Come fly with me... As oil breaks the $100/barrel mark, let's go first to Poland:
Polish Prime Minister-designate Donald Tusk said his future government would seek to end the nation's military mission in Iraq next year.Poland has 900 troops in southern Iraq. 81 percent of Poles oppose the military mission in Iraq. A US military base in Poland is a critical part of the Star Wars missile shield.
Next, Japan, which is terminating its support role in Afghanistan:
Over the six years of its engagement, Japan's Maritime Self Defence Force tankers have provided more than Y22 billion ($208 million) worth of fuel, mainly to US ships.Portugal is also cutting its military presence in Afghanistan by 90% next year. They will leave 15 soldiers and a transport plane.
But recently the fuel has all gone to the Pakistan navy - in effect, an operational subsidy to keep the Pakistanis involved.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are set to re-take Kandahar. Turkey has launched attacks inside Iraq. The Iraqis are closing down power plants due to lack of fuel. Israel is cutting off fuel supplies to Gaza and preparing for another major incursion...
Who is responsible for this parlous state of affairs?
A new Zogby poll shows that 52% of likely voters in the United States would support a U.S. military strike against Iran. 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election.
Meanwhile, the new candidate for US Attorney General refuses to condemn water-boarding as torture, and the head of the CIA still insists that renditions and torture are important weapons in the long war against, well... whatever.
I'm glad I don't follow US politics as closely as I used to, because it is infinitely depressing. The problem is, the rest of the world pays the price for their greed, stupidity and ignorance. Hey, why did we invade Iraq anyway?
Let's end our little trip - fittingly - in Washington, where Karen Hughes, a long-time Bush insider, is quitting her job. And what was that job? Ah yes:
Bush and Rice had picked Hughes two years ago to retool the way the United States sells its policies, ideals and views overseas. A former television reporter and media adviser, Hughes' focus has been to change the way the United States engages and responds to criticism or misinformation in the Muslim world...
Polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since Hughes took over.