Our UK friends prepare to welcome Bush

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by SLClemens, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    What a fun spectacle this should be, even if the Met succeed in keeping all of London City cordoned off. I particularly like the inerviews with the students. Good thing for Bush he's not going to Italy!



    By Kate Allen Uk Director Amnesty International

    THOUSANDS of people will take to the streets in Britain next week to voice their anger, frustration and political opposition to President George W Bush's policies.

    Some will criticise these protestors, writing off their views as knee-jerk anti-Americanism. But the critics should think before condemning them.

    Why? Because after almost three years of President Bush's "war on terror" many would argue that the world is now a more dangerous and divided place than it was immediately after 9/11.

    Countries don't protect freedom by attacking hard-won civil liberties, locking up thousands of people without charge or trial, and rushing through ever-more draconian laws.

    You don't win the hearts and minds of the doubters and the disaffected by riding roughshod over human rights.

    But you DO provide terrorists and extremists with the kind of propaganda they could only have dreamt of a few years ago.

    Take Guantanamo Bay. What is the impact of the image of the orange boiler-suited detainees crouching in submission behind Camp Delta's chain-link fences?

    Most people in this country seem to be revolted that nearly 700 people are held without charge or trial and without access to lawyers or family for almost two years. They question our own government's weakness in failing to properly stand up for the rights of the nine British men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

    RIGHTLY, they wonder whether our government would have been more robust had these men been held by a country like Iran or Syria or almost any other country besides the US.

    But, take the understandable outrage in this country and apply it to a Middle-Eastern country. When the manacled men from Guantanamo Bay flash up on Al-Jazeera television, for example, we can easily guess that outrage reaches new levels.

    No Americans are being held at Camp Delta. Only non-US citizens.

    John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban", was given a defence attorney and brought before an independent civilian court. Camp Delta's "enemy combatants", on the other hand, have to endure indefinite detention without charge or trial and no access to legal counsel or any court.

    Hanging over them is the possibility of unfair trials, military tribunals with restricted rights of defence, no independent appeals and the threat of the death penalty.

    It stinks. And that's why Amnesty International plans to make its point - on the streets of London dressed in orange boiler suits.

    The journey from the Twin Towers to Guantanamo Bay has been a disastrous one - from an international atrocity to an international disgrace. It is a massive own goal in the war on terror and its sinister consequences are likely to haunt the world for years.

    But it is not just Guantanamo Bay that is so worrying. Since September 11 the USA has used its over-arching "war on terror" as an alibi to create a parallel justice system to detain, interrogate, charge or try suspects under the "laws of war".

    In mainland USA people have already been held under military procedures as "enemy combatants'. For example, Jose Padilla - the so-called Dirty Bomber - has been held for more than a year in solitary confinement at a naval prison in South Carolina. He is imprisoned without charge, trial or access to his lawyer or family.

    Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested after flying back into the US from the Middle East where he had, according to officials, been plotting to use a bomb packed with radioactive waste on the US.

    This is a virtually unprecedented suspension of the fundamental rights of a US citizen in US custody - not to mention a violation of international law.

    In other countries people in the hands of US forces are seemingly classified as "enemy combatants" simply if Donald Rumsfeld's Defense `Department says they are. In Iraq as many as 10,000 people are being held, most without any legal process.

    Beyond the high media visibility of Guantanamo Bay there also appears to be a shadowy network of "war on terror" detention sites.

    At the US air base at Bagram in Afghanistan, for example, former inmates have spoken of a regime of forced stripping, hooding, blindfolding with blacked-out goggles, 24-hour lighting, sleep deprivation and prolonged restraint in painful positions.

    As with Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International is not allowed into Bagram and not even the Red Cross has had access to all prisoners there.

    Meanwhile, there are rumours of other prisons - on island military bases or in embassy buildings. These are unconfirmed, but the US already admits to holding people at "undisclosed locations".

    Frighteningly, what we are seeing is the almost day-by-day erosion of the USA's commitment to human rights. Where once the world might have looked to America for inspiration, Bush's America is now actively undermining the international system for human rights protection.

