The best evaluation of the Bush administration in 2007 came from Kevin Conrad at the Bali Conference on global warming when he said to the United States: “We seek your leadership. But, if for some reason, you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us.Please get out of our way.” Upon his assumption to the presidency in 2001, Bush led the world’s super power, today, after seven years of ineptitude and confusion, that world is over and has been replaced by one in which China, Russia, India, and the European Union now share joint planet leadership. In 2001, an American tourist could get a decent return when exchanging his dollar bill for a Euro, today, it is worth about 60% of the Euro. The steady decline of America continues as Bush rides into the sunset of retirement.
A humbled Russia was unable in 2001 to use its political or economic power on the world arena, today, the arrogant, sneering voice of Vladmir Putin lectures America on what it can or can not do. The Iraq debacle has damaged the reputation and the economic power of the United States. Once upon a time, most people in Turkey respected the United States, today, that support has sunk to about 9% favorable rating. Afghanistan has been allowed to stumble from a golden opportunity to achieve peace and security to a nation at odds with itself and confused about future directions. Bill Clinton left Bush an opportunity to pick up on his efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict but the Republican president declined the offer to allow anything initiated by a Democrat to move toward success.
How stands America as the new year begins? Pakistan is a basket case. Iraq is torn by religious division. The housing market has bottomed out in America, the Republican Party has seven dwarfs seeking its nomination, Dick Cheney is sitting in a dark room mumbling and planning some military attack on Iran to end WMD once again that do not exist, and global warming proceeds without an effective program from the United States– its major factor. Bush is simply lost and confused. The latest manifestation is his veto of a defense bill that his own party supported because, at the last moment, his incompetent staff noticed a proviso that allowed victims of the Saddam Hussein brutality to sue for compensation. Sorry, this is Bush time, and when anything threatens banks,(the Iraq government threatened to withdraw its money from US banks) he will step up to the plate to defend them. Mr. Bush never met a tax deficit he could not embrace.
The war in Iraq continues. It will go on and on throughout this year. The prospect for an Israel-Palestine pace agreement is tenuous until the United States exerts pressure on Israel to end its West Bank settlements and get Hamas involved in negotiations. America’s infrastructure needs a few hundred billion in repairs. There is need to finally confront issues of oil dependency and get away from the disastrous use of corn to make fuel. America is at a crossroads and which road it selects is uncertain. The only certainty is that an incoming president will have to make wise decisions that take into account decades rather than months and years.
We now have five superpowers. America must learn to live with that reality.