The end of a nightmare, the start of hope and change
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-01-20

Today, January 19 in the US, marks the last day in office of President George W. Bush. To many Americans and even other nationals, the Bush era was a nightmare - an era that one would want to exit from and forget.

Tomorrow, the American people and the rest of the world will look forward to what is expected to be the dawn of hope and change under President Barack Obama. Hope and change could not have come at the most appropriate time and under the most unexpected circumstances.

Obama’s official entry into the world stage as the new leader of a superpower nation brings with him his fighting campaign slogan of “Yes, we can!” To a US and a world reeling from the trauma of the Global Financial Meltdown, “Yes, we can!” is a greatly needed morale booster, a restorer of a person’s will to fight and win against tremendous odds.

Obama’s ascendancy could not have been more dramatic as it marks the first African-American to be elected US President, a feat that was accomplished via one of the most popular election victories in contemporary US history.

Fifty years ago, African-Americans could not even sit beside Caucasian Americans in the same bus and were barred from certain “All Whites ONLY” establishments. One hundred sixty years ago, African-Americans were still slaves.

George W. Bush exits under the worst circumstances. Perhaps, only Jon Stewart, David Letterman and the other late-night comedy show hosts will miss Bush after having found an abundance of presidential gaffes to spoof and satire during his watch. That sentiment will likely be shared by the political cartoonists.

Many of the present woes confronting the US may not be solely attributed to George W. Bush - like the decline of the US as a superpower, the looming domination of China, the US Financial Meltdown that became global and the global economic downturn that it triggered. But Bush mismanagement has definitely hastened US decline and aggravated US financial instability.

The Iraq War misadventure proved to be the focal point of the decline of US influence and financial problems. The US went into war in Iraq based on all the wrong assumptions and spent too much money for being there. The real fight was in Afghanistan but Bush decided to use war on terror as a cover to gain a foothold on Iraq oil. Now, the US finds itself in exactly the no-win situation the old Soviet Union encountered in seemingly unconquerable Afghanistan.

As a result of diverting attention from Afghanistan by invading Iraq, the US is now poised to abandon Iraq and could yet lose Afghanistan back to the Taliban. Before the US invaded Iraq, it was at least governable albeit by a tyrant - Saddam Hussein. Now, after the US and its allies leave Iraq, there is a likely scenario that the country will bust at the seams and will be caught in the vortex of a bloody civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.

Over here in the Philippines, it was under the watch of George W. Bush when the US influence waned and the Philippines gravitated closer to China. Here, Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) still pays lip service to the US but we can see that her preferred foreign partner is now China.

Of course, that foreign policy shift is rational and timely. The US is on the decline - something even the US National Intelligence Council admitted in its last report — while China is on the rise and awash with money.

From the personal political needs of GMA, China would be the logical choice. The US has the track record of engineering the fall of rulers who are causing instability in a US geopolitical prime area.

GMA would have remembered what happened to our own Ferdinand Marcos and South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem. Once propped up by the US, it was also the US that played key roles in removing them from public office. In the case of Ngo Dinh Diem, the removal from public office was fatal. Unlike Marcos who exited in the nick of time, Ngo Ding Diem did not know when it was time to pull out.

Unlike the US, China has been known to stand by their sons-of-bitch (or bitches) come hell or high water. The Myanmar regime is an embarrassment, to say the least, which China has been supporting. GMA must have taken note of this.

When the kidnapping of Filipino OFW Angelo de la Cruz forced GMA to withdraw from the US-led Coalition of the Willing, that marked the start of her deep insecurity of what the US could do to her. It was then that she extended bridges to China.

A European Ambassador confided to your Chair Wrecker that the failed MoA-BJE (Memorandum of Agreement-Bangsamoro Juridical Entity) deal appears to have been scuttled by the GMA government in an indirect way. Appearing to be pushing the US geopolitical agenda, the GMA government did it in such a way that created so much controversy. Eventually, a pro-GMA Supreme Court voided it.

US interest was clearly manifested all over that MoA-BJE deal and it would have been something that China will not take kindly. US armed forces operating freely in the planned BJE can effectively limit or altogether block Chinese shipments of oil from the Middle East and Africa.

Now, can Barack Obama fix and restore what George W. Bush broke?

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