The US Pres and most of what I see on US blogsites, is STILL preoccupied with the standoff (hahaha) between a handful of Iran speedboats and the US fleet in the Gulf or perplexed by the lack of enthusiasm for Bush's status in the Middle East. A few of the sites are talking about the $80-billion purchase of arms by the Saudis.
So I went hunting to see how the Middle East itself responded to Bush and all the hoopla.
IN SHORT: The US is being increasingly (is that possible?) isolated with Israel as the world's two worst human rights violators and everyone is "hip" to the fact Bush is about to leave office. No self respecting arab nation has any desire to dig Bush or Cheney out from the hole they've dug for themselves. I think I would have to dig real deep to find a single arabic paper (or politician for that matter) who took Bush's visit seriously.
The IAEA honcho El Baradei has been cozying it up with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Al Baradei, in fact, gave an unprecedented interview to Al-Hayat newspaper owned by the Saudis. Iran's papers have very little to say. The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister is headed for meetings in Tehran. The Saudi Foreign Minister was unprecendently blunt with the United States. There even "rumors" that a top level Iranian is inside Baghdad's Green Zone.
And so it goes.
While much of the Middle East still suffers under US or Israeli occupation, people are a bit afraid that George Bush, never one to predict, just might get ever more desperate as he tries to build a coalition against Iran .. and as that is failing, then what might he do? Desperate men resort to desperate measures is the most recent recited adage these days for anyone looking cooly and calmly at the outgoing American President and his ring of thugs.
I've posted below an editorial written in the form of an open letter to President George W. Bush, published above the fold of Dubai's GULF NEWS. It appeared shortly before Mr. Bush's arrival in the UAE.
The GULF NEWS is a moderate, mainstream newspaper in the UAE, considered to be a "moderate Arab state.
I think one could safely assume that this represent the commonly-held views of moderate, mainstream people in this (relatively pro-American) part of the Arab world.
Perhaps just a few of America's leaders running for President should a good, thorough read of this article, too. Maybe Mr. McCain will reconsider stationing Americans in Iraq for the next 100-years and just maybe even Mr. Obama will rethink the "option" he thinks he can use if warranted in Pakistan. Maybe Ms. Clinton just might rethink voting for more war funding.
Well, just maybe.
Letter to George W. Bush
Published: January 11, 2008
Dear Mr. President;
On the occasion of your first official trip to this vital region, it is only appropriate to raise a few points which might also be raised by the leaders you meet. Unfortunately, you landed here with prejudice and pre-formed opinions. By describing Israel, moments after you arrived, as "the land of freedom" and "justice", you have shown total ignorance of the political situation in the Middle East and the issue you claim to want to solve in the remaining 12 months of your presidency. Israel, Mr. President, continues to defy every UN resolution, exercise unprecedented oppression on the occupied Palestinian people and persecute its Muslim and Christian population. We realise that containing Iran, selling more weapons and securing cheap oil supplies are the main issues on your mind as you tour the region. But you need to look beyond the neocon rhetoric and speak directly to the people who have been unjustly thrown out of their land, victimised by your "strong ally" Israel. As for other matters, such as the promise of democracy and human rights, which you are expected to raise in your official talks in the region, we really don't take them seriously. Your dreadful record on both gives you no moral right to lecture others.
Lest you forget. Invasion of Iraq. Thousands of dead. Looting the National Museum. Disbanding the Iraqi army. Donald Rumsfeld. Shock and Awe. Jay Garner. Paul Bremer. Inciting sectarianism. Abu Ghraib. Thousands of detainees without charges. Torture. Oil. Ghost WMDs. The Niger connection. Halliburton. Blackwater. Deadly security contractors. Mercenaries. Fallujah. Haditha massacre. Blind support of Israel. Instigating the suffering of Gaza. Ignoring the expansion of illegal colonies. Defying United Nations resolutions. Securing "a Jewish State". Allowing Israelis to extend the destruction of Lebanon in the 2oo6 war. Providing Israel with new Bunker Buster bombs to attack Lebanese towns. The War on Terror. "The Crusade". Clash of civilisations. Where is Osama Bin Laden? Afghanistan. Bagram massacre. Bombing media offices. Guantanamo Bay. Kangaroo courts. Indefinite detention. Presidential orders to ignore Geneva Conventions. "Unlawful enemy combatants". Illegal National Security Agency wiretapping. Fingerprinting visitors. Black prisons. Kidnapping foreign citizens on foreign lands. Khalid Al Masri. Abu Omar. Maher Arar. Central Intelligence Agency. "Aggressive interrogation techniques". Destroying the torture tapes. Iran tension. Isolating Syria. Embracing Syrian opposition Iraq style. The Chavez coup. Denial of global warming. Rejecting Kyoto Protocol. Marginalisation of the United Nations. John Bolton. Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank. Carl Rove. Alberto Gonzales. Firing attorneys. Nepotism. False democracy promises. Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney and Dick Cheney.
In a famous speech in 2003 you announced an "historic" shift in US foreign policy. You pledged to support democracy and liberty while declaring "victory" in Iraq. More than four years later, Iraq is in chaos. It has virtually disintegrated and "the surge" did little to stop the killing or ease the sectarian tension. At the same time, you gave up on your freedom-for-all prophecy. We are all back to the old ways of doing business - arms and oil. The agenda of your current tour is evident.
This is your first official trip to a land you long claimed has a very special place in your heart. The land of the Prophets. However, you started out wrong. By maintaining your support of an Israeli "Jewish State", you are flouting your own ideals upon which your great country was founded more than two centuries ago. So much for the promise of democracy. What you advocate in fact is the creation of states on religious and racial lines, thereby justifying the atrocious actions of terrorists who hate and seek to eliminate the followers of other religions: The same terrorists you like to blame for every ill on earth and every failure of yours.
It has been reported that you are here to "lecture" us on democracy and human rights. But with a record like yours, you will not be very convincing. The people you are addressing have greater respect for human rights and dignity.
You also said that your current tour aims to realise the long neglected peace in the Middle East. Regional peace, Mr President, will not be achieved by escalating tension and threatening to change regimes. And most importantly, it will not be achieved by supporting Israel, which continues to defy international law, occupy Arab lands, oppress the Palestinians and rebuff peace initiatives.
We hope you have enjoyed the trip so far. The scenery is great. The food is exotic. As for the more "serious" things, it is unlikely you will make any difference.