Wednesday, January 26, 2005

America, the Dispensable, and Bush, the Lame Duck

Mike Lind, an analyst at the New America foundation wrote a great commentary, which appeared in the Finanacial Times, on America's increasing irrelevance to the world's future because of the Bush Administration's belligerence and unilateralism. Read the article in which he writes:

"In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation..."

"A decade ago, American triumphalists mocked those who argued that the world was becoming multipolar rather than unipolar. Where was the evidence of balancing against the US? they asked. Today the evidence of foreign cooperation to reduce American primacy is everywhere - from the increasing importance of regional trade blocs that exclude the US to international space projects and military exercises in which the US is conspicuous by its absence."


Even if America petulantly picks up its toys and stalks away to play out its dark little fantasies off in the badlands, the great game goes on. America is no more indespensible to the world than the Soviet Union was. Desptie our pretensions, we need the world far more than the world needs us. We are world's largest debtor, the worlds largest importer, running the largest cumulative trade deficit. Without the rest of world to supply our needs for consumer goods and capital, we would be flat on our faces. The recent massive currency shifts, with the dollar taking a such a pounding against all other world currencies that Saturday Night Live did an oddly topical skit about it, are not a fluke. Foreign central banks are busily reducing their exposure to the dollar by ratcheting down their dollar-denominated reserves. America and her people are getting poorer because of our government's flibbertigibbety policies and we all stand to become radically poorer unless this Administration reigns in its profligate spending, foreign adventurism, and 'screw you' style of diplomacy (a goal not furthered by the tragic confirmation of the cronically failing upwards Ms. Rice).

Corporate profits have increased 39% since 2002 - when denominated in dollars - but have fallen by 8% when denominated in Euros. That level of currency risk is not one that major corporations can or will bear for long. No Administration founded purely on corporate greed can long endure unless that greed is satisfied. Bush may have seemed to many a lion roaring with triumph in his inaugural address, but it was really just the swan song of failed, and increasingly embattled, Administration.

Reagan's second term, won with a landslide, was a complete failure; Bush's second term, won with a notable squeaking sound, will be even worse. I will take bets that by the time Bush leaves office he will have the lowest approval rating of any prior American President, assuming his term doesn't end in some premature fashion. Bush has already failed, he just hasn't seen the fruits of his failure yet. Frist has declared that gutting Social Security will be the Senate's, and by implication the Administration's, top priority this year. Bush is about to prove himself a lame duck on take off when his plans for Social Security crash and burn before ever getting aloft. The AARP has announced its opposition to the Bush proposal, and that's really all she wrote. Bush is losing control of his caucus and has over-reached on an issue for which there never was much of constituency in the GOP, except the most ideologically contaminated. Expect the Administration to quietly change focus and pursue other goals, much as it did in response to the cricket chirps heralding Bush's fabulously ambitious manned mission to Mars proposal.

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