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How George Bush Has Weakened America, and How that Explains Why the World is Falling Apart

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When former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described the United States as the "indispensable nation," some thought she was presumptuous. But the deterioration of the international system under the power-hungry, arrogant and incompetent Bush administration has proved Albright was right.

The international order is breaking apart before our eyes, largely because the world's leading nation has been badly led.

The deterioration of the geopolitical system has become even more visible with the new outbreak in the long-simmering Arab-Israeli conflict.

Meanwhile, the international community is quickly getting nowhere with persuading Iran to abandon its apparent quest to develop nuclear weapons. The efforts of the big powers to bring North Korea into line have been equally futile. And with that regime even more defiant and belligerent than usual, Japan -almost pacifist since World War II-- has lately threatened a preventive strike against North Korean missile sites. In Iraq, the bloodbath continues, the supposed American liberation of that country having produced instead a low-level civil war. And the souring of relations between the United States and Russia has led to talk of "a new Cold War."

The world is now far more dangerous -more chaotic, more rife with conflict-than it was five and a half years ago when the Bush administration began to remake the American role in the world. This increasing disorder is directly traceable to the choices the Bushites have made in wielding American power.

The Wages of Sin

The Bush administration came to power determined to extend American dominance and to reject all limitations on their freedom of action on the world stage. Even before 9/11, it had acted provocatively with China, it had thrown off the restraints of various multilateral agreements and treaties, and it had demonstrated a tendency to dictate to, rather than consult with, our traditional allies.

The worldwide wave of sympathy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was quickly squandered as the Bushites moved -with abrasive arrogance-toward a war of choice in Iraq. America was seen less as a trusted world leader and more as a global bully, an imperialist power, a threat to world peace.

The world saw America acting like a 500-pound gorilla that does whatever it wants. It saw the Bush regime's contemptuous indifference to international law and its indecent disrespect for the opinion of mankind. And it saw the administration's deceptions about Iraqi WMDs-deceptions that appeared to be a cover for a hidden imperialist agenda.

Other great powers -like China and Russia-began to align against the United States. (The Russians and the Chinese have formed, for example, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security grouping which excludes the U.S.) Even the Europeans ceased to look to the United States for leadership, and have even looked for ways to counter American power.

Opinion polls even among the populations of America's traditional allies showed a sharp increase in distrust of and hostility toward the United States. And with American troops occupying Iraq, the Islamic world became more intensely anti-American, and the rift between Islam and the West deepened still further.

Bush's haughtiness toward adversaries has compounded his difficulties. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal lost no time in provoking North Korea by indicating its lack of interest in talking with a regime they hoped would soon disappear. This fundamental miscalculation made a bad situation much worse.

Similarly in the Middle East, the Bushites spurned overtures from Iran, imagining that they would be able to force regime change on that country. There, too, their arrogant overconfidence has undermined the American position, contributing to the fecklessness of American efforts to block the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran. And now, with the Middle East aflame, the United States finds itself ill-positioned to talk with some of the major actors whose help might be needed to defuse this dangerous situation.

To all this damage, add the high cost to American power of the Bush administration's bungling of its venture in Iraq. A whole sequence of major blunders and miscalculations by this regime in Iraq since the invasion -as described by Larry Diamond, of the conservative Hoover Institution, in his book, Squandered Victory-created a mess that's been a tremendous drain on American military resources and treasure, further weakening the American capacity to deal with other threats and crises.

Most of those blunders in Iraq grew out of the Bush administration's unwarranted certainty that it already knew all it needed to know. With their arrogant sense of their mastery of the world they were operating in, the Bushites turned a deaf ear to the good counsel from many -in and out of the American government-who understood better than they what it would take to win the peace in Iraq.

The resulting disaster has greatly undermined the American position in the "war on terror." The Bush administration declared that the greatest danger was that some rogue regime with weapons of mass destruction would hand over such weapons to terrorists. And in conjunction with that fear Bush identified an "Axis of Evil": Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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