Pity. Here is the speech he should have given (or something like it):
“My fellow Americans,
Today, this nation is engaged in a conflict in Iraq against an insurgency that seems to be getting more deadly and more organized. I have spent the past several years ignoring or antagonizing much of the international community that could potentially help us, but that is going to change.
It is time to put this country on a better path, which is why I have outlined this 6-step process for improving this nation’s security.
First, I will allow foreign governments, particularly those in the region, to train Iraqi troops on their own soil, rather than follow our current policy of forbidding such actions. This will be accompanied by inviting foreign companies into Iraq for reconstruction, even if their host countries did not participate in the conflict.
Second, I will ask the United Nations for their assistance in rebuilding much of the Iraqi infrastructure and civil service. Although this administration has rightly focused on building a democratic government, no such government can long sustain itself in the face of water shortages, power outages, and other problems ignored by much of the American press, caused mostly by insurgents who target those facilities. The UN, for all its faults, has the best experience in this area, and the most credibility in the region.
Third, I will meet with the leaders of Bulgaria, Japan, Ukraine, and other hesitant allies and discuss with them how we can go about keeping their troops in Iraq, rather than have them pull out. I will not order them to do this, and I may even have to make some concessions to their governments in order to justify this, but keeping this campaign as international as possible is vital, and more troops, not less, may be needed to finish this job.
Fourth, it is time that the United State recognize the other nations that threaten us. Our current policy on North Korea was bold, assertive, and disastrous, and although the US media have forgotten the fact that North Koreas has been developing nuclear weapons for the highest bidder, this administration has not, and will begin immediately with two-party talks. During these talks, this country will do what it has been incapable of doing in the past: negotiating rather than demanding. Because of this, we hope to find some agreement that will end with a disarmed North Korea. I will also give some encouragement to European leaders whose attempts at dealing with Iran have proven unsuccessful. While the United States will push the Europeans privately about the need for action, we will no longer make veiled threats against Iran, or inflame the situation by immediately making accusations against Iran’s new leader.
Fifth, our national security is directly related to our fiscal health, which is why it is time to ask Americans what they have never before been asked by me, to actually sacrifice something for this conflict that was once so popular. I am sending a bill to Congress to repeal part of the tax cuts and cut all necessary spending in order to being this nation’s deficits under control.
Finally, my fellow Americans, it is time to start being honest with you. I am optimistic that Iraq will succeed and can assure you that we will do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, and no matter how much it costs, to make that happen. But it may be years, and the number of lives may continue to increase. No more rosy exaggerations, no more talk of the insurgency being in its last throes without evidence, from now on, I am going to give honesty a try.”
Had Bush delivered THAT speech, it would certainly have made an impression on me.
“America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us.” Bush then recalled the Revolutionary war, the Civil War, and “the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century” as evidence of our ability to remain dedicated to a moral objective.
The problem is that this conflict does not demand much from us at all, quite the opposite. Other than the military personnel doing the fighting and their families, what demands does this conflict make of us? No one is being told to cut back on anything (like oil, fuel, etc.), there are no war bonds people can purchase, in fact people have been told by the administration to go out and buy CD’s and clothing, to go to the movies or on vacation. In other words, while the administration tells us how demanding this conflict has been, it also tells us that we should go on with our lives as if nothing is happening, and indeed we are.
Congressman Strickland of Ohio expressed this reality last year , when he made the following statement:
“We are not paying a price. We are not even paying for this war. The cost of this war is being passed on to the children and the grandchildren that will follow us. They are the ones being asked to pay the cost of this war. What did the President asked us to do to sacrifice for this war? He told us to go shopping. He told us to go shopping. Where is the sacrifice other than those who are at this very moment risking their lives for us, the moms and dads who are grieving and will grieve for the rest of their lives over the loss of their son or daughter, the husbands and the wives and the children who will live out the rest of their lives without their loved one because of the miscalculation of this administration and their unwillingness to even recognize what they have done?
