I can tell that President Bush is trying to improve his sound bites. On a few occasions since the holiday, I actually believed that he knew what he was talking about.
That is--until today.
CNN.com quoted Bush as saying, “There’s one thing I’m not going to do, I’m not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete. We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.”
That one was okay. Not great, because again there was little compassion for the families of the soldiers in Iraq, who can’t be delighted to hear that their loved ones will be there longer. Still—we got the point.
Then, when asked about comments from doubters of his goal of spreading freedom across the Middle East, Bush said, “I understand these doubts but I do not share them.”
That one was not so good, I think.
I am a proud American. I enjoy our way of life, and the ‘freedom’ we have. But I also know that our country is not perfect. So, while we may be lauded in some areas, we too deserve to be chastised in others.
I think every country is that way. If it weren’t, we’d all move to that one perfect country, to blissfully live out the rest of our days. (Of course, once we move, the people in our country who start trouble would move as well—and we’d be right back in the same boat!)
Anyway, back to my point…
I think that it is a heinous misstatement to assume that ALL of the people in the Middle East are not free. And, I think that the Leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world should know that.
Now, I know that some of you are saying, “Give the man a break—at least he’s doing better!”
And, you say, “He’s under a lot of pressure. He was probably speaking like that in order to not appear weak.”
“Besides, he’s not perfect! I don’t think we should criticize every word that comes out of his mouth.”
Because you see, candidates spend millions to become President of the United States. They covet it, and use every legal strategy they can to win--only to find that’s it one of the most-stressful, thankless jobs in the world.
But that’s what they wanted. And that’s what they got.
So, I feel perfectly vindicated in ‘coaching’ Bush—especially in this situation. You see, the situation in the Middle East is so volatile and so dangerous, that I think everyone in the world needs to be paying close attention to what Bush is saying—especially those of us who are living with a fair degree of ‘freedom’ and ‘prosperity’. To my mind the Middle East has all of the ingredients necessary to cause another World War.
Well, Iran is moving forward with its nuclear arms program, and attempting to position itself as a ‘power’ country in the region. Lebanon is almost on the verge of civil war, after enjoying five years or so of peacetime. And, the famous (or infamous), Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still going on, after decades of fighting. In addition, Iraq is unstable, and al-Qaeda (working from Afghanistan and reportedly Lebanon) is reported to have operatives all over the Middle East. Syria is also purported to be sympathetic to the terrorist cause.
So, of the dozen or so countries that compose the Middle East, almost half have a complaint with the West. This means to me that ANY assumption that all the people in that region want lives like Western countries have, is, in short, rash.
I’d guess that they want life better than they have it now, but not necessarily a carbon copy of Western democracy.
And, just like I don’t want to be just like my neighbor, or my best friend, it’s a very arrogant and insulting position to say that one has a ‘goal’ of spreading ‘freedom’ across the Middle East. I can only imagine the terrorist propaganda that could come out of this one.
I’ll end by saying this. The American people did a great job of showing the Republican Party that we were tired of politicians that ‘played politics’. Unfortunately, the President was not up for re-election, so there was little we could do about him.
Nevertheless, when I was a young girl my mother taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten. She told me not to let anyone else speak for me, especially if I had an opinion, because by giving up my voice, I also gave up my rights.
I think that applies here too. I don’t want our Middle Eastern friends or enemies to think that I don’t think of them as ‘free’, or that I support Bush in his goal to bring ‘freedom’ to their countries, because I don’t.
What I do want them to know is that I respect their cultures, and want them to have the type of government which allows them political stability, makes them good world neighbors, and keeps their land economically solvent.
And, I want them to know that I want this for 2 reasons. The first is because I realize that as human beings they deserve as much of a chance in life as everybody else to become productive world citizens. The second reason is that I want our PLANET to thrive and grow—sans armed conflict. I believe that political stability and economic solvency are critical factors in reducing the threat of war (see my article entitled ‘The Real Cost of It All').
So, in the future Mr. Bush, try to remember that you are supposed to be speaking for the American people, not yourself. And, unless we’ve told you that our goal is ‘freedom’ for the Middle East—please don’t mention it again…
‘Cause we really would like to stop worrying about what you might say, and get on with our lives….