Friday, July 28, 2006

Poodle Love, Actually

"I love that word "relationship." Covers all manner of sins, doesn't it?"
-- Hugh Grant in Love Actually (written by Richard Curtis)
Earlier Friday, BBC television's Washington Bureau reporter Matt Frei was perhaps consciously trying to build suspense for viewers about the upcoming visit between U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and George W. Bush. As we heard the reporter, he noted Blair --
has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with George Bush, and I guess the question is, is he going to have his Love Actually moment? I'm sure you remember this is the film called Love Actually in which the British prime minister, played by British actor Hugh Grant, at a meeting at 10 Downing Street stood next to the American president and tells him where to get off.
It didn't happen. Not in real life. "Bush's poodle," as British journalists refer to the P.M., only "got scraps" and simply wagged his tail in return.

British Prime Minister Hugh Grant Tony Blair and U.S. President Billy Bob Thornton George W. Bush jointly decided to let the killing continue. As the Daily Telegraph reported this afternoon:
Tony Blair and George W Bush agreed on the need to send a multinational force to halt violence in Lebanon "quickly" but failed to set out how or when troops could be deployed.

The two leaders avoided demanding an immediate end to hostilities, an omission which the Israelis have previously interpreted as tacit backing for their campaign.
Is it clear enough yet that the United States' diplomatic policy is to encourage continued killing, not to try stopping it? We can only hope, at least, that Blair picked up a copy today's Washington Post while he was in town. Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher today wrote an op-ed explaining why the Bush administration's diplomacy ignores history and spells disaster:
Twice during my four years as secretary of state we faced situations similar to the one that confronts us today. Twice, at the request of the Israelis, we helped bring the bloodshed to an end.

* * *
What do these episodes teach us?

First, as in 1996, an immediate cease-fire must take priority, with negotiations on longer-term arrangements to follow. Achieving a cease-fire will be difficult enough without overloading the initial negotiations with a search for permanent solutions.

Second, if a cease-fire is the goal, the United States has an indispensable role to play. A succession of Israeli leaders has turned to us, and only us, when they have concluded that retaliation for Hezbollah attacks has become counterproductive. Israel plainly trusts no one else to negotiate on its behalf and will accept no settlement in which we are not deeply involved. Further, based upon my experience in helping bring an end to the fighting in the Balkans, the Europeans are unlikely to participate in a multinational enforcement action until the United States commits to putting its own troops on the ground.

Finally, Syria may well be a critical participant in any cease-fire arrangement, just as it was in 1993 and 1996. Although Syria no longer has troops in Lebanon, Hezbollah's supply routes pass through the heart of Syria, and some Hezbollah leaders may reside in Damascus, giving the Syrians more leverage over Hezbollah's actions than any other country save Iran. Syria has invited a direct dialogue with the United States, and although our relations with Syria have seriously deteriorated in recent years (we have not had an ambassador in Damascus for more than a year), we do not have the luxury of continuing to treat it with diplomatic disdain. As the situations with North Korea and Iran confirm, refusing to speak with those we dislike is a recipe for frustration and failure.

It's too much to hope that Bush will read the same article or, if he did, that understanding would dawn.

Josh Marshall, who was live-blogging the joint press conference in a way, ran this headline -- BREAKING: President Bush Really Big Doofus. He reported that Bush was asked "in so many words... 'You said Iraq was going to bring about new Middle East but now the Middle East is a complete disaster.'" Bush's answer, Marshall wrote, "quite a lengthy one actually, showed in a really frightening detail how President Bush seems to be basically brain dead on this issue."

Marshall must be referring to this exchange, taken from the WaPo transcript:
Mr. President, three years ago, you argued that an invasion of Iraq would create a new stage of Arab-Israeli peace. And yet today there is an Iraqi prime minister who has been sharply critical of Israel.

Arab governments, despite your arguments, who first criticized Hezbollah, have now changed their tune. Now they're sharply critical of Israel.

And despite from both of you warnings to Syria and Iran to back off support from Hezbollah, effectively, Mr. President, your words are being ignored.

So what has happened to America's clout in this region that you've committed yourself to transform?
George W. Bush's incoherent answer rambled so far afield from the question that eventually the reporter had to repeat it:
But I asked about the loss of American influence, and are you worried about that?
On a second try, Bush's answer was no better. Just shorter:
Well, we went to the G-8 and worked with our allies and got a remarkable statement on what took place. We're working to get a United Nations resolution on Iran. We're working to have a Palestinian state.

But the reason why you asked the question is because terrorists are trying to stop that progress. And we'll ultimately prevail, because their -- they have -- their ideology is so dark and so dismal that when people really think about it, it'll be rejected.

They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you.

And my attitude is that now's the time to be firm. And we've got a great weapon on our side, and that is freedom and liberty. And it's got -- those two concepts have got the capacity to defeat ideologies of hate.
Yep. We're armed to the teeth. With freedom, liberty. And one hundred 4,500 lb. bunker-busting bombs which Israel had the foresight to purchase just three months ago.

Further Amplification Dept.

Josh Marshall now has a videotape of George W. Bush's attempt to answer the press question. He adds, "[I]f you watch this passage I think you see something different. Namely, that pretty much everything that's happened over the last three years, and certainly over the last three months, has just gone in one presidential ear and out the other. He is, in both the deepest and most superficial sense, out of it."

1 comment:

abelken said...

I read this and read this and read this and the more I read the more demented it seems:

"They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you."

"They get people to ask questions"???

"they're able to kind of say to people Don't come and bother us"?

What's with that? Is Bush losing his marbles? Did he ever have any?