[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] Indexes: Main | Date | Thread | Author

[ba-unrev-talk] NYTimes.com Article: An Uncertain Trumpet

This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by garyrichmond@rcn.com.    (01)

The lead editorial of today's New York Times shows that at least one wing of the American press is capable of soundly criticizing Bush--even on the eve of the 9/11 tragedy.    (02)

Jack Park wrote:    (03)

From: elohimjl <elohimjl@mail.zserv.tuwien.ac.at>    (04)

From: Ari Lampinen <ala@cc.jyu.fi>
To: Inesnet <inesnet@fy.chalmers.se>
Subject: 9/11/02: USA evolved as #1 rogue nation    (05)

USA Today had a cover story on August 14 2002 on the sentiments of
Bush administration policy across the world. It included a photo of a
demonstration in London with a large US map with text "#1 ROGUE NATION".    (06)

Orwellian language was also used by International Herald
Tribune in its editorial on September 7-8 2002 on the results of the
Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development: they quoted somebody
as calling USA and OPEC alliance as "AXIS OF OIL". Behind this, as the
editorial puts it was that "the conference was diminished by the
unenthusiastic participation of the United States" and the OPEC/USA cartel
succeeded in their goal "to oppose clear and binding targets to
increase the use of solar and wind power".    (07)

The renewable energy issue was the last one to be agreed in the WSSD Plan
of Implementation. It was the most important thing for the Bush
administration not to have any targets and timetables for the energy
sector transformation towards sustainable development. Because the opposite
was a top priority for the EU this issue was settled only after US succeeded
in getting G77, i.e. the group of virtually all developing countries to
support its stand in exchange of having targets included for health
sector, another major theme of the summit where US had blocked concrete
action until the tradeoff.    (08)

As one EU negotiator put it, the USA is the main stumbling block of
international negotiations.    (09)

The continuation of the selfish unilateralism of the Bush administration
and its faithful mate Australia was recognized by the audience of the final
plenary of the WSSD in September 4, in the reactions to the speeches of
parties given after the adoption of the Plan of Implementation. All except
the two countries received applauds. Australia was the only country whose
final speech received total silence. And the USA was the only one that
was greeted with spontaneous boos from the audience of ministers, diplomats
and stakeholders from almost 200 countries. This was the second time I
witnessed this code of diplomatic conduct: in Bonn climate conference
last year, when the political concensus of the Kyoto protocol details was
reached with USA the only country out of 179 parties to disagree, the US
speech was the only one receiving booing and all the other were applauded to.    (010)

In its intervention after the adoption of the WSSD Plan of Implementation
USA made several reservations including:
- USA does not recognize the Rio principle #7, i.e. common and
  differentiated responsibilities. It means that USA regards unfair that
  they would be expected to do more than developing countries to fight
  environmental and development problems.
- USA does not recognize the United Nations target of 0.72232140f GDP to
  official development aid, or any other ODA target.
- USA interprets that the text regarding corporate accountability
  improvements does not require any new actions.
- USA announces that it will not accept any of the biodiversity text to
  evolve into legally binding commitments. And they also gave the
  impression that this applies to rest of the text as well.
And USA announced that they take sustainable development very seriously.    (011)

The official plenary speech of Colin Powell earlier the same day had the
same attitude and it was interrupted several times by loud booing. The
Wall Street Journal described in its editorial September 6-8 these
incidents the following way: "How little interest some of the delegates
had in a rational discussion of their first principles was on display
Wednesday, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell was jeered and
interrupted as he attempted to address the US approach to environmental
issues and economic growth." For Wall Street Journal the purpose of
the WSSD was to "develop international environmental bureaucracy" in the
name of "phantom threats" with the result of "keeping the poor from
improving their lot".    (012)

It is necessary to note that the business and industry sector did not
share the US views in the WSSD. On the contrary, they strongly promoted
corporate accountability and targeted actions in most areas.    (013)

Thus, it is exceptionally small minority of people that the Bush
administration has so strongly devoted to serve, with exceptionally little
consideration of the rest.    (014)

Ari Lampinen
Finnish society for environmental sciences    (015)

elohimjl     (016)

garyrichmond@rcn.com    (017)

An Uncertain Trumpet    (018)

September 8, 2002    (019)

President Bush was hardly alone in hoping that America
would emerge from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 a
stronger and more cohesive nation. Yet nobody framed the
challenge better than he did in his State of the Union
address last January. "In the sacrifice of soldiers, the
fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and
generosity of ordinary citizens," he said, "we have
glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look
like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than
self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and we must
not let this moment pass." In later speeches he pounded on
the same theme, urging Americans to forswear the "culture
of selfishness" and embrace a "new ethic of
responsibility."     (020)

What has Mr. Bush made of that moment of opportunity, which
may have passed us by? Sad to say, not much. Most of us had
expected the country to be in a different place by now, and
the fact that it is not can be attributed largely (though
by no means exclusively) to Mr. Bush's failure to leverage
the political and moral capital Sept. 11 provided.     (021)

