Certainly not an earth shattering headline, but disturbing nonetheless. The lack of love between George Bush and the United Nations is an old “dog-bites-man” story. Having put haters like John Bolton at the helm of the U.S. delegation, Bush’s in your face “go fuck yourself” hostility to all things UN is no secret.
But today’s performance in New York set a new low even for the Bush Administration. Except for tepid applause when Bush was introduced and when he left the podium, no one clapped. Not even our allies. The world has caught on to the George Bush propaganda game and declines to show him a modicum of respect.
Bush’s efforts to wrap himself in the aura of AIDS prevention, feeding hungry children, rescuing refugees in Darfur, and restoring freedom in Myanmar fell flat. There was a time when the United States could stand proudly before countries like Cuba, Myanmar, Sudan, and Iran and lecture them on human rights and democracy. But in the wake of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, secret renditions and kidnappings of innocent Arab men, flaunting the UN Declarations on Human Rights, the creation of a million plus refugees in Iraq (and the deaths of hundreds of thousands), and the suspension of habeus corpus America has pissed away its credibility.
America’s moral authority is gone. Our credibility in talking about foreign threats and the need to respect human rights is zippo. What is truly appalling about this development is that we have aligned ourselves in practice with those very regimes we so vigorously condemn. In the past, authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, would justify their right to detain people without worrying about due process because they defined those individuals as terrorists who threatened the state and the security of their people. From their standpoint, all was fair when it came to protecting the nation. Security of the people was paramount, and human rights and civil liberties be damned in the face of perceived threats.
The Bush Administration, many in the U.S. Congress, and many Americans have willingly embraced the mindset and tactics of authoritarians and dictators. Hell, a large number celebrate the ability of a mythical TV character–Jack Bauer–to torture “enemies” in order to save the country. All is fair in love and war. But those are not the ideals that undergirded the American ideal in the wake of World War II.
So the world sat largely silently listening to a crazed little man rant about the abuses in the rest of the world. But his condemnation of the war in Sudan and the creation of refugees in Darfur could not blot out the reality of his war in Iraq and the millions who have fled that hell hole.
Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship,” the president said. “In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration” of the United Nations.
This was chutzpah. Just before Bush began speaking a series of car bombs swept Iraq killing and wounding hundreds. A country the United States has occupied for more than four years continues to be ravaged by violence. The Iraqi people themselves are denied the rights Bush extolled. Hell, the United States even protects mercenary armies–like Blackwater–who operate outside of any law and kill innocent civilians without any consequence.
The rest of the world sees and understands our hypocrisy. Unfortunately, many Americans share the ignorance and vacuity of George Bush and do not realize how foolish and stupid we look on the world stage. Today’s performance by George Bush does nothing to win friends or influence enemies. It simply reinforces the notion that the United States is in the grips of a President who has fulfilled the prophecy of H.L. Mencken:
” . . . all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily (and) adeptly
disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
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