(Photos are of Esfahan's lovely bridges, bazaars, etc. and a great photo of East meeting West!)
For years now I've been complaining about how President [sic] Bush isn't letting any of us Americans tour the White House. He keeps claiming it's for security reasons but that doesn't change the fact that it's OUR White House -- not his -- and we should freaking be allowed to take White House tours.
Finally someone told me that I could score a tour by contacting my Congressperson. So I did. And I've been waiting since way back in MARCH to get approved. It didn't take me that long to secure a visa to North Korea. It took far less time than that to even secure a visa to freaking IRAN. Heck, it only took me three weeks to get permission to tour Baghdad. What's so top-secret special about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
I'm over here in Iran right now, having a wonderful time touring Esfahan, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And this morning I was chatting with a fellow American tourist, telling him about how the most recent press releases from the US military Iraq tend to talk about how training Iraqi forces has been stepped up and even about how US outposts are being turned over to Iraqis.
Does the US military know something that we don't know? Is there a de facto withdrawal happening even as we speak? Are they just waiting until after the elections to let us taxpaying voters in on the big secret? Hmmm.
Us taxpayers are always the last to know. But I digress.
"Right now," continued the American tourist, "the UN mandate for the American military to be in Iraq will expire at the end of December -- and you just KNOW that the UN isn't going to extend it. And the mandate gives immunity to American troops. And Bush is putting pressure on Iraq to keep giving immunity to US troops. But the thing is this -- the Shah of Iran granted immunity to US troops in Iran back in 1979 and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Back then, businessmen and bazaar owners had been very hesitant to back Khomeini up to that point but when the Shah gave immunity to the US troops, that was all-she-wrote for the Shah -- and the Islamic Revolution was on." I didn't know that.
"And Americans never learn," said my new friend. "The Brits over-extended their empire and lost it -- but that didn't stop Americans from doing the same thing. And Vietnam didn't stop Americans from getting bogged down militarily and clobbered economically the same way in Iraq."
Then a whole bunch of German tourists, South Koreans and me went out and toured the bridges, bazaars, mosques, churches and synagoges of Esfahan.
I'm thinking that when Obama gets elected, I may FINALLY get to tour the White House. But what if McCain wins the same way that Bush won before? What if McCain jimmies the vote too and steals the third presidential election in a row? Then I'll NEVER get to tour the White House.
PS: If the GOP does try to steal yet another presidential election this November, they may be in for a very big surprise. Maybe this time Americans will finally not stand for it. Maybe this time Americans will finally say to themselves, "I voted for Gore, Kerry and Obama and so did most of my friends. What's with that?"
And maybe more and more Americans might begin thinking that giving election-fraud immunity to the Republicans yet again just might be OUR straw for breaking the camel's back. So. Perhaps the GOP will think twice this time before tampering with the vote -- for their own good.