George W. Bush recently made a trip to the Middle East, presumably to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians; and to spread truth, justice and the American way to all the nations of the region.
Mr. Bush’s trip began with a warm reception in Tel Aviv, Israel, but his plan to fly on to Jerusalem by helicopter was scrapped after a couple of Katyusha rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon. Instead, the east-bound highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was closed, disrupting traffic for several hours, while Bush made the trip by motorcade.
Mr. Bush stayed at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, where eight truckloads of equipment had arrived in preparation for his two-night stay. The Bush entourage took all 237 rooms at the King David, and the hotel reservations of hundreds of tourists and visitors were cancelled across Jerusalem to make room for the overflow of Bushies, media, and Israeli officials.
· “The Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported that Bush was being accompanied by 20 armored limousines, 400 U.S. security personnel, 200 White House staffers, 15 canine teams, helicopters and transport planes. The newspaper said an aerostat that contains advanced sensors and cameras has been hovering above Bush’s hotel.”--WorldTribune.com, 1/9/08
It soon became clear that Mr. Bush’s visit was less about making peace and more about rallying opposition to Iran’s influence in the region. Wherever Bush went, he warned:
· “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening our long-standing security commitments with our friends in the Gulf, and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.”--George W. Bush, United Arab Emirates, 1/14/08
Prior to his trip, Mr. Bush had warned, “[If Iran were to strike Israel] We will defend our ally, no ands, ifs or buts.” (He didn’t say what “we” would do if Israel were to strike Iran.) Throughout his trip, Bush hyped a recent “confrontation” between U.S. warships and Iranian patrol boats in Persian Gulf:
· “So the Iranians ... better be careful and not be provocative and get out there and cause an incident. Because there’s going to be serious consequences. What I said in my statement was, if they hit one of our ships there’s going to be serious consequences. And I meant it.”--George W. Bush, CNN, 1/16/08 (Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, Commander of the 5th Fleet, had already stated that there had been no such confrontation.)
When Bush wasn’t too busy sightseeing or hyping the Iranian threat, he managed to offer a few words about freedom and democracy in countries which had neither.
· “To the people of the Middle East: We hear your cries for justice. We share your desire for a free and prosperous future. And as you struggle to find your voice and make your way in this world, the United States will stand with you.”--George W. Bush, United Arab Emirates, 1/14/08
· “The dignity and sovereignty that is your right is within your reach,”--George W. Bush, addressing the Palestinian people, AP 1/13/08 (It is unclear how many Palestinians in the Gaza strip heard the speech, since they were without electricity because Israel had cut off their fuel supplies.)
Nobody was too impressed with Bush’s platitudes:
· “ ... no Palestinian, no Arab believes, he will, or can, deliver. ... Everything he touches turns to dust and ashes. Iraq, Afghanistan, maybe now even Iran.”-- Arab News editorial, 1/12/08
· “It is impossible to feel any excitement about Bush’s words, because no Palestinian, no Arab believes he will, or can, deliver. We have the Bush record with its damning testimony of failure and disaster.”-- Arab News, quoted in Time, 1/16/08
· “There is no credibility to his words after what the region saw during his presidency. ...American policy threw the region off-balance and destabilized it.”-- Mohamed Fayek, director of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, Cairo, Egypt, McClatchy Newspapers, 1/16/07
...and they were even less interested in joining Mr. Bush’s crusade against Iran.