So, for those of us who don’t live in the United States, the big question about the US election is – what’s this going to mean for the rest of the world? Specifically, once the two oilmen are out of the White House, will this mean a more pacific international order?
Probably not, from the looks of things. On the Republican side we have John McCain, the hawk’s hawk, a man so bellicose he doesn’t think W has started enough wars. It’s one thing, of course, to promise to hunt down bin Laden. But this is the guy who led a Senatorial delegation all the way to Tskhinvali, which may not quite be the end of the earth but comes pretty close, just so he could demand that every square inch of South Ossetia be returned to Georgian rule, and no matter what the South Ossetians had to say on the matter. Those goldarn South Ossetians, y’see, just a little too keen on the Russkies.
Surely the Democrats must be miles better? Well, you would hope so, but then we have the Clinton family running, and we know how peace-loving Mr Bill’s regime was. Just to remind us, back in Iowa Hillary was flanked by prize gargoyles Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright. This raises the prospect of yet more comic-opera interventions in the Balkans. If Hillary starts making cryptic references to Novi Pazar or Dobruja, it’s probably time to run for cover. And then of course there was her demand for US forces in Iraq to overthrow the, er, puppet government because it was showing signs of independence – which actually put her to the right of the Bush administration.
Then again, we do have a fresh face in the person of Irish-American candidate Barack O’Bama. O’Bama may be a political rookie, but he’s smart enough to know that the war in Iraq is extremely unpopular. And despite mixed messages on foreign policy generally, Barack’s patented brand of stump poetry has convinced lots of folks that he’s the man to heal the division between America and the rest of the world.
He does on the other hand tend to look a bit lost when it comes to the big wide world out there. But despair ye not! Barack has gone and got himself a foreign policy guru. You’ll never guess who it is.
Natalie: Go on, then. I am agog to learn.
Me: Zbigniew Brzezinski!
Me: Come on, you remember Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Afghanistan guy. Not Tom Hanks, the other one.
Natalie: Oh, that guy. I thought he was dead.
Well, apparently not. And, if Barack is short of ideas, old Zbigniew is just full of good ideas. Most famously, he was the guy who thought it was a good idea to recruit a bunch of mad Wahhabis, arm them to the teeth, and send them to Afghanistan to fight the Russians. That couldn’t possibly have anything but good consequences for the American people.
Or, then again, there was Zbigniew’s contribution to peace in Cambodia. You would have thought that by 1979 the Cambodian people had suffered enough. But no, they had to be punished further, because behind the National Salvation Front government stood Vietnam, the country that had so recently humiliated the Empire, and behind Vietnam stood The Bear. And so it was that we got that great triumph of democratic geopolitics, the US’s long-running diplomatic support for Pol Pot.
Of course, Zbigniew couldn’t do that openly. He outsourced the dirty work to China. Let Zbigniew explain:
I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot…Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.
Now isn’t that the sort of change we can all believe in?
Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!