The Daily Life of Kawther Salam
..: Bush was not welcome in Vienna :..
June 30, 2006
About 2 weeks ago, President Bush of the U.S.A. came to Vienna. This supposedly so powerful man was so scared that he brought along with him about 1000 agents to protect him, the Austrian government provided 3000 police to protect him at a published cost of about 1 million Euros. The road to and from the airport was shut down. Parts of the inner city were closed to the general public, the residents were forced to wear badges, hundreds of cars were towed away. The city of Vienna was overflown by military helicopters for several days before his arrival, and during his stay, the city was constantly overflown by helicopters with special forces hanging from the cuffs, ready to rappel down at any sign of danger for this less than popular man.
Austria is a peaceful country where even loud arguments are seldom, where political dissent is expressed in peaceful ways. Political violence does not exist. Here in Vienna, politicians and high dignitaries can often be seen walking about, going after their business, without the need for any kind of protection. The Viennese pride themselves for their sense of diplomacy and for their polity. Still, it was deemed necessary to inconvenience the whole city and heap exorbitant costs upon Austrian taxpayers, so that the good man could come to shake hands with his political allies in this country. One has to ask, what does the man fear that he feels he needs such excessive protection in this peaceful country ? Does he fear that he and his entourage could be arrested for crimes against humanity by a well-meaning prosecutor ? Does he fear somebody could poke fun at his incompetence, or is it something else, even worse ? I don't know, and I probably don't want to know what the man fears. What I known is that, according to all Austrians I could talk to, he made himself an annoyance.
Below are some pictures of a demo against Bush which took place on the last day of his visit. It was the "authorized" one, as there had been several smaller demos during and before Bush's visit. In this demo about 15.000 people took part. That is a big demo for Austria, where people don't really take to the streets to express their dissent. On the afternoon before this march, I was invited to Webster University to an event related to the Iraq war. One of the speakers was a former Marine who took part in the invasion in 2003. He told us that he went because he then understood that it was about defending his country (the U.S.), but that he would not do it again because of all he has learned in the meantime. He also said that he is in contact with many people who are still serving, that most of the still enrolled people he has talked to are disillusioned and feel cheated by their government. He also said, without going into specifics, that the situation in Iraq is "far worse" than what is being reported.
You can click on all pictures for a bigger view. Below the pictures, the texts of the placards are quoted.
"Stop Bush - Stop War !" - Christians, Orthodox Jews and Muslim women side by side.
Also seen: "Worlds Terrorist #1", "Americans against Bush's War", "Hands off Iran"
The Guantanamo truck. Bush said he'd "like to close" the
concentration camp, but who believes him anyway.