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  The Perfect Storm – Last two years of Bush Presidency  


By: Hari Sud
August 01, 2006
iews 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 that time

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 conclusion.

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 cooperation.

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.

Hari Sud

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