Kenneth Pollack, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst at The Brookings Institution, raised the alarm bell on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by writing a book called The Threatening Storm.
Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, an inevitability since the end of the well executed first Gulf War in 1991, making an error in judgment which he corrected, also unilaterally, in 2006. America is now out of Iraq, being marginalized in a region hostile to its presence because of the case discredited, then and now, to invade Iraq.
Saddam’s Iraq during the tabloid distraction that was the Lewinsky scandal was bombed by Bill Clinton amidst the unraveling of the global economy. American economic and military power was operational while the rest of the country was glued to the reality TV out of the White House, Ken Starr’s office and the president’s House impeachment and Senate trial as if Clinton had put himself in play to spin crisis management at the Pentagon and Treasury.
Damage control is how Washington has normally been operating since 1992.
Americans outside Washington don’t see and experience America as foreigners, at the receiving end of American policies, do.
The reputation of the United States, political and economic, has been damaged because of three reasons: (a) Overtly pro-Israeli policies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) which have become counter-productive in the Israeli-Palestine peace process, the chief grievance of the Muslims; (b) Financial crises in Europe, Asia, Latin America and in Europe once again since the early ’90s at the behest of Wall Street to radically promote open markets; (c) An equally radical pro-democracy agenda everywhere around the world except in China, largely because of Chinese savvy and American hubris and complacency.
Three risks emanating from the above three reasons are now maturing into a confluence, creating the perfect storm gathering on the near horizon for the West. This is more credible than Iraq, imminent because it is already in occurrence.
First, the inexorable rise of China to the top of the global economy by 2016. Second, an ideologically propelled and potentially apocalyptic conflagration between Muslims and Jews should Palestine not be fully admitted to the United Nations because of Israel and the United States. Third, a massive negative energy shock, similar to the ’70s shocks, to remove US presence from the Persian Gulf for MENA to gain full autonomy over global oil and gas supplies.
US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) proposed exit by 2014 from Afghanistan (and Pakistan) will naturally segue into a stronger Afghanistan-Iran relationship, with Iran replacing US and NATO operations without its own military intervention because of its closer ties to President Hamid Karzai. Taliban, as both Karzai and US General David Petraeus wanted, could be integrated better into the Afghan democracy, as were Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, with the aid of China, Iran and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) continuing to invest in Pakistan toward its economic development and growth.
Kumbaya, counting on foreign kindness to go along and get along, however, is not the way out. Getting back to the work of resolving the challenge is the only exit strategy available by and for America in America.