Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not Just A Missed Opportunity

an excerpt from
A World of Difference in Power that Shuns Brawn for Supremacy
by Pierre Tristam
Published on Thursday, March 13, 2007 by the News-Journal (Daytona Beach, Fla.) 
Read the entire article at:

Browsing through a used bookstore the other day I picked up one of those old National Geographic issues with the pictures of doffed and frolicking natives. Except that the natives inside weren't the bouncy kind from Bali or Burundi but from countries we've come to know as breeders of anti-Americanism or out-and-out enmity: France, Spain, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the kind of places where, if President Bush were to venture -- as he has been venturing through Latin America -- he'd be burned in effigy and local authorities would have to mobilize the equivalent of two military brigades to protect him. Colombia, the third-biggest recipient of American aid in the last decade and supposedly its greatest ally south of the Rio Grande, had to do just that for a Bush stop-over lasting a few hours on Sunday.

But the Geographic was dated May 1960. The 63 pages featuring all those countries fell under the banner of a single article entitled, "When the President Goes Abroad." And in every country, in almost every picture, Dwight Eisenhower's presence was cause for delirious celebration. It didn't matter where: Madrid, Kabul, Tehran, even Karachi, that now-seething Pakistani sweatshop of hatred for America. "From his open car," the Geographic wrote of a stop in Karachi, Eisenhower "waved to cheering Pathan tribesmen wearing baggy white trousers, long-tailed white shirts, and faded turbans." The car he traveled in was an open horse-drawn-carriage, slow and shadeless. Can you imagine Bush traveling in an open car anywhere anymore?
That very opportunity existed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, even in the Islamic world. Bush didn't just squander it. He trashed it, demolished American prestige and respect for a generation to come, and did so not by stupidity alone, but with in-your-face pride. His remaining supporters boast the same sense of supremacy fueled by missionary zealotry: Every anti-American protest is to them proof that America is on a virtuous mission. But there's nothing virtuous in these realities.

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