Things got a little testy at the Camp David Summit between Afghan President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and American President George Bush.
Karzai, who when he is in the U.S. is expected to act as a puppet of the Bush administration, made the mistake of actually speaking his mind. In a CNN interview broadcast Sunday, the Afghan president said terrorism in Afghanistan is getting worse, that the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is at a standstill and, then, he described Iran as a positive player -- "a helper and a solution" -- in the region.
All of these statements are objectively true.
But George Bush does not deal in the realm of truth. And he certainly does not like his puppet presidents getting off their strings.
On the eve of the summit, Karzai told CNN that:
1. "The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated. The Afghan people have suffered. Terrorists have killed our schoolchildren. They have burned our schools. They have killed international helpers."
2. "We are not closer (to catching bin Laden), we are not further away from it. We are where we were a few years ago."
3. "So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)."
All of those statements, made by Karzai in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on the eve of his trip to Camp David, were corrected by Bush upon the Afghan president's arrival.
On the security situation, Bush told Karzai not to believe what he was seeing on the ground in Afghanistan. "There is still work to be done, don't get me wrong," Bush said. "But progress is being made."
On the bin Laden search, Bush spoke of how the hunt is progressing and declared that, "With real actionable intelligence, we will get the job done."
On Iran's positive role in the region, Bush again told Karzai not to believe his own experience but instead to accept the neoconservative version of events. "I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence there in Afghanistan is a positive force," the American president pointedly told the Afghan president.
So there you have it, a meeting of the minds Bush-style.
A foreign leader from a region of supreme interest to the United States comes to Camp David to brief the American president on what is going on. The foreign leader speaks his mind, offering his best assessment of the experience he is living. Then the president tells the visitor from abroad that he is wrong.
As Bush famously declared at a policy session in 2005, "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
And it is just so damned inconvenient when a puppet who is supposed to help spread the propaganda instead messes everything up by talking about what is really happening.
John Nichols' new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"
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