Reading about President Bush's visit to Mainz, I'm struck by the level of security put on for him. Essentially, the German government locked down a city of 300,000 to accomodate the visit of one man:
The centre of the Rhineland city was turned into a fortified ghost town. More than 15,000 police staged one of the biggest postwar security operations. The forbade inhabitants from going on to their balconies, sealed off autobahns (motorways) and brought river traffic on the Rhine to a standstill. Frogmen searched the Rhine for explosives and 1300 manhold [sic] covers were welded shut.
Thousands of employees including staff at the city's nearby Opel car factory, stayed away from work for the day because the restrictions made it impossible for them to travel. Factories, businesses and schools were shut.
The obvious question is, "did he pay for any of this"? Did he compensate the citizens of Mainz for the havoc his visit caused, the earnings they lost, or turning their city into a police state for a day? And if not, why the fuck did they let him come?
Another obvious question is whether he demands the same of his own citizens when he visits them - and the answer to that one is "no". While the Secret Service does weld manhole covers shut and remove mailboxes in the vicinity of a presidential visit, they don't demand that people not look out their windows or watch from their balconies while he is in town. That would seem just a little too much in the land of the free. So why does he demand it of foreigners?
And a third one is "why are the Americans so paranoid"? They are not the only country to have lost leaders to assassination, and Bush is not the only world leader to have legitimate fears of assassination (either from terrorists or loonies). Yet he is the only one with this level of security. Cities aren't shut down for Blair, and neither Chirac nor Putin demand that people not stand on their balconies. Frankly, it all seems just a little over the top. Not to mention demanding. And given the cost and effect on people's lives, I think its a demand that other countries should no longer tolerate. If Bush does not feel safe going anywhere without a total shutdown and a thousand bodyguards, then perhaps he should simply stay at home.