It's the oil war economy, stupid
[ opinion - august 08 ]
As Sen. Barack Obama, accompanied by major network news anchors, landed in Afghanistan to meet with US commanders and then move on to Iraq, Americans reeled from a week of incredible economic ironies indicative of the most failed presidency in modern history.
Following the faltering taxpayer underwriting of JP Morgan-Bear Sterns buyout in March, news is that the crumbling 'Fannie and Freddie' monopoly game will cripple America's financial system without another gigantic infusion of taxpayer money, an infusion so large it will likely double the current national debt.
These two government sponsored institutions own or guarantee nearly half of the nationís $12 trillion in outstanding mortgages. Where will the banks raise the huge sums needed to replenish the capital they have lost? And what will happen if they cannot? Apparently no one knows. Which means you and I will ultimately pay for it.
While this is happening, the American right wing slobbers in denial and deception, insisting their decades-long con job will prevail over a whinnying, frightened electorate yet again next November.
The price gouging cost of oil and gas prices at the pump - triggered largely by shortages resulting from the Bush Administration invasion and continued occupation of Iraq - has been framed as "largely psychological" by Sen. John McCain, simply indicative of a weak and whinnying citizenry suffering from "mental depression" and "bad attitude," according to McCain's national campaign co-chairman, former Texas oil and bank-backed Sen. Phil Gramm.
Gas prices high enough to menace public tranquility coupled with the lowest poll numbers in history rallied faltering President George W Bush, lame duck except for his continued control over the Democratic Congress, into awkwardly demanding elimination of restrictions on off shore drilling this week.
(Off-shore drilling will provide more high cost oil for profit-bloated oil companies to mark up and pass along at even higher prices to the American consumer, so risking America's coastlines simply won't translate into production economies, or lower consumer pump prices.)
"The only thing that stands between the American people and more oil is action for the US Congress," the president stammered almost incoherently. (Perhaps he meant to say, "American oil companies and more oil"?)
"Now the ball is squarely in Congress' court," Bush continued rhetorically. "Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I've taken today, repealing the congressional ban, and passing legislation to facilitate responsible offshore exploration."
Meanwhile economists report job losses and inflation will accelerate through this year into 2009 and well beyond, while job markets will stagnate even longer. Home prices will continue falling, shrinking household wealth and eroding liquidity and spending power. The economy will continue to collapse across various sectors --there were bank runs reported in California this week. This is not the Great Depression of course and a strong progressive government can turn it around thanks in large part to the socially conscious measures instituted in the last century by progressive Democratic Roosevelt administrations.
The current disastrous US economy is directly related to the Bush Administration's preposterously wasteful conduct of a phony "war on terror" now more globally recognized as the Bush-Cheney-McCain "war to control oil" in the Middle East. It has obviously failed while unleashing arguably the most rampantly corrupt administration in US history.
It's evident to most of us now that the Iraqi government will not surrender control of its oil resources to US nationals; nor will it pass the Cheney-vetted Iraq Oil Law; nor will it oppose Iranian influence and investment in the region; nor will it tolerate the presence of "foreign troops" on its soil much longer. In fact the Maliki government is now playing politics with a US presidential election, all but negating Sen. McCain's hypothetical advantage of "command experience" over Sen. Obama.
Sen. Obama has been right about the Bush-Cheney war from the start, and Sen. McCain has been wrong. The government of Iraq concurs with Obama's time table for withdrawal, not President Bush's ludicrous attempt to contract the occupation of a "sovereign" nation by its invader. The people of Iraq agree with Obama's withdrawal plan, not Sen. McCain's absurd Korean "frontier outpost" strategy.
The obvious conclusion is that Sen. McCain would make about as successful a commander in chief as George W Bush has. While by contrast Sen. Obama clearly provides a more intelligent, resourceful, persuasive and powerful option for President of the United States. "Change" in this sense means a much stronger and empathetic America both domestically and globally.
The current political "equilibrium" in Iraq is actually a stalemate, in my view, between US corporate, Shia, Sunni, Kurd, and Iranian interests on the ground in country. And this temporary "stablizing symmetry" is the result of several primary factors - the Muqtada al-Sadr year-long truce; the U.S. arming of the tribal "risings" against al-Qaeda; the "surge" of US troops to secure Maliki in Baghdad; the limitations of US military reach in the region; and the recognition that Iran has been significantly strengthen by the Bush administration's failed strategy.
The unsuccessful Maliki attempt to crush al-Sadr last spring ended the "surge" (and the war) in my view. Al-Sadr, the tribal chiefs (US armed and trained) and the majority Iraqi people will turn on occupying US forces as soon as they are directed to do so by the various factional leaders. Even neocon commanders like Admirals Mullins and Fallon hinted in recent months that aggression against Iran will result in dramatic US troop casualties in Iraq, a risk neither military expert advises worth taking.
The administration now appears scrambling to contain open conflict between Israel and Iran through "nuclear diplomacy" with Tehran. But isn't this vaguely analogous to a desperate Nixon and Kissinger opening dialog with Ho Chi Minh in Paris after the Tet offensive in1968? What dialog, what 'peace with honor' resulted? Ho used the opportunity to mass forces for a final push in the south while tediously negotiating US troop withdrawal levels in Paris, until Saigon ultimately fell. Tehran, like Baghdad, will simply play chess until January.
The Bush Administration invasion of Afghanistan is another unmitigated failure resulting in an "arisen" al-Qaeda and Taliban newly strengthen by money, recruits and influence to levels of threat unthinkable in pre-9/11 terms.
As most American have come to understand over the last four years, the Bush administration has lost its self-branded "war on terror," criminally squandered American lives, values, and resources, and accomplished nothing but the profiteering of corporate oil, defense, and financial interests friendly to the administration - and all of it at enormous cost to American citizens, the people of Iraq, and stability throughout the region.