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     Volume 4 Issue 18 | October 22, 2004 |

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Straight Talk

Choosing a World Leader

Do We Have Any Say?

Nadia Kabir Barb

“I wish I wasn't the war president. Who in the heck wants to be a war president? I don't." George W. Bush

"The recession started upon my arrival. It could have been some say February, some say March, some speculate maybe earlier it started but nevertheless, it happened as we showed up here. The attacks on our country affected our economy. Corporate scandals affected the confidence of people and therefore affected the economy. My decision on Iraq, this kind of march to war, affected the economy." (Feb. 8, 2004)

This statement had me rather perplexed and I was failing to decipher what exactly this was supposed to mean but it is quite possible that the author of this pearl of wisdom had as little idea as to what he was trying to say as we do. Only one guess as to who I am referring to. Answer: George W Bush. "Leadership to me means duty, honour, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time." Excuse me, but doesn't democracy mean having your finger on the pulse of the nation and be listening to its concerns all the time, Mr. President? And it doesn't get any better. In fact one does not have to look far to find an endless stream of similar "Bushisms". Not only are there a huge number of websites solely dedicated to more garbled comments but also countless books published incorporating more of Mr. Bush's gaffes and blunders. Despite the fact that it is looking increasingly like it is going to be a very close contest, it seems more than likely that George "Dubya" Bush is going to be elected as President of the United States for another four years.

However, if the rest of the world had a say in the US elections, we would in all likelihood see John Kerry taking over from his Republican counterpart. Since September 11, George Bush has systematically eroded the sympathy of the world towards America. His handling of the situation by attacking Afghanistan in order to capture Osama Bin Laden was unsuccessful; and then diverting attention from the failure of his administration to make good on their word, by making Iraq its next target, did nothing to endear him to millions across the world who were opposed to the war. The existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam's links to Al Qaeda have subsequently been disproved. The Iraqi people may have been rid of a dictator such as Saddam Hussein but the situation in Iraq remains highly volatile and the Iraqi people live in an environment where insurgency, violence and poverty are a day to day occurrence. George Bush, however, seems to be unaware of the plight of the Iraqi people because according to him, "I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America, where it's nice and safe and secure." (Sept.23, 2004) This is the man who promised to make the world a safer place by waging war on terrorism at a global level. But instead his invasion of Iraq with the support of his greatest ally, Tony Blair, has not had that effect. On the contrary, it has raised terrorism to a new level. Bush and Blair have created an army of suicide bombers. In place of one Bin Laden, there are now a hundred and one devoted fighters against "the West". The world is definitely not a safer place.

This kind of attitude and George Bush's willingness to go alone, in other words, disregarding the opinions of countries around the world has lead to public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more antagonistic to the United States while he has been in office. To co-exist in a society, man must abide by certain rules and norms. Similarly, for a country to co-exist peacefully in a global context, it is necessary to respect the values of other countries and for nations more powerful than others, not to impose its will on those less able to defend themselves. But the current US government has shown that they are believers of the saying, "Might is right". This is an approach that does not sit comfortably with the leaders or the people of a large number of other countries. According to a survey, voters in eight out of the 10 countries, including Britain, want to see the Democrat contender, John Kerry, defeat President Bush in the US presidential election. The results of the poll, conducted by 10 of the world's leading newspapers, including France's Le Monde, Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Canada's La Presse, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian, indicate that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea a majority of voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration, a growing hostility to the US and a not-too-strong endorsement of Mr. Kerry (Guardian). The only exceptions to this trend are the Israelis (who would like to see Bush remain in office) and the Russians. This sudden support for the current US administration by the Russians could be attributable to the fact that the survey was carried out in the immediate aftermath of the Beslan tragedy. In any case, the US administration now finds itself in an unfamiliar situation where it is confronted by such blatant lack of support from even their closest allies. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," Bush said. (August 4, 2004) Uh, yes George, whatever you say…


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