    On other issues the trend is the same - America ripping up the rulebook. The US is now by far the most active opponent of the new International Criminal Court, a court that the US should be celebrating as a historic attempt to deter and punish genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    INSTEAD it has embarked on a campaign of bullying weaker countries into agreeing exemptions for US personnel.

    Next week the slogans of the protestors will be mixed - anything from anti-war messages on Iraq, opposition to "Star Wars" defence projects, environmental objections to America's gas-guzzling economy and protests at its trade policies.

    But one thing unites these voices. A belief that the United States has strayed way off course and forgotten its own traditions of supporting human rights and fundamental liberties.

    Crucially, Bush protests will also test our own government's commitment to freedom of speech and legitimate dissent in Britain.

    This month a court controversially ruled that police use of terrorism powers to arrest peaceful protestors at an arms fair in Docklands, East London was reasonable. Why are ordinary people with a point of view on the arms industry considered a threat to the nation?

    Mr Bush's three-day trip to Britain is a high-level visit with all of the pomp and ceremony of any such occasion.

    However, the right to have your say is a proud British tradition and the government should see to it that policing during President Bush's visit is done with a light touch.

    There should be no "exclusion zones" and Mr Bush should not be protected from protests.

    Four years ago protestors during the visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin had flags and banners ripped from their hands. Then the Metropolitan Police behaved in a way more reminiscent of the Chinese secret police than the friendly British bobby.

    This time let's hear it for peaceful, good-humoured free expression. Taking to the streets to protest during George Bush's visit will be pro-American and pro-human rights.

    Exercising your legitimate right to protest is a core American - and British - value. It's what makes me proud to protest.


    Anti-war pupils to face crackdown
    By Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent
    15 November 2003

    Schools are ready to crack down on pupils who miss classes next week to attend anti- war protests during President George Bush's three-day visit.

    Despite warnings not to skip lessons, pupils are co-ordinating a series of "school strikes" using text messages and internet message boards. Some anti-war groups are urging pupils to walk out of school on Wednesday to protest against Mr Bush's state visit at a rally in Parliament Square. They also hope pupils will attend the main demonstration the next day, which will culminate in a statue of Mr Bush being toppled in Trafalgar Square.

    Politicians and headteachers have condemned the groups as irresponsible and warned pupils that any unauthorised absences from school will be treated as truancy.

    Tim Collins, the Conservative education spokesman, said: "It would be disgraceful if children were permitted or encouraged to leave lessons to attend this demonstration. Anti-Americanism is not on the national curriculum and if teachers are condoning this behaviour it is they, not their pupils, who should be looking for something else to do next week."

    Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "It's not my job to support children taking time off school. But clearly the arrival of the President at such an important time is an issue that is of interest to schools. If young people choose to attend these demos I hope that schools will look at that in a positive rather than a negative way." More than 10,000 school pupils attended protests this year in the run-up to the Iraq war. Some schools locked their gates in an attempt to stop pupils walking out. Police were called to some schools after pupils took their protest to the streets.

    The Government warned parents yesterday not to allow their children to miss school to attend the protests. Headteachers have threatened pupils with detention or suspension if they boycott lessons.

    A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "While we fully respect young people's right to protest, this should be done outside school hours. During the school day, we expect pupils to be in school. If a pupil is out of school without permission, the absence is, of course, unauthorised and parents should be informed."

    John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said headteachers were responsible for ensuring pupils did not miss school. "This is truancy and would be treated as such by schools," he said. "The normal punishments for truancy would apply - depending on the individual school's policy. It could mean suspension but it's more likely to be detention."

    A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: "We do not advocate people leaving school to attend protests. People will decide for themselves what they want to do. The national demonstration on Thursday goes on until 7pm so that is the ideal opportunity for people to come after work or school."

    Verity Marriott, 16, an organiser for Schools Against the War, which is part of the Stop the War Coalition, is co-ordinating "school strikes" next week across London despite warnings from her school.

    "I think it is really important for people to express their opposition to the war," said Verity, who is a sixth-former at a north London comprehensive.

