However, I find tonight that I am depressed and disillusioned with basically everything, so instead of going into great detail, I will just summarize my positions.
- Be nicer to everyone.
Now, perhaps as the facts come out, my perspective on this will change. And you know, I think you have to give some credit to the TSA (or whomever) for recognizing that a mistake was made and taking immediate steps to correct it. Whether the steps taken were appropriate or not, only time will tell.
Okay, moving along to today's news: so Bush addressed the UN yesterday. I read the text of his speech this morning, and when my jaw wasn't dropping to the floor, it was busy following the rest of my face from side to side as I shook my head in disbelief. Bush thinks he can fool these people. Bush doesn't realize that they come from countries where the press isn't politically and financially connected to the Republican party. He apparently doesn't realize that they respresent governments which have their own intelligence services. They know what's going on in Iraq. It's as if he's standing in front of an enormous building that's on fire and claiming it's a necessary step in a remodelling process that's going exactly according to plan.
Frankly, after last night's dissection of the David Brooks column, I don't have the energy to do a point by point analysis of Bush's speech, so you can all breathe a sigh of relief. If analysis is what you want, I'll happily steer you in the direction of today's New York Times lead editorial, and these two pieces in Slate.
In general what struck me was the hypocrisy. President Bush apparently has no sense of irony. Or history. Or shame. Here are just a couple of the memorable lines:
"We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst. We know that free peoples embrace progress and life instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies." [Who chose to invade, again? Governments who support terror: we supplied Saddam Hussein with weapons, money and advice in his war against Iran and turned a blind eye to his use of chemical weapons. Iran-Contra scandal, anyone?]
"We're determined to end the state sponsorship of terror, and my nation is grateful to all that participated in the liberation of Afghanistan. " [That seems to be a pointed emphasis on the fact that these people refused to countenance the "liberation" of Iraq.]
"Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say serious consequences, for the sake of peace there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world." [Following Bush's address, John Kerry pointed out that the US has paid 90% of the costs so far, has a 90% share of the military force on the ground, and has suffered 90% of the (non-Iraqi) casualties. That's some coalition!]
"I support that resolution, and urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another." [He's specifically talking about cloning here, but clearly he means to include stem-cell research under this umbrella. Also, applied in a larger context -- e.g., war on terror -- isn't Bush consistently arguing that the price we are paying in terms of lives is worth it for the benefit of those who will live to see the "new" Iraq? Philosophers will probably debate this unusual statement for decades.]
"At this hour, the world is witnessing terrible suffering and horrible crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan, crimes my government has concluded are genocide." [Bush might as well have concluded that the ocean is wet. He'll take credit for the government's conclusion -- which only came about after public outcry that we weren't acknolwedging the crisis there -- but what exactly has he done to stop it? According to Bush, we "played a key role in efforts to broker a cease-fire," but has that stopped the genocide? Bush doesn't say. He adds that Rwanda and Nigeria have committed troops. Why haven't we? Oh, wait, because we don't have any left.]
"Today the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom." [No comment.]
"To any who still would question whether Muslim societies can be democratic societies, the Afghan people are giving their answer." [Yes, they lobbed a rocket at the former Unocal consultant running for President. Behold Democracy, in all its glory! I wonder what places like Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia thought about this comment.]
"The U.N. and its member nations must respond to Prime Minister Allawi's request and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal and free." [There he goes again, telling the U.N. what they have to do. Back to Diplomacy 101, with you, George! And furthermore, Mr. Flip-Flop: stop criticizing John Kerry for wanting increased international support in Iraq. And, open up reconstruction contracts to non-coalition countries.]
"A democratic Iraq has ruthless enemies because terrorists know the stakes in that country. They know that a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a decisive blow against their ambitions for that region." [I hesitate to comment on this, but I will. If we're talking about al Qaeda here, bin Laden has a specific geo-strategic goal for the Middle East, and that is getting the U.S. military permanently out of Saudi Arabia and eliminating U.S. meddling in regional politics. Let's not forget, the only reason Saddam Hussein was as strong as he was is because the Reagan Administration spent so much effort to prop him up. I don't think bin Laden is necessarily opposed to a democratic form of government in Iraq or elsewhere, as long as it's a form of democracy that doesn't interfere with his perceived ideals of an Islamic society. Is that even possible? Who knows. His position is that neither the U.S. nor anyone else has the right to come in and set up a government for them. He doesn't want us coming in with our crass commercialism and corporate government superstructure anymore than we want burkhas in Texas. Once again, Bush has mischaracterized the entire problem. "Terrorism" is not the problem, it's a method.]
"So a terrorist group associated with Al Qaida is now one of the main groups killing the innocent in Iraq today, conducting a campaign of bombings against civilians and the beheadings of bound men." [Unsubstantiated. In fact, assuming he's referring to al-Zarqawi here, most experts believe that he operates entirely independently of al Qaeda. And the U.N. people know that. International politics is what they do for a living, after all.]
"For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability." [Why do I feel like he's blaming Clinton?]
"Israel should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations." [If he really believes that, he'd have done something about it.]
Okay, okay, I'm done. I'm sorry. That was more than I wanted to write on that subject.
Here's an interesting little factoid uncovered by Ward Harkavy, who writes the Bush Beat column for The Village Voice: "Look at what the U.S. State Department was saying two months after 9-11: A "Network of Terrorism" web page called "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated", posted November 10, 2001, and still on the official government site as of this afternoon, lists 45 countries, but not Iraq—or Syria, for that matter."
In other news, it's absolutely GORGEOUS outside this afternoon, and as a result of my incredible efficiency at work yesterday I'm unemployed again today because I accomplished in four hours what they had budgeted a week for. Oh well. So I'm getting off my butt and away from this computer and going out and facing reality for a while.