November 10, 2006
Global Gazing: MENA Echoes on US Election
As any number of MENA blogs can note, the US elections have been greeted in the region with a huge sense of relief, if only I would say from a rising sense of desperation with the Americans blundering about the region like a blind, maimed and lobotomised elephant.
Although I have been submerged in a potentially very profitable transaction as well as discussing with my new Managing Director carving out our operations and team from the Titanic (only a month on the job and the man is already on our side), I can attest that conversations over this week - with Americans, with Europeans, with above all MENA natives have all revolved around an expressed hope that the blundering incompetents in the US Presidential offices might finally give over some power to the realists.
Personally, I am not sure I expect a difference, in any case my reasoning facilities have been of late given over to economic self interest of the most sordid kind, and I have had little time to follow, let alone digest the news whether local, regional or international.
However, the observation of the intense interest among all parties over the American elections - in the run up and now after- attested to how negative the perception of the American administration had grown. What also was striking over the past two weeks was that I heard not one voice raised in support of the current American administration - not even amongst the normally quite Right inclined "Anglo Saxon" financiers.
No, rather the contrary, those of us with "skin in the game" as the expression goes have grown almost desperately disgusted with the sheer unbounded incompetence of this stunningly dimwitted American government.
So, there you go. Lounsbury is back and questions if you wish, although afraid I haven't much more substance to share.
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I would also share your gut instinct: Democrats in a majority in Congress will not change much, except perhaps in a less negative perception abroad of Washington - if Rumsfeld and now perhaps John Bolton get the axe, then the most unsympathetic and extremist members of Bush's team are gone - er, with the exception of Bush himself and Cheney...
Democrats voted overwhelmingly for the invasion of Iraq, are if anything more one-sided in their support of Israel, and haven't mounted a united and principled opposition to the Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib/Bagram/military commissions sequence of events. And if memory serves me well, Clinton invaded Haiti and bombed Serbia/Kosovo, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq... so we're not really likely to see the US getting vegetarian in world affairs...
Posted by: Ibn Kafka at November 10, 2006 05:37 PM
Congress won't have a strong influence on foreign policy, but there is a huge differnce between republicans and democrats, or rather between between right bolsheviks as col calls them and everyone else. But republicans pretty much all are right bolsheviks these days, even if Bush has at the moment become more pragmatic, and they will remain so for a decade at least.
Btw, Democrats mostly voted against the resolution in the house, including Pelosi.
Posted by: David Weman at November 10, 2006 07:09 PM
I agree with David, also I think it's silly to say things will be the same with Dems when there was so obvious a change from Clinton to Bush 43. Little change from Bush 41 to Clinton, though, except for environmental issues.
Apparently Bush is still trying to get Bolton confirmed, so particularly pragmatic one couldn't call him. Daft rather. Will be interesting to see how much crap they will try to shovel until Dems take over from January.
Democrats can mainly focus on investigating stuff done under Bush and grilling Bush's nominees (like Gates - and hopefully they can kill Bolton's nomination).
I hope this is the beginning of the end of righty bolshevism...
Posted by: Anna in Portland (was Cairo) at November 10, 2006 10:16 PM
Lots of Democratic candidates won with strong protectionist stands against offshoring and "dependence on foreign oil." That's only a slight different brand of the mercantilist-Leninist xenophobia already destroying US foreign policy. (See also: Dubai Ports World.)
If we're lucky, all they'll do is hold hearing upon hearing upon hearing, until the whole country knows exactly what a disaster Iraq was and who was responsible for it.
Posted by: Anonymous at November 10, 2006 11:16 PM
Well, first, I haven't a view on the meaning of the Democratic party control of the American Congress per se. Realistically, of course, big ships do not turn on a dime, even if the new crew wants to (at least not without heeling over). I would not expect massive overnight changes.
I do expect that some of the grotesque clumsiness in American diplomacy will be shed. Some. The shock may also stop the droolingly moronic happy talk about Iraq from the US administration and force serious analysis by serious actors. Of course Iraq is lost to the Americans, but real policy and analysis may start. May.
Anon's comment of course at last I also fear. I had not given it much thought, having been concerned with personal enrichment of late. However the mercantalist Left a la France does indeed concern me, and would be an absolute negative (although the 'free market' Right in the US of A had clearly gone in a similar direction, based on security fears).
Posted by: The Lounsbury at November 11, 2006 06:01 AM
Bingo. Dependence on foreign oil, now that I can understand for many many reasons. 'Fair trade' is bitterly ironic, considering Third World farmers have little chance against US and EU subsidies, not to mention Japanese. I wonder how it got this way; that farming needs subsidies, no questions asked. Possibly a historical hangover: The EU was based on the principle of Germans subsidising French farmers in return for market access. As for USA and Japan, I have no idea.
Posted by: Klaus at November 11, 2006 11:16 AM
The US Congress is heavily weighted towards rural areas. Alaska, Vermont, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming are all only entitled to one representative in the lower house, but they all get two Senators, because every state gets two senators, regardless of population. (Think of the absurdity: California, with a GDP of 1.4 trillion dollars, gets only two Senators, just like Montana, with a GDP of 24 million.) So, farming states and the concerns of farming states are overrepresented.
Posted by: pantom at November 11, 2006 11:11 PM
Actually that is one of the features I like about the American electoral system. It is there to make sure the voices of these small states don't get lost. Think of it as affirmative action.
Of course I don't live in the US&A so maybe I'm being wrong about this.
Posted by: Ali K at November 13, 2006 09:13 AM