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George Bush, GO HOME.

Last year I got talking to the main foreign correspondent of a newspaper that sells a bucketload here. I say the foreign correspondent because the newspaper in question really doesn't have much use for foreigners of any description as they are foreign, dastardly and un-English and therefore cannot be trusted. They will admit a liking for Americans, who they feel have the right idea about universal benefits provision for all, regardless of income, but in general, they don't like 'em. Hence only one main foreign correspondent.

She travelled with George Bush on the 2004 campaign trail and was very emphatic about one point: he is not a stupid man. He's a devout man, a pragmatic man and a man who is both loyal to his team and heavily reliant on them for the intellectual heavy-lifting, but he's not stupid.

When he was elected president there was a crisis of legitimacy because of the means by which he rose to power. No matter which side of the political divide one stands upon, that election was a disaster. The newspapers here made great sport of it because hey! foreigners making a mess of stuff we do all the time! silly things happening! Not to mention the fact that Bush mangles the English language in funny ways. That's meat and drink to both tabs and broadsheets. Schadenfreude is our business.

As a result of this crisis of legitimacy and because George Bush was uniquely underqualified to take on the role of international statesman, having barely set foot out of the US, some bright spark at the White House decided that a state visit to Britain would be just the thing.

I'm here now to tell you that I and about eight million of my fellow Londoners would like to kick that man's arse for him.



When this was arranged, before the Iraq war, it must have seemed like a good idea. Relations with Britain were decent compared with the rest of Europe, though the government was professing its disquiet about the number of international agreements on pollution, the environment and the framework of international law that the Bush administration had just torn up. The war in Afghanistan could be declared done, with comparatively little loss of American life, and there remained a solid hardcore of sympathy with America over the atrocity of September 11 (the one thing which hasn't disappeared, still).

Presidents visit Britain all the time, but very few opt for a state visit, in which they are the Queen's guest in her role as head of state. There is pageantry, pomp and photo ops galore. It would show Bush as the American head of state, brushing shoulders with royalty, and for some reason, the American media seems to love that stuff. (We're stuck with it, but America actually gave the Duchess of York a career.)

This is an honour which is not extended to every president, but then not every president of the most powerful country on Earth feels that they need that kind of legitimation from a somewhat washed-up and gossip-obsessed kingdom with delusions of grandeur.

Some of the people who have fancied tea at Brenda's followed by a ride in Brenda's carriage with Phil and the Corgis include such illustrious humanitarians as Nicolae Ceaucescu of Romania and his ghastly wife, the Zairean madman Mobutu Sese Seko and Jiang Zemin.

The last president who took a state visit was not Clinton, or Bush Sr or even Obi-Ron Kenobi Reagan, uber-architect of the Neo-Con revolution but Woodrow Wilson, who had petals tossed at his feet for helping to save the allies during the First World War.

Petals are not what they want to throw at George Bush.

As a consequence, there are going to be some very ugly pictures in the next few days, as anti-war and anti-globalisation protesters declare partytime on the streets of London. They're going to topple an effigy of Bush in Trafalgar Square and march round and round shouting amusing slogans.

It's really, really hard to underestimate the loathing that the mere mention of George Bush's name evokes in almost everyone I have met. It's not so much him as what he stands for. These are some of the things he is blamed for in Britain. Some of it is scapegoating:

Firstly, the demonstration of the impotence of every other country in the face of a military machine that is exponentially larger and more technically advanced. Which America can't help, because it is bigger and more powerful and that's just the way it is, but it does get up the demonstrator's noses;

Secondly, the Bush administration's complete disregard for the institutions it helped set up and is now appealing for help to and its refutation of agreements in international law which will only contain offenders if the world's biggest power also signs up to them;

Thirdly, the hypocrisy of requiring smaller, poorer countries to sign up to punishing free trade agreements which open their markets to western multinationals while simultaneously imposing tariffs on steel in order to buy votes in America's industrial heartlands;

Fourthly, a war prosecuted in flagrant disregard of international procedures which appeared to be working and the blatant goalpost-shifting and, in the case of Blair, LYING, which later went on to justify that war;

Fifthly, a pro-Israeli bias which acts as a roadblock to peace because it privileges an Israeli leader who is a war criminal and a prop for the expansionist Israeli religious right. Arafat is the bigger problem in himself, but the fact that US policy so nakedly favours Sharon lends Arafat legitimacy when the best thing that could possibly happen is that the Palestinians throw that crooked old terrormonger out of office;