That is what bothers me. We all should be sacrificing and sharing in the sacrifice, but we are not being asked to do so. Go out and live our life. Go shopping, go to the ballgames, spend money, do what we want to do, and let someone else's kid fight this war for the Iraqi Interim Government. That is totally unacceptable.”
The reason Bush has hesitated asking anything of the American people is partly ideological, in my opinion, but even more political. Ideologically, he is convinced that tax cuts are the ends to which any means possible must strive towards, and that the American economy depends on it. He believes that wars in the 21st century need to be fought quickly and inexpensively because we may have to be fighting a lot of them in the future. Politically, this conflict was never overwhelmingly popular with the American people until shortly after it was waged, and asking them to pay anything for it would make it far less popular than it is already.
Because of this, the war in Iraq is barely even noticed by Americans (judging from its minimal coverage on the national media networks) let alone sacrificed for. Apparently, supporting the troops and buying an American flag is all that constitutes sacrifice today. Despite the mounting debt this administration has incurred, and our addiction to foreign oil that shows no signs of abetting, Bush’s conservative political agenda remains unchanged since before 9/11.
The sole sacrifice Americans are being asked to pay is the surrendering of their civil liberties through the PATRIOT Act, which has done a wonderful job of keeping the homeless out of train stations , or monitoring what I read from my local library , but whose actual effectiveness or necessity in fighting terrorism remains controversial.
Perhaps there is no need to rethink any of Bush’s policies and perhaps this war is best fought far away, by other people, and we’ll just have our children pick up the tab. But I do wish politicians would stop making such lofty and inaccurate statements about the sacrifice of the American people that simply does not exist in any systematic fashion.
If this sounds like a negative portrait, it is not intended to be. The same fans (and in many ways I am one of them) care deeply about good music, buy cds, and help keep alive a subculture of devotion to music, of believing that music can actually change someone’s life. Music for these people, for us, is more than just background noise. It is an essential part of a way of life, as crucial as food and water and sex and air. If it can be insufferable it can also be inspiring. And so much of it is simply better than most of what passes for popular music these days, whatever the subgenre.
Of late there have been a couple of pieces that have appeared in the the New York Times about this particular subculture in both its endearing and grating manifestations. This piece introduces Ric Harcourt, a radio dj for Los Angeles station KCRW whose show, “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” is a vital voice for getting semi-popular acts much deserved air time. This one discusses the problem of overearnestness in much of the writing about indie rock, leading readers to The Shins Will Change Your Life which allows the overwrought prose of those who write about this music to stand on its own. (Please note that the link in the Times piece was inaccurate at last check, but my link should work). I do want to mention The Believer, a magazine that gets a mention in the second Times piece, because I do not want to leave the wrong impression. While Kalefa Senneh is critical of The Believer for its perhaps overearnest embrace of a narrow strata of music in its recent music issue, it is also the most vibrant, intelligent, interesting magazine I have seen in years. Its focus is mostly literary, but it covers a range of topics, including music, film, and anything else that might be interesting or quirky or that crosses it radar. I cannot recommend it highly enough, even if its tastes seem to run toward the esoteric and its cover price ($8) might give you pause. I owe Sean Chadwell, one of my colleagues at last summer’s National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, my eternal gratitude for exposing me to The Believer, which comes to us via the Valencia Street folks in San Francisco (David Eggers, Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, etc.).
Plus, if bands like the Shins, Modest Mouse, Pinback, Sleater Kinney, the Decembrists, and many, many others in this interesting but, alas, obscure subgenre won’t exactly change your life, they will make it just a little bit better. That seems reason enough to get to know this world and its rabid, passionate, and sometimes obnoxious inhabitants.
Although she does not write explicitly in response to Pew's findings, Anne Applebaum is aware of the data on Anti-Americanism. She has a piece, “In Search of Pro-Americanism,” in the latest
The following is just one excerpt by Nonie Darwish , who grew up in Gaza in the 1950’s and has talked about the indoctrination of children:
“Terrorism coming out of the Muslim world did not happen by coincidence; it is the direct result of a culture that has been promoting hate, jihad and anti-Semitism for generations. ...
