Hostile reception for Bush in Europe

As George W. Bush arrives in Europe for a six-day stay, he receives a welcoming committee of 100,000 hostile demonstrators and 10,000 police in Berlin, which speaks volumes about how his external policy is received overseas.

The notion that George Bush is in Europe to dish out palliative sweeteners before turning to the more bitter issue of launching an attack against Iraq is behind this wave of fury. Demonstrators waved the stars and stripes with “God Less America” daubed in paint.

On Friday, President Bush will travel to Moscow, where he will sign an arms control treaty with President Vladimir Putin, after which he will fly to Paris on Sunday and thereafter, on Monday afternoon, to Rome, first for a meeting with Pope John Paul II, back from a visit to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, and then a NATO summit.

As president Bush arrives in Berlin, a wave of hysteria sweeps over the city. Citizens living in the apartment blocks near where the hotel he is staying in (Hotel Adlon) is situated, are not allowed to open their windows. President Bush’s security men join the 10,000 police on duty, creating scenes which fifteen years ago would have been derided in the western press as “repressive”.

People can only pass in the streets nearby, on foot, if they have a special document and bicycles and cars are forbidden, even for residents. With the enormous number of protesters in the welcoming committee, the heady days of Kennedy’s claim “Ich bin ein Berliner” are long gone. The result of the hype that the visit of the President of the United States of America creates nowadays is merely reminiscent of the type of situation that was hailed in the western press as being typical of oppressive, communist regimes the other side of the Iron Curtain.


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