5a) The fact that when Europeans repeat criticisms of Ariel Sharon which have been levelled at him not only by Palestinians but by Sharon's own generals, they are called "the worst of anti-Semitic old Europe";

Sixthly, that Bush favours an agenda which is aggressively rightwing, prescriptive and religious, which is something that people here just can't get their heads around;

Seventhly (is there such a word?) that Bush dragged Blair into a war that the vast majority of the public did not want unless there was UN backing, as a figleaf of an "international coalition" and now there's no clear path to extricating the troops that are dying or recouping the vast amount spent;

Eighthly, that when this state visit was being planned, vast legions of the thick-necked Carls of the US security services tried to insist on shutting down central London for three days. Because we wouldn't possibly mind shutting EUROPE'S LARGEST CITY AND A MAJOR FINANCIAL CENTRE SO THAT DUBYA CAN GET HIS PICTURE TAKEN WITH THE QUEEN IN HER LOVELY GOLD COACH. WITH REAL GOLD ON IT. They also tried to insist on shutting down the central London Tube network. Uh, NO. A no-fly zone is fair enough, as are guards, metal detectors and surveillance but the rest? No.

Ninthly, and this is precious, the Carls tried to get Brenda to fortify Buckingham Palace. Observe my lack of surprise that she said no. Presumptuous gits. Then they tried to insist on stopping protesters from taking the traditional protest route down Whitehall, all against the advice of the Metropolitan Police;

Tenthly, the Carls will be armed with fuckoff massive guns. Words cannot stress how much this strikes the large bell that tolls "wrongness" inside the average Brit head, but given that there are many mad bastards with al-Qaida sympathies in London, this is probably inevitable. However, the fact that the Carls asked for diplomatic immunity if they shot someone, really *really* pissed people off.

Eleventhly (and I *know* that's not a word), there's much bad feeling in the north-east that the US has sent its decommissioned warships, which are full of asbestos, toxic chemicals and other such goodies, to be broken up in Hartlepool shipyards. The prime minister is taking Bush up to his constituency which is in the north-east.

Twelfthly, that it is going to cost this country five million quid in policing and other costs SO THAT GEORGE CAN GET HIS PICTURE TAKEN WITH THE QUEEN

Thirteenthly, that Bush dragged Blair into the war and we can't get rid of our prime minister until 2005, so we're going to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY at *your* stupid guy until Tony gets how angry we are at him.



Wow, that was incoherent. But I feel oddly better.

Tags:

Comments

( 87 comments — Leave a comment )
musesfool
Nov. 18th, 2003 08:54 am (UTC)
We don't want him here any more than you want him there.
quasiradiant
Nov. 18th, 2003 08:58 am (UTC)
I feel like I should... apologize. On behalf of the United States. Bush's approval rating is down to no more than 52% (the highest approval in a recent poll; the lowest is 48%) and his reelects are below 50% in almost every recent poll I can find.

I just don't understand how the US government expects to be a productive power, negotiator, etc. if it continues to piss Europe off. No one here seems to care that Europeans consider the United States just as dangerous as Iraq or North Korea... and North Korea's a rogue state building nukes! And forget Iraq -- how to we even expect to arbitrate conflicts like that in Cyprus (oh, pet projects) if no one takes us at all seriously or trusts us?

I'm also sick of hearing that pointing out Bush's political mistakes is (and I quote!) "mypoic partisan-bashing." You know, it's not partisan-bashing to note the fact that Bush has the richest cabinet in the history of the United States or that he squandered the opportunities inherent in post-9/11 world sympathies by acting foolishly and without necessity. He fucked up, guys! Stop defending him!

All I can say is: thank God there's an election in less than a year. Unless something excellent happens for him, it appears his numbers are crashing.
lenadances
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:04 am (UTC)
I like you quite a bit. Also, your icon.
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Applauds, whoops! - infinitemonkeys - Nov. 18th, 2003 10:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Applauds, whoops! - leadensky - Nov. 18th, 2003 10:38 am (UTC) - Expand
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elynross
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:00 am (UTC)
Wow, that was incoherent. But I feel oddly better.

No, it really, really wasn't, and wow, I feel worse -- but that's Bush's fault, not yours. I truly, sincerely regret him being foist upon you; I suspect he craves legitimization. And I had delusional hopes that some of the stuff portrayed in Spooks/MI-5 concerning an American president's visit was a bit distorted, but wow, doesn't sound like it.

