Sunday, February 20, 2005
Belgians like Bush so much they started welcoming him before he even got there ... From the AP
Hundreds of demonstrators protested George W. Bush's visit Sunday, hours before the U.S. president was to arrive in Belgium at the start of a conciliatory swing through Europe.
Bush will meet with more than two dozen European leaders during a tour aimed at healing the trans-Atlantic rift that opened during his first term, notably over the Iraq war.
"He is coming to persuade and influence the European leaders. We are afraid the European leaders will distance themselves from their people," said Pol de Vos, one of about 700 anti-Bush protesters marching peacefully in downtown Brussels.
Police have mounted an unprecedented security operation for the visit, deploying 2,500 officers — 1,000 more than usually deployed for the three or four summits that bring European Union leaders to the Belgian capital each year.
An alliance of 88 environmental, human rights, peace and other groups have planned protests near the U.S. Embassy for Monday and near the EU headquarters on Tuesday.
The Web site of the 'Stop Bush' alliance accused Bush of "crimes against humanity," saying he undermines international law and is an obstacle to the fight against global warming.
European leaders say they are keen to narrow the gap with Washington on Iraq and other contentious issues.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush said he doesn't believe the West is split between an "idealistic United States and a cynical Europe ... America and Europe are the pillars of the free world."
"Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic understand that the hopes for peace in the world depend on the continued unity of free nations," he said. "We do not accept a false caricature that divides the Western world between an idealistic United States and a cynical Europe."
It's nice that Bush doesn't believe the Western world is split between an "idealistic United States and a cynical Europe" because ... umm ... that would be a pretty stupid thing to believe. The Western world is divided between European governments that would like nothing more than to continue with business as usual, leveraging their economic power to exert control over the world, and a United States government that is currently run by "a bunch of fanatics", to quote Zbig Brzezinski, who want to exert control over the world by means of America's military power, which is unparalleled in history.
[Photos via Belgian Indymedia]