Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking Stock

Tom Engelhardt takes stock of the political winners and losers in an article on his TomDispatch.com blog. There is much of interest about America's wars and "partners" around the world. But this bit about Obama caught my eye:
Barack Obama & Company: He had the numbers (in the polls and in Congress) and the popularity in early 2009. He could have done almost anything. But first, in the key areas of foreign and economic policy, he surrounded himself with the old crew, the deadest of heads, and the stalest Washington thinking around. While this was presented as an Ivy League fest of the best and the brightest, so far their track record shows them to be politically dumb and dumber. They missed out on jobs (about as simple and basic as you can get), and took a dismal year of review to double down twice on a war from hell. Now, the president stands a reasonable chance in 2012 of turning over to a new (possibly far more dismal) administration an even more disastrous Afghan War, an unfinished Iraq crisis, a Guantanamo still unclosed, “don’t ask, don’t tell” still in place (who says the coming Congress will care to do Obama’s bidding on this one, now that he’s bypassed the courts), and a jobless nonrecovery or worse -- and that’s just to start down the path of DisObamapointment.
And here's his assessment of a long time US ally:
Great Britain: The British lion just got a haircut and -- who could be surprised -- most of the hair that got cut was shorn from women and children, always first to disembark from the HMS Economy. One other casualty of government slashing, however, is the British defense establishment, suffering an 8% budget cut over the next four years -- which means losing lots of jets, 17,000 bodies, and even the fleet’s flagship aircraft carrier, which will be “decommissioned,” leaving the British unable to launch a plane at sea until at least 2019. As the Washington Post politely put the matter: “[T]he [government’s] moves amount to a tactical scaling down of military ambition by the one European ally consistently willing to back the United States with firepower in international conflicts.” Put more bluntly, as the British in their imperial days used native recruits to help police their colonies and fight their wars, so in recent years, the Brits have been America’s Gurkhas. No longer, however, will Britain be, militarily speaking, the mouse that roared. Despite pathetic pledges to remain at the American side in Afghanistan forever and a day, the sun is now setting on the British military, which means that the U.S. has lost its key sidekick in any future “coalition of the willing.” (Note for the Pentagon: Carpe diem. The Brits are the canary in the mine on this. Sooner or later, it will be your turn, too. By then, of course, women and children in the U.S. will already be well shorn.)
Go read the whole article to get the low down on the many depressing facts & situations facing the US.

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