Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not Visiting The Grave

(Posted with a

Following up on my post yesterday, where I pointed out that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had the courage to confront a hostile crowd (and apparently, it took its toll, if news reports are to be believed), both President Bush and President Ahmadinejad will speak today at the opening of the United Nations.

By luck of the draw...koffkoff...Bush will speak first, then disappear long before Ahmadinejad gets up.

So you'd imagine this is an opportunity for Bush to launch some pre-emptive rhetorical strikes against a country he has called a "grave threat" to our national security.


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - President George W. Bush is set to announce new U.S. sanctions against Myanmar over human rights as the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders gets under way on Tuesday.

Bush is one of the first speakers on a list that later features Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and diplomats will be watching to see if the leaders of the two bitterly hostile countries cross paths or exchange words.

But despite the United States leading efforts for more U.N. sanctions against Iran to curtail its nuclear program, Bush will only make a brief mention of Tehran in his speech, the White House said.

"The speech is not about Iran," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "The speech is about liberation and how liberation from poverty, disease, hunger, tyranny and oppression and ignorance can lift people up out of poverty and despair."
Oh really? Darfur, Ms. Perino? Ring a bell? Nigeria? IRAQ?!?!?!?! (feel free to chime in if I missed any).

Now, that's not to say Myanmar isn't a troubled area and doesn't need some of the world's attention:
YANGON (Reuters) - Chanting "democracy, democracy", 10,000 monks marched through the heart of Myanmar's main city on Tuesday in defiance of a threat by the ruling generals to send in troops to end the biggest anti-junta protests in nearly 20 years.

The streets were lined with people clapping and cheering and there were no overt signs of police or soldiers and no trouble as the campaign against 45 years of military rule swelled in size and scope.

But after the demonstrators left the area around the Sule Pagoda in central Yangon, the focus of a week of marches by the revered maroon-robed monks, riot police and troops moved in.

Eight trucks arrived with police carrying shields, batons and rifles, a Reuters witness said. Eleven army trucks packed with soldiers also drove in, suggesting the junta was filling up the city centre to counter any attempt at a repeat.

In another possible sign of looming confrontation, a well-placed source said detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was moved to the notorious Insein prison on Sunday, a day after she appeared in front of her house to greet monks.
Yes, this long-festering conflict appears to be ready to boil out.

You might recall, or maybe not...it didn't get a whole lot of attention in the States with Bush the Elder in office...in 1988, nearly 3,000 Myanmaris were killed by government troops cracking down on pro-democracy factions.

Bush's solution? Sanctions...which worked nicely against Saddam Hussein basically until Bush's cronies in the oil business started circumventing them.

Not to worry, of course: Myanmar has no oil to speak of, producing only 9,500 barrels a day. It does have some fairly sizable natural gas reserves, however (283 billion cu m), as well as major jade, precious gem, and timber industries.

So we're talking "C" list on the economic impact scale: large enough that local governments and politicians can live nicely by Western standards, but not enough for America to bother invading and raping.

Geopolitically, there's no real advantage to be gained in supporting the pro-democracy forces in Myanmar...the ruling junta has no real allies (China comes closest, but even they keep an arm's length), aside from a "See? We really DO support free people!" posturing.

Which raises the question, "Why is Bush bothering to spotlight this crisis?"

Well, it's clear he's ashamed to face the international community on the 800 lb gorilla in his closet: Iraq. The last thing he wants is to remind people of how his "Coalition of the Bribed Willing" fell apart this past year and how it's been five years and only now are we starting to see even a plateau in the level of violence, much less a consolidation and unification of Iraq under a democratic government.

In other words, he's going to avoid his "miserable failure" like the plague.

So why not Iran, Mr. President? Why not talk about arguably a real threat to the world's security, something the UN might want to actually get involved with, ahead of some insane aggression you would want to indulge your G I Joe fantasies over?

Surely it can't be that you're afraid to say in person to Ahmadinejad's face that which you've plastered all over CNNinternational and every major newspaper in the world?

Hell, even Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, had bigger grapefruits than that!

Or are you? All your life, you've ducked controversy after controversy and then refused to face up to your critics and victims in a confrontation.

Can you say "passive aggressive"?

You've refused to go to Viet Nam, and then refused to work your full shift in the namby pamby detour that your daddy arranged for you. You've failed in every single business you've gotten involved with, needing family and friends to bail you out, even to the point where you took the Texas Rangers from last to even worse: the laughing stock of the American League.

And here, now, as President, rather than engage in dialogue with anyone who might disagree with you, all signs point to the fact that if you don't have toadies and chimpanzees doing your bidding, you fire them or make life so miserable for them, they leave.

This is not the mark of a President. Hell, it's not even the mark of a good gang leader!

So go. Talk about Myanmar until the heat gets too great and you have to leave the kitchen.

America and the world will be much better off once you're out of the driver's seat and in our rear view mirror.