Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The upcoming visit of President Bush to London is wreaking havoc in the UK. The president's people ordered British officials to shut down central London. This angered the capital's mayor Ken Livingstone who fumed The ideas of some American security advisers that perhaps we should shut the whole of central London for three days, ignoring the economic consequences of that, I don't think that's got a chance at all.. The mayor noted that no British prime minister has been assassinated in 190 years so maybe they know something about security.

Officials banned a march that would've gone past Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, insisting it should go on in another part of London far away from the president. As The Guardian described in a piece entitled Bush Visit Set to Paralyse London, "Bush's arrival is likely to follow the pattern of his visit to Australia last month, when he was spirited away from protesters along empty streets cleared of ordinary people."

Livingstone, a staunch leftist, plans on hosting "a peace party" in another part of town with leading critics of the Iraq adventure, which has infuriated the mayor's arch-enemy Prime Minister Tony Blair. The mayor warned the police not to employ tactics similiar to those used when China's president visited in 1989, shortly after the Tianammen Square massacre.

British families of the Iraq war dead condemned the visit as insensitive and ill-timed.

City officials are also miffed that they, instead of the British government, are going to be stuck with the approximately $8.5 million bill... for a three-day visit. Britain's Foreign Secretary cautioned, "People are fully entitled to demonstrate, but what bothers me is the fashionable anti-Americanism that is around," earnestly confusing "anti-Americanism" with "anti-Bushism."

Accompanying the president across the Pond, and I'd love to know how much all this costs:
-Up to 250 Secret Service Agents
-Up to 400 advisors, aides and other bureaucrats
-15 sniffer dogs and their handlers
-5 people to prepare the president's food
-Two identical personal Boeing 747-200s and a third chartered jumbo
-One personal US Marine Corps Sikorsky Sea King helicopter and a second A VH-60N, a VIP version of the Black Hawk helicopter
-Two identical motorcades each made up of 20 mostly amored vehicles, including the president's converted Cadillac Deville
-The "football," a briefcase carried by a military aide which contains the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal

And this all is for just one trip of only three days.

I don't know for how much longer our friends will put up with thanks like this. If Bush's visits cause so much uproar, maybe he should stay home.

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