Gone are the Days of Red Carpet

By Dr. A. S. Nakadar, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

No president in the history of U.S. has ever received such large gatherings of vocal, defying, unruly and angry protestors as Mr. Bush. Wherever he has gone during his tenure he has met with large stubborn agitated crowds. Strong protests greeted him even in countries that are the US’s coalition partners, and countries alleged to be allied with us on the war on “terrorism.” The people in Australia, UK, Canada and Pakistan and others have been more vocal than their respective governments. Most of the Latin American countries are not involved in any coalitions, but his recent visit to Latin America is no exception. It demonstrates the frustration and anger of the people towards United States foreign policies and its war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stated purpose of his recent visit to Latin America was to create more jobs by providing financial aid to the tune of 1.6 Billion dollars. And look what he gets on the streets of Brazil nothing but signs that ridiculed him and asking him to go home in a very derogatory way. Even the people from the ruling party of Brazilian President Mr. da Silva who was his host were making loud protests.

That didn’t deter the Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim from signing the Ethanol deal on last Friday. March 9, 2007. Not many of us are aware that Brazil is the only country in Latin America or for that matter in the world that has become almost self sufficient in its energy demand by using 35% ethanol and 65% gasoline.

United States wants to push other Latin American countries to become self sufficient in its energy use as well. The US desire of achieving ethanol self sufficiency use in other Latin American countries is obvious. As these countries production in manufacturing goods are on ascendancy they will need more oil in the future. Hence by using ethanol as an alternative source it will dampen future gasoline demand. This in the hope that it will not upset the present equation of supply and demand; in fact it may reduce the demand that will help lower the oil prices. But the caveat is there are no much economic gains because use of ethanol in cars reduces MPG average, as compared to using only gasoline.

It is possible for Brazil to achieve this feat because it produces sugarcane in abundance. The only other country that can match production of this quantity of sugarcane is Cuba. Sugarcane produces best ethanol. Other grains can produce ethanol as well; in fact any thing that you can ferment will produce ethanol but the quality is inferior as compared to ethanol produced by sugarcane. Hence the ethanol produced by fermenting corn, soybean and other grains are of inferior quality.

In United States, a major source of sugarcane lies in Mississippi delta region but the quantity is not sufficient to meet the national demand. Importing sugarcane from other countries to USA to produce ethanol is not viable economically as well energy wise. Expanses involved in its transportation and energy (oil) it will use for its transportation far out weighs the benefit derived from producing ethanol.

On the other hand the amount of corn, soybeans and other grains used for producing ethanol will substantially reduce the quantity available for humans and cattle’s consumption, pushing up the prices of these commodities. The net result will be increase in prices of all dairy produces including meat.

This is what Mr. Chavez meant, dismissing the ethanol plan when he said, “A crazy thing off the wall” and accused the United States of trying to “substantiate the production of foodstuffs for animals and human beings with the production of the foodstuffs for the vehicles, to sustain the American way of life.”

Mr. Bush remarked on his visit “I don’t think America gets enough credit for trying to help improve people’s lives.” One might ask the people of Iraq and Palestine how much life has improved since the year 2000.

It was not long ago when the mere mention of “America” commanded respect in most parts of the world.

However, in the last five years, the word “America” evokes negative emotional responses. Mr. President, we are longing for those days back again when a red carpet will be rolled out to a visiting United States president on the ground by the host government and their people will lay out red carpet in their mind and soul.