Friday, February 10, 2006

Mail: State of Disunion

From Newsweek's Online Mail Call:

Feb. 3, 2006 - In his Feb. 1 Web-exclusive commentary, “Battleground of Ideas,” Shadowland columnist Christopher Dickey says President George W. Bush has come to be seen in the Mideast as a caricature who talks about "strength and determination [while] projecting an image of stubbornness and confusion." The State of the Union speech defines the way an administration wants to see its world, Dickey says. “But its narrative is so foreign to the thinking of most people in the Arab world that they've come to hear Bush's language as a kind of code: ‘liberation’ means occupation, ‘freedom’ means war, ‘victory’ means victims, ‘reconstruction’ means chaos, ‘democracy’ means following directives from Washington.” Readers respond:

Linda from Aurora, Colo., writes: “Those in the Arab world are not alone in seeing Bush as stubborn and confusing. I think more and more Americans are also seeing him as such, in addition to being dishonest. His story is ever-changing, and that has eroded his credibility here and abroad. It has also eroded the credibility of the United States across the globe.”

Yolande, writing from Port of Spain, Trinidad, agrees: “It is painful to see the country losing credibility at an alarming rate, worldwide, in countries rich and poor, developed and developing. America under Bush is seen as ruthless, bullying and dictatorial, not really interested in true democracy but in other nations following its decrees. Truly, there is no longer a superpower to whom the world could rely in times of crisis. America has lost it.”

Mike from Cleveland presents a different view: “I wonder about your assertion that anything the U.S.A. supports becomes unpopular in the Middle East. By extension, are you suggesting the U.S.A. not voice support for anything it wants, or even to support the opposite of its desires? I sympathize with your viewpoint that the world is far more complex than the worldview our present administration projects, but I don't clearly see what you are recommending our country do.”

But in Denver, T.J., who says he is a veteran of Iraq, disagrees. “I have noticed an implied rhetoric from the current administration that shows an ignorance of Arab culture and a disregard for their views,” he writes. “I learned a lot about the culture and our societal differences while in Iraq, and I hope that somehow our government will recognize these and make decisions that are grounded in acceptance and humility. The arrogant, imperialistic approach has done nothing but fuel anti-American sentiment and certainly has not made America a safer place, nor the world a better place.”

George, a Vietnam-era veteran from Anchorage, Alaska, poses a similar view. “This is very hard for me to express,” he writes. “I [have] always had a great deal of pride in being an American. I am, as of right now, still proud. I was also a Republican until 1999 … Mr. Bush and his cronies, I feel, are an embarrassment to the ideals and makeup of our great nation. Americans are not just deceived but boldly lied to. Before we can get respect from the world, we have got to clean up our own mess. I think the president means to do the right thing, he is just caught up in his own image of glory and power. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about staining a young lady’s dress. Mr. Bush, however, is killing a lot of people with his spin. Can't we as a nation take our place among the proud who walked before all of this mess?”

William from San Diego is on Bush’s side. “It isn't about the Arab people. It is about the American people,” he writes. “Our president looks out for the United States, our allies and our best interest.”

Dalthon from Austin, Texas, agrees. He says he “didn't see Mr. Bush's confusion.” He continues: “I believe we will leave Iraq in a better place soon.”

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