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And Such Nice Guests, Too

November 24th, 2003

As if it isn’t too much for Bush to be going to England at the taxpayer’s expense in what amounts to a campaign trip to make him look presidential, to a country which–although it is our strongest ally–has a huge number of its citizens up in arms about what Bush and Blair are doing to them. But Bush has to give it that little extra arrogant touch.

The least of his offenses is the fact that, as part of his already-overflowing 650-person entourage (I thought he was against big government?), he took along with him five personal chefs. The Queen of England, understandably, was a bit put off with the revelation–essentially a slap in the face of her own, presumably adequate, cooking staff. But then, President “You’re-Either-With-Us-Or-Against-Us”, Mr. “This-Is-A-Crusade”, Commander in Chief “You’re-Irrelevant-If-You-Don’t-Let-Us-Do-What-We-Want”–has never been known for his diplomatic prowess.

In the wake of his passage through Buckingham palace, Bush further proved himself the oafish guest by having his people trample the gardens, causing tens of thousands of pounds in damage and possibly ruining several rare plants, some cultivated and planted by the queen herself.

One of the more serious snags in the setup for the visit was about how well-armed and immune from prosecution the Bush detail would be. Bush’s people had asked for the subways in London to be shut down, to fly U.S. Air Force jets and Black Hawk helicopters above London, supply his guards with “mini-guns” (capable of firing huge numbers of rounds per second), to place snipers along the president’s path, and to give immunity to any Bush personnel who happened to gun down and kill any Brit who they felt threatened the detail. One wonders what kind of wild party they had planned.

Now, Robert Heinlein once said that the best way to judge the fairness of any deal is to turn it around and see if the other fellow is still willing to accept it. Let’s try that here. Imagine if Tony Blair were visiting Washington D.C., and he demanded that public transport be shut down for his visit, British RAF Harriers and helicopters be given free reign over Washington airspace, for his entourage to be magnificently armed and immune from prosecution were they to, for some reason, snuff an American citizen here or there. You think that George Bush would accept those terms?

Of course not. Not in a million years. So what in the world were U.S. negotiators thinking when they asked for such things? Did they seriously expect Blair and his people to accept an armed, immune American presence in London? Bad enough that British security is being taxed to the limit, that Londoners and Brits in general paying a huge sum, all for a PR stunt for a man many of them despise. All in a day’s work, I suppose.

It should also be pointed out that virtually none of this is being reported in the U.S. media.

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