United States 2006
USA. President George W. Bush persistently persisted in defending his “war on terror” during the year, despite growing criticism at home against what many saw as restrictions on legal security and an increasingly constructive foreign policy. The three-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq was passed at a time when the situation there was worsening, and confidence in the world’s only superpower seemed to be at the bottom.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in United States include Independence Day (July 4) and New Year (January 1). The midterm elections in November showed that the Americans were ready for a change of course.
Several investigations in Europe confirmed during the year that the CIA intelligence service transported terror suspects in aircraft to interrogation camps in a number of countries. Accusations of torture occurred. The United States rejected all information about torture and violations of international conventions, but it soon became clear that the prisons existed.
President Bush also faced growing criticism for ordering interception of US citizens’ phone calls and e-mail traffic abroad after the terrorist attacks in September 2001. Normally, such interceptions require a court decision.
Immigration policy emerged as a hot issue during the year. Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against a new law that made it easier to prosecute illegal immigrants and people who help them. The criticism also pertained to plans for an over 100-mile barrier along the Mexico border – a building for which Bush gave the go-ahead.
In May, the first sentence in the United States fell against a person charged with involvement in the terrorist act in September 2001. Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of pardon. He had pleaded guilty to knowing the plans for the attack but was in custody in the United States when executed. Defense lawyers claimed that Moussaoui had a minor role in the al-Qaeda terror network and that he was mentally disturbed.
In May, the UN Committee Against Torture demanded that the US Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba be closed. The Committee was particularly critical of data on harsh interrogation methods and the detention of prisoners without any prosecution or legal process at all. Bush’s previous decision to put Guantánamo prisoners before special military tribunals was halted in June by the Supreme Court. HD ruled that such military tribunals would contravene international conventions on how prisoners of war should be treated – and in addition, violate the US Constitution on Bush’s own decisions on such tribunals. HD’s decision prompted Bush to turn to Congress with a bill to set up military tribunals.
In September, Bush officially acknowledged for the first time that the CIA’s secret prisons really existed. But he claimed that they were now closed and that fourteen suspected terrorists – including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was designated as the brains behind the 2001 terrorist attacks – were instead taken to Guantánamo.
During the year there was a very serious escalation of the violence in Iraq. Fewer people saw any military solution to the conflict, which leading media now began to call a civil war. President Bush no longer received any further news of the message that the Iraq war was an important part of a global fight against terrorism. Many also worried about the huge budget deficit contributed to the war. It was only estimated to reach up to $ 400 billion during the year, while the growing government debt reached an astronomical $ 8.7 trillion.
The November midterm elections finally emerged as a referendum on President Bush and, not least, the Iraq War. The dissatisfaction with the president was widespread; his popularity figures showed bottom listings. At the federal level, the election was for both congressional chambers, or the House of Representatives’ 435 seats and one-third of the 100 in the Senate. In addition, a wide range of elections were held at the state level. The Republicans were prejudiced even before the election due to several corruption and moral scandals in the party. Four Republicans had been forced to resign because of corruption charges – one had been sentenced to eight years in prison during the year. In addition, a congressman was forced to resign after it was revealed that he sent e-mails containing sex slides to teenage boys. The majority leader in the House of Representatives was also accused of knowing and hiding the sex scandal. Many in the party’s Christian support troops felt let down. The electoral movement also dealt with issues such as whether or not the stem cell research and the gay marriage were about illegal immigration and about shortcomings in the health care system. In the House of Representatives, Democrats needed to make a net profit of at least 15 seats to gain a majority – and they managed to increase by twice as many. In the Senate, an increase of six mandates was required. After a recalculation of the votes in Virginia – where the election results were extremely even – it became clear that Democrats had regained control in the Senate as well. Bush’s seat was thus radically altered. Having been supported by a Republican majority in both chambers, he now had to settle for his last two years as president seeking compromises with a Congress dominated by Democrats.
A first direct result of the Republican election defeat was that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was allowed to go. Rumsfeld was one of the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq. Bush appointed former CIA chief Robert Gates a new defense minister. UN Ambassador John Bolton also chose to leave his post after the election, as his prospect of getting an extended mandate was largely non-existent with a Democratic Senate.
Structural economic crisis
The US wars since 2001 have drained the treasury of the superpower, because in part there have been huge printouts for the military, while Bush provided tax cuts to the wealthiest. In the mid-00’s, the state only got about half of what it needed. The rest was borrowed. The loan ceiling limiting how much the federal state may borrow has therefore been raised many times. In February 2001, Congress raised the ceiling by $ 1,900 billion. US $ from $ 12,394 billion US $ to $ 14,294 billion US $. But in November 2010, Republicans won the majority in Congress and although those were the ones who had spent trillions of dollars on wars, they now decided to use the majority to clamp down on Obama. In the spring of 2011, Republicans refused to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling. The consequence was that the international financial rating agency Standard & Poors reduced the US credit rating from AAA to AA +. The adjustment triggered violent reactions in the United States, which had never before experienced a downgrade of the credit rating. S&P added that there could be further downgrades in the coming years.
Only on August 1 did Obama and Republicans agree on a law that would both raise the debt ceiling to $ 16.394 billion. US $ and implement savings in the federal budget. That was the day before the US would technically have been put on hold.
On February 4 to May 19, 2013, Congress suspended the debt ceiling, and on May 19, it was raised to $ 16.699 billion. US $ corresponding to borrowing during the suspension period.
The new debt ceiling stretched only until October 2013. On October 1, 2013, 800,000 federal employees were suspended from their jobs. They no longer had to attend work and were not paid. 1.3 million other employees were to meet, but not knowing if and when they would be paid. The Tea Party movement wanted to use the blockade of increased debt ceilings to sabotage health reform. It refused to vote for changes unless Obama put the health reform on hold. It did not go in the long run. On October 17, Obama and Republicans agreed to suspend the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. Of course, there was only a postponement of the issue that would need to be addressed again in January-February 2014. Chinese rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating downgraded US from A to A-. The downgrades gradually make it more expensive for the United States to borrow for its overspending, and in the longer term the question is who will lend money to the United States at all. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states placed large sums on US government bonds, but the political alliance between the fundamentalist regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and the United States is breaking. Throughout the ’00’s, it was China in particular that placed its trade surplus in US government bonds, but the US is gradually losing its importance to Chinese exports, and the two states are on political and military confrontation, so this financing of US over-spending may not be safe. will continue. big sums in US government bonds, but the political alliance between the fundamentalist regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and the US is breaking up. Throughout the ’00’s, it was China in particular that placed its trade surplus in US government bonds, but the US is gradually losing its importance to Chinese exports, and the two states are on political and military confrontation, so this financing of US over-spending may not be safe. will continue. big sums in US government bonds, but the political alliance between the fundamentalist regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and the US is breaking up. Throughout the ’00’s, it was China in particular that placed its trade surplus in US government bonds, but the US is gradually losing its importance to Chinese exports, and the two states are on political and military confrontation, so this financing of US over-spending may not be safe and will continue.