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Defending George Bush and thoughts on World Cup 2007

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Last week the Trinidad press had a field day with a barrage of criticisms leveled at Vincentian born United States’ ambassador, Dr. Roy Austin.
It all got started with a comment by Professor Rex Nettleford, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who referred to President George Bush as “a weapon of mass distraction.” {{more}}Taken out of context, the comment conveyed a different kind of meaning. In fact what the Vice Chancellor said, according to an article written by Joanne Briggs in the Trinidad Guardian was, “The ‘CNNisation’ of consciousness is a media phenomenon…and despite the tenacious hold of BBC broadcasts on pockets of Commonwealth elites, the electronic media, with the opening up of galactic spheres and the communications technology revolution, have long captured many minds on the planet which are yet to escape the saga of Iraq and the missionary zeal of George Bush, that is arguably the world’s most dangerous weapon of mass distraction.”
Dr. Austin, apparently reacted with ‘verbal missiles of his own.’ In understanding Austin’s reaction one has to remember that not only is he a personal friend of the President but he is positioned as the US Ambassador to Trinidad and therefore could not have taken it lying down. But having said all of that, one has in responding to such issues, to take into account the context, the occasion being the launch of the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association Media Exhibition. Some of the Ambassador’s comments were somewhat unfortunate: “Lest we forget, the person mentioned by Prof. Nettleford provided $15 billion in the battle against AIDS…And not because he wanted to, but he had to, send many of our people to war, yielded freedom for women, and gave the opportunity for people of a country, the freedom of a government. Is he such a bad person?”
Are we expected to bow to George Bush and put up with his pomposity because of the enormous wealth and power, he commands? Supporters of George Bush and representatives of the United States Government find themselves in an unenviable position in light of the latest revelations regarding the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and in general reaction to events there. Colin Powell, for one, finds himself in an equally difficult situation, having not only to fire fight but also to defend positions with which he is obviously not in agreement. Dr. Austin has been away from the region for a long time and has apparently not as yet come to grips with the changed political climate, particularly where the United States of America is concerned.
But to go beyond the situation regarding the Ambassador, recent developments in Iraq are shocking, to say the least. Some establishment -Americans have responded by referring to incidents such as that involving the dragging of four dead Americans through the streets of Baghdad. This of course is a red herring, because the Americans had gone in the first place, according to the President, to liberate Iraq and to save them from the brutality of Saddam Hussein. What is even more damaging is the news from Amnesty International and the International Red Cross that complaints had, for months, been handed to the British and American Governments about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. It is clear to me that these are not isolated incidents and that this was done in collusion with top Army personnel.
The implications of these are tremendous. In fact as I write the news is that a video tape has been shown of an American contractor who was beheaded in Iraq, in retaliation for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. Where would this end? The whole Iraq affair is blowing up in the hands of George Bush. Everything that can possibly go wrong seems to be going wrong. American commentators are highlighting the setback to American efforts to win the hearts of people in the Middle East. Let us not be carried away with this for the position of George Bush on the Palestinian-Israel situation, particularly his support of Sharon’s latest move, is equally damaging. The Iraq situation is simply making a bad situation worse. With Presidential elections in the USA only a few months away, we have to look to see whose head will roll. The most likely one will be the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, but he is a close ally of George Bush, one who helps to windup the President.
But negative reaction to America goes beyond the Middle East. It is this kind of reaction that came not so much from Rex Nettleford, but particularly from the Journalists who choose to walk out while the Ambassador was speaking. Our countryman has a difficult task ahead of him for criticisms and anti-American feelings are going to intensify and he therefore has to be circumspect in how he handles this. It is certainly not an easy job to clean up the President’s mess. Despite his apology for the treatment of prisoners, the old Bush remains, the arrogant and pompous Texan. Who says the world is now a safer place for democracy. Terrorism has certainly become more widespread, thanks to our dear President.

World Cup 2007

St.Vincent has apparently submitted its bid to host World Cup matches in 2007, the result which will not be known until July. This is a mammoth undertaking not only with the cost of upgrading the facilities but with the kind of management structure that has to be put in place. Among the most troubling, will be traffic management. Of course, we are going into this primarily with our hearts. We will all want to experience the pleasure of having World Cup matches hosted here. Additionally, the upgrading of facilities will make it easier for us to attract International matches after the World Cup. It is true that other countries will also be upgrading their facilities, but one of the key advantages we have is the enormous beauty and spectacular setting of the Arnos Vale Playing Field.
This is a major challenge. First of all finding the money to do what is necessary. Other countries, particularly Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua see this as an investment in their Tourism. Unfortunately in St.Vincent our tourism infrastructure is still underdeveloped and the benefits after the World Cup are likely to be less. Hosting any of the World Cup matches will also be a major challenge to our management capabilities. Persons have to be involved who have an excellent track record for any mistakes can be disastrous and set us back immensely. Of course, all of this depends on success with our bid. Regardless of what happens, however, Arnos Vale will have to be upgraded if we are to stay in the business. Our people too, all of us, will have to be pulling in the same direction. Finally, as a poor developing country, we will have to decide if we are willing to make the sacrifice for the undertaking is enormous and will test all of our inner reserves.

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