Editor’s note: The Africa Policy Outlook is an annual publication released jointly by Africa Action and Foreign Policy In Focus that highlights the key themes and trends in U.S. Africa policy. See the appendix below for a general schedule of African elections planned for 2009.
The United States is struggling with Pakistan. The problem is manifold, encompassing a resurgent al-Qaeda, a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan with bases in Pakistan, and Islamist militancy in Pakistan’s tribal areas and North-West Frontier Province.
When Bush’s former press secretary admits that the administration used a “political propaganda campaign” to sell its case for war and calls the mainstream media “deferential, complicit enablers” – as Scott McClellan does in What Happened – it’s time to examine just how badly the press failed.
For the past few months it seems that New Delhi has been shrouded in a thick, meandering fog. For the auto rickshaw drivers and fruit vendors, the intelligentsia and the elite who occupy the steamy Gangetic Plains, the fog has become, as all things in India must, symbolic of an uncertain future. A Pakistan on the verge of doom? An Olympic China who this summer will put India in the shadows? An increasingly bellicose Russia? Wrong on all counts.
On May 1, 2003, George W. Bush held an Iraq War victory celebration aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Lincoln, a moment of triumph that has since metamorphosed into the very embodiment of folly as the bloody war continues to grind on. On that faraway date Bush stood beneath a mammoth banner that read, “Mission Accomplished.” Ed Koren has memorialized the event very differently from what the president intended.
“Even though I oppose the planned invasion of Iraq, I want my new country to succeed in my old country.” This is what I told the person in the State Department in charge helping formulate pre- and post-invasion plans in 2002 before the invasion. Though I had spoken to this person several times, this was the last conversation I had with him. Clearly, my sentiments against the invasion disqualified me from offering solutions to rebuild Iraq.
A showdown is brewing between Republicans and Democrats over the Iraq War once again. The Bush administration is stirring the pot once again by negotiating an agreement with the “sovereign” Iraqi government to place U.S. military troops and bases permanently on Iraqi soil despite strong objections from many Democrats.
Think of the top officials of the Bush administration as magicians when it comes to Iraq. Their top hats and tails may be worn and their act fraying, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Their latest “abracadabra,” the president’s “surge strategy” of 2007, has still worked like a charm. They waved their magic wands, paid off and armed a bunch of former Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists (about 80,000 “concerned citizens,” as the president likes to call them), and magically lowered “violence” in Iraq. Even more miraculously, they made a country that they had already turned into a cesspool and a slagheap — its capital now has a “lake” of sewage so large that it can be viewed "as a big black spot on Google Earth" — almost entirely disappear from view in the United States.
On January 28, President George W. Bush gave the last State of the Union address of his two-term tenure. Many of his remarks centered on foreign policy. FPIF’s Stephen Zunes annotates the president’s claims and statements.
President George W. Bush has been using somewhat stronger language than he has uttered previously about the Israeli-Palestinian situation and has made some optimistic predictions of a peace agreement within a year. Nevertheless, there is little reason to hope that the president is any more serious about or is any more likely to be successful in bringing about a negotiated settlement to the conflict.