Sigh. I have faint hopes he at least won't be around for a second term, but we'll see.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 03:42 pm (UTC)
I have faint hopes he at least won't be around for a second term, but we'll see.

I suspect he will. If there's one thing at which the Republican Party excels, it's winning elections.
lenadances
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:01 am (UTC)
I'm appalled. I'm just happy that you guys have him over there while he gets to make his regularly-scheduled anti-gay remarks when news hits of the Massachusetts Supreme Court striking down the current marriage laws.

You're not very incoherent, really. I thought you were splendid.

I am curious about "Carls" and "Brenda". I mean, I grasp the identity of the folks to whom you are referring, but from my very American POV the names seem very random indeed.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 04:21 pm (UTC)
I am curious about "Carls" and "Brenda". I mean, I grasp the identity of the folks to whom you are referring, but from my very American POV the names seem very random indeed.

Using Brenda to refer to Elizabeth II comes from the satirical magazine Private Eye. I have no idea why they call her Brenda.

Carls comes from Hugh Laurie's book The Gun Seller, in which he refers to NSA types as looking like they're all turned out according to the same mould. And if you can get hold of Hugh Laurie's book, do. It's good fun.
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muridae_x
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:25 am (UTC)
Sorry to say, it will not happen. They will not even make the tiniest scratch in the solid gold impression he and his cohort have of themselves and the job they're doing.

I think at this stage it's probably as much about seeing if we can get the lightbulb to go on over Blair's head, or indeed anyone's. Grasping at straws, I know, but we're not happy so folks are saying so.

I do take exception to one thing though -- I didn't see Blair getting dragged into this by Bush -- I saw him jumping in whole hog.

Mmm, yes. I saw a lot of the parliamentary speechifying in the run-up to declaring war, and Blair was definitely arguing his case too strongly for it to be entirely second hand. I don't have the shadow of a doubt that the guy wholeheartedly believed that he was doing the right thing in lobbying for war; I just can't stomach the lies, the deceit and the spin that got piled higher and deeper as "justification" for what he wanted.

But, over and above his stance on the issue, there's definitely something there that smacks of toadifying to the big boys too. I guess ultimately we're just blaming the US for being there and providing someone for him to be a lapdog to though. Sorry. :-)
(no subject) - infinitemonkeys - Nov. 18th, 2003 11:03 am (UTC) - Expand
ex_ajhalluk585
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:19 am (UTC)
I would like to add that his entourage asked (inter alia) for the following dangerous combination of privileges;

1. the "security bubble" around the president to be staffed entirely with US military and secret service;

2. a "mini-gun" which is basically a tank-mounted ten-barrelled machine gun capable of delivering 6000-7000 rounds per minute to be deployed in the entourage;

3. diplomatic immunity for all US security staff in case they killed any protestors.

Frankly, at the point when the representatives of a foreign power are demanding carte blanche to exercise deadly force against UK civilians on UK soil in time of peace that was the point when we should have cancelled the state visit on the grounds that it was was incompatible with any concept of national sovereignty.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 04:44 pm (UTC)
2. a "mini-gun" which is basically a tank-mounted ten-barrelled machine gun capable of delivering 6000-7000 rounds per minute to be deployed in the entourage;

Yes, this was the one I meant to comment on in your journal yesterday. That's horrifying.

Can you imagine what might happen if the protesters kicked off as they did on May 1st a couple of years ago?

Frankly, at the point when the representatives of a foreign power are demanding carte blanche to exercise deadly force against UK civilians on UK soil in time of peace that was the point when we should have cancelled the state visit on the grounds that it was was incompatible with any concept of national sovereignty.

Well, yes. But apparently we don't refuse offers from the Bush administration these days.
timesink
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:27 am (UTC)
the blatant goalpost-shifting

SO corporate, to keep claiming that's not what they said, they said this -- when they said no such thing. We're not idiots. We listen.

Fifthly, a pro-Israeli bias which acts as a roadblock to peace

And is fucking useless -- the Israelis are behaving as badly as the Palestinians, and because we back them, it gives their bad behavior credibility. And where do we get off telling them to make peace with terrorists when we don't?

Whoops. Old rant. Sorry.

the thick-necked Carls of the US security services tried to insist on shutting down central London for three days.

{sigh} Welcome to my world. While there is no argument with the need for more security, the feeling that we live in a prison camp is fairly disturbing.

