Who asked you anyway?

America’s descent into obscurity continues apace under the leadership of the Bush administration.

While it continues to outspend the rest of the world militarily, the US continues to take umbrage at countries not in its Rolodex, arming themselves.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is arriving in Russia at the end of June on an official visit.

Pundits are asking whether the two sides will sign new contracts for arms supplies, in particular, submarines. The United States is particularly interested. For some reason it thinks its opinion must be taken into account in the decision-making process.

The Bush administration has cause for concern. Russia has entered the arms market so aggressively in recent years that many, including the U.S. itself, have called American dominance into doubt.

Apart from the fact that the US and Israel prefer it when their enemies can’t fight back, the US is finding that it is no longer the only kid on the block when it comes to providing arms. Just as significantly, the buyers are scrutinizing the bang they are getting for their buck, and this makes US arms manufacturers look bad.

Many countries like Russian weapons, and not only regular buyers. Recently more armies have changed suppliers, finding that equipment from Russia is more advanced, more reliable and less expensive. Colombia’s armed forces purchased 10 Mi-17 military transport helicopters, which not only perform better than American Black Hawks, but also cost $18 million less – an important factor for a country which is not among the richest on the continent.

Better and cheaper than the equivalent produced in the cradle of capitalism? That must hurt.

If that’s not bad enough, America’s darling in the Middle East is fast becoming fed up with Bush and his neocon policies. The US was noticeably absent from the summit in sunny Sharm el-Sheikh.

And who isn’t coming to this sad party? The United States, the superpower with the lion’s share of responsibility for the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. Who stayed home? President George W. Bush, the one whose semi-hallucinatory dream of democratization has become a genuine reality of anarchy; whose adopted vision of two states – Israel and Palestine – has become during his tenure a distant dream. It is difficult to think of an American president who has caused more damage to Israeli interests than the president who is considered one of the friendliest to Israel of all time. No leader has done more than Bush – by commission as well as omission – to destroy the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

You know that America is in bad shape when even Israel is glad not to have them around.

Officials in Olmert’s government are sighing in great relief over the lowering of the American profile. To understand the depth of these leanings, one must go to Damascus. Vice President Farouk Shara interpreted Bush’s statements using the following harsh, but accurate, words: “The American president does not want peace between Israel and Syria.” Israeli intelligence officials are already warning that the opposite of peace is imminent war between Israel and Syria. This means that Bush is refusing to help prevent another round of blood-letting. What an outcry would erupt here were he to refuse to aid us by shipping a cannon or a helicopter over, and sending us out alone with the Arabs to handle the next war.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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