In the Arena

The Decline of American Influence

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Nice that the President protested his relevance at his same-old, same-old press conference yesterday–but there have been a spate of stories about America’s growing irrelevance overseas, led by this one today in the New York Times, about the Iraqis turning to China and Iran to construct electric power plants. This is particularly significant because America’s inability to provide electricity in Iraq has been, for average Iraqis, the most infuriating daily evidence of our ineptitude.

And then there’s this one, about the Russian President Putin offering a new alliance–and a new idea to resolve the nuclear situation–to the Iranians. (Neoconservatives please note: Putin offered his idea to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who actually controls the Iranian nuclear program, rather than to court jester Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…although Bush continued to rant about Ahmadinejad in his press conference).

And then there’s Turkey empowering its army to move against the Kurdish guerrillas, while the Kurds–much to our dismay–are moving ahead with oil development deals that involve Bush and Cheney Texas pals (But all’s fair in oil…and oil, right?)

And meanwhile the Secretary of State is very, very belatedly pursuing an extremely unlikely Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, at a moment when the Palestinians we’re dealing with don’t really represent that sad, fractured people.

An exception to all this is the Korean nuclear deal–which Cheney still opposes–but I can’t say much about that because I have a conflict of interest: my son works with Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill whose intricate work with the Chinese made the deal possible.

Taken together, the assorted foreign policy stories in today’s New York Times represent a comprehensive indictment of the President’s foolishness overseas. Fixing this, if it can be fixed, will be Job One for the next President.

Update: I must agree with the responsible commenters who point out that Swampland’s inability to clean up the crap that is cluttering up these strings resembles nothing so much as…the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. I’m told we’re working on it. But it is an embarrassment to Time Magazine and–on behalf of all of us–let me just say I”m sorry.

PS–I’ve just taken the unilateral step of deleting the all-caps comments on my recent posts…I won’t be able to do this all the time–I’ve got work to do–but I’ll try to keep doing it until some Controlling Legal Authority actually makes the effort.