And they'll shut down anything. There are no trash cans or newspaper vending boxes in the Metro anymore because someone could put a BOMB in one. Needless to say, the once-clean Metro is now ankle deep in trash.

They also tried to insist on shutting down the central London Tube network.

Commuters trying to get to work are not important. No sirree.
Trust me on this.

Ninthly, and this is precious, the Carls tried to get Brenda to fortify Buckingham Palace.

:boggle: That's just rude. As if she was just living out there with no protection. What morons.

we're going to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY at *your* stupid guy until Tony gets how angry we are at him.

Cancelling the speech to avoid heckling? Jesus. Coward. Boo effing hoo if someone doesn't lurve him.

I mean, I'm not a fan of the Democratic Party, to put it mildly. And I did so hope Bush could pull this presidency thing off. But, omigod, his administration is embarrassing. Clumsy and provincial and so fucking obvious about stuff -- today in the Post there was a wee story about how the EPA is thinking about allowing low-level radioactive waste into *normal* landfills. !!! So your medical cesium and whatnot would be in there with the Pampers and the McDonald's bags.

I don't know what to do in 2004.

lenadances
Nov. 18th, 2003 10:13 am (UTC)
I don't know what to do in 2004.

Draft a Republican who's not a neo-conservative lunatic, ASAP. Primaries are a lovely thing.
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muridae_x
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:31 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying it, and so much more eloquently and comprehensively than I would have done! I note that the BBC news site has a conspicuously placed photograph of a Met officer with a big gun on the front page, which probably says it all.

At this point I guess all we can really do is thank goodness that sanity prevailed and the request for the tanks and the diplomatic immunity for all those armed secret service agents in the event that they accidentally discharge their weapon into the people exercising that right to free speech that Bush thinks is so great was turned down.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 19th, 2003 04:17 am (UTC)
I note that the BBC news site has a conspicuously placed photograph of a Met officer with a big gun on the front page, which probably says it all.

It still makes me feel queasy to see people with guns on the street. I think it's a visceral reaction.

Everything should be okay so long as none of the protesters kicks off. If a fight starts, I think we're in for trouble, and that's quite apart from the terrorist threat.
coffeeandink
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:33 am (UTC)
I don't think it's incoherent at all. My response would pretty much be snarling, screaming, and whimpering.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 05:03 pm (UTC)
And the worst thing is, that's a fairly appropriate response to the situation.
vonniek
Nov. 18th, 2003 09:34 am (UTC)
I have stopped reading the news for the sake of my blood pressure ('making like an ostrich' doesn't begin to cover the state of my willful ignorance), but you always manage to get things through my thick skull in a way that makes sense. Thank you for that.

Of all things, I find the request for diplomatic immunity most damning. They are asking immunity, not because they're worried they'd have to get at potential terrorists, but because they want their asses covered in case they pop a harmless protester or a dozen by mistake, right? That's.... appalling is not quite enough of a word.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 05:05 pm (UTC)
Of all things, I find the request for diplomatic immunity most damning. They are asking immunity, not because they're worried they'd have to get at potential terrorists, but because they want their asses covered in case they pop a harmless protester or a dozen by mistake, right? That's.... appalling is not quite enough of a word.

It's the same justification they used for tearing down the agreements about the International Criminal Court. I understood their reasoning about malicious prosecution of US soldiers but other nations were prepared to put in safeguards.

The administration just doesn't play well with others
leadensky
Nov. 18th, 2003 10:16 am (UTC)
Sounds like the trouble might be ya'll's queen, inviting trouble-making people over without asking.

Maybeso you better vote her out, next election...;)

More seriously, my sympathies for all the mess and the trouble. I have no warm feelings to spare for the protestors - the word 'deluded hypocrite' comes to mind but 1) that's two words and 2) the emphasis is on free speech, not sound and reasonable opinions.

However - for everyone who would have their week frelled even if there were no protesters, pro or con - sorry 'bout that.

Have you guys in the UK reconsidered being the world's policeman again, because we've not found our turn to be so much fun...

- hossgal
lenadances
Nov. 18th, 2003 10:23 am (UTC)
More seriously, my sympathies for all the mess and the trouble. I have no warm feelings to spare for the protestors - the word 'deluded hypocrite' comes to mind but 1) that's two words and 2) the emphasis is on free speech, not sound and reasonable opinions.

