Ezra called for an "enterprising blogger" to collect pictures of George Bush meeting with heads of state that "put [their] people in prison because of their political beliefs." I don't know about enterprising, but I'll take a stab at it. Here's some photos that I collected in about 5 minutes from leaders I can recall just off the top of my head.
Sometimes it's in the best interests of our nation for our leaders to meet with people whose policies we find distasteful, even abhorrent, so I've never been one to criticize Bush just for meeting with dictators. However, the following photographs show George Bush meeting not with dictators, but personal friends, valuable allies and at least one soulmate. Every one of these dictators has been showered with praise and honor by George W. Bush. Every single one. And while Bush is not the first American President to have close relationships with a dictator or two, can anyone name one democratically elected head of state with whom George Bush has anything other than what could be called a "frosty" relationship? Tony Blair doesn't count; he was our nation's ally and Bush's lapdog, not his friend. Blair and Clinton were friends.
George Bush showers praise on dictators far more than he ever has the leaders of democratic nations. And dictators are always more comfortable in his presence than democratic leaders. That says something to me.
Anyway, the pictures:
Perhaps the classic image of Bush's cozy relationship with the House of Saud. A note on the handholding: it's not "gay," it's not effeminate, it's actually a quite common thing around the world for male friends to hold hands. The problem isn't that Bush is holding hands with a dude, dude! It's that he and that corrupt dictator are friends.
Here's President Bush with Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan, an "important ally in the War on Terror." Perhaps he's so important to our efforts because of the Uzbeki government's expertise in torture.
American Presidents have had a liplock on the ass of China's leaders since Nixon, so it's hardly surprising that Bush has met with
Jintao Hu. Update: Good God, people, my business cards from my time in Korea have my Western name on one one side and Suh Young Sun on the other (including the Chinese characters that provide the specific meaning). Suh is my family name, ok? I understand how these names work. Don't confuse a typo with ignorance. Sheesh. And our next president, no matter who it is, will have just as many photos with China's leader as all the rest. It's sickening. China is no one's friend and indeed poses a great threat to this world not only politically and economically, but in its ability and willingness to harm the environment. Having an engagement policy with China is fine and good, but we need more subversion included and less kowtowing.
I don't understand why foreigners are expected to dress in a particular nation's traditional clothing, especially when the people who actually live there have long given it up. I was, ahem, encouraged by certain members of my wife's family to have a han-bok made for me when I lived in Korea. My wife has always had one because she grew up there. I rather firmly refused, noting that none of the Korean men I knew ever wore one, so why should I? Korean women still wore them, though, so I could understand that my wife would want to wear one at special church services (especially because they always wanted her to sing or something.)
At any rate, it's not that I want to make fun of the clothes Bush and Putin are wearing in this photo. Rather, it illustrates nicely their special, soulmate relationship.
Update: Nicholas, good friend that he is, reminded me that I somehow failed to include Perez Musharraf, one of Bush's great allies.
Murabak of Egypt
Yudhoyono of Indonesia
Abdullah Gul of Turkey
Musaveni of Uganda
Abdullah of Jordan
Mohammed VI of Morroco
Peres of Israel.
Yes, Shimon Peres of Israel. Israel tortures, plain and simple as do all the other nations' governments that are included here.
Even our own, to our lasting shame.
Human Rights Watch was the source, h/t to litbrit for the information.