By: Hari Sud
August 01, 2006
expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
In the July 5th interview with CNN’s Larry King, Madam Albright, the
former Clinton Administration’s Secretary of State called the present
circumstances for the Bush Administration as the making of a “Perfect
Storm”. The very expensive Iraq war is slowly demoralizing the nation with
daily casualty count. North Korea has just tested its seven newer missiles
(with one failure). Iran is taking full advantage of the situation and has
decided to build a nuclear weapons for itself. US have found trouble on
all sides. It is not only trouble abroad which is keeping the Bush
Administration occupied, unpopular Iraq war, has alienated the mainstream
population in the US. Republicans may quite possibly loose the mid term
elections, scheduled for November this year. In addition high oil prices
have done a job on the American mindset, which previously were apolitical.
It has turned the public against the Bush Administration. Mind it, all
this trouble and its present impact, is of its own making. For example, US
did not have to go to war in Iraq. US did not have to call Iraq, Iran &
North Korea an axis of evil. Again US could have continued the economic
arrangement which the Clinton Administration had stuck with North Korea
and prevented their quest of Nuclear Weapons and missiles. The current
Iranian belligerence is the direct result of US troubles elsewhere. Iran
feels that US is stuck in Iraq for a long time, hence their opportunity to
go nuclear. Taliban in Afghanistan is today better organized than they
were last year or a year or two before. Thanks to the Pakistani moral and
material support. Osma bin Laden is laughing in his hideout in Pakistan or
Afghanistan oven the current impasse in which the Bush Administration has
found itself. He is happy to find US loosing the battle of wits and the
world public opinion.
As a matter of fact, it is a Perfect Storm! Now, US are finding it hard to
extricate itself from the present circumstances. If all the above is not
enough, then the Israelis decided to deal with their enemy Hezbollah at
this critical juncture when everything else was falling apart for the
American foreign policy.
Neo Conservatives on the Run in the Bush Administration
The above bunch of politicians and the religious leaders in business
suites (Neo Cons) have practically run the Bush Administration from day
one. Their support was critical for two elections, which President Bush
has won. In return for their support, they demanded and got critical job
postings within the Bush Administration. Their presence in every aspect of
the new administration, affected how US conducts its business at home &
abroad. Grabbing Iraqi oil was their prime motive abroad, followed by
disarming of Iran and North Korea? Then unexpectedly, 9/11 happened, then
the Neo Cons found their agenda sidetracked. A halfhearted battle was
started in Afghanistan with an initial quick victory. Then they took their
eyes off the target. Osma Bin Laden went in hiding. Taliban retreated to
the countryside. Pakistan, which was the prime mover of both Osma &
Taliban, found an opportunity to make some money. They provided minor
intelligence on Osma & none on Taliban but reaped a $5 Billion bounty for
doing very little. Now this policy also seams to go bad. US generals in
Afghanistan, repeatedly blame Pakistan for harboring both Osma & Taliban.
Pakistan keeps denying it. This is their standard practice i.e. to deny
everything, even if the field evidence point to their collusion.
Unmindful, US keeps rewarding the Pakistani generals, newest of this, $5
billion bounty of fresh set of F-16s.
In all this confusion, when US casualty reached 2,000 this year in Iraq,
it became clear that Neo Cons influence is sinking fast. One of the key
operators of this group suddenly became President of the World Bank (Paul
Wolfowitz). Others in Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Richard Perle are
still around in the Bush Administration. They are trying hard to rescue
the prestige of the presidency, but are not succeeding. Circumstances are
set against them.
Is Bush Presidency Now a Lame Duck?
