Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Cho in the White House


Indeed, for others on our globe, mass murder in Iraq, scenes of degradation from Abu Ghraib, CIA extraordinary rendition expeditions, and our prison at Guantanamo have already become synonymous with the U.S. government and the President; so, it would not be surprising if Cho's actions and Bush's foreign policy were linked in the minds of people outside the United States. I see several reasons why, for non-Americans, a mad student and our commander-in-chief could appear to be two sides of the same all-American coin.

The Bush propaganda campaign of 2002-2003 to convince the American people that the Butcher of Baghdad was a WMD demon reached its apotheosis in a made-for FOX News "shock and awe" spectacular over Baghdad (which was, to say the least, not well received abroad). This brutal sound-and-light show -- meant to give Americans the sense of getting back at those who "hated" the U.S. by hitting them hard and mercilessly -- seems, when I put on my overseas eyeglasses, eerily reminiscent of Cho's videos of himself as a mean twenty-first century gunslinger, ready to shoot all those whom he dreamt did him wrong.

Bluntly put, overseas the U.S. government (and, by association, the country as well) -- thanks in large part to Bush and his foreign policy -- is now widely considered the Cho of our world, despite the often risible efforts of Karen Hughes, the administration's Image Czarina, to improve America's international standing through what she calls the diplomacy of deeds. The fact of the matter is that the President's deeds have led other countries to see our government, in its aggressive unilateralism, as unreliable, if not deranged; obsessed beyond all reason with putative enemies and globe-spanning organizations of terrorists that despise us; ready to respond with unjustified violence to any perceived slight; unwilling to listen to, or accept, advice; and unconcerned with the consequences of what it does, even when this results in widespread death and destruction in one of the birthplaces of civilization, where Bush and his top officials now pride themselves on their latest accomplishment, a military "surge" that only seems to further encourage mass murder.

It's not that much of a stretch, is it?

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