    "Students will gain an awful lot from going on the demo. Education is not just about sitting in lessons. I'm going to be missing a politics lesson on Thursday to be part of the protest and I think I'll learn far more at the demo than by being in school.

    "My teachers don't know that I'm going to walk out - although a think a couple probably have a pretty good idea."

    Michael Higgs, 15, a GCSE student at Pimlico School in central London, plans to skip lessons. He said: "My parents are pleased I have got a political mind and I am speaking it. I am against the war and against George Bush's state visit to London."
  2. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    I had to add this one, from the Telegraph:


    It was a good idea at the time
    (Filed: 16/11/2003)

    What ought to have been a celebratory visit to Britain by President Bush has become fraught with tension and paranoia. Julian Coman in Washington, Colin Brown and Tim Walker report on the anti-Bush circus ahead

    Last week, as suicide bombers continued to terrorise Iraq, and anti-war protesters plotted to terrorise George W Bush during his state visit to the United Kingdom, the President and his officials were preparing for what they regard as a seriously tough assignment: selling him to the British.

    Police patrol the Mall as preparations continue for the President's state visit
    As Governor of Texas and during his presidential campaign, Mr Bush carefully developed the image of an easy-going, approachable, compassionate politician. But this image has not proved easy to export across the Atlantic.

    "Given the difficult situation surrounding this visit to Britain," said one former official with good contacts in the White House, "they decided that the President needed to project a softer, more caring image. So, for instance, he gave some journalists a full, personal guided tour of the Oval Office, in a way that humanised him for the English."

    British visitors were shown a painting based on the President's favourite methodist hymn, A Charge to Keep. They were pointed to the rug designed by his wife, Laura - created to inspire a "sense of optimism".

    "For the British trip, too, there are plans afoot to find a way to allow him to show a softer side," said the former official. "So that he doesn't come across like some cowboy crazy man. For instance, there's going to be a high-profile discussion of HIV/Aids - to show him in a gentler light."

    The White House is trying hard. But even the new "softer" Bush will have his work cut out to make a success of this week's formal state visit - the first to be made by a US President.

    Overshadowed by the bloody aftermath to the Iraq war and the coalition's failure to find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the dream visit has turned into a transatlantic nightmare. A trip intended to celebrate the "special relationship" between Tony Blair and Mr Bush has become a frantic exercise in crisis management.

    One very high-placed Labour figure said last week: "We are very apprehensive about it. This might re-ignite backbench hostility." Among senior American diplomats there is equal unease: "A while back," said one, "folks were comparing this to when Ronald Reagan visited the Queen and rode a horse alongside her. Now with the mess in Iraq, the comparison is with the Vietnam protests in the 1960s. It's kind of a change of tone."

    Back in July 2002, a royal invitation to the Bush White House seemed to be a very good idea indeed, particularly to Mr Blair. The honour of a full state visit, including a three-day stay at Buckingham Palace, had not been accorded even to Reagan, the great ally of Margaret Thatcher.

    Now, as Mr Blair cemented his post September 11 relationship with President Bush, the rare offer would serve as a reminder of British solidarity with the United States, and a sign of the Prime Minister's personal esteem.

    The Royal Visits Committee, staffed jointly by members of the Royal Household and government officials, duly put President Bush's name forward. The Queen agreed to the proposal, encouraged no doubt by her friendship with the US Ambassador, William S Farish, with whom she has stayed in Kentucky on four occasions and with whom she shares a passion for horse-breeding.

    What ought have been a straightforward celebratory visit has become fraught with tension, as controversy has raged over the failure - thus far - to unearth Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the horrific guerrilla warfare which has afflicted certain parts of liberated Iraq (most recently last week's suicide bomb attack in Nasiriyah, which killed 27, including 18 Italians. "Let's just say it's not a good time to be doing this," said the American diplomat.

    In the wake of the war, one poll last week found that 60 per cent of respondents believed that Mr Blair's cosiness with Mr Bush is a bad thing for Britain. The days when Mr Bush could make a joke about the two leaders using the same toothpaste, as he did in April 2002, are long gone.

