Thursday, February 24, 2005

Did he pay for all this?

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.


> The obvious question is, "did he pay for any of this"?

Hmm could be quite interesting if we made it so that local residents could sue visiting diplomats for lost revenue due to their visit.

> And if not, why the fuck did they let him come?

good question, I would think it is their responsibility to refuse to allow bush to come (or at least refuse to assist on security) rather than bush's responsibility to choose not to come.

Posted by Genius : 2/25/2005 12:53:00 AM

"They are not the only country to have lost leaders to assassination..."

Only Amercians have ever shot the American President.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2005 08:36:00 AM

This smells like the Roman emporer visiting one of the far-flung territories. I don't see why they put up with it either.

Other "leaders" don't seem to require this level of protection. I've seen Gerhard Schroeder on the street in Hannover several times, and sat next to David Lange on the Sydney ferry.

They are obviously aware of how much murder and mayhem is being propagated around the world by US agents. Also, the danger of a personality cult is that the person becomes more important than the policy. I'm sure Hitler had similar security.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2005 09:16:00 AM

A - because despite the flyboy posturing, when it comes to placing himself in any personal risk, GWB has a consistent record of cowardice.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2005 09:39:00 AM

It reminded me more of a medieval progress - the lord of the land visiting parts of his fief, and living off his vassals.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/25/2005 09:50:00 AM

He is there with the Germans paying for it because, believe it or not The world needs America more than America needs the world?

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2005 02:16:00 PM

We need the USA more than it needs us, do we Bushy? Hmmm, lets think about that...the USA sucks up 80% of the worlds spare productive capacity (which takes the form of savings) on the vague promise that it might be able to pay it all back later.
It is the worlds largest polluter by far. It sells more weapons than anywhere else by far, and loans various client nations a lot of money so they can buy those weapons. After the client government falls or goes "rogue" it invades, or forecloses on the debt so that it's corporations can buy up all the monopolies once owned by the people of the nation, keeping them in permanent poverty.

What was it that the US does that was so useful again? Primarily, I think, it gives us a common enemy so that we don't fight so much among ourselves. I suppose from the point of view of the US Govt, that's also the most important thing the rest of the world does for the USA - we provide a parade of external scapegoats to distract the people of your nation so they don't realise they're being robbed blind by corporate cronyism, and of course provide the best means for disguising that process - the defense budget.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/28/2005 10:52:00 PM