The wave — and make no mistake, it’s a global one — has just crashed on our shores, soaking our imperial masters. It’s a sight for sore eyes. As all of us look ahead, here are five “benchmark” questions to ask when considering the possibilities of the final two years of the Bush Administration’s wrecking-ball regime:
Will Iraq Go Away? The political maneuvering in Washington and Baghdad over the chaos in Iraq was only awaiting election results to intensify. Desperate call-ups of more Reserves and National Guards will go out soon. Negotiations with Sunni rebels, coup rumors against the Maliki government, various plans from James Baker’s Iraq Study Group and Congressional others will undoubtedly be swirling. Yesterday’s plebiscite (and exit polls) held an Iraqi message. It can’t simply be ignored. But nothing will matter, when it comes to changing the situation for the better in that country, without a genuine commitment to American withdrawal, which is not likely to be forthcoming from this President and his advisers anytime soon. So expect Iraq to remain a horrifying, bloody, devolving fixture of the final two years of the Bush Administration. It will not go away. Bush (and Rove) will surely try to enmesh Congressional Democrats in their disaster of a war. Imagine how bad it could be if — with, potentially, years to go — the argument over who “lost” Iraq has already begun.
Is an Attack on Iran on the Agenda? Despite all the alarums on the political Internet about a pre-election air assault on Iran, this was never in the cards. Even the hint of an attack on Iranian “nuclear facilities” (which would certainly turn into an attempt to “decapitate” the Iranian regime from the air) would send oil prices soaring. The Republicans were never going to run an election on oil selling at $120-$150 a barrel. This will be no less true of election year 2008. If Iran is to be a target, 2007 will be the year. So watch for the pressures to ratchet up on this one early next year. This is madness, of course. Such an attack would almost certainly throw the Middle East into utter chaos, send oil prices through the roof, possibly wreck the global economy, cause serious damage in Iran, not fell the Iranian government and put US troops in neighboring Iraq in perilous danger. Given the Administration’s record, however, all this is practically an argument for launching such an attack. (And don’t count on the military to stop it, either. They’re unlikely to do so.) Failing empires have certainly been known to lash out. As neocon writer Robert Kagan put the matter recently in a Washington Post op-ed, “Indeed, the preferred European scenario [of a Democratic Congressional victory] — ‘Bush hobbled’ — is less likely than the alternative: ‘Bush unbound.’ Neither the president nor his vice president is running for office in 2008. That is what usually prevents high-stakes foreign policy moves in the last two years of a president’s term.” So when you think about Iran, think of Bush unbound.