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February 29, 2008


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Nicholas Beaudrot

You left out Musharraf!


Stephen, check your email. I just sent you seven (7) more. Yeah, seven, all different leaders, with Bush.


Great post! I wonder if the same could be done for Hillary.


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.

Indeed it is not. Or it wouldn't be if Bush didn't look like he was sproutin' some wood. ;)

Seriously, though, it's fine that Bush engages in culturally appropriate actions: when in a city follow it's customs is often good advice. But could you imagine the GOP response if a (male) Dem. president held hands with a dude, even if it were culturally appropriate? Why the IOKIYAR double standard?

BTW -- is it just me or do Murabak and Hugo Chavez look like long, lost twins?


I notice you include Peres. OK then ... so should you also include pretty much every leader in the world then? After all, if any nation were faced with the kind of threats that Israel is faced with, they'd do the same thing (not that it is right): other nations get to be more "moral" because 50+ years ago they ethnically cleansed themselves and established secure boundaries.

Trevor J

In the pic w/Indonesia's leader, it looks like the Yudhoyono won't shake Bush's hand.

anonymous coward

You misspelled mubarak (I think you did at least), Turkey is a democracy, and no, Israel does not torture.

Mark D

Nicely done!

Although, by daring to criticize Peres you may as well put swastikas on your site, since that's what some people will think of you after this -- you apparently didn't get the memo that Israel is NOT to be criticized, even if you support their right to exist or even defend themselves.

It's just one of those things.

(That doesn't detract from the awesomeness of the post, however.)

Nicholas, good friend that he is, reminded me that I somehow failed to include Perez Musharraf, one of Bush's great allies.

Not to pick nits...but his first name is spelled with a 'v'. Pervez.

Unfortunately, I can't recall the source for this, but I did hear somewhere that Israel had given up torture because they'd found out it doesn't work. Of course, that could just be PR....


Israel giving up torture? Yeah, right.

Gary S.

Hey, if you include Peres of Israel, then please don't forget the nice folks from Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Poland), where CIA had their special prisons, as well as Great Britain (and who knows how many other Western European / NATO allies) which recently admitted to allowing CIA planes with detainees/enemy combatants on board to make stopovers in their jurisdiction.

Otherwise, please remove Peres's pict: Israel may be many things, but dictatorship it aint.


Just an aside: it bothers me when Chinese names are misused. "Jintao" isn't the Chinese leader's family name. His family name is "Hu".

Unless you meant to use his given name, but you didn't refer to "Hosni" for Mubarak, or "Vladimir" instead of Putin, or "Shimon" when referring to Peres.

Just a pet peeve of mine.

low-tech cyclist

His family name is "Hu".

Even though 'Hu' goes first? ;^)

(What's my point? I don't know.)


Just an aside: it bothers me when Chinese names are misused. "Jintao" isn't the Chinese leader's family name. His family name is "Hu".

I'm actually aware of that; it's just a mistake.

Chinese names are hard to deal with in English anyway. So are Korean - for example, there is not one Korean on the planet with the family name of "Lee." In Korean it's pronounced "ee." They added the L out of deference to Western inability to, I don't know, pronounce any word learned after the age of 4.


If you focused on pics taken at the White House only, it would be hard to find seven leaders of democratic countries. During the first Bush term, I don't remember one leader of a major democratic country coming to DC for a state visit. A fact carefully left unreported by our so-called Free Press.


« So are Korean - for example, there is not one Korean on the planet with the family name of "Lee." In Korean it's pronounced "ee." They added the L out of deference to Western inability to, I don't know, pronounce any word learned after the age of 4. »

Really? I didn't know that, and we had Korean students named Lee living with us. If I had known, I would have made the effort to pronounce their name correctly. "Ee" or "Yi" is not hard to say.

It does bother me how Americans seem to be unable to pronounce foreign words. Another of my pet peeves is the way you hear announcers pronounce "Iraq". Even people who try to be culturally sensitive often get it wrong. They say "Eye-Rack" or "Eh-Rock", when "Ee-rack" is just as easy.


In the pic w/Indonesia's leader, it looks like the Yudhoyono won't shake Bush's hand.

Posted by: Trevor J | February 29, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Of course. That would have been a toxic picture back home.

I like the way the bust of Lincoln in the background seems to frown on several of these meetings.


