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We reproduce below the CBC communiqué concerning this unfortunate leak:
We must understand the seriousness of this matter. While the President of the U.S. has a limited knowledge and understanding of foreign policy issues, he nonetheless rubberstamps the decisions of the military-intelligence establishment and has the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. This begs the question: does President Bush have a firm grasp of the broad implications of his decisions? Who is calling the shots on US foreign policy?
According to Time Magazine (15 November 1999):
. ..on too many issues, especially those dealing with the wider world of global affairs, Bush often sounds as if he's reading from cue cards. When he ventures into international issues, his unfamiliarity is palpable and not even his unshakable self-confidence keeps him from avoiding mistakes.
The knowledge of the President on Pakistan and Afghanistan --i.e. the two countries which are the theatre of America's war-- is dismal to say the least. Prior to becoming President, George W. Bush thought the Taliban was a rock group.
When a Glamor correspondent asked Governor Bush what he thought about the Taliban, he just shrugged his shoulders, bemused. It took a bit of prompting from the journalist ("discrimination against women in Afghanistan") for Bush to rouse himself: Taliban in Afghanistan! Absolutely. Reprisals. I thought you were talking about some rock group.(Moscow News,12 July 2000)
In a 1999 TV interview with Andy Hiller on NBC (WHDH in Boston), when asked who was the president of Pakistan, George W. Bush had
"the name of General Pervaiz Musharraf on the tip of his tongue, but then allowed his enthusiasm to make him appear to condone the military coup that ousted the elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif." (Daily Telegraph, 6 November 1999).
Diminished role of the US President?
In many regards, September 11 also marks the replacement of civilian political institutions (Executive, Legislature) by a de facto military regime. In this context, a president with minimal understanding of key international and strategic issues can easily be manipulated by the military-intelligence apparatus. Apart from reading carefully prepared speeches, is George W. Bush as President and Commander in Chief capable of formulating "responsible" foreign policy decisions? Does the President wield real political power or is he an instrument? In other words, who decides in Washington?
An offhand comment by a senior member of the Chrétien government may have a lasting effect on relations between Ottawa and Washington. A top aide to the prime minister has been quoted as referring to U.S. President George W. Bush as "a moron."
The disparaging comment from Chrétien's inner circle has shaken the Prime Minister's Office. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was forced to say on Thursday that President Bush is "a friend of mine. He's not a moron at all."
That the prime minister of Canada would have to say the president of the United States is not a moron is remarkable enough. That he has to defend a comment made by one of his closest advisors has sent shockwaves from Prague, where NATO leaders are meeting, to Parliament Hill to the White House.
It began when President Bush made a speech in the Czech capital calling on NATO countries to spend more on defence.
Canadian officials saw that as a veiled criticism of Ottawa's military spending. The Prime Minister's director of communications, Francoise Ducros, said of Bush, "What a moron."
The comment apparently was made in the presence of at least two reporters.
In Ottawa, Canadian Alliance MP Jason Kenney wanted to know if the quote was accurate. And if it is, "does it reflect the views of the Liberal government?"
Conservative leader Joe Clark said if such a statement was made the offending party "should be on a plane home right now."
The PMO issued a brief statement: "The Prime Minister's Office never comments on newspaper reports attributed to unnamed sources."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who is accompanying Bush in Prague, dismissed the comment as coming from "somebody who obviously doesn't speak for the Canadian government."
The problem is Francoise Ducros does speak for the Canadian government, usually on background and off the record. The quote first attributed to a government official was soon linked to Ducros and widely reported.
Whether the comment was on the record or not, the opposition says the comment was inappropriate, coming from an official representing the government of Canada.
Others say the comment will only further chill the dialogue between Washington and Ottawa.
The prime minister is now under pressure to take action against one of his most loyal advisers.
Copyright CBC 2002. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .
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