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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-10-03 - 9:56 p.m.

A Global Test

We got back from Berkeley in time to watch the end of the 49’er v. St. Louis game. We enjoyed Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings, a conglomerate of seven interwoven fairy tales, beginning with a young girl being left with a slovenly ill-shaven neighbor she was sure was an ogre, while her parents went out for the evening. Slightly strange, but very well done…lots of singing, a bit of dancing, some hopscotch, and impersonations. For a complete review by S. F. Chronicle, who nearly fell off his chair!

The Secret in the Wings: Dramatic fable. Written and directed by Mary Zimmerman. (Through Oct. 17. Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley. 90 minutes. Tickets $10-$55. Call (510) 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.)

We have been going to a Sunday afternoon series of Berkeley Rep with our friends, Mary and Joe, who live in El Cerrito, for probably 25 years, often lingering after the play for dinner. The play was a short one today with no intermissions, so we drove around Berkeley for awhile looking for a place open for an early dinner, finally deciding on Macaroni Grill. We were pleasantly surprised with a delicious dinner and gracious service. I shared a Caeser salad with Ed before a superb seafood crepes that had a fancy Italian name. Better even than the dinner – these friends share our views, so we discussed politics endlessly and companionably.

No doubt in my mind or anyone else’s at our table that Kerry won the debate. He was direct, articulate, informed and substantive. Before the debate I confess I probably fell into the “anybody but Bush camp,” but after hearing Senator Kerry's remarks about foreign policy and homeland security, as well as his comments on the Bush administration's many mistakes, I came away feeling strongly supportive of John Kerry as a skilled, balanced, experienced and reasonable potential chief of state committed to security, diplomacy and peace. For the first time I heard more than the media-selected snippets of his stump speeches. He looked and acted Presidential.

On the other hand, our President appeared confused, disgruntled, did not answer questions and repeatedly lapsed into recitation of the same trite and meaningless phrases. His performance was worse than embarrassing. It was appalling! I could not help but wonder how he comes across at one of those summit meetings he says he attends; I'm hoping Colin Powell is always by his side, feeding him appropriate lines. There's a part of me that thinks he might really want to lose this election - to get out of this quagmire. His daddy bailed him out of previous misadventures - perhaps he'd like to be relieved of this mess, too. We can do that!

And about the "global test" misrepresentation in the lastest Republican ads and those being spouted by all of the Bush surrogates, I’m also appalled by that. Funny, I, with only two years of college some fifty years ago, had no trouble understanding the meaning of "you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." Our President admits that he doesn’t read – or apparently even do much thinking for himself. But wouldn’t you assume that Karl Rove, karen Hughes, Dick Cheney or Condoleeza Rice would have read the transcript and had an understanding that "global test" did not refer to world-wide approval, but more likely to "all-inclusive, thorough, or universal test" to justifying actions, proving to the citizens of the U.S. and to the world, as I did. For instance, the "global test" that invading Iraq was done for legitimate reasons (as in not a rush to war for trumped up WMD unsubstantiated by intelligence and not for control of oil or retaliation for what was done to Daddy a few years back -- whichever!)

A further explanation from the Kerry Campaign site: "But unlike Bush, Kerry will be honest with the American people and the world about what he is doing and why - the global test is not asking for a permission slip, but making sure that the decisions you make stand up to scrutiny and are backed by facts. John Kerry said that "no president through all of American history has ever ceded, nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do it in a way that passes the test. That passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing. And you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." [First Presidential Debate (Miami, FL), 9/30/04]”

And speaking of “global test” – let’s look at the way U.S. Policies Stir More Fear Than Confidence

By Jeffrey Fleishman Times Staff Writer
[Italics and emphasis mine.]
...International terrorism has given rise to new ground zeros. Much of Europe and the world feel insecure, but a growing number of nations no longer look to the U.S. for leadership and sanctuary. The Bush administration's unilateralist policies in Iraq (news - web sites) and its perceived aloofness have left it less trusted at a time of widening global vulnerability, according to polls and interviews in more than 30 countries.

Osama bin Laden remains on the loose. Videos of hostage beheadings in Iraq flicker across the Internet. The nuclear aspirations of North Korea and Iran are troubling. Many countries feel powerless to stop the onslaught and recognize that the U.S. is the only nation militarily strong enough to serve as a bulwark against increasing dangers. But they also feel powerless to persuade Washington to adopt a more nuanced, multilateral strategy. [Such as that proposed by Senator Kerry.]

One of the sharpest differences between the U.S. and its longtime allies is over the issue of when to use force. A June poll conducted in part by the German Marshall Fund of the United States found that 54% of the Americans surveyed, compared with 28% of the Europeans, believed that military strength would ensure peace. Among Europeans, 73% said the war in Iraq had increased the threat of terrorism.

…Although his policies have yet to be fully articulated, Kerry is considered by much of the international community as the antidote to a bullying Bush administration. Bush's recent speech at the United Nations, analysts say, reaffirmed that the president was an ideologue with little inclination for building consensus or defusing terrorism by quieter means such as political and economic reforms.

