Sunday, December 31, 2006

Richard Clarke on Problems Bush Is Neglecting

There are any number of people out there, both experts and ordinary people observing the world, who increasingly talk about the number of problems Bush is neglecting, particularly in foreign affairs. In The Washington Post, Richard Clarke, who worked for several presidents, points out some of the problems being overlooked because of Bush's obsession with Iraq (hat tip to Talking Points Memo):
In every administration, there are usually only about a dozen barons who can really initiate and manage meaningful changes in national security policy. For most of 2006, some of these critical slots in the Bush administration have been vacant... ... ...with the nation involved in a messy war spiraling toward a bad conclusion, the key deputies and Cabinet members and advisers are all focusing on one issue, at the expense of all others: Iraq.

(snip)

...beyond al-Qaeda and the broader struggle for peaceful coexistence with (and within) Islam, seven key "fires in the in-box" national security issues remain unattended, deteriorating and threatening...

Global warming: When the possibility of invading Iraq surfaced in 2001, senior Bush administration officials hadn't thought much about global warming, except to wonder whether it was caused by human activity or by sunspots. Today, the world's scientists and many national leaders worry that the world has passed the point of no return on global warming. If it has, then human damage to the ecosphere will cause more major cities to flood and make the planet significantly less conducive to human habitation -- all over the lifetime of a child now in kindergarten. British Prime Minister Tony Blair keeps trying to convince President Bush of the magnitude of the problem, but in every session between the two leaders Iraq squeezes out the time to discuss the pending planetary disaster.

Clarke goes on to discuss other neglected areas, including "Russian revanchism," "Latin America's leftist lurch," "Africa at War," the "Arms Control freeze," "transnational crime," and the "Pakistani-Afghan border." America is paying a heavy price for Bush's obsession with Iraq. We need to cut our losses and rebuild our foreign policy before more damage is done.

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