Monday, November 05, 2007

The Powerlessness of Power

The unraveling of the Near East and Indian subcontinent illustrates the impotence of misused power. The United States remains the world military and economic hyperpower, but is helpless to stop the unraveling of the situations in Iraq, in Iran, on the Turkish/Kurdish border, and Pakistan. The Bush administration has next to no leverage in any of these situations, having tossed away its soft power and entangled itself in an utterly unnecessary misadventure in Iraq.

• Pakistan: The U.S. is dependent on Musharraf and can neither pressure him nor cut him off from aid. And any continuing support for him simply discredits the United States there.

• Iran: At one point Iran was prepared to negotiate away its nuclear programs. But now Iran has power and influence in Iran and its nuclear facilities are dispersed and hidden.

• Turkey and Kurdistan: The prospects increase of two U.S. allies going to war with each other, in what has been the only real success story in Iraq to date.

• Iran: A hopeless mess.

A detached observer would find the spectacle of a lone hyperpower rendered helpless by its own ill-considered and arrogant actions to be interesting. For those of us who live on earth, it’s also tragic and frightening.

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