"It is such a great humiliation," said Viktor A. Kremenyuk of the USA-Canada Institute in Moscow, "for other countries to be in a situation where they have to swallow something they do not like. And the one who makes them swallow this doesn't even try to put a decent face on this sorry business." [What is it that Kerry has called the coalition – “a coalition of the coerced and bribed?]

The citizens of 30 out of 35 countries from different regions, including Germany, Mexico, Italy and Argentina, support Kerry by more than a 2-1 margin over Bush, according to a poll by the Canadian research group GlobeScan and the University of Maryland. The survey also found that on average, 58% of respondents in those countries said the Bush administration made them feel worse about the U.S. versus 19% who said the president's policies made them feel better. [The Republican retort to this is that our elections should not be decided by what the world wants.}

Writing recently in La Opinion, a conservative Buenos Aires daily, novelist Tomas Eloy Martinez lamented the prospect of a second Bush term. "The world — which is hostile to Bush with an almost unanimous passion — would be subjected to another period of rapaciousness, darkness and threats of war."

Roman newspapers last month quoted Britain's ambassador to Italy, Ivor Roberts, describing Bush as "the best recruiting sergeant" for the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

America's superpower status and the world's security fears have sparked conspiracy theories and made Washington a prism for disenchantment over everything from war to holes in the ozone layer. The grist for much of this is the lack of a significant ideological counterbalance to U.S. power. With Soviet-style communism vanquished, global anxiety is driven not by Moscow but by masked men instigating jihad and cagey regimes such as those in Tehran and Pyongyang.

In an essay, "The Five Stages of Anti-Americanism," author Judy Colp Rubin says that suspicion of Washington is so widespread that "many Chinese believe the U.S. deliberately started the SARS epidemic. Islamic leaders in three Nigerian states blocked critical polio inoculations for children, denouncing them as a U.S. plot to spread AIDS or infertility among Muslims."[What a sad commentary…we are suspicious of Washington, too. They have lied and misled us so many times, I don’t know what to believe anymore, and I don’t trust their motives.]

The U.S. has seen periods of intense anti-Americanism throughout its history. Latin American regimes, for example, have often considered Washington an imperialist troublemaker. In his book "The Sewers of the Empire," a recent bestseller in Buenos Aires, Spanish writer Santiago Camacho calls the U.S. a sham democracy run by secret societies, multinational corporations and a "ministry of lies" operating out of the White House.

Despite such ill will, however, many capitals acknowledge that no nation besides the U.S. has the resources to combat Al Qaeda, root out weapons of mass destruction and rein in reckless governments. U.S. troops protected Europe and South Korea against communist regimes for decades. And although the international community condemned the invasion of Iraq, the war highlighted the United States' ability to destroy "rogue" regimes.

"Think about it for a split second," said Kirill Dolinsky, a postgraduate biology student in Moscow. "The U.S. is paying its own money and exposing its own citizens to lethal danger just to make sure the rest of the world can sleep in peace and quiet, knowing that Saddam's or North Korea's missiles won't land in your courtyard one night."[Would that were true. There is no assurance that the course we are on will prevent North Korea from using some of its WMD that we KNOW they have.]

Part of the Japanese-U.S. relationship is based on such anxiety. Tokyo fears a nuclear strike by North Korea's unpredictable leader, Kim Jong II. The regime in Pyongyang threatened recently to turn Japan into a "nuclear sea of fire" if Washington were to move against Kim. The Japanese consider U.S. military and diplomatic clout crucial to stemming the threat.

…The notion that the U.S. is the "world's policeman" by default angers many and illuminates animosities from regions long suspicious of U.S. policy. Seventy-two percent of Mexicans surveyed by Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas rejected the idea that Washington should be the sole law-and-order power.

"I believe the U.S. poses a greater risk to Egypt and the Islamic world than terrorism," said Tarek Refaat, a software engineer from Cairo. "If we have to have a global policeman, it should be the United Nations, not the U.S. What good does America do for me as a global policeman? I might need this global policeman to protect me if Egypt is attacked by Israel. And you think America will rush to protect Egypt from the Israelis, their strongest allies?"

Galina Babayan, a Moscow mathematics professor, offered this assessment: "It would be more appropriate to compare the U.S. not with a global policeman, but with an ill-natured teenager sent back to the first grade. He is bigger and stronger than anybody else. He bullies everyone around him. But he is slow on the uptake."

From cafes to parliaments, the U.S. mystifies and Bush angers. Many see America as a country that professes a deep belief in religion but unsheathes its sword too quickly, a land that claims moral authority but violates international charters, a nation saddled with the images of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and the inability to calm a seething Iraq. But it is also admired as a land of possibility, economic opportunity and unparalleled personal freedom.

…"The U.S. can't be the world policeman anymore," said Erika Thiel, standing with her son, Juergen, remembering when U.S. boots echoed through the streets. "Muslims don't want to be watched over, and sovereign nations want to be independent from the U.S. shadow."…

Times staff writers Barbara Demick in Seoul, Bruce Wallace in Tokyo, Ralph Frammolino in Beijing, Héctor Tobar in Buenos Aires, Reed Johnson in Mexico City, Claire Rocher and Sebastian Rotella in Paris, Tracy Wilkinson in Rome, Alexei V. Kuznetsov in Moscow, Hossam Hamalawy in Cairo and Carol J. Williams in Miami contributed to this report.

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