Sunday, December 24, 2006

It Was A Very Bad Year

2006 was not one of the most pleasant years in my life, and I won't be all that sad to see it end. Still, it could've been worse, as my late father was wont to say. At least I don't have to look at the past year as a total failure. George W. Bush, if he has any powers of introspection, has to be even happier that the year only has one more week. There's someone who had a very bad year. In case Mr. Bush has trouble seeing just how bad it was, Germany's Die Welt provides a good list.

REPUTATION: According to several public opinion polls, only between 31 and 42 percent of American citizens now have confidence in Bush.

COMPANIONS: Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the Iraq War at the Pentagon, had to take his hat and leave. ...Even grumpy U.N.-Ambassador John Bolton threw in the towel. Bush spokesman Scott McClellen was likewise replaced along with much of the White House staff. Neoconservative spokesmen like Richard Pearle and William Kristol openly accuse Bush of mismanagement.

IRAQ: Even Bush doesn't bother to conceal Washington's embarrassment over the bloodshed and growing ethnic-religious tension in Iraq. At the end of the year, he hastily convened several committees to look for ways to prevent the, "entire region from plunging into chaos," as the Baker Commission wrote. This gloomy assessment is no longer challenged in Washington.

IRAN: The USA was unable to either prevent Teheran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions, or soften the Iranian President's shrill anti-Israel rhetoric. Bush now puts his hope in diplomatic solutions and the U.N. Security Council. And if all else fails, it's doubtful he even has a military card to play. Afghanistan and Iraq are already stretching the U.S. military to the limit, and the American public won't easily be persuaded to back another war. In Washington the feeling is spreading that the superpower is powerless.

FOREIGN POLICY: North Korea tested a nuclear bomb in spite of all of Washington's warnings. Pyongyang couldn't have shown more clearly how much of a "Paper Tiger" that the U.S. has become. In the Gaza Strip, the radical group Hamas came to power. In Lebanon, a war was waged for several weeks this summer and now the country is on the brink of civil war. Few now count on Washington's influence.

Now, if George W. Bush were just a citizen, I would be moved to try to console him. This is the season of good will, after all. But he isn't just a citizen, he's the President of the United States, and all of the bad things that befell him befell all of us, and we all will be paying for it for at least a generation. And all of those things that befell him (and us) were the direct results of all of his conscious decisions. He is reaping what he sowed.

With the new congress, I have some hope that next year will be better. I doubt that President Bush will see it that way. He's already indicated that there will be no real changes in the way he operates. And so for him, I see another very bad year.

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