November 28, 2003

Bush's Iraq Visit a Pre-Election PR Stunt

You can see, with its response to the combo package of
a poison-pill "Medicaire" bill and a P.R. stunt at the
Baghdad airport, how desperately the "US mainstream
news media" wants to behave itself..."Embedded,"
indeed...and yes, you can see how very difficult the
road ahead is going to be......Here is the response of
the truly free press (i.e. the press in Europe and
much of the Middle East)...
Agence-France-Press: In Madrid, the center-right daily El Mundo said the visit was "a publicity stunt which will not solve the problem of Iraq."
Support our Troops, show up
for Democracy in November 2004: Defeat Bush (again)!

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1128-02.htm

Published on Friday, November 28, 2003 by the Agence
France-Presse (AFP)
Bush's Iraq Visit a Pre-Election PR Stunt


"Electoral raid on Baghdad" read the caustic headline
in the left-wing Paris daily Liberation which summed
up European newspaper editorial reaction to President
George W Bush's Thanksgiving Day visit to US troops in
Iraq.

The brief visit, arranged in top secrecy, occurred too
late for most papers to give it full coverage, and
almost all ran the same wire agency photo of Mr Bush,
clad in a gray army bomber jacket, carrying a large
tray of roast turkey, potatoes and grapes through a
crowd of smiling soldiers.

Those which did comment were mostly skeptical of Mr
Bush's motives, with the US presidential election now
less than 12 months away.

"The turkey has landed," ran the front-page headline
in the London daily Independent.

The daily Vanguardia, published in Spain's second city
Barcelona, noted darkly that "George W Bush does not
attend the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, but
has dinner in Baghdad with those who dream of coming
home alive."

"George Bush becomes the first US president to visit
Iraq in order to provide the television pictures
required by his re-election campaign," it said, noting
that Hillary Rodham Clinton, "his undeclared
Democratic opponent," was on her way to Baghdad from
Afghanistan.

Liberation noted that more than 430 US soldiers had
been killed in Iraq, 184 of them since Bush declared
an official end to the war on May 1, and quoted a
Gallup opinion poll this month showing that 54 percent
of Americans disapproved of the way the post-war
situation was being handled.

"Bush knows that Iraq could become the Achilles heel
of his campaign," it said.

The conservative London Times also did not run an
editorial but its front-page report called the visit
"one of the most audacious publicity coups in White
House history."

Europe's leading business daily, the London-based
Financial Times, used the visit to repeat its call for
general elections in Iraq, rather than the US
government's "top-down strategy built around favored
exiles and a timetable synchronized with President
Bush's re-election campaign".

The daily Berliner Zeitung said the visit had two
other aims.

"Bush wanted to raise the groggy morale of his troops
and at the same time to show Iraqis his
determination," it wrote.

In Madrid, the center-right daily El Mundo said the
visit was "a publicity stunt which will not solve the
problem of Iraq."

The daily Vanguardia, published in Spain's second city
Barcelona, said Bush was trying to put a positive
gloss on an increasingly difficult situation.

It noted darkly that "George W Bush does not attend
the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, but has
dinner in Baghdad with those who dream of coming home
alive."

The right-wing La Razon said "Caesar Bush" was
exploiting Hollywood machinery to the full to send a
message loud and clear to those who doubted the wisdom
of his military policies.

In Rome, the daily La Republica described the visit as
"a brilliant stage-managed event and a courageous
act".

But it said it was also "obviously an electoral blitz,
a Hollywood-style stunt of the kind we will see again
and again throughout the campaign."

As the Arabic media saw the secrecy of Bush's visit as
a sign of weakness amid spiraling violence in Iraq,
newspapers in Israel said the stunt was bound to help
the US president's ratings in opinion polls that had
been falling alarmingly.

"Bush's popularity will undoubtedly go up in opinion
polls this week, but on the condition that his army
does not face another painful strike," said the
Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

"It is like playing the last $100 dollar bill at the
casino," said Maariv in an editorial, adding that
"only one thing can ensure victory for Bush at the
November 2004 polls: Saddam Hussein dead or chained
up."

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said the secrecy
of the visit, during which the only Iraqis whom Bush
encountered were four members of the US-installed
Governing Council, showed that Washington was afraid
of the Iraqis.

"The US president's sudden visit to Iraq was a sign of
the US fear of the Iraqi people," said Mr Kharazi,
whose country opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

"Bush 'infiltrated' Baghdad for two hours," scoffed
the front-page headline of the London-based Arabic
daily Al-Hayat.

In Beirut, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, owned by Lebanese
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, announced that "Bush's
secret visit to Baghdad opens presidential election
season."

A front-page editorial in Lebanon's leading An-Nahar
newspaper compared Bush to Roman emperor Julius
Caesar, but said the US president could not repeat the
phrase: "I came, I saw, I conquered."

The editorial was headlined: "I came, I saw nothing,
but I will conquer."

Many newspapers in the Middle East, especially in the
Gulf, carried no commentary on the visit which took
place as Muslims in the region were still celebrating
the Eid al-Fitr holidays which follow the holy month
of Ramadan.

2003 Agence France-Presse

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Posted by richard at November 28, 2003 09:56 AM