Bush's India Travels Are Shadowed by War
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. President Bush heads off tomorrow on a trip to South Asia. He'll make a short visit to Pakistan and spend a couple of days in India where he may sign an agreement dealing with the country's nuclear program. For NPR, senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, Mr. Bush's journey brings back memories of another presidential visit to the region.
DANIEL SCHORR, reporting:
In 1959 I covered President Eisenhower's trip to India meant to offset Soviet influence in the world's largest democracy. Greeted everywhere by flower-pelting citizens, addressing a crowd of more than a million in the New Delhi Fairground, touring the sacred Taj Mahal, General Eisenhower added luster to his legacy in the twilight of his presidency. The two day Bush trip to India this week may advance the cause of nuclear nonproliferation, but is not likely to capture the imagination of Americans as the Eisenhower trip did. There will be no pictures of the American president removing his shoes at the Taj Mahal, he is skipping that shrine. Mr. Bush told Indian journalists that his scheduler had not included the Taj Mahal. If I were the scheduler, perhaps I'd be doing things differently, he said in one of the oddest presidential apologies in recent times. But more to the point, when Americans think of the president these days it is more likely because of controversies at home than issues abroad.
Two days in India are not likely to divert attention away from the danger of sectarian war in Iraq, or the management of American ports, or the wire tapping of Americans without warrant. These are all concerns that many tend to associate with the president. After 9/ll the administration helped to generate a climate of fear that legitimated almost anything attributed to the war on terrorism. It was in the name of fighting terrorism that the president created a bureaucratic nightmare called the Department of Homeland Security, which became fixated on the danger of terrorism and neglected the hurricane danger.
President Nixon did a lot for his legacy by going to China. Reagan by going to Moscow. Mr. Bush's more modest trip to India is not on the scale of those visits, and it's doubtful that it will do much for his legacy. This is Daniel Schorr.
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