Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bush, the well-beloved

I was randomly reading the news today, and came across these three stories in rapid succession. An amusing coincidence, since I wasn't actively searching for related articles.

From The Belfast Telegraph, on protests against Bush's visit to Ireland.
Thousands of protesters will greet President George Bush in Ireland today as he starts a diplomatic offensive to bridge deep transatlantic divisions over America's policy in Iraq.
About 4,000 police and 2,000 soldiers more than a third of Ireland's security force are deployed around Dromoland Castle, a luxury hotel in Co Clare that is hosting today's summit. In addition, 700 US security personnel and four naval ships are being called in.
However, Ireland's alert will be dwarfed by the security operation in Istanbul, where Turkish police are expected to deploy more than 23,000 officers for the Nato leaders' summit.

A third of Ireland's security forces? Naval ships? For a visit by a head of state from a historic ally?

CNN has more on the visit to Turkey.
"Public opinion in Turkey may be anti-American these days, mainly because of Iraq, but this government is not."
Traditionally warm ties hit rock-bottom last July when U.S. troops outraged Turkish pride by detaining 11 Turkish commandos in northern Iraq, throwing bags over their heads.

The Guardian has this piece on Bush's possible trip from Turkey to Iraq.
What kind of Iraq will George Bush see when he comes here next week to celebrate the handover of sovereignty to the country's new interim government? It will certainly not be the scene that Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, must have hoped for when he hatched the idea last autumn of bringing his boss into the heart of downtown Baghdad for the ceremony.
Huge crowds of adoring Iraqis would line the streets as the presidential motorcade passed. George Bush would mount a platform at the very spot where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in April 2003, the Great Liberator addressing the Iraqi nation and wishing them well as they embarked on the road to freedom and democracy. God Bless Iraq. God Bless America.
Now it will be a much more humble and humbling affair. There will be a speech, of course, but only after a helicopter dash to the heavily-fortified "green zone" where the occupation authorities have held sway for the past 14 months, handshakes with a small group of carefully selected Iraqis in the government which the Americans had a decisive role in appointing, and some hasty photo-ops with US troops.
The Bush visit has not been announced, and may yet be cancelled for security reasons, leaving Colin Powell, the secretary of state, or perhaps not even him, to come in the president's place. Other officials have been suggesting the ceremony will consist of little more than Paul Bremer, the outgoing US overlord, handing a formal document to the chief justice of Iraq's supreme court before the latter swears in the new president and prime minister. "Bremer might not even stay for that. It is the Iraqis' show," said another CPA man.
If in the end Bush decides not to take the security risk of coming to Iraq, it will be a major disappointment for him. But his sense of letdown will be as nothing compared to the disappointment that the vast majority of Iraqis feel about the American performance since April last year. So if Bush appears in Iraq next week, he will have to come furtively rather than in style.

On all three visits, President Bush faces significant popular opposition. I wonder what he could have done to generate that resentment.

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