Friday, 22 February 2008

Elsewhere in the world. . .

[Despite my three-day silence, faithful reader, I have been paying attention. Writing this at 4 a.m. from Alabama, which has given me insomnia.]

While we are all agog with the Hillary v. Barack drama, the world seems to be falling down around our ears, not that anyone’s paying much attention. There is now the prospect of a new war in northern Iraq pitting two U.S. allies against each other (i.e. a lose-lose situation); Serbian authorities apparently stood by and enabled a mob to attack the U.S. embassy in Belgrade; and the economy continues to head for the toilet.

The economic piece has slipped from the headlines lately, but the gloomy news is we seem to have the worst possible combination of sluggishness and inflationary overheating, kind of like the clammy sensation you get with a fever and chills. The dreaded word ‘stagflation’ has even resurfaced, and I hasten to note that the combination of high unemployment and crushing interest rates decimated Jimmy Carter’s final year and ushered in the Reagan epoch.

The ‘surge’ (who brought us that inspiring term anyway?) has been a great PR triumph for Bush as it bought more war time for the hawks and provided a script for the drum-thumping pundit class. But it does nothing to resolve the underlying disaster, which cannot fail to become obvious sooner or later. I stand by waiting for the ‘Tet offensive’ moment, in which all the pretty talk crumbles into dust.

And now, ta-dum, enter the Turkish army into the Kurdish territories of northern Iraq. The Kurds are among the few true U.S. allies in Iraq, and Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952. Trust W to screw that one up and alienate everyone if the shooting escalates.

But meanwhile, the presidential drama has been gripping and full of surprises. I hereby enthusiastically trumpet my erroneous (as usual) predictions that it would turn into a Clinton-Romney match as exciting as watching laundry spin. Thank you, incompetent and over-handled and -advised candidates! Your spent your millions for naught, and now we get a race we actually care about.

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