Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Suits that Saved the World

[posted by Callimachus]

World leaders as superheroes. Or: Brent Budowsky goes ga-ga for Gordon. Brown, that is.

Effective today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the leader of the free world and the voice of hope and change that offers the first true answer of freedom to the heinous crimes of Sept. 11, 2001.

In his brilliant and comprehensive comments at Camp David, Brown spoke to the aspirations of overwhelming majorities of Americans, Britons and other men and women throughout the democratic world.

In Brown’s vision, Afghanistan, not Iraq, is the central military battleground in the fight against terrorism; and hope, not fear, is the central weapon in the great battle of ideas that will determine who prevails in the great conflict of our times.

I suppose that's "hope" as in "We hope they won't attack us again if we stop using the term 'war on terrorism'" or, "we hope Iran will stop trying to build the atom bomb if we just leave them alone." Or "We hope China will stop putting money in the pockets of the murderers of Sudan if we just ..." well, I have no idea how he plans to solve that one.

For what it's worth, Brown's U.N. speech, which has Mr. Budowsky so excited, is here. For some reason he didn't link to it directly. It's a rallying cry for idealism, but if you read it through, it's really a call to the developed world's governments -- and not only the Americans -- to live up to commitments they've been making on paper for years.

Let us remember Millennium Development Goal eight - to call into being, beyond governments alone, a global partnership for development, and together harness the energy, the ideas and the talents of the private sector, consumers, NGOs and faith groups, and citizens everywhere.

I'm sure there are people or creatures that have been "harnessed" willingly and worked better and more effectively in a harness than they would have without one. But I can't think of any right now.

If every person in the rich world contributes £10 - or $20 - a year today, we could meet our education goal tomorrow.

Then what do you do next year when those schools need new books, new supplies, new infrastructure, new computers? And frankly, though Brown mentions this a few times, none of this idealism and money will really solve the problems and keep them solved until the nations where the problems fester reform their civic and civil structures.

But it's the "leaders" who excite Mr. Budowsky. The notion of a team of leaders marching (or flying?) arm-in-arm to battle all the social and environmental evils of the world! In fact, Brown himself uses the Marvel Comics term "a coalition for justice."

Mr. Budowsky is putting his own twist on it, of course. Brown's speech explicitly praises Bush and the Americans for leadership on issues since 9/11. But for Mr. Budowsky:

In Gordon Brown’s world, for the first time since Sept. 11, world leaders would lead, with an all-out attempt to seek a comprehensive peace in the Middle East that offers young men and women the aspiration of a life free from endless war, hunger, injustice, corruption, despotism and disease that are terrorism’s greatest allies.

In Gordon Brown’s strategy, world leaders issue a global call to action to deal with poverty and AIDS, to protect the world from global warming and save the world from deadly dependence on oil, to take a moral and aggressive stand against genocide in Darfur and to mobilize what Thomas Jefferson would call the decent opinion of men and women everywhere.

What a powerful contrast with the world of George W. Bush, in which Iraq is treated as our 51st state, the only nation in the world, and an obsession that deforms the force structures of our military, bitterly divides our people and thoroughly dominates our national life.

Except that Iraq is, more than anything else, an object lesson in how difficult, if not impossible, it is to solve exactly these sorts of problems -- "war, hunger, injustice, corruption, despotism and disease" -- only with Western good will and might and money.

Mr. Budowsky forges onward, however, dispatching Team World Leaders on fresh and bolder missions:

Imagine: world leaders uniting against poverty, AIDS, pollution, genocide and despair and offering children a better way than the hatred of the suicide bomber.

Zoom! In through a Palestinian classroom window, where 15 years of anti-Jewish hatred indoctrination are erased by a gift of pencil sets and a lecture. Whoosh! President Putin not only discovers the cure for AIDS, he manufactures it himself in his mountain lair and personally vaccinates the entire world!

The arch-villain? Go on, guess. No prize for being right:

Imagine an America that is not all Iraq, all the time, debating timelines and torture, dealing with virtually no other global issue of our age, held hostage by a president who is obsessed with a war without end that he appears driven to continue in perpetuity, while he imprisons a great nation in a political torture chamber that has deformed our democracy and done grave damage to our national interest.

Yes, somehow Brown escaped from Camp David to deliver this call to action at the U.N. (doesn't that phrase alone make you want to grin?). Must have been one of those typical cases: "I regret, Mr. Brown, that I cannot stay to watch you die ...."

Imagine: an American president who would speak as Gordon Brown speaks, and do what Gordon Brown proposes to do!

More internationalist rhetoric! More commitments that are never met and quickly forgotten! More meaningless mandates! More problems made worse be applications of Western guilt-salve!

And of course -- and this is so important -- the Rest of the World will love America again! As they all did before Bush. Why, you never saw an American flag burned anywhere.

November 2008 is coming and Americans will be astonished at the outpouring of idealism, optimism and excitement when the dead hand of the current course is removed, and a new government brings new life to our democracy and renewed appeal as a beacon for the world.

... A new Democratic president, backed by a new Democratic Congress, working with a brilliant British prime minister, backed by a Labour Party majority in Parliament, would create a program that would rally support throughout the world, lifting two proud nations while lifting the aspirations of people everywhere.

Imagine: a special relationship truly in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

While Democrats must fight rearguard actions until Inaugural Day 2009, Democratic leaders and progressive leaders around the world can inaugurate today a great debate about shaping the world of the post-Bush era.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) might begin by hosting a gathering that could include leading enlightened thinkers such as Gordon Brown, Ehud Barak, Lech Walesa, Al Gore and Nelson Mandela to begin to chart a new and more visionary course.

Al Gore?

And I wonder how difficult it was to keep himself from typing "Jimmy Carter." As for Mandela, he's already got his own team of superheroes hard at work on saving the world -- based on their records, that seems to mean saving it from Jews and un-re-educated Americans.

One thing's sure, though, Team Brownie will have better suits.

The sartorial saga that surrounded the summit began when Mr Brown ignored a White House suggestion that he “dress down” for the first meeting between the pair. He turned up in a suit, forcing President Bush to find a tie as well.