Eighteen months remaining for Bush presidency, like it or not, a “perfect
storm” has already taken over. A hundred percent US support for Israel in
its latest fight with Shiite in Lebanon has further downgraded US prestige
everywhere in the world. In the last US G-8 Conference in Russia, US
position on economic matters was not well understood. The Doha Round talks
are clearly deadlocked. US were not able to pull its weight around in
order to move the talks forward. Russians are clearly angry with US, for
blocking their entry to WTO. US are treating Russia lightly, without
realizing that oil price increase has placed tremendous cash at Russian
disposal. This will buy them influence wherever they wish. Moreover the
G-8 conference was overshadowed with Israel & Hezbollah squaring off at
the expense of civilians. The world favored the Lebanese civilians over
Israel and Hezbollah. In this whole context, US could do nothing except to
side with Israel. The powerful Neo Cons again found themselves at the
wrong end of the stick. This Israeli – Hezbollah conflict will last a few
weeks, may be a month. In the process US prestige will sink deeper.
Iranians, fully aware of the advantage they have will keep the US & Israel
occupied in Lebanon and proceed with their nuclear bomb-building project.
. Hence, remaining time of the Bush presidency will be spent on dealing
with the uncontrollable war in Iraq and keep Iranians in check.
As regards to North Korea, US neither have a military advantage nor will
be able to stop them from proceeding with the nuclear bomb. Any military
action against them will invite China’s displeasure. Alternative policy of
bribing them into stopping Uranium production, like the way Pakistanis are
being bribed with money and material, may work. North Korea needs money
and economic re-structuring help. They may accept a direct US offer and
disband its nuclear ambitions. The Bush Administration could not do the
forgoing in its remaining time. First it will be admission of defeat by
the Neo Con’s policies, second, offer of money and acceptance of offer may
take a long time to come to materialize. Bush Administration does not have
Hence, for the next eighteen months, this administration will continue
with its current slew of policies and not succeed anywhere. It is a lame
duck period for the second term President. In their second term, all US
presidents, for the last 50 years have been sort of lame duck. Eisenhower
Administration was paralyzed after the U-2 was shutdown in USSR. Reagan
Administration was paralyzed with Iran-Contra affair. Clinton
Administration was dodged with Whitewater and Lewinsky affairs. For Bush
Administration, Iraq war, North Korea and Iran are its Waterloo.
What Should US do in the Current Quagmire?
It is not easy to get out of these tricky situations. A few steps taken
now may show results in next 18 to 24 months. Otherwise the next
administration will find it difficult to extricate itself out of all the
troubles, which the present administration will leave behind.
Steps to be taken now are:
• Swallow the pride and get out of Iraq
Getting out of Iraq may be difficult task for the New Cons to admit and
accomplish. But, sooner it is done; the better it is for the welfare of
America. There may be a twenty years civil war in Iraq and rest of the
world may blame US for setting Shiite against the Sunnis. But it will be
good riddance of dream gone sour for America. Geo-politically it’s a
better course to split the current Muslim unity against America. When they
fight between themselves, they will have less time to point an accusing
finger at America. Euphoria in Iran over American troubles will also
vanish. They will be busy supporting the Shiite against Sunnis. In
addition if Saddam Hussein is set free, he will consolidate all the Sunni
factions behind him. That will keep the Muslim busy between them. When
they fight among themselves, rest of the world can breath easy.
• Deal with North Korea not with Confrontation but with Diplomacy
Direct diplomacy and pocket full of dollars will do wonders with North
Korea. Take for example Vietnam; it was an enemy state 25 years back.
Suddenly they are friends. Or for the same reasons China & US spent 30
years shooting at each other, now they are the best of partners. North
Korea has to be treated with the same respect. Enlarging the previous
bilateral talks between US & North Korea to six party talks was the
greatest blunder of this administration. North Korean dictator considered
it as an attempt to de-unite a carefully constructed communist unity.
