Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Death of a presidency

by Michael Carmichael

"In the same week while millions of Britons were witnessing the depressingly melodramatic Death of a President, it became abundantly clear that the presidency of George W. Bush had literally crashed into a brick wall and bounced backwards. Simultaneous political sea changes sweeping across America and the Middle East have dramatically pre-empted Bush’s range of executive action. Both parallel political tides – those in the Middle East and America - are now running strongly against the Bush presidency.

In America, three out of four likely voters now believe that Bush has been overactive in policing the world – an astonishing statistic. That fact places Bush in a difficult political position. Now his presidency is seen as less effective in its core mission – national security – than his opponents, the Democrats. The Bush White House is tottering on its heels and threatening to collapse on its face.

In the Middle East, support for Israel and its sponsors in Bush’s America, has collapsed in favor of Hizbullah and a constellation of Islamist movements from Hamas and Fatah to the Mahdi Army and the Muslim Brotherhood. The situation is now critical and getting worse. If America were to launch a new war against Iran, the pro-American regimes currently holding the reins of power in Cairo, Amman and Riyadh would be placed under immediate siege. Swiftly, the Islamist factions would topple: Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; King Abdullah of Jordan and Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath, American companies would be unceremoniously ejected from the region, and the price of oil would soar into the stratosphere.

Last week, to respond to the maelstrom that is now perceived as a terminal crisis for his presidency, Bush took the immensely unpalatable option and submitted himself to the slings and arrows of one of his exceedingly rare press conferences. In the White House Rose Garden, Bush sought to defend his presidency from further erosion in the midst of the whirlwind of crises that could mushroom into a political earthquake in the midterm elections.

While Bush claims to be the father of a democratic revolution in the Middle Ease, the truth is actually quite different. Meaningful debate – the fountainhead of democracy – about the Middle East is routinely repressed in Bush’s America. In the Middle East, the situation is different. Debate about the course of events in the Middle East is robust in: Israel, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia where many are now waiting for the outcome of the midterm elections in the US.

The US midterm elections have morphed into a referendum on Bush and his outlandish policies: the war in Iraq; war with Iran; war with North Korea and his concerted attack on the US constitution and the Bill of Rights.

While the entire globe is rapt in attention, the Middle East has trained its eagle eyes on Bush’s America where they are beginning to discern the death throes of a presidency."

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