The Guardian July 10, 2002


The Emperor's Clothes Bush speak!

by Uri Avnery 

As it so happened, I heard President Bush's (June 24) speech while in 
Copenhagen. It reminded me immediately of the most famous story created in 
that town: "The Emperor's Clothes".

Everybody praised this fine speech. Prime Minister A. lauded the style, 
President B. commended the fabric, Sheik C. admired the collar. And I saw 
only a naked emperor.

Everybody knew, of course, that it was a stupid speech, perhaps the most 
silly ever uttered by an American president. But who will confront the 
leader of the world's sole superpower? Who will bring upon himself the 
wrath of a man that possesses such frightening power, while voicing such 
inanities? 

A 12-year-old would have been ashamed of presenting such a composition to 
his teacher. The assumptions are baseless, the general picture resembles a 
caricature, the conclusions are ridiculous and the parts contradict each 
other.

It says that the Palestinians must choose their leader in a free, 
democratic election, but that they are forbidden to elect a leader not 
approved by Sharon and Bush.

They must establish a democratic, liberal, pluralistic and multi-party 
system, including separation of powers, independent courts and transparent 
finances.

For that purpose they are commanded to accept the assistance of America's 
allies in the Middle East: democratic Saudi Arabia, pluralistic Egypt and 
liberal Jordan. Financial transparency like in Riyadh, separation of powers 
like in Cairo, independent courts like in Amman.

The establishment of this ideal system is a precondition to any peace 
negotiations. In Europe, such a system was achieved after a struggle of 
hundreds of years. In the Arab world, it does not exist anywhere. Arafat is 
the only Arab chief of state who was chosen in free elections, under close 
international supervision, personally overseen by ex-President Jimmy 
Carter.

In Bush's crooked mirror, terrorism antedates the occupation. Indeed, he 
did not mention the occupation at all in this context. There is nothing but 
terrorism.

In his limited world-view, terrorism is the sum of everything: In the 
beginning God created the War on Terrorism, and the whole world revolves 
around it.

Terrorism, like Satan, exists since the creation, it is not the result of 
anything, it has its own independent existence. And, much as a devout 
Christian is commanded to fight Satan every moment in his life on earth, so 
must every human being fight terrorism and will be judged accordingly by 
the divine judge, Bush.

And what is terrorism? Terrorism is what the enemies of the USA are doing. 
Friends of the USA cannot, of course, do such a thing. In Turkey, for 
example, it is the Kurds who are the terrorists, while the Turkish army is 
a humanitarian outfit. Good friend Putin does not commit acts of terrorism, 
his deeds in Grozni are nearly as charitable as those of Sharon in Jenin.

But Arafat is a terrorist. He is also corrupt, also a dictator. This needs 
no proof. Sharon says so, and Sharon is beyond reproach.

Arafat has to be eliminated, removed from office, expelled, murdered. 
(Bush, of course, does not speak of murder, but not so long ago the decree 
forbidding American agencies to kill foreign leaders was rescinded.

Actually, in this instance their involvement is not needed, the slightest 
hint will suffice for Sharon to execute the deed at once.)

What will happen after Arafat's removal-expulsion-murder? According to 
Bush, it's quite simple: reform-minded Palestinians will come forward, take 
some Palestinian professor from Harvard or Oxford as president and create 
the Palestinian Switzerland.

Bush, of course, does not imagine that something very different is going to 
happen. The man after Arafat will have to show that he is no Mossad or CIA 
stooge, therefore he will have to be more extreme than Arafat. In order to 
avoid being executed as a traitor within 24 hours, he will have to create 
an alliance with Hamas. In the coming elections, the candidate of the 
"National and Islamic Forces" will surely win.

That's the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, there will not 
be an alternative leadership at all. Palestinian society will break up into 
hundreds of shreds, each of which will commit suicide bombings in the 
occupied territories, Israel, throughout the Middle East and the world. 
Chaos will reign supreme. This is what Sharon really desires, because it 
will enable him to carry out ethnic cleansing and annex the Palestinian 
territories, fulfilling his dream of at least 50 years.

The good Bush certainly does not want this, but since he has become the 
squire of Sharon, a kind of American Sancho Panza to the Israeli Don 
Quixote, it's what the Don says that counts.

After the speech, I met with a senior European diplomat. "Well, it may not 
be the most brilliant discourse we ever heard," he said with a slight, 
ironic smile, "But it's what we have got. It would not be wise to confront 
Bush head on, that would only cause him to become obstinate."

If so, what can be done? The ironic smile did not leave his lips. "European 
diplomacy has hundreds of years of experience. The clever thing to do is to 
pick from the speech one positive sentence and blow it up, ignoring the 
negative parts."

Europe will concentrate on the elections. These must be free, under close 
international supervision. For the elections to be free, candidates must be 
free to move. For parties to be formed and conduct their campaigns, there 
must be freedom of speech and association. All this is impossible under 
occupation. Therefore, first of all, the occupation has to be removed from 
the Palestinians territories.

Under the Oslo agreements, the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem enjoy 
the right of active and passive vote, and they, too, must be allowed to 
move and campaign freely.

Until the elections, the existing elected instituted, including the 
chairman of the authority, must continue to function. Europe will continue 
to deal with him. Arafat, of course, like any other citizen, has the right 
to present his candidacy  and, if chosen in a free election, the world 
(led by Europe) will recognize him. Nobody doubts that he will indeed be 
elected by a massive majority.

So, after all, a golden thread can be found in the emperor's clothes.

* * *
Attention: Hans Christian Anderson.

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