China and Russia’s presence in the six party talks for North Korea was
counterproductive. Hence these talks never made headway. Bilateral talks,
if had continued, would have produced results. Since the North Korean felt
threatened, they started to work on missiles and atom bomb, hence, the
present war of words. In addition, US should consider getting out of Korea
DMZ completely. They have no business being there. It is an artificial
division of a country. This country has to be recombined without
bloodshed. Financial well being of the people will be better served if two
Koreas are one. The world has witnessed East and West Germany unify,
Vietnam has been unified, and hence Korea’s re-unification is long
overdue. It is possible only after US leaves the DMZ.
• Deal with Pakistan before dealing with Terrorism.
Pakistan is the fountainhead of all terrorism. They have dual face. One
side convinces US that they are on the US side, hence US bribes them with
money and F-16s. The other face encourages and helps the fundamentalist
organizations, to breed and send terrorists abroad. Two of the British
rail bombers confessed traveling to Pakistani mountains to get training
and blessings from Al Qaeda leadership. Despite Pakistani denials,
Pakistani involvement in recent Mumbai rail blasts is a foregone
Osma Bin Laden and his number two are in Pakistani border area. The former
needs constant medical help, which is suitably provided in Pakistani
Military hospitals under anonymous names. For Pakistan, keeping Osma alive
is very important. If he dies, the Al Qaeda organization will loose an
able organizing leader. Then US will have no incentive to stay Pakistan.
Result - Pakistan will loose all that monies and military hardware which
is flowing to it for free under the false pretence of helping the West to
catch Osma Bin Laden. Therefore it is important for Pakistan to keep Osma
alive and hidden.
First Things First!
All the above is a long-term (2 to 3 years) policy options. Immediate task
before US is to advise Israel to cool off in Lebanon, followed by forced
eviction of Hezbollah from southern Lebanon by the Lebanese Army. Only two
Israeli soldiers have been kidnapped. In return scores of Israeli soldiers
have died trying to free them. This does not include civilian causalities
on both sides. Hezbollah is unlikely to back down in this quagmire. They
have the world opinion behind them. The greater good will be achieved when
Shiites in Lebanon are split away from Sunnis of that country and made to
fight between them. Iranian support to Hezbollah is key to this policy.
Sunni Arabs are to be organized against both Iran and Hezbollah. Once this
is done then Lebanese army is to be equipped and encouraged to establish
their order in the south. Should the Hezbollah challenge the Lebanese
Army, and then it is their internal matter. All factions may fight it out,
but then Israel will be spared.
Second thing to undertake is to plan face saving formulae for North Korea.
Money will do the trick. Deeper economic engagement with North Korea will
keep then out of mischief. Long-term policy has to be in place to
re-combine these countries. But the latter is to be achieved over ten to
twenty years. First thing first, is to trade money for North Korean
Third thing is harder to undertake, since the adversary is clever and
manipulative. Independent study without US State Department, Department of
Defense and CIA is to be initiated (next 3 to 6 months) to determine
Pakistani involvement in this whole worldwide terrorist phenomenon. If the
studies prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is Pakistani help that
Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan or it is Pakistan who has been keeping
Osma bin Laden alive, then severe restrictions on arms transfer to
Pakistan will have to be placed. Economic aid package has to be cut
completely. Restoration of both is to be linked to producing Osma Bin
Laden alive. If that also fails then, India is to be encouraged to aid
insurgency and terrorism in Pakistan with direct aid to the Bloch
nationalists. The latter are to be hired to blow up Pakistani trains, full
with civilians. Pakistan’s only commercial port of Karachi is to be
subverted by the Bloch nationals to hamper its trade. A combination of
above will knock some sense into the Pakistani mind.
Not much is going to change in next 18 months. Neo Cons will not let
President Bush make a U-turn in policy. Conversely, all the Neo Cons could
be replaced. A new set of people may change things around. Likely-hood of
this happening is very little. Hence Israel will go about its assault in
Lebanon, minor US withdrawal from Iraq may happen to grab a few headlines,
but nothing material. Effort to implement divide and rule in the Muslim
world is unlikely to happen. US are short on good quality diplomats with
experience in various regions of the world to implement such policy.
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