The Bush Effect

Proximity to this deeply unpopular President and his policies has become in itself a major factor in world affairs.  Let's call it the Bush Effect.  Throughout the world - and here at home - leaders allied with Bush has seen their political fortunes ebb, and leaders seen as opponents to this Administration's policies are gaining ground.  What this means is the very presence of Bush in the White House is becoming a daunting national security challenge for the United States. 

We've seen it here at home with the GOP, as their national repudiation in 2006 has left them with much less power and with their lowest levels of approval in a generation.  We've seen it with Tony Blair, and the Spanish government who backed the Iraqi war.  We've seen it in the rise of Putin and Chavez. 

But even more dangerous is how leaders, countries and parties seen as "pro-Western" are losing ground to more extreme elements throughout the Muslim world.  The installation of a Shiite government in Iraq has strenghtened the hand of Iran in the Gulf.  Our allies in Palestine lost an election to a group we had declared to be terrorists, and now have had to flee half the country.  Pro-Western forces in Lebanon have lost control of the nation's politics.  We know what is happening in Iraq, though it is increasingly unclear who are allies are there these days.  The Iranian government has its most radical leader since its revolution, one who replaced a leader much more oriented to the West.  Karzhai's government in Afghanistan is teetering.  And now our long time ally, General Musharrah in Pakistan, seems to be on the verge of collapse. 

Two germane stories in the papers this am.  The Times makes news with a great piece about our government's efforts to help salvage Musharraf.  In the Post Robin Wright has a story that looks skeptically at the Administration's strategy towards Iran, which concludes with these thoughts about their latest move to brand the Revolutionary Guards terrorists:  

Michael McFaul of Stanford University also urged more carrots. "If you want democratic regime change and to destabilize the regime, the best thing you could do is to make an offer about massive negotiations about everything -- human rights and state sponsorship in terrorism, as well as lifting [U.S.] sanctions and opening an embassy," he said. "Politically, this step doesn't help the administration undermine the regime -- it helps to consolidate the regime."

The Muslim world is in a very combustable place right now, and I have fear that the only thing this Administration can do - because of its ineptitude and the Bush Effect - is make matters much much worse.