For the time being, Israel's war has pushed the war in Iraq off the front pages, giving the Bush administration some breathing room to recalibrate its battle tactics. Additional forces are being shifted into Baghdad, where Al Qaeda and sectarian militias have significantly increased attacks in a bold attempt to undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new government.
Here at home, the wider war certainly reinforces Bush's arguments that if the United States were to begin pulling out of Iraq now, it would only encourage terrorist forces to expand their attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
The severity of the fighting over there only increases the stakes for the United States and our allies in what has truly become a global war on terror.
Bush will make the case for what's at stake in the midterm elections as he plays his administration's strongest political card: who can keep us safe from terrorism. Polls still give Bush and the Republicans the edge on this issue, which now looms larger than ever as a result of the events in the past few weeks.
But with this upheaval comes fear and uncertainty that has roiled the financial markets, pushed up oil prices to more than $70 a barrel, and, with it, gasoline and natural-gas prices fueling inflationary pressures that can only encourage the Fed's tighter money policies.
That will only serve to slow U.S. and global economies in the second half of this year, and perhaps in 2007, if Wall Street's economic forecasters are to be believed.
I think such predictions are a bit premature at this point for a number of reasons.
The biggest: There is a huge head of steam behind the emerging global economic giants that is not going to dissipate anytime soon. China, India and oil-rich Russia are growing by leaps and bounds, along with a middle class that will only expand their consumer markets and our export sales. Japan's economy is recovering nicely, and once-dormant Europe shows new economic life that was almost unimaginable a few years ago.
Meanwhile, to say that Bush has a lot of problems on his plate is putting it mildly. But that's what we pay presidents to handle.
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