Sunday, January 23, 2005


Let's open with a fisking.

GEORGE Bush yesterday used his second inauguration as United States president to promise to bring the "untamed fire of freedom to the darkest corners of the world" and raise the prospect of a new US effort to topple oppressive regimes the world over.

When asked for comment, a terrified Brussels shit its pants and hid under the bed.

In a speech certain to alarm Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia - and discomfort Europeans uneasy about the unbridled exercise of American power - the re-elected president said he would no longer "pretend" that intolerant regimes were acceptable.

In an alternate reality, Amnesty International applauded the speech, saying that they would always support attempts to spread peace, democracy, and human rights to the world's oppressed. In this one, they muttered about "Abu Ghraib" and "BushHitler" into their 7$ lattes.

Despite hopes from critics and friends - Tony Blair among them - that Mr Bush would use his second, overwhelming mandate from the American people to pursue a more consensual agenda at home and abroad, Mr Bush signalled that, if anything, his missionary zeal was redoubled. "Freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul," the president declared. "Fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause."

Expect to see protestors holding "No Blood for Freedom!" signs marching up and down the streets of Berkely any day now.


Yet transatlantic relations strained by the war in Iraq could soon come under even greater pressure. Following reports earlier this week that US special forces are already in Iran, Mr Bush yesterday did nothing to assuage fears in Europe and elsewhere that, following Iraq, Washington is squaring up to the Islamic government in Iran.

As usual, the "fears" of Europe no doubt involve an end to the hope of lucrative oil contracts (, and of course, a decline in their own influence. Once the Mullah's of Iran are unsummarily booted off the stage of history and Iran enters the ranks of free and democratic nations, they're going to be far from inclined to give the EU socialists so much as the time of day. This would become the latest in a long series of kicks to the groin for Europe's "Soft Power" foriegn policy, which depends on giving money to dictators in the hopes that they'll play nice, or at least, have their terrorists kill less Europeans than they normally would.

European leaders have been pursuing a diplomatic end to Iran’s embryonic nuclear programme, but some US policymakers are pushing for a military solution.

Because diplomacy worked SO well with North Korea. We can trust them, right? It's not like they're genocidal dictators who train assassins to attack European citizens (, or that the lynchpin of their plans for the region is a nuclear weapon. They're happy, peaceful people who love to fly kites and press flowers, and they'd give up building their nukes if only those nasty old Americans would leave them alone, and if they were offered a suitable amount of money. There's no way they'd just take the concessions and build the bomb anyway, that's just not how these things are done.

"Liberty will come to those who love it. Today, America speaks anew to the people of the world: the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you," Mr Bush said.

And by connotation, the "Anybody But Bush" crowd will stand against you.

But he made no mention of the most controversial attempt to spread the "fire of freedom" - Iraq. The speech comes just over a week before the 30 January elections in Iraq - which are expected to be punctuated by even more savage violence than that of recent weeks.

He also made no mention of recent US advances in toothpaste manufacture, the new US dietary guidelines, or what Britney Spears thought about the Martian Rover.


Army families, Democrats and other critics of the war had called for the president to acknowledge the sacrifice made by more than 1,400 US troops killed so far in Iraq. Laura Bush, the First Lady, insisted that yesterday’s ceremony was, in its way, a tribute to those forces.

"Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice." "Critics of the war" would have us believe that these sacrifices were in vain, that their lives were wasted for oil or vengence, or perhaps sheer bloodlust. But we know better. We know, and the President knows, that they gave up their lives for what may be the most noble calling in the world, bringing freedom to those oppressed by tyranny. We, and he, honor these heroes. It's sickening to see them used as a way to get in a cheap shot at the President on inaguration day.

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