These days, the price of oil seems ever on the rise. A barrel of crude broke another barrier Wednesday -- $123 -- on international markets, and the talk is now of the sort of "superspike" in pricing (only yesterday unimaginable) that might break the $200 a barrel ceiling "within two years." And that would be without a full-scale American air assault on Iran, after which all bets would be off.
Considering that, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, oil was still in the $20 a barrel price range, this is no small measure of what the Bush administration years have really accomplished. Today, it's hard even to remember not 9/11, but 11/9--November 9, 1989--the day that the Berlin Wall fell, signaling that, soon enough, after its seventy-odd year life, that Reaganesque Evil Empire, the Soviet Union, was heading for the door. In 1991, it disappeared from the face of the Earth without a whimper. Until almost the last moment, top officials in Washington assumed it would go on forever; and, when it was gone, most of them couldn't, at first, believe it. Soon enough, however, the event was hailed as the greatest of American triumphs--"victory" not just in the Cold War, but at a level never before seen. Finally, for the first time in history, there was but a single superpower on the planet.
At the dawn of a new century, the administration of George Bush the younger, packed with implacable former Cold Warriors, came to power still infused with that sense of global triumphalism and planning to rollback what was left of the old Soviet Union, an impoverished Russia, into an early grave.