    In Downing Street, the talk is of defiantly "toughing out" the week. A senior minister said the Cabinet was told by Mr Blair on Thursday to "focus on the issues, rather than the security problems - we will just have to brazen it out". Tentative suggestions that the visit might be postponed have been angrily waved away by the Prime Minister.

    Bush aides are just as full of trepidation and foreboding. "It was a good idea at the time and now we're stuck with it," said one Bush administration official.

    Black humour has already set in. "Maybe they'll just keep the lights off and pretend they're not home," joked another White House aide. And when one American official was asked where the Bush entourage would be landing, it is said he replied: "Heathrow... if it's big enough."

    Laura Bush, the US First Lady, is being diplomatic. In an interview for ITV scheduled for broadcast today, she says: "I think it's [the British monarchy] a fairytale to the United States. Americans have always been fascinated by the monarchy and certainly the British monarchy. I'm really looking forward to staying in Buckingham Palace. It's a huge thrill, it really is."

    The Bushes should be staying on the ground floor of the Palace, in the Belgian suite, close to the indoor pool. The last time Mr Bush dined with the Queen - in 1992 at his father's White House, wearing cowboy boots emblazoned with God Save the Queen - he asked if she had any black sheep in her family.

    "Don't answer that!" his mother, Barbara, interjected, trying to avoid embarrassment. This time he's the President, the man in charge. The dynamics could be significantly different.

    Security, however, is the obsession. As the anti-war protesters prepare to fill Trafalgar Square with unflattering images of the "cowboy" President and the Downing Street "poodle", mild panic has set in behind the scenes.

    At Buckingham Palace there is bewilderment and some resentment at the sheer scale of American security requests for the duration of Mr Bush's stay. The Palace knows how to do state visits. But there has never been one quite like this before.

    "They wanted blast- and bullet-proofed windows," one senior courtier told the Telegraph. "They wanted strengthened curtains and strengthening to the walls of the President's suite and the other rooms that he would be spending time in during his two-day stay."
  3. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    (Continued from above)

    The proposal, which would have meant substantial building alterations, was firmly turned down by the Queen. But anxiety levels among the Bush security team continue to grow.

    Buckingham Palace security pass-holders are being ordered to go through bomb checks for the first time. Some Palace staff who have had security clearance for 30 years are undergoing positive vetting again.

    "The Queen will not have to wear a security badge. I think we know what she looks like," said one Palace official. "But it is getting to that level. It is quite ridiculous."

    "The President's men seem obsessed with the idea of an airborne attack on the Palace," said another courtier. "Her Majesty takes the view that no amount of strengthening of windows and walls could protect the President in such an eventuality. Other political leaders have stayed at the Palace at difficult times in their careers but have not made such demands."

    The deteriorating relationship between the Palace and the President's security men has infuriated the Queen. When it is all over, a mighty row with the Prime Minister is on the cards.

    "The Queen is annoyed to be the one having to turn down so many of the White House's requests," said a Buckingham Palace official. "Downing Street's attitude is that this is something that should be resolved between the Palace and the White House. But the fact is that the Queen is being left to negotiate a political minefield pretty much on her own.

    "Officially, the invitation was made to the President in her name, but of course ultimately this came from Tony Blair. Now that it is looking as if the visit is not going to be a cakewalk, Blair is, predictably, trying to distance himself from the whole thing," said the official

    Matters are equally fraught at the Foreign Office. One minister had a surprise visit last week from a tense group of men in suits at his Whitehall office. They announced they were from the American Embassy and wanting to "check out the joint".

    The visitors' mission was to inspect Durbar Court, a magnificent hall in the 115-year-old Foreign Office building, where the Prime Minister and the President will hold their joint press conference. "They came right through my office. I don't think they were CIA," said the bemused minister.

    As the security men swept through Whitehall, rumours emerged that the White House also desired a Black Hawk helicopter, capable of ferocious firepower, to hover continuously over the Palace. According to the security men, a Black Hawk would be invaluable in the event of a rocket-propelled grenade attack.

    Arrangements are also dominated by the terrorist threat. Senior British officials were reluctant to discuss details, but conceded that the White House has refused to allow the President a traditional trip down the Mall in an open-top landau.

