Friday, April 29, 2005

As Political And Military Reverses Grow, The World Situation Becomes More Ominous

Any careful reading of the newspapers or watching of television these days makes the world situation look ominous.

The Iraqi war seems to have entered a more intense phase. It now appears that the elections were not as hopeful an event as they first seemed. The strong vote for the Kurds created a situation where it was all the more difficult for agreement to be reached on a workable Iraq government. The delays of the Shiites and the Kurds in forming such a government have encouraged the Sunni insurrection. Just today, April 29, reports say 27 persons, including three Americans, have been killed by the insurrectionists in acts of violence.

Also in the news today are reports of North Korean progress in developing missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons as far as the continental United States. Despite efforts of the Bush Administration to keep the situation on a low key and bring about new talks, concerns about the Korean prospects, not only in this country but in Japan and South Korea, are growing. Without much news coverage, there has been a buildup of American nuclear strike forces on the island of Guam against an eventuality of provocative actions by the regime of Kim Il Jong. Meanwhile, the North Koreans have repeatedly warned that sanctions against them would mean war.

The failure of the U.S. to find an effective way of either controlling the North Koreans or the insurrectionists in Iraq can only encourage the Iranians from going ahead with their work on a nuclear weapon. There is no certain information as to how far they have moved toward achieving this.

Meanwhile, at home, not very deep into his second term, President Bush is in political trouble. He has had to bring forth, at last night's news conference, a backup position on social security. With the market very soft, it has become apparent that his proposal for private social security accounts is in deep trouble, with Republicans in Congress as well as Democrats. His second idea, to cut benefits for the wealthy while increasing them for lower-income workers is not going to be popular either, particularly when it becomes apparent that a majority is going to get at least a lower rate of future benefit increases.

The ethics trouble the House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, has fallen into, the potential defection of key Republican moderates on the Bolton nomination for U.N. Ambassador, and a steady decline of the President's position in the polls all add to the somber situation. Even though oil has slipped back under $50 a barrel, the high gasoline prices compound them.

Even the situation in Venezuela, where the Chavez dictatorship has turned ever more unfriendly to the U.S. and is seeking an oil deal with China, is a bad sign. Is it unthinkable that we could face a crisis in the Caribbean? I fear not. And though there is little notice of it in the American press, the British people vote next week in parliamentary elections, and some polls indicate the turnout may not be favorable to the Laborites, which have been a staunch ally of the Bush Administration.

It is a determined, in some ways ruthless administration, which has proved before its willingness to use military means to gain foreign policy ends. But in the present situation, due to the war in Iraq, the American military is strained. It would not be easy for the U.S. to have war erupt elsewhere in the world. Indeed, if that war were on the Korean peninsula, it could quickly turn nuclear because there are few other alternatives.

Even editorial pages, such as the L.A. Times and New York Times, that are critical of the Bush Administration have kind of been giving it a holiday, holding their punches and scarcely assessing the situation in the pessimistic terms it may well deserve.

Events could lead to a quick alteration in prospects, violence and new controversial policies by the hard-pressed President.

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