Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Through another's eyes

Just to give an example of how we appear from at least one place outside. These are excerpts from a commentary in the Toronto Star for December 28. The author is Haroon Siddiqui, editorial page editor emeritus. And no, I had nothing to do with the title.

Bush is author of dark chapter for America
George W. Bush, a small man in a big job, has dragged America into one of its darkest chapters.

He commands unprecedented military power, but his word carries little or no weight in much of the world. ...

Bush's next declared mission, that of toppling Yasser Arafat, only reinforces the image of the president as a king who knows not the boundaries of his kingdom, nor the limits of his power. Or, as a captive of pro-Israeli hawks hell-bent on remaking the Middle East to Likud designs.

While the president struts and smirks for the cameras in contrived situations - landing on an aircraft carrier to prematurely declare victory in Iraq or serving Thanksgiving turkey to soldiers in Baghdad - terrorism has increased under his watch. Not unlike the record rise in suicide bombings in Israel under Ariel Sharon. ...

The administration, invoking 9/11 and the murder of 2,900 innocents as its licence to wage unilateral wars, has so far killed about 10,000 innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's a guesstimate, since America does not count the Afghans and Iraqis it kills in the process of "liberating" them. ...

His war on Iraq was waged on a pack of lies, shoving aside the United Nations when it refused to play its part in the sham exercise of rubberstamping a predetermined course. ...

He invoked democracy but ignored its expression abroad and suspended its principles at home.

His war was universally opposed, even by the electorates of the governments that joined his "coalition of the willing" - Britain, Spain, Italy and Australia. His most enthusiastic allies were dictators and oppressors, the worst violators of human rights, who used the war on terrorism to stifle dissidents and kill secessionists. ...

His administration's violations of the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Constitution are not explained away by the need to cut corners to get at terrorists. Besides not catching any, his policies alienated the very groups whose help was crucial and also sapped the moral strength of his rhetoric and America's $240 million public-relations campaign in Muslim nations. ...

Surveying these geopolitical ruins, it is politically incorrect to blame the American public. But its gullibility is alarming. Even now, a majority believes that Saddam had a hand in 9/11. The Bush crowd knows only too well the usefulness of Saddam, a former ally now a demon.
I felt moved to respond, in part:
It is so tragic that so many here in the US are so appallingly unaware of how we as a nation now appear to much of the rest of the world. Power plus insularity yields hubris, which in the long term always yields disaster for either the powerful or the powerless - and often enough both.

I genuinely fear for my country - and for the damage it can and will inflict on the world as it thrashes about in its ignorance, trying desperately to make sense of what's happening.

And I celebrate those who can and do point out the danger.

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