    In Whitehall, that was accepted with a shrug of the shoulders. This has become, after all, a state visit like no other. "Driving down the Mall is not an essential part of a state visit anyway," said one Government official.

    As Scotland Yard and the American secret service wrestled with the problem of security, Mr Blair and President Bush spent last week devising a political strategy for the week ahead. The preferred tactic was quickly apparent: confront the critics head on.

    In an interview with the Telegraph, President Bush's National Security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, issued a forthright message to the protesters who will fill Trafalgar Square on Thursday:

    "Protests are a part of our democratic heritage and our democratic privilege. But I hope the protesters remember that the causes for which the Prime Minister and the President have now become well known - in Afghanistan and Iraq - are finally getting those countries to the place that people might have the same privilege of protest. The world is far better off and freedom has been advanced by the destruction of [the Iraqi] regime."

    In London, the tone was also defiant. In a speech last Monday at Mansion House, Mr Blair told a sceptical audience that Mr Bush's visit had come at "exactly the right time". He also robustly defended his role as a bridge between the EU and the US, warning that: "If Europe were to let anti-Americanism define its foreign policy, it would be a disaster."

    Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, was sent onto the airwaves to make the same point, deriding the "fashionable anti-Americanism" that was making a comeback in sections of British opinion.

    Meanwhile, Mr Bush made an impassioned defence of the White House goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East, starting with Iraq. He also gave a ringing, if slightly curious, salute to his closest political ally in that project, Mr Blair.

    "In my relationship with him, he is the least political person I've dealt with," said President Bush in an interview with three British editors. "He makes decisions based on what he thinks is right. I'm really looking forward to spending time with my friend - and I emphasise my friend - Tony Blair."

    Last Wednesday evening in Washington, the "special relationship" between the US and the United Kingdom was being feted yet again, this time by Jack Straw. The Foreign Secretary flew over for an award ceremony that honoured his American counterpart, Colin Powell, who will also be in London next week.

    In a short speech, Mr Straw described Mr Powell as "the wisest man I know", and told his audience that their contact was so frequent that his wife, Alice, called the Secretary of State "the other man in my life".

    More of the same can be expected throughout the coming week, as the Prime Minister and his unpopular friend face down protesters from Trafalgar Square to Sedgefield.

    But when Mr Blair and Mr Bush finally get down to business in Downing Street over lunch - from a menu chosen by Nigella Lawson, though as of last night the White House catering committee had not told British officials of any special dietary requirements - they may find that the united front in public is more difficult to maintain away from protesters.

    According to one Downing Street official, the Bush administration's desire to accelerate the timetable for the transfer of sovereignty to a provisional Iraqi government has startled and worried members of the Blair team.

    On Friday, following his emergency trip back to Washington last Tuesday, Paul Bremer, the US envoy to Iraq, talked of a handover of power to Iraqis by next summer. No British representative attended the crucial White House meeting with President Bush, at which the new approach was endorsed. Having been caricatured as the President's bag-carrier leading up to war, Mr Blair cannot afford to lose a grip of the peace.

    "The bulk of the discussions will be on how far and how fast to go in Iraq," said an official familiar with pre-visit discussions in Downing Street. "There's a worry that because the presidential election year is coming up, some members of the Bush team might be in too much of a rush to disengage."

    In other matters, given the furore surrounding the President's visit, Mr Blair is desperately hoping that the "special relationship" is at last about to yield some tangible benefits.

    It would be gratifying to Number 10 if President Bush chose Britain as the place to defuse the current tensions over trade between Europe and the US, triggered by the American steel tariffs imposed last year. Mr Blair would be even more pleased if the White House agreed that the nine British citizens held as prisoners in Guantanamo Bay should be given a legal right of appeal to a federal court.

    Then there are Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions. In the wake of a damning report by the International Atomic Energy Authority, which stated that Iran had been secretly enriching uranium for 18 years, senior members of the Bush administration have called for UN sanctions against Teheran. Mr Blair has no desire to go down the UN Security Council route again, in pursuit of a second member of the President's "axis of evil".

