WASHINGTON (IPS) – For those who believed that the precise and overwhelming demonstration of U.S. military power in Afghanistan and Iraq would “shock and awe” the rest of the world — and particularly Washington’s foes and aspiring rivals — into accepting its benevolent hegemony, 2006 was not a good year.
Not only has Washington become ever more bogged down — at the current rate of nearly three billion dollars and 20 soldiers’ lives a week — in an increasingly fragmented and violent Iraq whose de facto civil war threatens to draw in its neighbours, but a resurgent Taliban has exposed the fragility of what gains have been made in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led military campaign ousted the group five years ago.
An increasingly assertive and energy-rich Russia has also become noticeably more defiant over the past year, challenging with growing success Washington’s post-9/11 military encroachment in the Caucasus and Central Asia and effectively reversing two of the three U.S.-backed “colour revolutions” — in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan — in its near abroad.
The looming succession battle in
By collaborating with
Even in Africa, defying the
In Latin America,
Coupled with Chavez’ own sweeping victory earlier this month, the year’s elections results in Latin America appear to have confirmed a left-wing populist and anti-U.S. trend — the so-called “pink tide” — which, along with the recent disclosures regarding ties between right-wing paramilitaries and the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, poses serious threats to Washington’s multi-billion-dollar anti-drug effort in the Andes.
Elections elsewhere also proved disappointing to
Not only did the election set back prospects for resuming a credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but Bush’s reaction — to isolate rather than engage the winner, and, more recently, to actively seek in its ouster — made clear that Washington’s “freedom agenda” for the Middle East was largely rhetorical, except when aimed against hostile states like Syria or Iran.
Indeed, Hamas’ victory and the growing strength and popularity of Islamist parties throughout the Arab world brought to a screeching halt
Of course, the most important revolt against the Bush administration’s Washington’s globocop aspirations took place here at home last month when voters handed Democrats control of both houses of Congress in mid-term elections in which Iraq and foreign policy, by virtually all accounts, played the decisive role.
While the warhawks predictably claimed that the results reflected more the public’s lack of confidence in the way Bush had carried out policy than on the policy itself, a battery of polls in both the run-up to the election and immediately afterward found that that a large majority of citizens believe the administration’s belligerent unilateralism had made the United States — as well as the rest of the world — less, rather than more, safe.
Nearly eight in 10 respondents in one survey sponsored by the influential Council on Foreign Relations and designed by legendary pollster Daniel Yankelovich said they thought the world saw the
“It’s not just a matter of (wanting to be) well-loved or nice,” said Yankelovich.
Whether the implications of these findings, as well as the elections results — not to mention the foreign policy balance sheet of 2006 — will be absorbed by Bush and his senior policy-makers in 2007, however, remains very much in doubt.
The post-election departure of two arch-unilateralists, former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and U.N. Amb. John Bolton, notwithstanding, nothing fires up the imperial impulse more than multiplying acts of defiance.
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