Mr. Bush had the words right. His problem was his failure
to give them meaning, either because he did not know what
had to be done or because what had to be done exceeded his
political will. Sept. 11 summoned Americans to think
differently about basic problems and to reach out to one
another as never before. It was a moment to begin thinking
about less wasteful energy policies, to envision new
economic and social strategies, to examine programs of
national service for the country's young people - in short,
to entertain genuine sacrifices linked to an elevated
vision of America's possibilities. Despite lots of oratory,
however, no real sacrifice has been demanded, no vision
offered.     (022)

In his defense, Mr. Bush has been a busy and burdened man,
and as the nation's leader, he has pushed us forward on
several fronts. He has proposed a new architecture of
homeland defense that could do much to rationalize our
quarrelsome and porous security agencies. Abroad, he has
prosecuted the complicated war on terrorism with patience
and resolve. He certainly did not anticipate the explosion
of exposés about appalling corporate behavior that has
helped make 2002 a peculiarly "low dishonest" moment in
American history (to borrow W. H. Auden's observation about
the 1930's), instead of the year of fresh beginnings we
wanted.     (023)

Nevertheless, the most glaring missed opportunities are
directly linked to the president. For instance, it is hard
to imagine a sharper reminder of America's dependence on
the volatile regimes of the Middle East for their oil than
the events of Sept. 11. Yet instead of charting a new
course, one requiring major investments in energy
efficiency and the development of alternative energy
sources - the two surest roads to greater energy
independence - Mr. Bush clung stubbornly to the notion that
the United States could drill its way to self-sufficiency.
Absent presidential leadership, a timid and unimaginative
Congress did little better, rejecting modest efforts to
tighten fuel economy standards while showering producers of
traditional fossil fuels with a staggering array of
subsidies and tax breaks.     (024)

Likewise, Sept. 11 seemed to have little impact on Mr.
Bush's economic thinking. Everyone makes sacrifices in
times of war, including leaders. Franklin Roosevelt, for
instance, set aside cherished domestic initiatives after
Pearl Harbor because he knew the country could not afford
them. In a similar fashion, Mr. Bush might have postponed
or even rolled back his tax cut and redeployed the money in
more meritorious ways, perhaps to underwrite a serious
program of foreign assistance to encourage the growth of
democratic institutions in countries where poverty and
corruption breed terrorists - and cynicism about an
American government that supports tyrannical leaders. It
would have asked much of Mr. Bush to ask him to give up a
program so central to his thinking and political strategy.
Yet in clinging to the tax cuts as if they were holy writ,
as the former presidential adviser David Gergen recently
observed on the Op-Ed page, the president has sent a clear
signal to the public that we can have both war and business
as usual.     (025)

Finally, Mr. Bush has come up short in the one area where
he seemed most determined to succeed: creating from the
wreckage of the World Trade Center a new sense of purpose
in our national life. Robert Putnam, an authority on
American community life and the author of "Bowling Alone,"
argues that the attacks of Sept. 11 connected Americans in
ways they have not been connected since World War II,
creating a sense of solidarity that manifested itself in a
heightened political consciousness, a surprising burst in
trust for the federal government, an increase in racial and
religious tolerance, and a rise in public-spiritedness in
general. Mr. Bush himself noted the change immediately and
marveled at what he called "the gathering momentum of
millions of acts of decency and kindness."     (026)

Unfortunately, though, the vehicle he created to capture
this spirit and enlarge upon it - the U.S.A. Freedom Corps
- seems to have drifted into irrelevance. It was little
more than a gussied-up collection of existing programs to
begin with, programs like John Kennedy's Peace Corps and
Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps, and so far it has reached only a
tiny fraction of America's young people. The administration
hopes to double the size of the Peace Corps, to 14,000 from
7,000, and expand AmeriCorps to 75,000 from 50,000. Set
against the manifest idealism inspired by Sept. 11, this
seems a trivial response. Mr. Bush, as a longtime enemy of
big government, seems unable to embrace wholeheartedly a
challenge that requires making government programs grow.     (027)

If surveys by Mr. Putnam and others are any guide, the
mood of sacrifice is fading, the window of opportunity for
bottling the patriotism generated by Sept. 11 slowly
closing. Mr. Bush continues to extol the virtues of
voluntary service, and this is admirable. But it is hardly
enough to resist the erosion in the level of public
engagement as people return to everyday routines.     (028)

In retrospect, Mr. Bush would have been better served - and
the civic enthusiasm of the moment would have had a far
greater chance of surviving - if he had called for
something truly bold, like a year of mandatory national
service for everyone of college age. Of course, that might
have kicked up a political storm. But of what use is
political capital unless you spend it? Mr. Bush had plenty
of capital to spend after Sept. 11. Sadly, on issue after
issue, most of that capital is still in the bank,
depreciating by the day.    (029)

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/08/opinion/08SUN1.html?ex=1032531576&ei=1&en=b6a7bcd7e6051913    (030)

For information on advertising in e-mail newsletters 
or other creative advertising opportunities with The 
New York Times on the Web, please contact
onlinesales@nytimes.com or visit our online media 
kit at http://www.nytimes.com/adinfo    (031)

For general information about NYTimes.com, write to 
help@nytimes.com.      (032)

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company    (033)