Bush did not see 9/11 coming, and neither did I, before I go on some Bush-as-stupid rant. But you could argue dictatorships have always struck at America. Japan was a dictatorship when Pearl Harbor happened. The Cold War was a clash with another dictatorship, the Russian kind. You could have argued that since the Arab world is a large swathe of dictatorships, it was only a matter of time before America got hit. You could also argue that unless China moves towards political reform and ultimate plurality Taiwan could some day become a hot flashpoint between the two giants.
For now I am trying to look ahead for Barack. What could go wrong? You could argue what could go wrong has already gone wrong. This financial hole is really, really huge. America has to fix this, and America has to make sure Bin Laden inspired people don't end up exploding a dirty bomb somewhere. And that does not have to be in America. They do it for global media attention. Any big city would work just fine for them. It is another thing that any such act of mass murder is going to generate a major backlash against them in the Arab world itself. And I really hope they are nowhere close to getting their hands on the material needed for the task. And I don't feel bad imagining the scenario. It is better to think and prevent than to exhibit ostrich behavior.
So what could be some of the pitfalls Barack could face over the next eight years? Here are some of my guesses.
(1) A Stimulus Package That Is Too Little Too Late
Minus the stimulus package, this country will head into a deep recession, and that in turn will lead to a global recession. At that point not even a two trillion stimulus will work. Sure, this piles onto the already huge debt and deficit. But when the building is on fire, you don't try to save on water.
(2) A Second 9/11
The Al Qaeda is as resilient as ever. America should have stayed focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, it should not have got distracted in Iraq. When the whole world is its stage, expect that organization to think of newer ways to create "spectacular" attacks. Mumbai was the latest strike. It likes big cities. And it has not forgotten America. Actually it never stopped trying. A second 9/11 in the current economic climate would have a huge negative multiplier effect. Bin Laden, the business student, thinks more about money than about material harm.
(3) No End To Iraq War
If the Iraq War is not ended, and the war expenses are not drastically cut, the current bailout and the stimulus package are going to look really, really expensive in a few years. That war has to be brought to an end at the earliest responsible time.
(4) Unbalanced Budgets As Far As The Eyes Can See
I think Barack has about five, maybe six years to end up with a balanced budget. With a Democratic hold on the White House and the Congress, the tribe is going to find it hard down the line to not go back to the tax and spend liberal ways. If Barack can't check that, the opposition party will find fuel to take back the reins of power. They might still come strong even with balanced budgets, but unbalanced budgets as fas as the eyes can see will really hurt the country going forward. You are swiping credit cards of children not yet born.
(5) Another Russian Misadventure?
It could be the Russians, or it could be some third rate Third World dictator. You can always expect some unexpected flashpoint on the globe. Every president has had that. What will be Barack's such flashpoint? I don't know.
(6) Universal Health Care Without Health Care Sector Reform
Just throwing money at the problem would be the wrong way to go about it. More money is needed, sure, but that is not the only thing needed. You got to bring the costs down also for the currently insured. The market forces need to be brought into greater play.
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