Friday, December 01, 2006
The Bush Legacy
The disastrous military and foreign policy of President Bush has run its course. Bush has brought the United States to defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The events are still working themselves out, but defeat is assured. No aspect of this is a surprise at all; every bit of the disaster was predicted well before the invasion of Iraq.
The Bush-Neocon "strategy" was insane from the start. In Afghanistan, they believed it wasn’t necessary to follow through against al Qaeda and the Taliban, they cut military strength and shifted it to Iraq, they failed to deliver promised aid and reconstruction – leaving Afghanistan a shambles, and a leaving dangerous enemies free to reorganize. In Iraq – which was not a terrorist threat – the insane notion was that a quick toppling of Saddam Hussein would be followed by establishment of pro-American popular democracy, where the people would gratefully repay America with a flood of cheap oil, and serve as an inspiration to all of their neighbors, who would follow in their footsteps and establish liberal democracies.
Now the U.S. Army is completely tied down in two no-win disasters, Afghanistan and Iraq are both completely destabilized, radical Shiites – especially in Iran, and Hezbollah as well – have been empowered beyond their wildest dreams, and America’s allies – well, most people rightfully look at the United States as something of a rogue nation. The defeat is certain. Events haven’t finished running their course yet, but there’s no averting defeat.
The only real hope now is that the United States get rid of the Bush administration (hopefully before these criminals start an insane and suicidal 4th quarter "Hail Mary" war on Iran), confess our sins, and beg the rest of the world for forgiveness and help.
Hahaha – fat chance of that. What will happen, I think, is the following:
1. America will leave both Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan will revert to a Taliban stronghold, and Iraq – after a period of horrible bloodletting, will fall under control of some new strongman, a Shiite this time, and hopefully one who isn’t too anti-Western. Al Qaeda and radical Shiites will be strengthened, and will be pressing hard to expand their power in the region. All of this will be a terrible blow to genuine pro-freedom reformers in the Middle East, tragically, although perhaps other Middle East regimes will begin taking the initiative in opposing Islamic fundamentalism.
I don’t think anything can avert this overall scenario. It is already too late.
2. America will retreat from the field, and find itself in an economic debacle as our irresponsible Federal deficits begin taking their toll. The scapegoat for this debacle will be free trade in general and China in particular, and America will go into a period of economic isolationism. All of this might be averted, but it would take a combination of fiscal responsibility and international economic diplomacy, and I see no American politician with either the intellect or the moral strength for this. (Memo to Republicans: economic diplomacy means friendly cooperation and coordination – with China and with "old" Europe). Instead, we are likely to get greatly increased economic intervention, a stronger welfare state, and protectionism – all of which will reduce America’s economic strength.
3. The net effect of these two points will be an American decline. American power will be eclipsed, to some extent – not eliminated, America will remain a superpower. But America will no longer be the sole world hyperpower. America will emerge weakened economically, militarily, diplomatically, and at home, politically, as we suffer from reduced liberty.
It is very difficult to guess what the new world order emerging from this would look like. Europe, India, China, Russia, a non-fundamentalist Muslim world, a fundamentalist Muslim world are all contenders (I would guess in that order). I suppose we will see the world divided into regional powers, with no clear leader. Much of this is not a very good thing.
Very bleak, no? I think this is the darkest that things have appeared in the post-Soviet era. The shambles has many sources, but it is most attributable to the administration of George W. Bush, and American conservatives in general, and was mostly avoidable. Still, this isn’t pessimistic, but just realism. These points are simply the likely implications of the following unquestionable facts: (1) The military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed, and U.S. land power is strained and depleted. (2) American soft power is essentially gone, thrown away. (3) The American financial position is very bad. So this isn’t pessimism, just realism.
Let’s just hope that Bush-Cheney don’t start another war before they go by attacking Iran, something which might well cause the entire Middle East to descend into war (and possibly a world war). And that there’s no major terrorist attack in the U.S. soon, since the Republican framework for a full-blown police state – e.g. the PATRIOT (sic) Act – will be used fully at home.
I’m guessing these won’t happen…so, in fact, my story above – this is optimism!