Thursday, August 25, 2005


A Fall or Winter of Discontent

Bush Fiddles, Baghdad Burns, Oil Spikes, Scandals a brewin', Elephant rants

Hmm...I caught President Bush's speech yesterday while at the gym during my lunch hour. I think it is important that our leader continue to publicly support our troops and their parents/families. But beyond that the speech left me rather..well, angry.

Iraq a growing problem:

I was a reluctant supporter of the Iraq war. I conditioned my support on the WMD issue, but thought that we had the right to go in on the dozens of unfulfilled U.N. Security Council resolutions. But like many initial supporters, I thought that the allegedly hawkish republicans would make sure we adhered to the Powell Doctrine that worked so well in the first Iraq war.

The doctrine expresses that military action should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security by the intended target; the force, when used, should be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy; there must be strong support for the campaign by the general public; and there must be a clear exit strategy from the conflict in which the military is engaged.

The administration seems to have all but ignored this principles, putting to few troops on the groups to pacify a country that is plagued by social, religious and ethnic divisions. James Fallows gave us all a heads up back before the war in 2002, calling Iraq, the fifty first state. Even a member of Bush's cabinet indicated that the war would cost upwards of $200 billion, for which he was promptly fired. (The war costs are currently at $300 billion). I'm getting tired of the spin.

Most recently, we've hear a chorus of how 2006 will provide the opportunity for the U.S. to start drawing down our troops, yet strangely, we are actually stepping up our presence there.

Anyway, we went in with too few troops, we made tactical errors (like disbanding the Iraqi military) and the administration continues to believe that things are just ducky (if ducky means on the precipice of civil war). In fact ducky enough to take a month long vacation.


Geesh, oil continues a rather steep climb this week and is fast approaching $70 a barrel. True there is not much the President can do about this, but leaders can sometimes relieve problems by taking symbolic actions in the face of such uncertainty. The revised CAFE proposal this week is a start (not a great one, but better than nothing). Perhaps reintroducing the 55mph speed limit on a temporary basis (under the banner of supporting the troops/war effort) would be a good idea.

But in my conversations with my economist friends here in DC (yes, DC is the type of place where one can actually be employed as an economist) they all keep telling me that $100 per barrel is not out of the question. In the past, such conservation measures helped the U.S. break the OPEC cartel and ushered in a period of cheap oil.

Either way, fair or not, $3/gal gas is not going to win Bush any converts.


Let us not forget too that there is a special prosecutor out there investigating the White House staff on just who leaked information on an 'undercover' CIA operatives ID to punish her war critic husband. Karl Rove is the alleged target of the leak and when or if indictments are handed down, things could get interesting.

Bush's leadership has always been one of benign neglect (when he's not too busy creating a big government nannystate that is). But as we enter fall, we may be facing some pretty big challenges, a continued deterioration of Iraq and higher oil prices to name a few. Then there is North Korea and Iran with their nuclear ambitions (note how Bush is kind of soft on real nuclear programs, but will kick your ass ala Iraq for pretend ones). American has the ability to tackle all these obstacles, it's just that I don't thin our leadership is up to the task.

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