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December 11, 2006

8 Events That Could Change Everything
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

A few days ago, Suzanne postulated a number of possible outcomes for Iraq.  I’ve been thinking about the other events – outside Iraq and its immediate neighbors – that could and probably will come along to challenge our hamstrung foreign policy capacity in the next two years.  I think the chances of one or more of these happening are excellent – and readers will no doubt have their own candidates.  As my mother likes to say, “life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”  Progressives need to think about how we'd deal -- and how we'd want to help the country deal -- with any and all of the following:

1.  Castro dies.  Wheeeee.  Miami goes nuts.  Presidential candidates from both parties face ugly dilemmas with respect to Florida and New Jersey votes.  One wing of the Administration wants to “offer assistance” with lessons learned from Iraq.  It isn’t pretty.

2.  Lebanon blows up.  More than a year ago, someone wrote that Lebanon was a dozen assassinations away from civil war.  Umm, are we there yet? 

3.  Nigeria blows up.  If you like something more esoteric, Chavez takes Venezuela’s oil off the market – or, a really scary one, the Saudi government goes under.  We’re talking a development that is bad in its own right, bad for stability in the region concerned, challenging for perceptions of the US and traumatic to the oil market.  Oil heads toward that magic $100 a barrel, and world markets and polities alike freak out.

4.  Another big terrorist attack.  I’m not at all sure what consequences this might have.  I would much prefer not to find out.  But I am sure that we’re still not as ready to prevent or minimize such a thing as we should be; nor have we had the leadership we deserve to make us psychologically ready and nationally cohesive, so that life and institutions go on strongly no matter what.

5.  Serious Israeli-Palestinian talks break out.  So, I had to put something optimistic in here.  What if the Palestinians held elections, put together a unity government, and opened talks with Olmert’s government… against the wishes of President Bush?

6.  Renewed Israeli-Arab fighting breaks out.  More realistically, this is another ugly little prospect.

7.  One of the Big Three goes under.  Chest-thumping about trade – and the link in the public mind between Asian imports and job losses – gets so loud that our broader international economic agenda is imperiled.  A lot of people lose their jobs, confidence in the economy and our self-image both take a big hit.  Economic news coverage starts to feature unemployed guys with sledgehammers.

8.  Last, but not least, instead of preparing the ground on these and other tough issues, progressives spend the next two years manning (and I do mean manning) a circular firing squad over who is "in" and who is "out."  C’mon, guys.  By our deeds, not our infighting, shall the public know us.


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Come on, Heather, you are (IMHO) among (I'm being diplomatic here) the most reasonable of the diarists here and I trust that when you post these hypothetical events as Things That We Must Do Something About (Because We Are Supreme) that you are tweaking us (me) when you ask: How would we deal with these?

Your mother was right. We'll do what we can to help the people down the street, but we won't carpet-bomb the neighborhood, mortgage the next three generations or torture those we don't like to help them. Isn't that the way they do it in Michigan? I hope so. My two children were born there.

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I'd say China's economy crashing is a big worry - or I guess that's included in number 7?

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