The reason jihad has developed into the epidemic of suicide bombers is because of the deterioration of Arab educational system that has based its curriculum on hate, vengeance and retaliation against non-Muslims, especially Jews.
After several generations brought up under this severe indoctrination, many Arab children were brainwashed like robots to value suicide bombers as someone to look up to in the hope of going to heaven. This unprecedented and extreme form of jihad produced the current generation of suicide bombers who kill non-Muslims with no mercy.
The indoctrination was not just in schools but also in songs, poetry, movies, cartoon and every facet of life. The divine mission of every generation was to take over the endless duty of jihad.
The goal of education was to instill a commitment to destroy the state of Israel; which became the Arab national obsession. Arabs convinced themselves that the existence of Israel gives them a carte blanche to do anything, and nothing was more sacred. The end result is a culture -- out of control, fueled by oil money, and contaminating the world with terror.”
Here is an article in the BBC about a father’s lament over his son’s decision to become a suicide bomber. According to the article, “Posters glorifying Ali's"martyrdom' line the streets of” their town. What kind of message does this send? Apparently none from the international community.
"From kindergarten we were taught that Jews were dogs," says Walid Shoebat , a former member of the PLO whose visit to the United States proved as enlightening as Malxolm X’s to Mecca. According to Shoebat,"We were taught that Jews were the converts of monkeys, that Jews were Sabbath breakers and prophet killers. We even considered Arabs in pre-1967 Israel traitors because we could not understand how they could co-exist with Jews." He went on."I was taught songs about killing Jews. You need to get rid of the education system where they are teaching this type of thing and get rid of the terrorist groups. It will take a generation, but until then, there's not going to be peace, it doesn't matter what kind of land settlement you have."
I could go on with stories and studies that would undoubtedly leads one’s mind to so many similar societies in Western history that were no less pathological and no less deadly.
None of this excuses or justifies any act of murder by any Israeli soldier, nor does it somehow imply that we should not feel the fullest sense of sympathy for the Palestinian people, many of whom live in squalor and destitution in camps throughout the region, buttressed between corrupt and uncaring leaders and opportunistic neighbors who use them s pawns without helping them. It does however reveal a pattern of brainwashing and indoctrination that the world will have to contend with if it wishes to involve itself in the conflict.
If anyone wants to know the so-called “root-causes” of terrorism, look no further than the many testimonials, articles, and studies that witness the insanity that has engulfed this society.
Of course there is the political angle, which I might as well dispense with. Clinton is only helped by the seemingly genuine friendship between the two former rivals. It makes him look bipartisan and statesmanlike, images he has been desperately trying to cultivate, and it undoubtedly though indirectly helps his wife that people have a positive image of him. As for Bush the elder, I can see no political benefit or downside to the association.
However, the satisfaction of seeing two presidents of opposite parties together in friendship is far more than just a political curiosity. It is a reminder that at the end of the day, these men are more than just caricatures their enemies have painted. They are people whose ideological differences have been tempered by serving in the post powerful position in the world. How much politics and world events come up in conversation between the two, I wish I knew, but I know that this is the way Americans want to think that their national leaders, as being able to separate political differences and personal ones, and when the fighting is all over, go out and play some golf.
The relationship began, of course, when both men headed a relief organization to help the victims of the tsunami, and reports were already circulating of a closer connection when Bush expressed gratitude in an interview about Clinton’s deference to Bush’s seniority (in age, that is) by sleeping on the floor and giving Bush the only bed on the plane."We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed,” Bush recalled later, “but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me.”
Maybe I am alone on this, but something about seeing the two former presidents together means something to me as well.
According to the Korean News Bureau, South Korean Doosan Bears' pitcher Park Myung-hwan twice lost his cap while delivering a pitch and each time frozen cabbage leaves fell off his head twice in a game on June 19. The frozen cabbage leaves inside the cap were used to keep his head cool.
The Korea Baseball Organization has been moved to rule that wearing cabbage leaves inside a baseball cap constitutes an"alien material" that may disrupt a game, prohibited according to the organization's rules, the organization said in a statement Tuesday.