O: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is a brief editorial published today in the SAUDI GAZETTE, in anticipation of President George W. Bush's arrival in Riyadh this evening.
Mercifully, since Mr. Bush is not coming to Jeddah, I will be able to go to work tomorrow. In order to enhance the president's chances of survival, the Saudi Arabian authorities will be putting the capital under a virtual lockdown/curfew during his visit. (Dubai was closed down today, with a stay-at-home "holiday" declared by its government.)
Arabs are justly famous for their politeness and hospitality. It says a lot about the cumulative impact of America's Middle East policies that editorials such as the one in the GULF NEWS circulated earlier and this one would greet him.
Editorial -- Monday, 14 January 2008
Bush at it, Again
President Bush chose Abu Dhabi and the midway point of his Middle Eastern sojourn to attack Iran. It was, as usual, a display of the fairly muddled thinking behind the current foreign policy of the United States.
Bush said Iran funds terrorist extremists, undermines peace in Lebanon, sends arms to the Taleban, seeks to intimidate its neighbors with alarming rhetoric, defies the United Nations and destabilizes the entire region by refusing to be open about its nuclear program.
If the part about sending arms to the Taleban were removed, it would be easy to mistake this description of Iran for a description of Israel. The difference is that Iran has just agreed to respond to the unanswered questions about its nuclear program while Israel continues to deny the well-known fact of the existence of its own nuclear arsenal.
The part about intimidating neighbors with alarming rhetoric sounds suspiciously like the US these days, though the Bush Administration uses its alarming rhetoric - followed by invasion - to intimidate countries half a world away.
Bush also said the Iranian government in Tehran needs to make itself accountable to its people. While that may be true, this is a stark case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The Bush Administration has done everything in its power, both legally and illegally, to blur the hallmark transparency of the US government, keeping its own citizens in the dark about policies and actions that have had direct effects on their civil rights - not to mention the lives of their sons and daughters in Iraq.
The recent announcement that US intelligence agencies claimed Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program a few years ago was hopefully a harbinger of a more enlightened approach to relations between the two countries. Instead, we get a much-hyped confrontation in the Arabian Gulf between US warships and Iranian motor boats followed by Bush's patented attack on Iran.
And, still, despite the heightened rhetoric, accusations and threats, the US refuses to hold direct talks with a country in which it has meddled for more than half a century. If this is the Bush definition of diplomacy, he needs to pick up a dictionary.