Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why We Are Right to March; Next Week's Protests about George Bush's Visit Here Will Be Seen as Anti-American. but It Is the President's Policies That Are Unwelcome

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why We Are Right to March; Next Week's Protests about George Bush's Visit Here Will Be Seen as Anti-American. but It Is the President's Policies That Are Unwelcome

Article excerpt

Byline: GEORGE MONBIOT

by George Monbiot Author and environmentalist

NEXT week, something unprecedented will happen in Britain. An American President will arrive here and be greeted not by cheering crowds but by howls of execration.

The protests in London against George Bush are likely to be the biggest Britain has seen since the anti- war marches in February. The people of the United States will be deeply shocked to see how the image of their government has changed.

Those of us who oppose George Bush's policies are often accused of being "anti-American". It's an odd charge.

No one suggests that people who don't like Tony Blair are "anti-British".

It seems to be an attempt to discredit us by suggesting that we are motivated not by reasonable political objections, but by an old and visceral contempt for an "upstart nation".

But perhaps the gravest of the charges we can lay against George Bush is that he is himself an anti-American. His style of government stands at odds with everything we were led to believe the United States of America represents.

There is first the question of his election. The evidence that the electoral roll in Florida was rigged in order to exclude black voters appears to be compelling. The conduct of his party both during and after that election appears to be a grotesque insult to the nation which invented modern, Jacksonian democracy.

Then there is his assault upon civil liberties. The Patriot Act he pushed through Congress erodes many of the freedoms the American constitution appears to guarantee.

In the offshore prison camp of Guantanamo Bay, Bush appears to have built his own Bastille, in which people are jailed indefinitely without charge or trial. George Washington and Thomas Paine must be turning in their graves.

But the greatest of all his offences against American values is his construction of what looks very much like an imperial project. If the US stands for anything in the popular imagination it stands for national sovereignty and selfdetermination. It tore itself away from a grasping empire - our own - and declared its opposition to all subsequent attempts to bend sovereign peoples to the will of a distant nation.

It came to the rescue of its imperial oppressor when our own sovereignty was threatened by Hitler, and ever since then we have identified America as the champion of those nations which struggle against occupying powers. But now Bush has invaded and conquered a sovereign nation and installed in it a regime scarcely distinguishable from the old European colonial authorities.

TO make this occupation possible, he and his staff appear to have misled us on several occasions. We were told that Iraq had to be invaded because it possessed weapons of mass destruction which threatened the lives of the people of other nations. …

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