Lurching to a finish, Decider George will leave the next president a foreign policy situation worse-than a can of big, ugly worms.
This particular can, however, is way-different, thus making the worms way-different — they’ve been trip wired, booby trapped, apt to explode when touched a certain way.
And they’re really, really slimy.
Worm One: Iraq, quickly becoming a much-bigger failure; Worm Two: Afghanistan, the Taliban more vicious and clever; Worm Three: Pakistan, ready to collapse; Worm Four: Somalia, pirates and al-Qeada; Worm Five: Syria, a non-lethal worm until just this week.
(Illustration found here).
A nasty legacy left for most-hopeful a President Obama.
And one of our favorite commentators, Rosa Brooks of the LA Times, worried pretty bluntly today about the booby trapped worms facing the next commander-in-chief (she also poses a President Obama) and how they could easily blow up in his face.
- But every new president is “tested” by national security crises, some predictable, some not.
And I’m a lot less worried about the tests “the world” may offer Obama than about the national security booby traps the Bush administration is leaving behind for him.
We can’t leave behind a stable Iraq without the cooperation of Iraq’s neighbors, but this week’s cross-border raid by Iraq-based U.S. troops into Syrian territory led Syria to break off high-level diplomatic contacts with U.S. officials — contacts that had only recently been resumed.
Heated negotiations over the future status of U.S. forces in Iraq have further increased tensions with Syria, Iran and the Iraqi government, which fear permanent U.S. military activities in the region.
The current impasse in status-of-forces negotiations also threatens to leave U.S. troops in Iraq with no legal basis for their presence when their United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31.
Happy New Year, Barack!
The Bush administration followed early military successes with grandiose promises of democracy and prosperity, then mostly ignored Afghanistan for the next six years.
Meanwhile, the Taliban reconstituted itself, Al Qaeda leaders slipped away into Pakistan’s ungoverned tribal regions, and U.S. troops found themselves playing an increasingly deadly game of Whac-a-Mole against an elusive and ill-defined enemy.
According to the latest national intelligence estimate, Afghanistan is now in a possibly irreversible “downward spiral.”More troops in Afghanistan might have turned things around if those troops — and a less stingy reconstruction package — had arrived five years ago, when Afghan hopes were high.
But after years of Bush administration malfeasance, increasing U.S. troop levels without an accompanying dramatic shift in regional strategy risks turning Afghanistan into another Iraq.
Or worse, because the Afghan booby trap is wired tightly to the Pakistan booby trap.
Pakistan is the proud but horrifyingly unstable possessor of a nuclear arsenal.
If the escalating conflicts in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions spin out of control, we could end up in another Iraq-like situation — only with weapons of mass destruction in the mix for real this time.
Brooks doesn’t say nothing about a ‘President McCain.’
She probably knows the very thought is too cruel — Jackboot John, with Sarah Palin at his elbows, attempting to defuse all those trip-wired, booby trapped worms (one that’s nuclear), and being stupid and arrogant, doing something wrong.
See, it is too cruel to contemplate.
And that’s just the foreign policy can of worms.
The new president will inherit a financial can all its own.
This evening from the New York Times comes bad news for the brand-new administration:
- â€œThe economy has taken a turn for the worse, big time,â€ said Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics, a consulting and forecasting group. â€œConsumption literally caved in. It is a prelude to much worse news on the economy over the next couple of quarters. The fundamentals around the consumer are all negative, and there are no signs of any help anytime soon, from anywhere.â€
Whoever captures the White House seems certain to inherit a starkly challenging economic picture. Thursdayâ€™s government report showed that consumer spending â€” which makes up more than 70 percent of American economy activity â€” dipped at 3.1 percent annual rate between July and September, after growing at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the previous three months.
That was the largest three-month drop since the second quarter of 1980, a contraction that was in some sense artificial: the Carter administration, seeking to suffocate inflation, imposed limits on bank borrowing.
Putting that episode aside, this yearâ€™s drop represents the sharpest decline in consumer spending since the end of 1974.
And how did the White House respond? By tossing out the old blame game.
- â€œTodayâ€™s G.D.P. report is weak, but it is not unexpected,â€ a White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino. â€œA number of things contributed to the slowing economy in the third quarter â€” record high energy prices, housing and credit concerns, two major hurricanes and a prolonged Boeing strike.
The president is taking forceful actions to return the economy to growth and job creation by early next year. While we continue to face serious challenges, the United States remains the best place to do business, and weâ€™re positioned to bounce back.â€
Decider George taking forceful actions? — Dana, you’re out of your tree!
The economy has more booby traps than an Afghan minefield.
Indeed, Happy New Year! Barack!