The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 40.0°F | Fair

COLUMN

Mark Their Words

Andrew C. Thomas

I just find this hilarious.

Last week, the communications director for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was quoted as calling President Bush a moron. The context of the quote is, of course, unimportant in the eyes of global news agencies who seized upon the story. Since this issue is fairly black-and-white, only two responses could be seen -- either that it was embarrassing and improper for an official of the Canadian government to make such a claim, or that the feat took extreme bravery.

I, for one, would like to applaud Francoise Ducros on her comment. Though even a little investigation will reveal that the comment was made offhandedly and supposedly off the record, the comment is reflective of the minds of many citizens of this planet, and not just a high percentage of citizens of this country.

The comment was made in the middle of the recent NATO conference in Prague.

The issue at hand is the invitation of several countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain -- Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia -- to begin talks to join the organization. This follows a recent trend in Russia’s own efforts to cooperate with NATO, beginning with the creation of the NATO-Russia Council in May 2002. It is clear that the conference represents the greatest intentions of international cooperation, at least symbolically.

In typical Dubya fashion, the President used the opportunity to espouse his vision for a new Iraq, the same one he has force-fed the world with little break for breath. At least in the past he has been within his respectable limits, both as the Commander-in-Chief of this country and as ad hoc diplomat to the United Nations. But to use his speech as a soapbox for his own views is both repugnant and completely unsurprising. It was for his persistence, or if you prefer, his obstinateness, that Ducros made her off-the-cuff remark.

Now, if that wasn’t enough, Bush fired one off that almost went unnoticed. On Saturday the President made a tour of Lithuania and Romania to commemorate the new era of cooperation ahead. While in Bucharest, Romania, Bush had this to say: “The world has suffered enough from fanatics who seek to impose their will through fear and murder.”

I know I’m not the only one who finds this ironic. Hilariously ironic, even.

The people of this country are being kept in line through a blitzkrieg of fear tactics. Most importantly is the fear of criticizing the Big Cheese himself. After all, we are being told that to question the plans or motives of the government is tantamount to treason, rather than an integral part of the political process, and everyone has bought the argument without looking over it for dents or flaws.

I trust I don’t need to outline who the fanatics are. I am, however, grateful that Colin Powell is around at the highest levels of government, as he is a man who has repeatedly stood up for his own principles, and in spite of this still earned the respect of the country and its leader.

Is the American government engaging in a campaign of murder in order to reach its goals? I would contend that with a war on Iraq seeming inevitable at this point, murder will beget murder on both sides, not to mention the casualties that American military operations have produced in the last year, largely taken in the name of revenge. This is a much broader statement, in no way limited to the domestic and foreign policies of any particular country, but still represents a (fairly typical) self-righteous attitude on behalf of the presidency that anyone is completely justified in this activity.

When Ms. Ducros made her comment, she spoke out with what can be considered an inadvertent sense of honesty. Few are unaware that President Bush has certainly contributed more than his share of stupid comments over time. As the ultimate elected representative of the people of this country, his comments are supposed to reflect the country’s thoughts. Blatant hypocrisy on the part of this country can do little but lower its international reputation, but only if other brave individuals start holding the president to his poorly chosen words.