Sunday, April 01, 2007


Nancy Pelosi in town

Nancy Pelosi, US Speaker of the House, is (almost) in town. George Bush has condemned her visit for the usual reason that it gives support to Syria. From my panty-waist liberal and pro-Syrian perspective I can only applaud it, not least because any visit to any country makes it just that little bit less possible to talk about "them" in the uninformed way that has characterised US foreign policy-making recently. It is interesting how often, on quite unrelated forums, one finds apparently bright people talking about "them". Usually about Arab countries like Syria. "They" are not interested in peace. "They" just fight among themselves. "They" don't appreciate what freedom and democracy mean.

This is the sort of wilful ignorance and removal of empathy - demonisation even - that allows appalling mistreatment of people to happen. "They" deserve whatever is coming to them. It excuses the barbarity of Iraq: it's not our fault, we did our best for "them", but look what "they" have done now. A bit more understanding in advance, and a bit less of "them" in the attitude might have avoided the worst of this tragedy. Politicians, and I suppose I include Nancy Pelosi here, no longer meet real people. They meet voters, constituents, donors, policy makers, pressure groups, photo opportunities - not ordinary people. Ordinary people don't matter. Politicians only meet those who can help or hinder, usually the former. And so they miss one of the real insights, which is that "they" are very much like "us", and very little like politicians and diplomats. From his Texas ranch, GW has had no real insight at all into other countries, let alone their people. Nancy P will probably see Syria from the back seat of a bullet-proof car, while advisers tell her everything she should know.

But better that than nothing, or the "git offa ma land" Texas approach. At least she's here. I'd like to take her out to a restaurant in the Old City, and meet and listen to real people, talking, laughing, smoking, eating, completely relaxed, tolerant and welcoming. She might see that this country and its people are not as she may have been led to understand.

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]