    The issues will be serious and complex. Outside, on the streets of the capital, there could be pandemonium. Streets are to be closed off as demonstrators are prevented from marching down Whitehall or gathering in Parliament Square.

    In Trafalgar Square, an estimated 100,000 protesters will attempt to confront the so-called "toxic Texan" on Thursday, albeit at a distance. The Islamic Society of Britain has spent a week preparing papier-mache mock statues of the Queen's guest, ready to be toppled, designed to echo the fall of Saddam's statue in the spring.

    Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate for London, has spent the past week trying to cash in on President Bush's notoriety among some potential voters. The decision to invite Mr Bush for a state visit, said Mr Hughes, was "ill-judged, ill-conceived and inappropriate". Not to be outdone, Ken Livingstone has spent £8,000 of Londoners' money to hold a party for the anti-Bush warriors.

    According to a Republican Party official who will not be on the trip, the White House will just have to grin and bear it. "They know that for every great image of the President at the Palace, or Laura with the Queen, there will be another terrible image of tens of thousands of Brits telling him to go away. It's not great, coming into election year."

    At least Westminster will do its best to carry on regardless. Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy have separate meetings with the President in a Palace suite on Wednesday morning, immediately before Prime Minister's Questions, assuming they get past up to 250 secret servicemen.

    The Liberal Democrat leader, who is second in line to meet Mr Bush at 11am, has already arranged a fast car to get him back to the Commons in time to put his questions to Mr Blair at midday.

    Mr Blair's wife, Cherie, is preparing to escort the First Lady to museums and other places of interest before the state banquet at Buckingham Palace - unless the demonstrators get there first.

    By the time the battered party reaches the Prime Minister's own northern constituency of Sedgefield, battle fatigue could well have set in. But at least there may be time for some gentle comedy.

    Some days ago, a White House security official, checking up on the Blair's four-bedroom constituency home, Myrobella, asked John Burton, Mr Blair's agent, "how many acres" the Prime Minister owned.

    Mr Bush will find the Blair residence somewhat more compact than his ranch in Crawford, Texas, although Mr Burton manfully pointed out that the house "has a back garden". The Bushes in Sedgefield will be a sight so strange that even the protesters might pause to enjoy the spectacle.

    The President and his 700-strong entourage will leave Britain on Friday evening. At that point, Mr Blair will be able to judge the success of what has become a damage limitation exercise. Notwithstanding the pleas of certain Labour MPs, it would have been almost impossible to take any other approach to next week's ordeal.

    According to one senior British official familiar with the Royal Visits Committee process: "Once an invitation is formally issued it is unheard of to go back on it. It was decided not to invite Bill Clinton following the impeachment scandal, but that trip was never more than a glimmer in the eye."

    In fact, Mr Clinton may be to blame for the whole affair. Before the war in Iraq, he told Mr Blair to "stay close to Bush - don't let him escape". Mr Blair stayed and remains close, still valiantly seeking the role of mediator between Europe and the United States.

    The Prime Minister persuaded the President to seek UN approval for the war in Iraq. He flew to Washington for crucial summits in the lead-up to the conflict. In its aftermath he has urged the White House to consider a broader role in postwar Iraq for the United Nations. Each week he speaks to the President by videophone, last week talking through Iran and the problems of Iraq.

    Mr Blair has indeed "stayed close" to Mr Bush. This week, the Prime Minister will discover whether his fellow countrymen think he is too close for comfort
  4. lilcountriegal

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2003
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    Quite a long post SL. Admittedly, I lost interest halfway through the first article and skipped right down to replying. I take exception to this statement:

    Whether this is your belief or the belief of the author (again, by this time in the article, I was speed reading)... If the United States has "strayed off course" is an opinion with absolutely no factual basis. The mere suggestion that we have "forgotten [our] own traditions of supporting human rights...." is idiotic, at best. What we are doing in Iraq is FOR the Iraqi people, for THEIR human rights. The people of that country were suppressed under Saddam and his henchmen, we are helping to take a people who were tortured, mamed, and killed, pick them up, brush them off, GIVE them Human Rights, and send them on their merry little way.

