Saturday, July 09, 2005

Smoke Screens

Well, Bush, my impression is that the terrorist attack in London offered you guys up in Scotland a great smoke screen. Not a smart move on their part, if what they want is improvement in the way the world addresses poverty and deprivation. But then again, I suspect that's not what they want. Their goals are far from clear, at least to me. Perhaps it's nothing more nor less than a great Islamic theocracy throughout the world. In that, it would hardly be much different than the goal of your Christian evangelicals. In any event, if they do have goals, blowing up innocent civilians as they go about their business hardly seems like a formula for success.

But they did succeed in blowing smoke in front of what was happening in Scotland--not only at your conference table, but outside. Whilst your power-mongering gang of the eight wealthiest nations sat around the table, hatching new ways to disguise your paradigm of economic growth and exploitation of the Earth's resources as a benefit to all mankind, those with different ideas about the end of poverty and disease, and the oil crisis, and global warming, remained outside, on the streets, under the supervision of two thousand police. The media made them look like a ragtag bunch of extremist idiots, of course, reduced to the pathetic tactic of waving placards and making soapbox speeches in the effort to get their voices heard. And even then, the terrorists come along to drown those voices out with their barbaric bombs.

Meantime, here in your enlightened and civilized United States of America, a journalist is spirited off to jail behind both these smoke screens, to serve a term for refusing to reveal the sources for a story that she never wrote, with barely a notice from the media, let alone the fanfare her brave action merits. Is it not another irony, Bush, in the long, sad history of the ironies of your administration, that Judith Miller, of the New York Times, gets a prison sentence in the cynical outing of an undercover CIA agent, whilst Robert Novak, the right-wing journalist who actually did the dirty deed goes scott free? I think we all know that the source of Novak's story is none other than your political operative Rove, and that he leaked the information as an act of political revenge against Joe Wilson, the dilpomat who dared to question your Iraq adventure on the op-ed pages of the New York Times. And perhaps, too, as a warning to others who might step out in public to expose the lies you used to lead us into your misguided war. Where's Rove's comeuppance?

So this is how it goes. Smoke sreens behind smoke screens behind smoke screens. I don't wish to undermine some of the good intentions behind the promises of G8, Bush. I do hope, earnestly, that they all pan out--though I have my doubts. We've heard similar pledges all too often in the past. But behind all the smoke screens, the power action takes place, the money exchanges hands, the world gets divvied up. Remember, Bush, the words that the great (French!) writer Victor Hugo gave to his popular hero, Gil Blas, in his eponymous play, when he walked in on meeting of the power brokers in 19th century Europe. "Bon apetit, messieurs!" he cried, with heavy sarcasm. We have no adequate equivalent in English, Bush, for this civilized, pre-mealtime greeting: "I wish you a good appetite, sirs!" kind of weakens the impact. But it gives some sense of my personal impression of what was going on up there in Scotland.

Here's my thought for a Saturday, Bush, for what it's worth: it's not enough to keep treating the nasty, festering symptoms, when the disease has already infected the whole body of the planet. It's time to address root causes, and come up with the systemic changes that we need to heal the disease that we humans have ourselves created in our greed for wealth and power. It's time, Bush, for a radical new approach. Perhaps for generosity of spirit. Perhaps even for sacrifice on the part of us, richer nations. Perhaps for a new understanding of human prosperity and human happiness. Perhaps for a long, hard look at the reality we have created, and the potential for a new, sustainable model for the future of the world.

1 comment:

LillianAbel said...

Your writing, once more, hits the mark, Peter. We do, indeed, need a new world model. Our planet needs healed from the plague of greed which has turned it upside down. To comment on one issue in this writing: Bush's avoidance of environmental issues is one more embarrasment for the U.S.