Ah, don't dismiss everyone under the same brush of "they can't help not liking Bush, for they are crazy and stupid." Just as there were quite a lot of non-insane people protesting alongside fuckwits like ANSWER in this neck of the woods, there are plenty of reasonable people out there waving signs in Britain. The fuckwits tend to make for better TV, though.
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truepenny
Nov. 18th, 2003 10:25 am (UTC)
*applauds*
Not incoherent a bit.
kirbyfest
Nov. 18th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. Wish I could do something about it, which I can't, but thank you anyway.
herself_nyc
Nov. 18th, 2003 11:47 am (UTC)
I'm also blown away by news reports of what the Bushies are demanding of the Brits around this visit, and laughing hysterically to learn Bush pulled out of addressing Parliament because he doesn't want to be heckled. GOD we are the laughing stock of the world because of this gov't.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 18th, 2003 05:39 pm (UTC)
I have plenty of complaints about the nature of this country's parliamentary democracy, but by God, the MPs give good heckle. I am sorry we won't get to see it.
mischa
Nov. 18th, 2003 01:04 pm (UTC)
Not much to say except....WORD. :)

(Deleted comment)
qowf
Nov. 18th, 2003 06:01 pm (UTC)
WHO'S THE WOMAN???

YOU'RE THE WOMAN!!!

I have nothing intelligent to say about this. Just a heartfelt visceral reaction. I have already spent a large part of the day being very very very very very very ashamed at my country's new immigration policies.

As our darling Sab would say, "Those guys are just fucked."
r1cepudding
Nov. 19th, 2003 12:24 am (UTC)
Hear, hear.
ixchelmala
Nov. 19th, 2003 12:46 am (UTC)
here via bexless

Eighthly, that when this state visit was being planned, vast legions of the thick-necked Carls of the US security services tried to insist on shutting down central London for three days. Because we wouldn't possibly mind shutting EUROPE'S LARGEST CITY AND A MAJOR FINANCIAL CENTRE SO THAT DUBYA CAN GET HIS PICTURE TAKEN WITH THE QUEEN IN HER LOVELY GOLD COACH. WITH REAL GOLD ON IT. They also tried to insist on shutting down the central London Tube network. Uh, NO. A no-fly zone is fair enough, as are guards, metal detectors and surveillance but the rest? No.

You are effing kidding me... no, of course you're not. *shakes head in shock*

Shutting down London??!?? I am so embarrased to have his a the so-called leader of where I live. I wish recalling him was as easy as what happened here in California. Though, Arnold is not the guy I'd want in the White house either.

Agh... thank you writing this up.
(Deleted comment)
cpt_babypants
Nov. 19th, 2003 08:39 am (UTC)
Um hi. I realize I don't know anything about you that wasn't in the above post but...Will you marry me? Because you rock, a lot.

Kidding aside, we would love to protest Bush the way Londoners are. Unfortunately any protesting in the US must now be done in "Free Speech Areas" which are behind fences and well out of sight of press and president. Kind of ironic no? Less than three hundred years after we break away from England and set up free speech and assembly as the first ammendment to our constitution, you all appear to be much more free in that department than us.

Sad.

infinitemonkeys
Nov. 19th, 2003 01:24 pm (UTC)
Um hi. I realize I don't know anything about you that wasn't in the above post but...Will you marry me? Because you rock, a lot.

Thank you ::blushes:: I'd like to marry you but I think I already married someone a while ago during a flamewar with the lackwits over slash *g*

Unfortunately any protesting in the US must now be done in "Free Speech Areas" which are behind fences and well out of sight of press and president.

Please tell me you're kidding. This is not something we've heard about here.
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mamahippierwc
Nov. 19th, 2003 03:55 pm (UTC)
I hate him so much...
Off the subject of the idiot, I am coming to visit London too. Lorrie was supposed to get me you email and hasn't yet. I will be there December 26 (yes I am arriving on Boxing Day) and returning on January 1. I know Lorrie wants me to drop something with you and I would love to sit and have a drink if you are going to be around. I am going with my friend Joddie and can't wait to get away. I would also love to see Nick and Martin if they are about. Let me know. You can email me at robertcampbell@goodman-theatre.org if you like. I hope all is well.

rob
theodosia
Nov. 19th, 2003 04:29 pm (UTC)
I apologize as much as I can -- I didn't vote for the man -- in fact, the majority of Americans =who voted= didn't vote for him, either. I actually agree with every single one of your points....
( 87 comments — Leave a comment )

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