It is clear from his review of Olivier Todd’s book on André Malraux that Stefan Collini has no doubts as to what is the major catastrophe in recent British history: the completion of the Channel Tunnel [“Grand Illusion,” Feb. 28]. The review is immensely entertaining (I was carried back to High Table at an Oxbridge college at once). Still, a question will not go away. How did this French poseur manage to write Man’s Fate or The Imaginary Museum?
In the February 28 Nation, both Eric Alterman and Jonathan Schell mention the Iraqi woman who hugged the mom of the slain soldier at the State of the Union address. Both imply that there was something less than legitimate about this moment, but neither gave the identity of the Iraqi woman. Identified by Bush as Safia Taleb al-Suhail, the woman was a longtime Iraqi in exile and proponent of a US invasion of Iraq, did not live in Iraq at the time of the invasion and was appointed last year by the US-approved interim government as the Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt. I don’t doubt al-Suhail’s sincerity in that SOTU moment, but her background makes it clear that she is not some average Iraqi whose heart and mind was won over by the US invasion.
ANOTHER SOTU MOMENT
Eric Foner, in “‘Freedom’ Belongs to All” [Feb. 14], nailed Bush and his flacks when he said, “Bush is a master at appropriating for conservative ends language associated with his opponents.” As Foner states, Bush said “freedom” or a related term forty-nine times. He used “justice” or a related term only five times, deceptively at that.
Bush said, “In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without liberty.” That, too, is deceptive; neither in the long run nor the short run can freedom exist without justice. Bush qualifies justice again in “history has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction set by liberty and the author of liberty.” Bush must think that justice is but an afterthought in God’s plans.
In such statements Bush and the Republicans reveal not only their invincible ignorance but that what they mean by “liberty” is unaccountable, irresponsible, unjust license. Right now they seem to have persuaded much of the American public that justice is not very important. The Democrats should correct that impression.