Wednesday, March 01, 2006

America's Changing Face

As President Bush visits India and Pakistan this week, some historical perspective on how times---and we---have changed:

In Pakistan (Lyndon) Johnson made headlines with his campaign-style diplomacy. On his way into the city from the Karachi airport, he stopped to shake hands with some of the applauding, enthusiastic crowd lining the streets. Spotting a barefoot man standing with a camel at an intersection, a man with a fine, cherubic face, Johnson stepped across a muddy ditch to greet him and urge, as he had done repeatedly on the trip, "y'all come visit me in the United States." The next day a Karachi newspaper lauded Johnson for reaching out "to the man with no shirt on his back" and for inviting Bashir Ahmad, the camel driver, to come to America and stay at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Not long after Johnson returned home, the American Embassy in Pakistan reported that Bashir's visit to America had become a cause celebre and that, if it didn't happen, "the Vice President was going to look like the biggest four-flusher in history." Before Johnson could arrange the trip, however, the Pakistani government, fearful that Bashir, an illiterate peasant, would embarrass it, had him arrested and hidden by the police. A direct appeal by Johnson to the President of Pakistan freed Bashir to come to the United States, where with the help of a sophisticated Pakistani translator, who turned much of what Bashir said into "beautiful little homilies," the camel driver made a triumphal tour and received a pickup truck donated by the Ford Motor Company.

From "Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973" by Robert Dallek

About 5,000 personnel including snipers, commandos and U.S. marines using helicopters, bomb detectors and electronic jammers will protect President George W. Bush during his visit to India this week, officials said on Monday.

The personnel would be part of a three-ring security cordon around the U.S. president and First Lady Laura Bush who are due to arrive in New Delhi for their maiden visit to the subcontinent on Wednesday, they said.

"He is a much-threatened VVIP. We are fully geared," Manish Agarwal, a top Delhi police officer involved in security operations, told Reuters.

Besides the inner-ring of security forces, an outer cordon would be deployed "as deep as possible" to thwart any attack by a rocket launcher, Agarwal said.

Bush would hop around the city in helicopters to take part in events scheduled for him, police said.

Reuters, 2/27/06


Blogger wendyo said...

You know, I am the same age as you are CR and it seems hard to believe such a contrast could be the case in a mere 40 years.

Just a year or two ago, Jimmy Carter was discussing this same type thing in contrasting his trip to Liberia during his presidency and walking down the streets of the capitol city. Not possible these days. It's sad that it has come to this is so many places throughout the world.

While I think US policies are to blame in many cases for angering people all over the world, I think this problem is more easily traced to the gun lobby in our country and war profiteers like Haliburton.

3/01/2006 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, he uses less security in Pakistan than he does in Washington DC.

3/01/2006 9:24 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

You can thank 60 years of staunch pro-Israeli policy for now being hated as much as the Jews by the rest of the world. Is it worth it? I'm not defending anti-Semitic behavior but does our ship have to go down with the Jewish experience?

3/01/2006 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"President Bush Goes to India
February 28, 2006

When President Bill Clinton went to India six years ago, he danced to folk music with women in a rural Rajasthani village, ate bowls of black lentil stew at a posh restaurant in New Delhi, and spotted a rare Bengal tiger at a wildlife reserve south of Jaipur. He was cheered wildly in India's Parliament.

President Bush's visit to the world's second most populous nation will likely be less entertaining visually; Mr. Bush, after all, isn't even planning to visit the Taj Mahal, let alone address India's legislature, which both nations have decided is too raucous to risk an appearance by this president. [...]"

3/01/2006 9:48 AM  
Anonymous slomo said...

Thousands of Indians Protest Bush Visit

"Whether Hindu or Muslim, the people of India have gathered here to show our anger. We have only one message -- killer Bush go home," one of the speakers, Hindu politician Raj Babbar, told the crowd.

(Sorry, I erroneously posted this to the last thread)

3/01/2006 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are they even protecting? Seriously, who is going to miss him if something happens? It's not like he is irreplacable.

3/01/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'd be hard pressed to find another human being that's as much of a failure as Bush the Younger was/is and will be.

3/01/2006 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush wouldn't get that close to the "common man" in the US much less in a foreign country. The common man might have the gall to do something like telling him the new frabic his clothes are made are really non-existant.

3/01/2006 12:05 PM  
Anonymous JWC said...

I have uneasy feelings about this trip overseas.

Thank you for the history lesson. It will be intersting to see what history has to say about Bush in 10 years. Heaven help us.

3/01/2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger David Studhalter said...

Another interesting parallel, as reported by NPR this week, would be Eisenhower's India visit in 1959, during which he was met with huge crowds and tumultuous accolade.

3/01/2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger blogarillo said...

You just got quoted by Sam Seder on Air America Radio. Nice...

3/01/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Anonymous, even if you despise Bush (as I do) pray for his safety on this trip...can you say President Cheney?

3/01/2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Digital Amish said...

Hmm... Maybe the Pakistanis were on to something. Arresting Bush to prevent further international embarrassment seems like a damn good idea.

3/01/2006 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is unbelievable that a diplomatic trip for a US president has become
a military operation.

I remember as a kid my parents had "The Book of Lists"... one of the categories
was Most Hated and Feared Politician in the world. People like Nixon and Hitler
and Stalin were on that list. Guess who would top the list now?

3/02/2006 1:03 PM  
Anonymous grass root said...

GEORGE W. BUSH: "India's middle class is now estimated at 300 million people. Think about that. That's greater than the entire population of the United States. India's middle class is buying air conditioners, kitchen appliances and washing machines".

Beyond irony. Should we warn them?

3/03/2006 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, even if you despise Bush (as I do) pray for his safety on this trip...can you say President Cheney?

What difference would it make? It's not like Bush has the attention span or intellect to be in charge of anything anyway....
-- sglover

3/03/2006 12:18 PM  
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