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by Tim Rogers
Sunday, Feb. 02, 2003 at 7:37 PM
In Costa Rica where they abolished the military over 1/2 century ago, Ticos(short for Costarricenses) "chill out" after Dubya's state of the Union speech.
Weekly Edition: Vol. VIII, No. 53- San José, Costa Rica, January 31 - February 06, 2003
Ticos Cool to Bush Speech
By Tim Rogers
Tico Times Staff
The bipartisan applause and hoots of approval that filled the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol during Tuesday night's State of the Union address by President George W. Bush, resounded as grunts of disapproval and deepening worry in Costa Rica.
"How barbarous!" said political observer Luis Guillermo Solís. "Bush was arrogant, provocative and argumentative, while offering very little substance or proof to back up his claims; this President has taken patriotic rhetoric to new levels."
"This appears to be Bush's final verdict; his last national address before going to war," echoed international political expert Antonio Barrios of the Universidad Nacional. "He did not offer any hope of a peaceful solution; war appears imminent now."
With a smug confidence that especially irked local analysts, Bush told the U.S. people: "If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."
The U.S. President also continued to blur differences between the Iraqi dictator and the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., claiming that unidentified sources had revealed that "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Queda."
"Imagine those 19 hijackers with other agents, with other weapons and other plans - this time armed by Saddam Hussein," Bush warned in his address. "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that day never comes."
Milton Madriz, international political analyst for Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly, criticized Bush's equating Hussein with Sept. 11 as a way to psychologically prepare the U.S. public for a military attack on Iraq.
Kuwaiti Interior Minister Sheik Ali Khaled al-Sabah told The Tico Times during an interview in Nicaragua two weeks after Sept. 11 that intelligence officials were looking for any link they could find between the terrorist strikes and Hussein, stressing that "Iraq is unfinished business."
Bush also prompted groans here by comparing Hussein to Adolf Hitler.
"Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world," he said. "In each case, the ambitions of Hitlerism, militarism, and communism were defeated by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great alliances, and by the might of the United States of America."
"Give me a break!" Solís scoffed. "How many times do we have to hear about the 'Hitlers of the 21st century'?"
Apparently disregarding the appeal by the international community and UN Secretary General Kofi Annon to give weapons inspectors more time in Iraq, Bush said his government would provide proof on Feb. 5 that Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction.
Barrios, however, claims Bush's State of the Nation message to the Iraqi people is laying the groundwork to justify an invasion in the event the alleged proof of Hussein's nuclear capacity is unconvincing to the international community.
"Your enemy is not surrounding your country - your enemy is ruling your country," Bush told the Iraqis. "And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation."
By insisting that Hussein needs to be removed, Bush is positioning himself to justify war, regardless of what the weapons inspectors turn up, Barrios noted.
Costa Rica's Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar told The Tico Times this week the government's position is one of peace and dialogue, but he will wait to see what "proof" the U.S. presents Feb. 5 before opining further on the matter (see separate story).
Although Tovar admitted he hadn't heard Bush's speech, others chose not to listen.
"I couldn't watch it; I don't have the stomach to listen to Bush," said Carlos Sojo, director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences.
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