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Candide’s Latest: Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Bush Doctrine, Unrest In Pieces

Iraqi soldiers guard pre-emption's wreckage

It’s the end of the Bush doctrine of preëmption as we knew it: “… if the rhetoric of the Bush revolution lives on, the revolution itself is over,” Philip Godon writes in Foreign Affairs. “The question is not whether the president and most of his team still hold to the basic tenets of the Bush doctrine -- they do -- but whether they can sustain it. They cannot. Although the administration does not like to admit it, U.S. foreign policy is already on a very different trajectory than it was in Bush's first term. The budgetary, political, and diplomatic realities that the first Bush team tried to ignore have begun to set in. The reversal of the Bush revolution is a good thing. By overreaching in Iraq, alienating important allies, and allowing the war on terrorism to overshadow all other national priorities, Bush has gotten the United States bogged down in an unsuccessful war, overstretched the military, and broken the domestic bank. Washington now lacks the reservoir of international legitimacy, resources, and domestic support necessary to pursue other key national interests.” It gets worse. As Carolyn Lockhead writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Bush's lofty goals, shared even by his critics, have been set back, perhaps decades, by the Iraq occupation. Yet for all the criticism, neither the Democratic Party nor the foreign policy elite has devised an alternative for the post-Sept. 11 world, leaving U.S. foreign policy adrift.” Even mega-jingoes like Max Boot, the Council on Foreign Relation’s War Secretary, are alarmed: “We’re losing” in Iraq, Boot says. “The country is sliding into civil war, and the president doesn't seem to be doing very much about it. That has tremendous negative repercussions throughout the region and indeed the world, because it's really a black eye for the United States and a blow to democracy advocates around the region.” Norman Podhoretz, to whom war is masturbation by other means, disagrees. He thinks the Bush Doctrine is alive, well, and, of course, kicking ass: “I must confess to being puzzled by the amazing spread of the idea that the Bush Doctrine has indeed failed the test of Iraq. After all, Iraq has been liberated from one of the worst tyrants in the Middle East; three elections have been held; a decent constitution has been written; a government is in place; and previously unimaginable liberties are being enjoyed. By what bizarre calculus does all this add up to failure? And by what even stranger logic is failure to be read into the fact that the forces opposed to democratization are fighting back with all their might?” Incidentally, what was that about Iraq’s death toll falling in August? The latest explosions kill more than 40.

Israel’s blockade of Lebanon continues, to little-to-no international pressure to lift it. Kofi Annan’s visit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yielded nothing more than the promise to lift it when the United Nation’s expanded force deploys in south Lebanon. “ Annan said Wednesday that the lifting of the blockade is necessary to help Lebanon 's economy recover from the war and to strengthen Lebanon 's government. He said the Lebanese authorities assured him they were taking measures to stop the flow of weapons, and that he believes Israel 's security concerns can be addressed. "In the meantime, I do believe the blockade should be lifted," Annan said. “Olmert did not respond specifically to Annan's demand, saying only that the cease-fire deal must be implemented in its entirety.” The Lebanese government claims it will give $33,000 per house to those whose properties were destroyed by Israel ’s bombing, in a country where 130,000 residents were either destroyed or damaged.

Canada’s war on civil liberties takes a page from the United States: “Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has refused a passport to Abdurahman Khadr for reasons of national security, even though a federal court judge ordered Ottawa to cease denying the former terrorism suspect his travel document,” The Globe & Mail reports. The 23-year-old Mr. Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and was held for months as an “enemy combatant” by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was released in 2003, but only after he agreed to spy for the United States. He has never been charged with any crime; however, he had been denied a passport by the Canadian government.” Meanwhile, France rediscovers civil rights and the rights of the accused: Following scandals involving the beatings of criminal suspects, Nicolas Sarkozy wants cameras installed in interrogation rooms.

Holocaust trains: “Paris-based lawyer Avi Bitton told the [Toronto] Star in a telephone interview yesterday that "about 15 Canadian families" will join between 250 and 300 other families from France, Belgium, Israel and the United States in seeking compensation from the French government and its rail company, Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, for their part in the World War II deportations.”

Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize winner and author of the Cairo Trilogy, is dead. He remains the only Arab ever to win a prize. He was once stabbed by a Muslim militant for “blasphemy.” He was 94. “In 1994, an attacker inspired by a militant cleric's ruling that a Mahfouz novel written decades before was blasphemous stabbed the then-82-year-old Mahfouz as he left his Cairo home,” the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian writes. “Mahfouz survived, but the attack damaged nerves leading to his right arm, seriously impairing his ability to write. A man who had once worked for hours at a time -- writing in longhand -- found it a struggle to "form legible words running in more or less straight lines," he wrote in the aftermath.

Inequality's Revenge

Not long ago, inequality in America was on the outs. No longer. Inequality is the rule, and with it disdain for labor: “The young may be understandably incredulous, but the Great Compression, as economists call it, was the single most important social fact in our country in the decades after World War II. From 1947 through 1973, American productivity rose by a whopping 104 percent, and median family income rose by the very same 104 percent,” Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post. “More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before. In ways more difficult to quantify, the mass prosperity fostered a generosity of spirit: The civil rights revolution and the Marshall Plan both emanated from an America in which most people were imbued with a sense of economic security. That America is as dead as the dodo. Ours is the age of the Great Upward Redistribution. The median hourly wage for Americans has declined by 2 percent since 2003, though productivity has been rising handsomely. Last year, according to figures released just yesterday by the Census Bureau, wages for men declined by 1.8 percent and for women by 1.3 percent.”

Australia ’s strategy against unemployment: Give workers $5,000 to move where the jobs are.

And the lead story, as of early morning Wednesday, in the Dallas Morning News, one of America’s biggest newspapers? “Underwear trend may be bottoming out.” Then we wonder why the American public’s puerility is equaled only by its media’s slavishness to it. Here’s How the DMN’s Katie Menzer sums up the federal trend: “The underwear might be under there, but showing your bottom is behind the times. That's what the experts – from local kids to fashion historians – are saying when they hear of the Dallas City Council's discussion about potentially banning saggy pants on the city's streets. While wearing pants so loose that underwear is visible isn't a dead trend yet – go to any mall on a Friday night – fashionistas say obvious undies are on the outs.”

And finally, from The Onion: “Bush Urges Nation To Be Quiet For a Minute While He Tries to Think”: “"Every American has an inalienable right to free speech and self-expression," Bush said. "Nonetheless, I call upon the American people to hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds. Just long enough for me to get this all sorted out in my head." "Please," Bush added. While the president said achieving a unilateral peace and quiet "would not be easy," he hoped that citizens would respect his wish and work toward a temporary cease-talk so that he could can hear his own thoughts "for once." "Make no mistake: It will take patience and sacrifice," Bush said. "But such drastic measures could lead to a better tomorrow for all of us, especially for your commander in chief."”

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