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A pundit’s guide to the post-health-care bill world

The undisputed top political story in the U.S. media right now is the impending House of Representatives vote on health-care reform. Domestic policy isn’t our beat (except when it gets in the way of foreign policy) but we know that in Washington nothing succeeds like success and a vote like this will define the prevailing ...

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US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on health insurance reform at George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia, on March 19, 2010. Obama hailed this weekend's "historic" congressional vote on his health plan as the culmination of a century of struggle, at a euphoric campaign-style rally. EDS NOTE: Corrects date. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The undisputed top political story in the U.S. media right now is the impending House of Representatives vote on health-care reform. Domestic policy isn’t our beat (except when it gets in the way of foreign policy) but we know that in Washington nothing succeeds like success and a vote like this will define the prevailing media narrative on the Obama administration: Come Monday the U.S. president will be seen as either brilliant or bungling. This narrative is going to extend beyond healthcare to other major issues, including foreign policy.

So here’s a quick guide to what the state of the world will be, depending on whether or not the bill goes through.

If health care passes: 

Iran: The Islamic Republic is on its last legs, challenged at every turn by the ever-expanding green movement, which the Obama administration wisely avoided undermining with explicit public support. Instead of a confrontational approach, the U.S. has taken its time to build international consensus, put tough but highly targeted sanctions in place, and given Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just enough rope to hang himself. 

Af-Pak:  The offensive in Marjah was a rousing success, al Qaeda leaders are being taken out or arrested left and right, the tide is turning against the insurgency, Pakistan is finally cooperating, Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the greatest U.S. military commander since Douglas MacArthur.

Iraq: The withdrawal of U.S. troops continues on schedule, violence is way down, Iraq’s sectarian conflicts are being worked out in Parliament rather than in the streets, David Petraeus is the greatest U.S. miltary commander since George Washington.

Israel-Palestine: Finally, a U.S. administration showed some backbone dealing with Israel, condemning the expansion of settlements and working to strong-arm both sides to the table. Netanyahu’s settlement freeze was a step in the right direction. Obama has proven that the White House can be a strong ally to Israel without being a pushover. 

Russia: U.S.-Russia relations are better than they’ve been since the 1990s. Thanks to the Obama administration’s less confrontational approach and compromise on missile defense, a successor to the START treaty is near and Moscow is finally starting to cooperate on Iran. 

Gitmo/detainees:  The Obama administration has restored constitutional norms and proven that the war on terror on terror can be won and valuable intelligence gained without torture or illegal detentions. Dozens of Gitmo detainees have been relocated and the civilian trials for al Qaeda leaders will be a success.

Global warming: Thanks to Obama’s last-minute intervention, the climate change summit saved face in Copenhagen. After health care, with momentum on its side, the administration will take on energy and finally make cap and trade a reality. 

Rahm Emanuel: A fucking genius.

If health care fails:

Iran: With his shameful silence, Obama hung the green movement out to dry. Iran is closer than ever to building a nuke (if Israel doesn’t bomb it first), the Chinese are never going to cooperate on sanctions, and the administration’s engagement strategy has been proven a failure.

Af-Pak: U.S. troops are sinking into a unwinnable quagmire, Marjah was a meaningless backwater, Afghanistan’s corrupt government and incompetent military will never be able to function without U.S. support, Pakistan is placating the U.S. while still not taking the Taliban seriously. Obama should have listened to Joe Biden when he had the chance.

Iraq: The election was marred by fraud, none of the major political disputes have been resolved, the insurgency is biding its time, the U.S. military faces a choice between remaining in Iraq for decades or watching a sectarian bloodbath erupt as it pulls out.

Israel-Palestine: The setttlements continue to expand, Obama is hopelessly unpopular in Israel and unable to influence Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority is a corrupt joke and Hamas will never renounce violence. George Mitchell should quit while he still retains a shred of credibility. 

Russia: While Hillary Clinton has tea with Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin is eating Obama’s lunch. Russia is building nuclear reactors in Iran, delaying START again and again, meddling in Ukraine, tightening its grip on Georgia’s breakaway regions and repressing its own people. The reset was nothing more than appeasement, and the U.S. hasn’t even gotten anything out of it.  

Gitmo/detainees: Obama hasn’t even been able to close Gitmo, but in any event, he’s putting Americans at risk of another terror attack by not letting interrogators do their job. The civilian trials, if they happen at all, will be a publicity circus that makes a mockery of the fight against terror. The Justice Department is infested with al Qaeda sleeper agents. 

Global warming: Was invented by Al Gore to sell DVDs.

Rahm Emanuel: [Unprintable.]

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