    As far as Bush's trip to London.... estimates for protesting are as high as 10,000 people. When you take into consideration the population of UK is approximately 59.2 million, the number really is quite laughable.

    Last but not least, I just want to post a very striking comment I read on another message board regarding Bush's trip to the UK (I'll be putting it in the quote feature so as to not confuse that I am not the original author)

  5. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    "But one thing unites these voices. A belief that the United States has strayed way off course and forgotten its own traditions of supporting human rights and fundamental liberties."

    This sounds like something I more commonly hear Americans say. Guatunamo Bay, unilateralism and the Patriot Act are not helping the image we wish to portray to the world. Two things that are really annoying the Brits are Brits held at camp x-Ray and America's refusal to work through the UN, even now. I don't blame them if they feel this way.

    Helping Iraqis? Some feel helped, some feel like we're just helping ourselves. We'll know in five or ten years, I guess. Most of them don't seem to be very optimistic. They only have to look over to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to see what we really think of brutal dictators and suppressed dictators: if they're co-operative, they're fine by us.
  6. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    One more thing, I'll gladly bet you a drink that the protesters will number more than 10,000. The London Met is preparing for 100,000, and given what they think of the face that represents you and me I suspect this number might well be higher.
  7. lilcountriegal

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2003
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    Actually, this is on the Agenda for Bush and Blair to discuss during this visit. I do have to say, in all fairness, if an American was being held in a British camp, I'd have problems as well. BUT, at least it's being brought to the board with this trip. I don't know the stories behind which Brits are being held and why they are being held (do you happen to have a link? or even just the 'why'?)
    After I posted, I continued to read about this upcoming trip and I have found different numbers (you're 100,000 was the most consistent). I still think thats a small number (if it reaches that high... 100,000 was the highest estimate I've seen) compared to the general population. In defense, I've visited British websites and message boards and have would estimate the ratio of people disagreeing with the protests at 3/4, while 1/4 are donning their picket signs and bitching up a storm. There are many people who disagree with Bush/the war/the agenda, however, I just wish everyone would unite so we can get this job done and get our guys, as well as the troops from other countries home to their families. Disagreeing and protesting is really not going to help one way or the other.

    You are very right... I am interested in seeing how things will turn out in the near future (with the visit, the war) and 5-10 years down the line. While I agreed with the war, and I still support Bush and his decisions, I don't see any stability in that region anytime soon.

    Eh.... I'm all for just buying ya a drink for the sake of having a beer.

  8. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest



    This is a re-print of an article that came out in the Economist (my favorite right-wing British journal) that explains some of the concerns. The main problem is that we don't have a clue about almost anyone at camp X-Ray; that's one of the major flaws with it.

    As for what Brits really think: check out the poll results in the New Scotsman: http://www.news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2182588

    What I think this visit demonstrates is that never has an American President been seen as such a profound danger in the UK, at least since Lincoln - and even then Lincoln had his British admirers and I doubt many Brits considered him stupid!

    Anyhow, if you're ever in St. Louis I'm a few blocks from our most famous bar, with plenty of Blue Moon on tap.
  9. lilcountriegal

    lilcountriegal Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2003
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    2 British men being held

    Well... I havent found much, and plan on doing a more extensive search, but this is what I've found on the two British guys being held. If, in fact, they are linked to Al-Queda, then they SHOULD be held, as should any American or any other black, brown, yellow, green, British, American, Islam, Muslim, Jew, Christian with links to terrorism.
  10. SLClemens

    SLClemens Guest

    I've heard 6,7, and 9 Brits are being held. This may be because of confusion of nationals vs. duel citizens.

    "Linked to al-Queda" is a very complex term. The CIA is "linked to al-Queda" for goodness sake! What if a Pakistani school excepted money from al-Queda in 1995 to teach its students that America is a big, vulgar, manisfestation of Satan? Should it's teachers go to Camp X-Ray? What if Kosovo guerrillas accepted arms from al-Queda in 1998 to fight off Serbian soldiers? What if al-Queda gave information to a Lebanese group about the Mossad in 2000?

    It's not as though al-Queda hands out membership cards and keeps a database of active participants.

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