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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bush Doctrine Dead (Like it Ever Stood a Chance)

These past two weeks the media has picked up on what is now being called "the end of cowboy diplomacy". In other words, the Bush Administration's ridiculous approach to foreign policy has failed so miserably that it has been forced to make a drastic change in its approach and tone. Gone is the cowboy rhetoric known for unnecessary utterances like "wanted: dead or alive" and "bring it on", replaced by a more measured approach and retractments from statements such as those. Of course, the shift is not by choice. The United States finds itself in a very precarious position. By undertaking unilaterally the conflict in Iraq, it has affected its ability to influence favorably everything else. The overextension of military resources and the economic cost of the war has limited U.S. power. Allies, and enemies, have taken advantage of this position. Every possible hotspot around the world has heated up, not by coincidence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran nuclear stand off, the North Korea missile crisis, the genocide in Sudan, the economic growth of China, all dangerous threats in their own right, have grown beyond the Administration's ability to do anything about them. That doesn't even include the mess that is Iraq, and the growing mess that is Afghanistan. While Bush has been busy crafting his own ill conceived war, every serious threat to the national security of the United States has escalated UNDER HIS WATCH! So much for national security. While Bush has been focusing almost entirely on Iraq, North Korea has allegedly developed nuclear weapons, the Israeli-Palestinian peace has been destroyed, Iran has flicked the finger at the U.S., Sudan's genocide has been ignored, and China has grown at a 10% rate and owns a lot of the U.S. debt and trade. And that does not cover Iraq. In pursuing its revolutionary idea to forcibly democratize a region in order to fight Islamic extremism, the Bush administration has unwittingly pushed some countries to elect governments that are more sympathetic to the Islamic extremist movement than with the Unted States. And when a government is DEMOCRATICALLY elected that does not suit the U.S., they shun it, I.E. Hamas. What kind of sham is our government running? Basically, if something doesn't turn out how they want then they criticize and sanction it, even if it is elected by the process the U.S. is trying to promote. This is hypocrisy at the highest level. Because the U.S. is stretched so thin, the only real option left to deal with these new issues is diplomacy. Probably the most important person in the Bush Administration right now is Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. A Bush hawk in the first term, when she served as national security advisor, Rice has undertaken her new position responsibly and has established herself as Bush's most trusted advisor. The fact that Rice has ammended her approach to foreign policy to a more realistic one can only bode well for an Administration that is known for ignoring diplomacy and following ideology. Too bad that the rest of the world got so bad during the process.

Annals from Bushworld

In the past few days President Bush has been stumping for what he believes is great economic progress. The numbers seem pretty good, so why are people not giving him any credit for it?

The President fails to mention, and highlight specifically, the fact that this is a good economy for the investor class, not for the worker class. The economy has been grwing for thirty straight months, but regular folks are getting squeezed more and more. Wages have remained stagnant for almost ten years, while healthcare, gas and energy, tuition costs have exploded, and inflation has driven the price of everything up. We are in period of stagflation. So, while the investor classes get richer, the workers get poorer and the middle class shrinks. Yes, the economic number, on average, look good. But when broken down into more specific categories, they look really good for one group, and really bad for the other.

On another economic note, the President has also been gloating over the anouncement that the new deficit forecast will be $296 billion, not the $400+ billion forecast previously. Though this is a large improvement, keep in mind that the White House always takes the optimistic approach to calculating the deficit, and also excludes the cost of both wars (which will happen no more since Congress passed a bill banning the practice). It would be no surprise if in the next few months there is a revising of that projection. Regardless, I do not remember a time when having a $300 billion deficit was something to gloat about. To put matters into context, the deficit represents about 2.3% of the size of the economy, so it should be manageable. Still, you have a White House whose CIC has never vetoed a spending bill, and a VP who infamously uttered the stupid comment "deficits don't matter". I certainly hope that Laurel and Hardy have gotten beyond previous beliefs. But can you realistically expect that.

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