Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chimpy of Arabia II: When I said optimistic about a state being defined, why

Yesterday Bush met with some Saudi entrepreneurs, because “It’s important for the president to hear thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, concerns from folks that are out making a living.”

He said, “I love the fact that some of you were educated in America. I think you’ll find you got a good education there, but more importantly, Americans get to see you, and you get to see them.” You get to see them looking nervously at you in restaurants, crossing hurriedly to the other side of the street, looking around for a cop...

He said, “One thing that’s for certain: the United States benefits when people come to my country,” adding, “especially those fifteen 9/11 guys that came from here, they really saved my bacon,” adding, “which is kinda ironic, cuz you guys cain’t eat bacon, right?”, adding, “Mmm, bacon.”

He continued, “And the best way to achieve better understanding in the world is for folks just to get together, and get to understand that we share the same God”. And what God might that be? Harper’s Scott Horton suggests that the God who always seems to inspire George when he visits the Middle East might be Shiva. Personally, I’m thinking drunken, not very bright, bellicose Thor, who let’s face it only got to be Thunder God because daddy was All-Father.

Is that the same sword he was waving around in Bahrain?

Today Bush talked with American reporters.

He explained why Condi is making a surprise visit to Iraq: “It’s to, first of all, be there.”

A reporter asked about progress on the Iraqi “benchmarks.” Bush explained, if that’s the word I’m looking for:
A political system evolves and grows. It grows when people have confidence. It grows when the grassroots begins to agitate for change. It grows when there’s alternatives. There’s competition emerging. Those are all the forces necessary to bring people together to get things done. And the leadership is more confident. The grassroots is more involved; there’s been more reconciliation taking place at the local level. And the government is beginning to respond.

This is -- we assume that democracy is a natural phenomenon for people out there. These are people that lived under tyranny. They lived in a society that was divided by a dictator. And they’re beginning to form the habits of self-government, manifested in laws being passed. ...

I reminded everybody last year, you know, people did focus on the benchmarks and so do I, but I also reminded everybody last year that one way to determine whether or not a government is functioning is to look at their budgeting process and how they distribute revenues from central government out to the provinces, which is a key component of a federalized type system. And the definition of federalism, by the way, has yet to be clearly defined in Iraq -- and that’s part of the issues they’re working through....

But nevertheless, even though they haven’t passed that, there is revenue sharing. In other words, there is a process.
Sorry, what was the question again?

Asked what he would like OPEC to do about oil prices: “I would like for them to realize that high energy prices affect the economies of consuming nations.” See, I’ll bet that hadn’t even occurred to them. “And that if these economies weaken, those economies will eventually be buying fewer barrels of oil.” Er, but they’ll be paying record high prices for each of those barrels. Why would OPEC consider that a bad thing?

“What’s happened is, is that demand for energy has outstripped new supply. And that’s why there’s high price.” George has an MBA, you know.

Bush said that King Abdullah “is most interested in two subjects, right off the bat: First, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. I think what he really wanted to determine was how -- when I said optimistic about a state being defined, why.” King Abdullah is a who what where when why kind of guy.

Also, they talked about Iran. “And I went over the NIE with him.” Oh good. “I was making it clear it was an independent judgment, because what they basically came to the conclusion of, is that he’s trying -- you know, this is a way to make sure that all options aren’t on the table. So I defended our intelligence services, but made it clear that they’re an independent agency, that they come to conclusions separate from what I may or may not want.”

Asked about the consequences if there’s another naval confrontation with Iranian boats: “I didn’t say, if they do it again -- if they do it again -- I don’t know, what do you mean, if they do it again?” He refused to say whether such boats would be fired on, saying, “My only point is, they shouldn’t be doing it.” He explained that it’s up to the captain to fire if he feels threatened: “These are judgment calls and there are clear rules of engagement.” Er, George, clear rules and judgment calls are the complete opposite of each other.

Q: Do you have any sense of what they were up to? What motive --

BUSH: I don’t know.

Q: -- were they test

BUSH: I don’t know.

Q: Do you think they were playing some sort of game?

BUSH: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Asked if someday some American president would do a Reaganesque “tear down this wall” for the Israeli wall, he said “I don’t think in the short-term that day will come.” He said the wall gives Israelis a “sense of security” that allows them to negotiate. He didn’t say anything about the Palestinians also maybe needing a sense of security.

IN OTHER WORDS: “The deal becomes more security. In other words, it’s a series of security measures that will eventually cause a state to come into being.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, when I said contiguous, that means contiguous territory that does not -- Swiss cheese, that it’s –”

Bush looking at a Koran at the Al Murabba Palace and Natural History Museum. CAPTION CONTEST!

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