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How Happy We All Are That You Feel Comfortable! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Any one who watched the joint press Availability between President Bush and President Sarkozy would have the right to believe that President Bush had more than one glass of Champaign before coming to meet the press. He was exceptionally jolly throwing jokes here and there as if he has achieved his ultimate goals and made this stop on his way to the grand celebration of his achievement. The reasons for his joy began to show in reviewing what he and President Sarkozy have talked about, and the reason for this real sense of achievement. After mentioning that they talked about Iran, the Middle East and Annapolis, Maryland, President Bush said: “I can’t thank the President enough for his willingness to stand with young democracies as they struggle against extremists and radicals and one such democracy is Afghanistan”. On his part Sarkozy stressed that they have “exchanged all the intelligence and information we had. It is unacceptable that Iran should have at any point a nuclear weapon” without mentioning that Iran wanted the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. So this is the real cause for Bush’s joy which is that France has filled the seat that Blair’s Britain left behind as semi-empty, and with chancellor Merkel arriving to Washington immediately after Sarkozy, Bush is assured that Europe continues to walk in the shadow of the U.S. on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or Somalia and Sudan.

When asked why did he mention Iran and Afghanistan but not ‘Iraq’ and whether France can help the U.S to get out of the Iraqi quagmire? Bush answered: “quagmire is an interesting word. If you lived in Iraq and have lived under tyranny, you’d be saying, god, I love freedom- because that’s what’s happened”. Had President Bush met with any Iraqi whose house has been destroyed, or son or father or mother been killed, he would be best informed about the kind of freedom he brought to Iraq with one million Iraqis killed, one million maimed, 4.5 millions displaced, a thousand doctor and university professors killed, and with only 10% of Iraqi children going to school this year you understand what kind of freedom the Iraqis are celebrating today!! As for President Sarkozy he quickly adopted the American mode by lecturing the Iraqis, who have been living together for thousands of years, to learn to live in a “diverse Iraq where each component, component element of Iraqi society has learned to live with others”.

It did not escape the minds of the two presidents to refer to themselves as representatives of “universal values” and as those who uphold the principles and values they defend and continue to uphold, totally unaware, as it seems, that it was American occupation forces who introduced the sectarian language into Iraq and the Iraqis and into the historically diverse Middle East.

Among these values, no doubt, is the sense of urgency to free the Bulgarian nurses irrespective of the children they destroyed and to save French journalists and Spanish hostesses who were involved in kidnapping Chadian children, but no western leader took the plane to free Al-Jazeera Cameraman, Sami Al-Haj because he is an Arab. Neither western leaders feel any obligation towards Arab lives nor Arab leaders sit together to discuss means and ways of preserving Arab integrity.

The final question is do the values upheld by Bush and Sarkozy include that the value of human life in Palestine or Iraq is equivalent to an American or French life? Or does a French or Bulgarian life stand way above any Arab life even if the possibility is that the Bulgarian or the French have committed crimes against innocent children? No wonder Bush feels so elated with Sarkozy in whom he found a new partner to pursue more wars in the Middle East under the pretext of spreading freedom and democracy. But who speaks for those killed, maimed and displaced, for countries occupied, looted and destroyed? Neither in Annapolis, nor anywhere else, is anyone going to represent the rights of those occupied, oppressed and tortured so that Bush and company have wealth, and feel great comfort. Bush finds it hard to distinguish between the computer game he plays and kills a group of “evil people” in Iraq and between real life for Iraqis where his troops and contractors are killing innocent Iraq men, women and children everyday. Those who invented these computer games about the Arabs are blatantly racists and criminals, and one assumes that a president of the United States should know better. But had he known better he would never be able to feel “comfort” about the misery his policies have created for millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine and in some other places too. So how can we feel good if Bush feels this great comfort?! In fact, his sense of comfort is a source of huge anxiety to all of us. If until now he cannot feel the consequences of his policies and the calamities he caused, we have every reason to fear what this new, strong alliance between the U.S and Europe may bring to our beloved region.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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