In the world of big business, you’d expect the chief executive officer of a major company to be an intelligent and diligent leader, working hard for shareholders and for the good of his / her company.
In the world of politics, you’d also expect the president of a first-world country — especially of the world’s only remaining superpower — to be a person of high intellectual calibre and correspondingly strong moral fibre, dedicated to working for the common good of the entire nation, not only for the agendas of its rich and powerful minority.
Last December American president George W. Bush, while answering a question at a World Affairs Council meeting in Philadelphia, admitted that the U.S. has an image problem in the Muslim World.
Here are the president’s words in his own fractured English (verbatim): "I recognize we got an image issue, particularly when you got television stations … Arabic television stations that are constantly just pounding America, creating … saying America can’t stand Muslims, this is a war against a religion."
If you followed that little gem of diplomatic and semantic clarity, there’s more: "And we’ve got to, obviously, do a better job of reminding people that ours is not a nation that rejects religion; ours is a nation that accepts people of all faith. It’s difficult I mean, their propaganda machine is pretty darn intense. And so we’re instantly sending out messages, we’re constantly trying to reassure people, but we’re also acting. And that’s what’s important for our citizens to realize. Our position in the world is such that I don’t think we can retreat."
It’s easy to laugh at Bush’s awkward diction, but when you sift through the verbiage and realize that he is (still!) blaming others for problems he alone created, there’s easily more reason to weep.
Only a month after Bush’s December speech, American fighter planes flew from Afghanistan, crossing the border into Pakistan where they bombed, terrorized, and destroyed. The result: 18 people, mostly women and children, killed and unknown numbers wounded. The cause of all this horrific "collateral damage"? The U.S. thought Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command was hiding out in that particular village.
The pattern is depressingly familiar. Reports now confirm that the U.S. military targeted the Baghdad office of Arabic TV network Al Jazeera in 2003 during the bombing of Iraq. Why? Because Al Jazeera’s coverage of the American invasion included the numerous civilian victims of the bombing, the uncounted "collateral damage."
These are only two recent incidents to explain why the Muslim world sees America as the Evil Empire, the aggressor, the exploiter of their natural resources, the killer of innocent non-combattants, and now as a tyrant Fascist regime that spies on its own citizens.
According to an eight-page document released in December and first obtained by NBC News, the Pentagon is spying on U.S. peace activists because they are exposing manipulative Pentagon tactics — such as promising $50,000 educational grants to economically disadvantaged young army recruits (if they come home alive after serving in Iraq).
Bush was recently asked, "why it is that you and others in your administration keep linking 9/11 to the Iraq invasion when no respected journalist or Middle Eastern expert has confirmed that such a link exists?" The president answered, "As soon as we see a threat, we have to deal with it."
Then he continued, "9/11 changed my look on foreign policy. It said that oceans no longer protect us, that we can’t take threats for granted; that if we see a threat, we’ve got to deal with it. It doesn’t have to be militarily, necessarily, but we got to deal with it. And so the first decision I made, as you know, was to deal with Taliban in Afghanistan because they were harboring terrorists."
But did he "deal with" any actual or perceived threats at all? It seems no one has dared to inform the President of the United States of America that global terrorism — whether perpetrated by individuals, organized groups, or rogue states — has increased, not decreased.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bush, you have far more than just an "image problem."