When George Bush went to visit Israel, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt over eight days last year there were 2,000 troops deployed to various positions to protect him. But that was the Middle East. And it was George Bush, who we have been told is the most despised American president in the history of the world. When Barack Obama visits Europe this week he will be accompanied by a staff of 500. But he is Barack Obama, and this is Europe, where we have been told he is beloved. I don’t know how many troops have been deployed to protect Obama. The 500 includes secret service, but as far as I can tell that does not include additional military protection.
The idea of an entourage of 500 accompanying The One to Europe certainly makes a statement, but it isn’t one of sacrifice and fiscal responsibility. I wonder what kind of impression this big show will have on the British after he so successfully dissed them on their trip to America? What kind of impression will this have on those AIG executives who were shamed by the President into giving back their bonuses and were threatened by angry mobs and a 90 percent tax by Congress? If I were one of them I would sure feel punked right about now.
With an entourage of 500 staff, an armour-plated limousine and a fleet of decoy helicopters, America’s new president will arrive for his first visit to Britain amid huge razzmatazz on Tuesday for the G20 summit…Britain will get its first chance to see Barack Obama this week when a White House cavalcade – complete with armoured limousines, helicopters, 200 US secret service staff and a six-doctor medical team – sweeps into the UK.
Obama will fly into London for his first visit to the UK as president of the United States on Tuesday to take part in the G20 summit in the capital’s Docklands area. He will not be travelling light.
More than 500 officials and staff will accompany the president on his tour this week – along with a mass of high-tech security equipment, including the $300,000 presidential limousine, known as The Beast. Fitted with night-vision camera, reinforced steel plating, tear- gas cannon and oxygen tanks, the vehicle is the ultimate in heavy armoured transport.
In addition, a team from the White House kitchen will travel with the president to prepare his food. As one official put it: “When the president travels, the White House travels with him, right down to the car he drives, the water he drinks, the gasoline he uses, the food he eats. America is still the sole superpower and the president must have the ability to handle any crisis, anywhere, any time.”If I put out the message that I was willing to negotiate with Iran without preconditions and voted to surrender in Iraq before we were winning and was closing Gitmo, etc., I guess I would want to surround myself with as many people as possible too — for protection if nothing else. I believe the president of the United States, no matter who he or she is and no matter what the state of the economy, should be well protected.
It seems to me that as much as Europe loves Obama they might have offered to pick up the tab. (My tongue was firmly planted in cheek when I wrote that line, for those who might not have noticed.)
Remember the criticism of the AIG executives I mentioned above on the issue of “excess.” Then remember the criticism of those politicians who supported the mission in Iraq, but wore bullet proof vests on their visits. Then remember all the talk of how much everyone in the world hated George Bush and loved Barack Obama. Remember the criticism of the Bush administration for the money spent on the Inauguration? Let’s see how much criticism there is of the Obama administration for excessive spending during what Obama keeps referring to as “the worst economy since the Great Depression.”
Update: Bush took less than 2,000 on his Europe trips. In 2003, when we had many more troops in Iraq, Saddam Hussein had yet to be captured and amidst massive anti-war protests, Bush took an entourage of 700 to Europe and he was criticized for it. Of course the economy in 2003 was not the “worst since the Great Depression” either. Note that in 2003 Bush was criticized because most of his meetings would be private, and in the article about Obama’s visit we are told that “it will be his closed-door meetings with world leaders that are likely to prove the most significant of the trip.”