George W. Bush decided to begin the last of his eight years in the White House with a lengthy tour through the Middle East, which included his first ever visit to Israel. For a politician who has been a staunch supporter of Israel for many years and has meddled in the region more than any other US leader in recent times, it is somewhat surprising that he has left it so late. But, as they say, better late than never.
After leaving Israel, without offering a solution for the Palestinian problem or anything else, Bush moved to the Persian Gulf emirates, where he gave a major speech yesterday in Abu Dhabi. This speech, well written and addressed to all major nations in the region, covers a wide range of political aspects in a broad sweep.
However, the most significant part is the passage in which he accuses Iran to be "the world's leading state sponsor of terror". It appears that by doing so Mr. Bush overlooks conveniently one other contender for this accolade: his own country.
Reading and analysing Bush's words one cannot help but seeing a lot more parallels between his accusation of Iran and the current situation at home in the USA. Let me give you just a few examples (and if you want to read the whole speech, you can find it on the website of the White House or access it through BBC online news).
"Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror," Bush said. "It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world - while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home."
This is a heavy accusation, but we have only Mr. Bush's word for it. There is no positive proof, no shred of evidence.
We all still remember vividly the presentation the then Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the UN about the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" Iraq was accused to have. Powell even had a whole set of photos, drawings and diagrams in support of his arguments. But, as we now know, the whole thing was a tissue of lies, supported by fake and deliberately fabricated material.
What we do know is that the USA spends billions of dollars each year in support of oppressive and undemocratic states (such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt etc.), plus hundreds of millions on covert operations, conducted mostly by armed groups seen by many as forces of terror. Not even to mention the billions wasted on the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan...
And when it comes to the matter of repression and economic hardship at home the finger Bush points at Iran is pointing right back at him and the USA. Perhaps there is still some more freedom and liberty in the United States than in today's Iran, but ever since the current administration passed the "Patriot Act", many of the liberties once taken for granted by Americans are suspended or gone. Especially those who don't agree with Bush and his cronies find themselves now in a very repressive country called USA.
And due to Bush's massive over-spending on military and intelligence matters the USA are in a serious economical crisis, with enormous debts, an ever falling dollar, rising inflation and great hardship for the majority of Americans who are not millionaires. Many of my American friends, all in meaningful employment and regarded as middle class people, tell me how difficult it is now even for them to make ends meet. The really poor Americans are meanwhile on the bread line and often even below it. (In New York alone more than 4 million people - equivalent to the total population of my country - now depend of regular food hand-outs...) Such is not the case in Iran.
"It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric," Bush continued, talking about Iran. "And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region..."
Well, well... I thought when I heard these words last night on the BBC World Service, isn't he really talking about himself and his country, rather than about Iran?
There is undoubtedly a lot wrong with Iran and its leadership, but not as much as with the USA since the Bush administration took over nearly seven years ago.
There is an old saying that "it needs one to know one", often used for people with special skills, like artists and writers, but also common for spies and many other kinds of individuals. Perhaps that also goes for political scoundrels and adventurers...
The Emerald Islander