" and given in to the "realists" at the State Department--George Bush is pretty much the same man he has always been.
In other words, I agree completely with this assessment:
Let's imagine, and this is purely hypothetical, that President Bush has already decided that he will not leave office in January 2009 without a satisfactory resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem. Let's imagine that he has already determined that if he cannot obtain Iran's agreement to dismantle its nuclear weapons program voluntarily and verifiably, then he will order some form of military action to destroy as much of that program as possible before he leaves. Let's imagine that he has resolved not to end his two terms in office the way Bill Clinton ended his, by leaving every major international crisis -- from Iraq to Iran to North Korea to al-Qaeda -- for his successor.
Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that Bush had made such a decision. What would he be doing right now? The answer is that he might be doing exactly what he is doing.
-He might be letting the ridiculous and increasingly irrelevant UN continue to make a mockery of itself and its inability to stand for anything, let alone peace;
-He might be allowing the futile international diplomacy of the EU play itself out and come to naught;
-He might be demonstrating ad nauseum to the hysterics on the political left that he is--first and foremost--committed to trying diplomacy to solve the problems created by fanatics and thugs who see diplomacy as a sign of weakness.
-He might be genuinely and sincerely invested in doing all he can to make diplomacy work despite all the setbacks dealty by the ill will of those being negotiated with;
-He might be doing all of the above, knowing full well that diplomacy will very likely not work with Iran; diplomacy with not work with Hizbollah; diplomacy will not work with Hamas and the Palestinians; and diplomacy will not work with North Korea.
My reading of President Bush's character coincides with Kagan's:
The likely failure of diplomacy would not deter Bush from pursuing it, however. If and when it failed, he would be able to choose the military course, and no fair person could accuse him of not having tried to bring the world along to do what had to be done. At least he would know in his own mind that he had sincerely given diplomacy a chance. And when he ordered the strike on Iran, he would know that, whatever else could be said about him, he would not go down in history as the man who let the mullahs have the bomb.
It's just a theory.
But having observed Bush closely now for several years, it's a very good one.
In a much earlier post, I said of Bush:
Bush does not pretending to be intellectually superior and can easily make fun of himself. Nor does it seem to matter much to him that everyone doesn't totally adore him. He tackles hard problems head on (which most politicians lack the courage to do) and perseveres in trying to fix them. He indeed "muddles along", misspeaks, and even screws up from time to time; but he presses on and actually gets things done.
This is what I have always liked best about Bush; and why I think he is an excellent President in many ways.
I think he has a plan; and that we will see it play out before the end of his term.
UPDATE: I want to point you to an important post at SC&A that evaluates the EU and the UN's belief that the Israeli response to the Palestinian and Lebanese aggression is ‘disproportianate’. He suggests a dose of reality. "The Israelis have been remarkably restrained. The Palestinians and Hizbollah wanted to play. Now, they will have to pay."
Sadly, neither the UN or the EU are big on reality. (The Belmont Club has some recent developments on that front)
UPDATE II: Neither are the lunatic lefties at Kos--but you knew that.