GEORGE BUSH VS. THE WORLD….Good editorial in the Washington Post today about the Bush administration’s senseless insistence on punishing everyone who disagreed with our decision to invade Iraq:

Overt U.S. measures, such as excluding France from NATO decision-making, will only help Mr. Chirac prove the point he has been trying to make to Europe and the rest of the world — that the United States has become a reckless colossus and needs to be balanced by coalitions of other nations.

….The attack on Chile is even more senseless….Eighty-five percent of Chileans opposed a war in Iraq; their government responded by supporting a compromise in the Security Council that was intended to delay the war while making possible its eventual endorsement. If this solid hemispheric citizen is now to be punished for failing to fall in line with the United States, the world will indeed take a lesson — and not the right one.

George Bush has been playing high-stakes politics ever since he became president, seemingly convinced that the way to win is to cow your enemies into submission by attacking at all times and never, ever backing down. The problem is that unless you truly have the power of a Chicago mob boss ? and all appearances aside, we don’t ? this doesn’t work in the long run. On the contrary, it just makes your enemies madder.

Domestically, Bush’s show-no-mercy instincts are already coming back to haunt him, with the Democrats finally becoming genuinely pissed off enough to start playing hardball. Internationally, if he keeps this up, the same thing will happen: even Tony Blair, with his competing loyalties between the U.S. and Europe, won’t put up with this forever.

The big question is this: are Bush’s instincts just leading him astray, or does he actually want to get the rest of the world ganged up against us? It’s hard to tell sometimes.