March 20, 2001 (The Daily Brew) -- Though it is only a few short months into the Bush administration, it is hard to imagine how he could have moved any more quickly to make the world a far more dangerous place than it already was.
Let's start with the traditional bogeymen; large militarized nation states. Right out of the chute, Bush essentially restarted the cold war by loudly proclaiming his disdain for the nuclear test ban treaty. Never mind that the treaty is the linchpin holding together 30 years of US-Russian security agreements. Our formerly former adversaries were forced to reassess their commitment to 30 years of painstaking diplomacy and negotiations, along with it the resultant arms treaties. So much for the "peace dividend."
No better is Bush's ill-conceived missile defense program. Even though the prototype systems have failed basically every test they have ever run, and thousands of our top physicists have loudly and repeatedly proclaimed the system will never work, Bush knows better. The Chinese response was entirely predictable; a massive increase in their defense budget.
Moving on to the lesser bogeymen, the small militarized nation states, Bush fared even worse. The Arab world has largely come to view the continued sanctions against Iraq, which kill thousands of poor Iraqi children a year, as unduly punitive and counterproductive. Bush's response? He hadn't been in office two months before he tossed a few smart bombs at Iraq. Bush's spokespeople called the attacks "routine." Is that the new paradigm? Bombing Iraq is just part of running the government; sort of like getting the social security checks out on time? Sort of makes you wonder how exactly Bush is planning on convincing his "friends" in OPEC to reverse their present course and increase oil production, like he promised us in his campaign. Of course, lower oil prices would hurt the folks who dropped a cool $100 million into his campaign, so that promise had about as much weight as his pledge to regulate CO2 emissions. But I digress.
Bush went on to antagonize the North Koreans, blithely letting out this gem: "Part of the problem in dealing with North Korea," he said, "there's not very much transparency. We're not certain as to whether or not they're keeping all terms of all agreements." Of course, the U.S. has only one agreement with North Korea -- the 1994 plutonium agreement. So what the hell was Bush talking about? White House spokesmen told reporters that Bush was speaking about "possible future agreements." Huh? The North Koreans promptly canceled diplomatic meetings with the South Korean government, meetings which had been strongly encouraged by Western powers worried about global security threats should tension continue between the two countries.
Now, lets think about this for a minute. If Bush gets a rogue state like North Korea or Iraq mad enough at us, do you think they would attack us in a bold, Pearl Harbor type assault, thinking they could win an all out war with the United States? Or do you think they might try to hit us with a terrorist type attack, say detonating a nuclear bomb on a boat in San Francisco Bay or cracking open a vial of a biological weapon on international flight bound for LaGuardia? How is Bush's inoperable star wars defense system going to stop that? No matter; Bush didn't carry California or New York. They can just suffer those indignities along with the rolling blackouts.
Well, how about our allies? Surely Bush has done a better job with them? Not quite. Bush's fat cat Republican donors killed a bunch of Japanese fishermen while joy riding in a nuclear submarine. Oops. How about Europe? No luck there, either. Practically every policy with international implications Bush has articulated has been received horribly. Western Europe has the most to lose if a remilitarized Russia tests Bush's non-functioning missile defense shield. They were much happier with the idea of Russia decreasing its nuclear stockpile, but Bush has stopped that cold in its tracks. Western Europe lacks a big oil industry to con fundamentalists with bogus research on global warming, so they worry about catastrophic climate change. That means they were more upset with Bush's reversal on CO2 emissions than your average Southern Baptist.
A short two months into his term, friend and foe alike, Bush has pissed off everybody. About the only people on the planet who Bush hasn't given some reason to hate us are the members of the federalist society. They are too busy getting vetted for vacant federal judgeships.
Heaven help us.
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