Monday, July 23, 2007


[Cross-posted from Watching Those We Chose]

Yet another invocation of the Law of Unintended Consequences™ where the war in Iraq is concerned is the neglect of foreign policy in other parts of the world.

An eagerly-accepted presidential visit to Singapore in September for a summit meeting with Southeast Asian leaders has been canceled. Condi is skipping the same summit and 86’d plans for a trip to Africa this week. Defense Secretary Gates canceled a trip to El Salvador, Colombia, Peru and Chile earlier this month.

The reason for all these cancellations? Iraq.

The occupation of Iraq is sucking all the oxygen out of foreign relations. As the conflict there rages on, over four years after the so-called mission was supposedly accomplished, every other priority is being shunted aside, and the slights are accumulating. Diplomats and analysts are getting nervous. "Canceling a meeting here or there may not seem like a big deal, but the slights are piling up," Asia expert Walter Lohman of the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote recently. "Unless the Bush administration can quickly get back on track, the game is over; it will fall to the next president to revitalize the U.S. commitment" to Asia.

No one in their right mind doubts the importance of Iraq and why it is central to the United States foreign policy efforts. The cock-up there ha already damaged U.S. standing, to a point it might take decades to recover; but more importantly is the possibility of the Iraq debacle spreading across the borders and setting off a regional war.

So while they all huddle ‘round their calendars and stare at “September 15 ” circled in red, the rest of the world can take a number. “The rest of the world” apparently includes the U.S. Diplomatic Corps. If they are not part of the Iraq contingent, they are pushed down the priority list, too.

Staffing has taken a hit, too. Embassies and offices in the State Department have come to expect a cut in resources for projects other than Iraq, a senior State Department official said.

"Everybody is subject to an Iraq tax. They basically know they will give up resources for Iraq," said the official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

When Crocker complained in late May that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad didn't have enough highly qualified staff, the State Department's response included sending one of its top experts on the Arab world, Robert Ford, back to Baghdad. He was pulled from Algeria, where he'd been ambassador less than a year.

With just 18 months left in office, Bush appears to have settled on a few top-flight issues — Iraq, the "war on terrorism," North Korea and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — to shape his legacy.

While it is not possible to overstate the importance of Iraq, other parts of the world are important, too.

In Latin America, many leaders are struggling to maintain close ties with Washington despite the increasingly anti-American mood there spurred by popular anger over the war in Iraq. China has expanded its influence and trade there.

Sub-Saharan Africa, where Rice has stopped only briefly in her two and a half years as secretary of state, is by far the most pro-American region in the world, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, but it isn't on anyone's priority list.

Nowhere is the lack of U.S. leadership felt more keenly than in East Asia, where China's growing economic and political power has left midsize nations traditionally sympathetic to the United States nervous about the future, critics said.

I have my days where I give these fools too much credit. I really shouldn't do that, because doing so implies competence, and they honest to god have none. Not a drop. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. The most bumbling, embarrassing Secretary of State ever (John Foster Dulles was a right prick, but he wasn’t incompetent) and the stupidest fuckwit to ever hold the office of the presidency have diminished America’s stature for the next half-century. By a bunch of dolts who have been wrong about absolutely everything and could not organize a two-car parade.

The next president is going to have a hell of a lot of damage to undo, not just in the Middle East, but all over the world.

Have you learned a lesson America? There is a hell of a lot more to consider when you go to the polls to elect your president than “Which one of these guys would I like to have a beer with?”

And by the way - when you use that standard and the guy you want to drink with is an really need to think about it a little harder.

No comments: