Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Despite all the talk of fence-mending, we know that George W., so adept at wearing his cowboy hat and boots and clearing brush, is incapable of mending anything, especially if he's the one who broke it. To mend what one has broken could be seen as an admission that one is responsible for what got broke. And President Bush doesn't do "responsibility." He likes to talk a lot about getting "results," but the truth is this president doesn't do "results," either, except in the highly limited sense of being able to achieve narrowly defined goals when he controls all the levers of power, as in the case of his massive tax cuts for the wealthy, or his befuddled prescription drug benefit that benefits primarily the drug companies that helped finance his campaigns. Any result that requires leadership you can forget about. George Bush can't persuade those who don't already agree with him, because he finds the act of doing so demeaning.
But his base is feeling good about his trip to Europe. Yesterday on Fox News, William Kristol and Charles Krauthamer were sure that the President's vision of a world freed from its chains, liberated and democratic, would prove impossible for Europeans to sneer at. If not the leaders, then the people of Europe couldn't help but be moved. Such sentiments were echoed through-out the SCLM. I don't know why it's so difficult for media types to understand that for most people around the world, there is a relationship between words and deeds, or at least it's thought that there should be, and when there isn't, people get skeptical about the words.
What are European attitudes at the start of the president's adventure? Lucky us, the AP did a poll.
Check it out and then tell me, how many minds do you think he might change? (Not counting leaders; apparently, they still feel the need to do a little dance when an American president whistles a jig.)
In other news from our far-flung world-wide committments, various NGOs, Care, OxFam, Women's Edge Coalition, are urging the US to revise its anti-drug strategy in Afghanistan. Apparently, we have one now. A bit late, and all that, but it appears we intend to go after those poppy fields.
Because farmers can make as much as ten times the income of other crops, opium has not only become the country's biggest export, the opium trade now accounts for almost 40 percent of Afghanistan's total economy.Oy. Not such a good idea, say those who are working most directly with Afghans. I'll bet you can guess why without me, or Jim Lobe telling you. But read the article anyway. Remember the president talking about a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, back in the summer of '03? Another result not achieved. But non-results have their own kind of results - in Afghanistan, it's all those acres and acres of poppys.
According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the amount of land under poppy cultivation increased by nearly 240 percent and opium production by 73 percent from 2003 to 2004.
As a result, the nearly 20,000 U.S. military troops and the 7,000 members of the International Support Assistance Force (ISAF) are being pressed to add counter-drug operations to their security and counter-insurgency efforts.
The Bush administration allocated US$780 million to that end for 2005, about two thirds of which is to be spent on eradication.
Remember Bush's recent inaugural address, the one where he committed America to standing tall next to and on behalf of the oppressed more or less everywhere? Well, turns out what he meant was that we'd do so as long as doing so didn't conflict with any of the American right wing's profound beliefs about the way the world should be organized.
Initially, you'll remember, the Bush administration displayed genuine concern for what was happening to the black Sudanese of Darfur. Colin Powell proclaimed what was happening there to be genocide. The UN completed its own investigation and decided a finding of genocide might not be the best way to go about getting something done for the people currently suffering. The UN wants to send criminal referrals to the ICC, the International Criminal Court, not a favored institution on the right. Jim Lobe tells you about the growing pressure on the Bush administration to agree, in spite of the AEI, or the Heritage Foudation.
I'm not smart enough to know who is right here. But Samantha Powers came down on the side of the UN in this oped in the NYTimes. Randy Paul endorsed her points here, and Eugene Oregon at Demogogue raises some questions about the Powers piece here and here. All of it well worth your time and attention, because all those people, those beautiful mothers and children and fathers and grandparents, (I'm not being sentimental, I don't know what it is about Northern Africa, but it produces some of the most handsome humans to have ever walked the earth), standing together, staring out at our cameras, in the empty sprawl of those camps, already traumatised, unable to go back to their homes, and with nowhere else to go, they're still there, without sufficient water, shelter, and food, waiting for the world to care enough to settle on a plan of action.
UPDATE: Excellent adventure for George and Condi, but for no one else if this report in the Independent is correct, although even I, as skeptical as they come about this administration, have trouble believing this one.
Read the rest; I leave it to you whether to laugh or to weep.
As the leader of the free world George Bush is known to be a busy man. There have also been question-marks in the past over his attention span and dislike of protracted debate, but, even by the standards of the Bush White House, the assembled heads of Europe will be given short shrift tomorrow when they gather to address the President of the United States.
President Bush arrived in Brussels last night for his week-long tour of Europe. When 25 elected heads of state assemble tomorrow in the Justus Lipsius building, which houses the Council of Ministers, eleven of them have been chosen to address the US President on an international matter of importance, they will be allocated a minimal amount of time the betting is five minutes each.
Nur-al-Cubicle left this link in the comments which will take you to this uh, telling photo of George and Condi having their maybe not all that excellent adventure.