"Anonymous coward" said:
Turkey is a democracy, and no, Israel does not torture.

Just because a country is a democracy doesn't mean that it doesn't abuse human rights (heck, even the good ol' U.S. of A. does that), and I think you may be naïve about Israel.

Mike G

Don't forget Omar Bongo of Gabon (a meeting Abramoff was paid $9m to set up), and the dirtbag running our new African oil buddy, Equatorial Guinea, with one of the worst human rights records on the planet.


I agree with the general sentiment of your post, but your argument would be a lot stronger if you didn't demonstrate such gross ignorance of the world outside the US.

I'll only comment on parts of your post I know to be way off the mark.

To answer your question:
"can anyone name one democratically elected head of state with whom George Bush has anything other than what could be called a "frosty" relationship?"
John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia. GWB was pretty much his best friend over the last 6 years. Howard was democratically elected as PM in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004. He was a democratically elected member of the Australian Federal Parliament from 1974 to 2007.

As Gary S. above comments, China's president is not President Jintao but President Hu. This is important because it immediately makes you look like you don't know the first thing about China. The fact that Hu has moved China further towards rule of law and away from rule by dictatorship (as was under Mao, ending in 1976) also suggests he's a bad example to put in this list.

The photo with Putin was taken at an APEC Leader's Summit in Vietnam in 2006. Ever since Bill Clinton gave all the leaders a Bomber Jacket to wear on the final day of an APEC leader's summit hosted by the US, its become traditional for leaders to wear some kind of fancy dress on the final day of the summit. This is usually traditional dress. Again, you're wrong that locals don't wear them. On formal occasions many people all around the world wear their nation's traditional clothes.

Indonesia has been a relatively free democracy for over a decade. Yudhoyono was democratically elected. Calling him a dictator just makes you look ignorant.

Turkey is also a secular democracy. Again, including Turkey in this list just makes you look ignorant.

The other leaders / nations you listed aren't ones I know enough about off the top of my head to comment, but with the number of mistakes in your post, you really undermine your point (a point I agree with by the way).

You should aim to be a bit more careful in your criticisms if you want them to stick.



Bush said, "What's lost ... by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs?"

Nothing about democracy, so way to miss the point. Every single one of those leaders is from a country where people can be imprisoned because of their politics - including our own, where various "terrorist" suspects have been and are still imprisoned for being Arabic, brown-skinned and through a game of "The 6,000 degrees of bin Ladin" somehow connected to nefarious evildoers.

Yes, I fucking know about Hu Jintao. I love how people apparently don't see the "Suh" next to my name. Or perhaps they think I just happened to randomly choose a Korean screen name for no reason.

For that matter, while it's nice that JINTAO is moving China toward the rule of law, I doubt that statement would have provided some former colleagues of mine with much encouragement while they spent the better part of last year in jail there because they had Bibles on their person. Or, for that matter, the literally scores of others I hear about from my friends in China who get disappeared.

Another good friend of mine left Indonesia in order to save his and his family's lives. He got in trouble with Muslim citizens in his area at first because he was a pastor of a Christian church, and then again with the political authorities because he wouldn't just be quiet and take it.

Then there's the girl I met in Singapore who was in everything but name an indentured servant, who wasn't given much choice in the matter, to say the least, and who was brought out of Indonesia in that way with the full knowledge and consent of Indonesian authorities.

Finally, it's hilarious, truly knee-slapping hilarious for an Aussie to lecture anyone about ignorance of world affairs.


Dominic seems to have some bone to pick, given his lust for throwing the word "ignorant" around.

So you know when Mao died, kudos. Thats about where your China knowledge stops. I would hardly call Hu a liberalizing force in Chinese politics. You know who else reformed China? Deng Xiaoping. You know what else he did? Tienanmen Square. Making inevitable reforms to a centrally commanded state under the pressure of civil unrest hardly exempts a leader from being considered a dictator.

And your Turkey and Indonesia points? Sure, they aren't exactly Uzbekistan, but at the point where you are using political subtleties (define "freedom", "democratically elected") to sling around the label of "gross ignorance" you are stretching the merits of your argument to the point of exposing ulterior motives. I could cite plenty of journals or scholars that would stop short of calling Turkey and Indonesia "fully functioning democracies."

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