Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Bastions of democracy' falling apart for US

First Afghanistan and Iraq, then the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon, and now Georgia. The Bush administration's goal to bring democracy to troubled regions has been torn to bits.

Russia's ferocious drive to obliterate a US proxy in Georgia is the last pin pulled on Bush's democratic dream.

Whether it is Barack Obama or John McCain, America's new president will awake in 2009 with the view of a world gripped in tension, distrust and anger as a result of 8 years of foreign policy failures by the Bush administration.

Instead of seeking peace in the never-ending Middle Eastern conflict, Bush expanded the peril with talk of his neocon "Clean Break" agenda. The invasion of Iraq was coupled by Israel's failed war against Lebanon, and the prospects of a nuclear Iran are ever more real.

The war in Afghanistan started in 2001 and should have ended in 2001. The Taliban were driven out of the country overnight. All the Americans had to do was invest in the reconstruction of the country and help develop an impoverished, wartorn country's economy. It was this Marshall Plan-type strategy that won the US allies in South Korea, Japan and Germany. Give to the people and they will give back. The Americans gave nothing to Afghanistan, which paved the way for a Taliban return. Now the Karzai government has lost governance in parts of his country, and the Taliban look set for a frightening come back.

And the timebomb the Americans should never have tampered with has just exploded ... the former Soviet republics. Humiliated in the 1990s, Russia has turned around its fortunes, largely due to a fiercely nationalistic leader in Putin and the vast energy resources lying within Russia's borders. The Americans had countless of opportunities to defrost the ice that stood between Washington and Moscow, but instead chose to kick the bear when it was down.

The US sponsored "revolutions" in Ukraine and Georgia that produced anti-Russian regimes. It threw the Baltic states on the NATO bandwagon. It built pipelines in the former Soviet states in the Caucasus and Central Asia. It ignored non-proliferation treaties signed with the Soviets and redrew plans for "star wars" ICBMs. It plans to base missiles in the former Warsaw Pact countries of Poland and Czech Republic. And last but not the least, the US recognised the independence of Kosovo.

The list of American aggravations towards Russia could continue. It was only a matter of time before the bubble popped. Judging by Russia's rapid and large-scale response to Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, the Kremlin had been eagerly waiting for the right moment to reclaim dominance in its backyard.

The United States has failed miserably at managing global affairs under the Bush leadership. Its blunders have not only caused deaths upon thousands throughout the world, but has created great global instability and fear.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those who drown in their illusions of power will only find themselves destroyed by it. The Bush administration - in line with neocon thinking - has followed a foreign policy of military and economic arrogance and belligerence. Neocon doctrine subscribes to a narrow line of thinking that believes that US interests can be enhanced through the sheer use of military might and economic bullying. Indeed, under Bush, this has been his way of dealing with the world. It has clearly backfired.

Bush departs from the scene in 2008 and will leave behind an unstable Middle East with alarming levels of anti-Americanism; an Iran bent on nuclear proliferation; a Taliban on the road to reconquering Afghanistan; a wartorn Iraq leaning towards Tehran; and a resurgent Russia that has blasted away America's main ally in a vital energy and strategic region in the Caucasus.
That is not to forget the anti-American, left-wing fever that has swept South America, with Hugo Chavez at its helm.

All of which has left the US' place in the world much weaker than what it was in 2000.

The presidential election in November will be among the most crucial elections in America's history as far as the global impact is concerned. The American public must be aware of how pivotal this moment in time is and how careful their votes must be. I fear it maybe too late for the US - either under Obama or McCain - to restore order to a world it has just unravelled.

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