lundi, juillet 17, 2006

Where exactly is one of the world's biggest countries?

"In the taped conversation Mr. Bush, clearly eager to get home to the White House after six days in Europe, is heard saying, apparently to a counterpart, possibly President Hu Jintao of China, who was sitting next to him, “Good job, gotta keep this thing moving — I gotta leave at 2:15 — you’ll want me out of town so to free up your security forces.” The voice that appears to be that of Mr. Hu agrees, “Ya,” and he laughs along with Mr. Bush’s trademark giggle.
But Mr. Bush sighs, and explains, “Gotta go home, got something to do.” Apparently betraying some confusion about the geography of Europe and Asia, he asks: “Where you going? Home? This is your neighborhood; it won’t take you long to get home.”
The counterpart, perhaps Mr. Hu, cannot be heard as he responds, but Mr. Bush exclaims, “You get home in 8 hours? Me too! Russia is a big country, and you’re a big country.”
A moment later, Mr. Bush can be heard saying to a waiter, “No, not Coke, Diet Coke.”
But it is around then that Mr. Blair walks by, and the president yells out, “Yeah, Blair, what are you doing? Leaving?”" New York Times, July 17
I have to admit that the first time I read the account of what George Bush said (presumably he didn't realize the microphone was on) I chuckled. There is something absurd about the idea that the leader of the world's largest democracy would not know that China wasn't near Germany, or even in the "neighborhood". Why, by the way, would he say to President Hu Jintao of China that when Bush left town that would free up his security forces.
Perhaps President Bush actually thought he was in China, not Europe.
Somehow, however, I don't find all of this too amusing. The exchange displays Bush as ignorant, bombastic, and profane-are these qualities we want in a President? In addition, his gung-ho approach to diplomacy seems obscene when hundreds of civilians a week die in Iraq, and families are being slaughtered in Lebanon, while the infrastructure of that new democracy is torn apart. Yes, I feel for the Israelis, and I understand why they felt that they had to retaliate against Hezbollah's attacks. Their citizens are also terrified, the victims of a gang of terrorists who want to run them out of the land that they fought for. Yet their overkill (literally) approach is that of an elephant trampling a mouse. And their wanton disregard for human life mocks a civilized nation's respect for the human rights of noncombatants. Have we heard President Bush express any but a token regard for the lives that are being lost in Beirut? Has he read what rwe read, as in this excerpt from another article in the Times: At the Amel Hospital, Dr. Ali Mroue took stock of what he had seen in recent days: decapitated bodies, severe burns, disfigured faces. The hospital has lost 25 patients, he said, but saved 100.
But most of all, he lamented the death of a 2-year-old girl, whom he tried desperately to save. She had severe burns on half her body, internal bleeding and her eyes were perforated, but she fought to live, he said.
“She was a mere child,” he said, as his voice cracked. “She had nothing to do with this. Maybe you can accept the death of an adult, but she had so much ahead of her.’’
The man who weeps at the death of a child can be forgiven much. A man who confuses China with Switzerland belongs on a weekday comedy show, not in most powerful seat at the world's table. Give the guy Pepsi. He deserves it.

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