Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I believe Russia is a European country

Bush in Europe: “As I said in my speech yesterday, a strong Europe is very important for the United States, and I really meant that.” Oh, you really mean that, now we understand. “And the Prime Minister [Blair] is one of the strong leaders in Europe, and I really enjoy my relationship with him.” He does like that word “strong,” doesn’t he?

Russia’s ambassador to the US wrote in the WaPo today that “there cannot and should not be a sole standard for democracy”. Presumably he wants Bush to apply the same low standard for democracy that Iraq gets. In Brussels, a reporter asked Bush about that article, and Bush went on and on about his personal relationship with Putin, which is clearly so much more important to him than democracy. In fact that relationship is so good, according to Bush, that it “allows me to remind him that I believe Russia is a European country”.

Asked about Iran, he offers this helpful view of European diplomacy: “Great Britain, Germany and France are negotiating with the Ayatollahs”. Subtle characterization of the Iranian government, huh? And this helpful view of American diplomacy: “And finally, this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter.)” I’m sure they’re laughing in Teheran too. And speeding up work on their nuclear program. Wouldn’t you?

Before you dismiss that little comment as another Bushism, remember Reagan’s little open-mike “joke”: “The bombing begins in five minutes”? The Russians heard that and went on nuclear alert.

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