Winners and Losers

So, who won and lost this week after General Petraeus’s and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony?

Policy Winners and Losers is probably the most obvious loser. Yes, Petraeus did play games with the numbers but “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” Come on! Rickety poetry makes for poor framing. Besides, the frame is only as good as the underlying message.
George W Bush is still running rings around the Congressional Democrats who cannot get themselves to tie funding to a sensible strategy. Remaining in control of policy, Bush is continuing his ascent. Stuck with Bush’s non-strategy, the Democrats have lost this week in the policy arena.

Political Winners and Losers
Republicans in Congress are the clear losers. Unless they can get George W Bush to formulate a strategy that actually deals with the problems on the ground, the Norm Colemans in Congress might as well turn their office keys over to Al Franken & Co.
Juan Cole links Pepe Escobar’s excellent analysis of the al-Anbar myth. That gift won’t give forever because the center of gravity is in Baghdad’s sectarian war, southern Iraq’s fratricide of Shiite militias, and the Arab-Kurdish conflict in the north.
Stuck with Bush, neither Republicans in Congress nor their presidential candidates have much hope of improving their position until the 2008 elections.
I guess, hope springs eternal and matters might improve accidentally.

Strategic Winners and Losers
The United States of America is the global loser because she remains stuck in the Iraq quagmire that exhausts her military and financial resources.
Thus al-Qaida in Iraq wins a second lease on life and the opportunity to reconstitute. The Taliban continue to roam Afghanistan because the twenty thousand troops that should restore order at the Hindukush remain trapped at the Tigris and Euphrates.
The absence of American strategic reserves benefits Iran. Ahmadinejad can continue to bait us in the full knowledge that all he has to fear are air strikes.
The inability of the United States of America to formulate and implement a strategy that would actually reflect her interests benefits most of all aspiring world power China. As America depletes her military and her treasure, the consequences of the adventure in the Middle East will constrain her ability to project power for decades. America’s weakness creates substantial opportunities for the People’s Republic of China, especially in Africa and the Far East, to put her foreign currency reserves to good use.


  1. A fair assessment. I think the Dems believe that in 2009 the White House is theirs, but they also don’t want to be left holding the Iraq bag at the end of the day. They’ll get the blame for not cleaning it up if they do nothing about it once they get there. And I also feel that since November, the Dems haven’t felt that they have time on their side in order to do anything significant about Iraq (or Bush, for that matter). I’ve even heard whispers that Hillary will continue a “significant” US presence in Iraq if she’s elected simply because she doesn’t want to get blamed for cutting and running, losing, or whatever we choose to call that thing that is not “victory” (and whatever that is or how it is defined remains a mystery). Dems and Reps (the neo-con ones, anyway) both lose on Iraq.

    the consequences of the adventure in the Middle East will constrain her ability to project power for decades.

    Hellmut, what does “project power” mean to you? Isn’t that what Bush is doing now? As an isolationist, I’m wary of what that might mean. I’d like to see America’s presence in the world revert back to strictly an economic one, not a nation-building one. Lassaiz-faire trading would probably put a stop to the blowback that imperial nation-building has caused.

    to put her foreign currency reserves to good use.

    There are no reserves. The “Federal Reserve” one of the most heinous misnomers in American history. America is bankrupt (over $9 trillion, in fact). What may appear like reserves is actually poorly financed debt/credit. But I see your point. While the dollar still retains some value, it would be nice to see the debts put to good use before the value of the dollar is gone. I lament that fiat-based currency has a poor track record. Hopefully this time it will do just fine.


  2. Good to see, David!

    Conditions are favorable for the Democratic nominee but the presidency is not in the bag. There is still a lot of time and who knows what will happen in the meanwhile. I am convinced, however, that Bush is no longer willing to take charge of America’s fate in Iraq. Instead he will stay the course, which amounts to doing nothing and hoping for the best. Therefore, any succor that the Republican candidate might receive, will not come from the White House.

    Bush is projecting power but he is doing it ineffectively. The primary vice of American foreign policy under his administration is arrogance. If Bush had built consensus with his allies, he would have achieved more.

    There is nothing wrong with leveraging America’s power in the pursuit of her interests. The United States has committed many mistakes. Occasionally, she has been overbearing and imperialistic, especially in Latin America, but on balance the world benefits tremendously from American leadership.

    Leadership, however, requires followers. At some point, leaders have to obtain the consent of their followers. Since World War II, every American president except for George W Bush understood that.

    I agree that free trade can be a good thing. I would remind you, however, that large markets do not grow on the lawn like daisies. Governments create large scale markets by protecting property rights.


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