Clinton in New Zealand
Philip L Ferguson
PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Sep 15 16:49:32 MDT 1999
As I write Clinton is winging his way back to Washington after the APEC
summit in Auckland and visits to other parts of New Zealand.
The media here, and sections of the public, positively gushed over him.
Thousands turned out to see him when he came to Christchurch, which is
where I am. This was the only city where he delivered a major speech.
Members of the public could get tickets to his address, and there were big
queues for the tickets, much like for a rock concert.
His speech was on the environment, warning of global warming etc etc (an
issue on which I tend to have the ame view as Jose G. Perez, btw) and how
poorer, Third World countries could not be allowed to use their poverty as
an excuse for practices which supposedly weaken the ozone layer.
In other words, 'environmental protection' is to join 'human rights abuses'
as the big stick which the West waves over the Third World.
Clinton went on various walkabouts, buying jewellery and nick-nacks and
fidning an adoring public here. It was really quite sick-making.
He also gushed over what a beautiful country it was and said that people
dream in their lives of one day finding such a lovely place and usually
don't, because they don't get to NZ blah blah. So the tourist industry
here is rapt.
Interestingly, he had Chelsea and his mother-in-law with him (granny
presumably being along to keep an eye on him for Hilary). Although our
prime ministers are equally odious, they don't usually take their kids and
mothers-in-law along with them at taxpayers' expense on overseas junkets.
Given the level of imperialist interventions abroad these days, there was
very little opposition to him - in sharp contrast to the last visit by a US
president, LBJ in the late 1960s, who was met with anti-Vietnam War
protests wherever he went.
These days, perhaps, protesters would more likely be calling for US troops
to go in to Third World countries, than to get the hell out.
All in all, APEC and Clinton's soojourn was quite a coup for Clinton and
for the NZ government. They emerged as warm, caring people with a level of
popularity that is disturbing, given the nature of what is actually going
on in the world.
By contrast, the left here was shown to be confused, demoralised,
bedraggled and about 15 years out of date.
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