Monday, July 31, 2006


That's about all one can say right now about the Bush administration: they're putting on a brave front as their entire foreign policy crumbles around them.

I say their entire foreign policy, and not just their Middle East policy, because part of the crumbling is right now beneath the surface of the news reports: Hugo Chavez buying planes from Vladimir Putin, mass demonstrations in Mexico against the recent presidential election results, Tony Blair is teaming up with the California governor to counter President Bush's resistance to fighting global warming, China and Russia resolutely oppose his Middle East policy, which is bringing Shia and Sunni together as probably nothing has in the 1400 year history of their enmity.  See the excellent overview of this conflict in the current issue of the New York Review of Books by Max Rodenbeck entitled "The Time of the Shia".

(Tony Blair probably feels a tinge of revenge after having had to prop up his partner during an excruciating press conference on the Middle East crisis last Friday.  Every time a reporter asked a question which both leaders were supposed to answer, you could see Blair grinding his teeth as Bush dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole with each answer, forcing the British intellectual heavyweight to turn verbal somersaults to try to repackage each of his answers.)

Oh, maybe these two Muslim factions will go back to fighting each other after this episode in Western-Muslim history is over, but somehow, I think things will never be the same again.

And when Arab crowds begin to ransack UN offices, as they're doing in Beirut, because they perceive it as allowing the United States to ride roughshod over its principles, another turning point has been reached: until now, in this conflict, it has been Israel that has shown its disdain for the international body, aligned with the Palestinian cause.

This is probably less John Bolton's fault than it is Condi Rice's, but it may make American isolationists happy.

And Condi Rice, usually so savvy, was probably too jet lagged to realize how gruesome her smile on the photo ops with Israel's naively bellicose Prime Minister, the civilian Olmert, would look to American audiences as they listened to reports of opprobrium from the four corners of the world.

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