Sunday, July 16, 2006
HELL ON EARTH: THE FAILURE OF BUSH NEOCONSERVATISM
The Bush administration has become as polarizing abroad as it is at home. The G8 Conference, virtually a shambles, has obviated chinks in the Bush diplomatic wall. The U.S. political agenda and its own version of the War on a Noun is pitted against the known world. While there are subtleties and nuances to which Bush supporters can cling to preserve the appearance of order and leadership by their President, most informed observers are viewing the events of the past week and the G8 summit as obviating the failures of neoconservative policies and the Bush foreign policy of unilateralism.
Just look at the headlines:
"Disputes Stall Efforts to Finance Medicine for Poor Countries"
New York Times, 7/16/2006
The United States is essentially pitted against the world because it wants to link the funding of medicines to poor countries with "economic incentives" for pharamceutical companies. Italy's Burlusconi had helped advance the concept as a proxy for the U.S. prior to his political demise. The U.S. now stands virtually alone.
“What’s concerning is how politicized the whole thing has become,” said Dr. Tido Von Schoen-Angerer of the Campaign for Essential Medicines at Doctors Without Borders. Critics of the proposal, in Germany and France, have worried that if the amount of money guaranteed to drug companies is too high, the plan could become a gift for Western manufacturers, particularly those in the United States.
France and Britain, meanwhile have come up with a plan for a levy on airline tickets that would fund the program. “Anything that smacks of a transnational tax is anathema to the U.S.,” said one official who was involved in the discussions.
"India will seek "zero tolerance" pledge on terrorism from G-8"
Here the problem is with the United States and it's relationship with Pakistan which has been an ally in the War on a Noun in Afghanistan. India has traced the recent terrorist bombing in Mumbai that killed hundreds to Pakistan. Although Pakistan denies that this is the case, it HAS been the case in the past. The effect of India's Anti-Terror initiative is to force the United States to accept that it's War on a Noun is not the only game in town. Terror is a fact of life among other nations and sometimes, as in the case of the Mumbai bombing, the U.S. agenda masks the more immediate threats of terrorism to other Countries like India. The United States is separated by an ocean where as cross-border terrorism is a fact of life for India.
"As Tensions Rise, U.S. and Moscow Falter on Trade"
Like it or not, the United States must face the reality that Russia has positioned itself to be a significant supplier of energy and a major consumer of European goods. For centuries, Moscow and St. Petersberg have been considered European Cities. In the time of the Russian Empire, the term "European Russia" was used in the Empire to refer to traditional East Slavic territories under Russian control, including modern Belarus and most of Ukraine (Dnieper Ukraine). Russia shares the Black Sea, and commerce, with middle-European states and President Putin feels that he meets the major criteria necessary to become a member of the WTO. They are a democracy, or at least a Republic, they have significant reserves of foreign exchange, they have a stock market, a central bank, and their currency floats in the basket of foreign exchange.
President Bush, meanwhile, raises "concern" about religious and civil freedon in Russia, suggesting that a "Green Zone" type democracy (my phrase not the president's) in Iraq would be preferable to whatever Russia has. This led to the following exchange _______________________________________________________________
From 7.16.06 NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/16/world/europe/16summit.html
In the sharpest exchange, Mr. Bush said he had told Mr. Putin during a private dinner here Friday night about “my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq — where there is a free press and free religion — and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope Russia would do the same thing.”
Mr. Putin, standing bolt upright in a dark blue suit, responded dryly, “We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly” — a clear dig at the challenges still facing the American-supported government there. Mr. Bush, in a light blue suit and standing more casually than his counterpart, turned to face Mr. Putin, smiled and said, almost to himself, “Just wait.”
In Another Headline:
"Bush, Peers Worlds Apart on Approach to the Crisis"
LA Times, 07.16.06
Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, is considered an ally of the United States. The Bush White House was never shy about pointing to Lebanon as one of the great successes of neoconservative bullying (my phrase not theirs) after the invasion of Iraq, as Syria was forced to withdraw from Lebanon.
Background. On June 21, 2005, George Hawi, the former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party was also assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut. The assassination of Hariri resulted in huge anti-Syrian protests by Lebanese citizens in Beirut demanding the resignation of the pro-Syrian government. (From Wikipedia:) "Following the examples of the Rose Revolution and Orange Revolution in 2004, the popular action was dubbed the "Cedar Revolution" by the US State Department, a name which quickly caught on among the international media. On February 28, 2005, with over 70,000 people demonstrating in Martyrs' Square, Prime Minister Omar Karami and his Cabinet resigned. They remained in office temporarily in a caretaker role prior to the appointment of replacements, as outlined by the constitution. Eventually Syria withdrew and after the elections, Hariri's Future Movement party, now the country's dominant political force, nominated Fouad Siniora, a former Finance Minister, to be Prime Minister."
Blind Support for Isreal. It is seemingly not in the United States' interest to destablilize the current Lebanese government...but allowing Isreal to invade the country to "root out terrorists" by which Isreal means the millions of members of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Bush Adminsitration has done just that. By not reigning in Isreal, which the Bush administration has the power to do, the United States has forced Prime Minister Siniora to oppose Isreal. Isreal, meanwhile, in a full military paroxysm of fear and aggression, threatens both Syria and Iran with a wider war.
The international community, including most of the G8, are on one side, questioning the proportionality of Isreal's response, and the Bush administration is on the other side supporting Isreal's actions.
This has not been a good week for the Bush neoconservatives. But that is scant comfort for those of us opposed to Bush policies-- because a good week for them is usually a bad week for everyone else while (as long as they are in power) a bad week for them is, literally, Hell on Earth.