Saturday, August 4, 2007

What President Bush Didn't Know:

Coincidentally, when President Bush was receiving the new Ambassador from Bangladesh in the White House on July 25, 2007, First Lady Laura Bush was meeting a BNP led delegate expressing their concern about the military backed Bangladesh Caretaker Government and requesting her assistance. Later on, Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC issued a glowing press release on Ambassador Mr. M. Humayun Kabir's meeting with the President. Bangladesh Embassy Press Release stated, “President Bush welcomes the election road map and expressed his appreciation for Bangladesh government’s effort to “sticking to its promise to hold elections in 2008”. He also assured all possible US help “in any way” for the upcoming elections...” Interestingly, the editorial from the Bangladesh Daily claimed that President Bush gave the glowing statement based on the misinformation provided to him.

On July 28, 2007, New Age Editorial writes:

That the president of the United States, George W Bush, has welcomed the roadmap to the elections to the ninth Jatiya Sangsad and praised the military-driven interim government’s commitment to holding the parliamentary polls in 2008 does not surprise us at all. The Bush administration have made it a habit of preaching pluralism and rule by people’s representatives when, in reality, they have provided unstinting support to unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable regimes across the world, especially in countries where democracy is yet to take root. Pakistan can be a glaring example in this regard. Although General Pervez Musharraf took over through a bloodless coup, exiled two of the country’s top leaders and former prime ministers — Mian Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League and Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party — and instituted dictatorial rule, the Bush administration has hardly uttered a single word of condemnation against his regime over the past eight years. On the contrary, the US has afforded Pakistan the status of a trusted friend in its so-called war on terrorism.

Some of his observations during a meeting with the Bangladesh ambassador to the US are based on misinformation at best and disinformation at worst. Bush does not seem to have bothered to get his homework on the current situation in Bangladesh right. If he had, he would have realised that there is a growing concern among the politically-conscious and democratically-oriented sections of society over some arbitrary actions of the interim government. In fact, a delegation of the Volunteers of the American Community (Bangladeshi) USA Inc submitted a memorandum to the state department, apprising it of the violation of human rights and the current political situation in Bangladesh, at around the same time Bush was all praise for the interim government.

The US president’s observation about the government’s steps to put the economy on a firm footing is equally flawed. As we have said again and again, the economic policies of the interim government look set to diminish whatever prospect the country has for proper economic growth and industrialisation. His praise for its anti-corruption drive is also divorced from reality; for it has induced a climate of fear in the business world and increasingly pushing the economy to stagnation. Besides, we don’t believe that Bush has the moral authority to preach about corruption because it has taken an institutional shape in his own country. Key members of his cabinet have been accused of being involved, directly or indirectly, in large-scale corporate scams, and there have been calls from the American people for their trial and punishment.

While we are in favour of sustained actions to rid society of corruption, we are afraid that the interim government’s anti-corruption drive looks increasingly part of its agenda to recast the political order. We are also wary of the fact that the government, which has already served out its legal tenure and continues to take actions that are beyond its constitutional jurisdiction, will seek legitimacy in Bush’s endorsement. However, it should keep in mind that the people will judge it on its success or failure to present them with credible and contested general elections, not on the endorsement of the duplicitous US president.

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