Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

June 15, 2006

Thoughts from one of those folks on the train

Walking down the street in New York the other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine who was criticizing the decisions being made by the senior management of a company for which we both once worked. After he vented, I laughed, reminding him we must be doing something wrong as those execs making bad decisions were earning at least twice what we were, combined. I am not one who makes decisions affecting the fates of countries or companies, a thought which reverberated with me last night on the train.

Being a semi-regular on the train has resulted in train acquaintances and through them opportunities to talk with people outside my regular circle representing a wide variety of economic and social strata and certainly varying political opinions. So last night's conversation on the train centered on the trip to Iraq by POTUS [President of the United States]. A train companion mentioned several times how good he thought it was for the troops the President had made an appearance on the ground. I agreed that for the troops it was indeed, probably, a great psychological shot in the arm. The Commander In Chief on the ground in a war zone is not something that has happened very often in the history of the country and I am sure it was heartening to the troops. However, from what I understood, the President's stated reason for going to Iraq was to meet with the new Prime Minister, look him in the eye and see if he was up to the test.

I am not the guy making global decisions; I am just the guy riding the train in and out of the city, making a living one way or another - but my concern was that "W" created a really bad impression of the United States.

The new Prime Minister of Iraq is the Prime Minister of what is supposed to be a sovereign country. Now being the guy who just rides the train and makes a living, I can't absolutely say this is correct but I think diplomatic protocol requires a leader of one sovereign state to at least alert the leader of another sovereign state that he is about to drop in.

Now I understand the reasons for keeping the visit secret. I am sure Al Qaeda in Iraq would like nothing better than to scrape up a few surface to air missiles to try to take a shot at Air Force One.

However, the whole adventure [and listening to some of the reporters afterwards gave me the sense the trip had the feel of boys adventures] left me feeling we had communicated very clearly to the world that Iraq is not a sovereign state but a vassal state of the American Empire and our Imperial President [and the trip had an Imperial feel to me but then I just ride the rails] ignored diplomatic courtesies for his domestic poll numbers.

The last thing we need in this quagmire of a mess is any message which sends out the signal that Iraq is considered a vassal state by the United States. That kind of message riles anti-Americanism throughout the region and across the globe.

It is also the impression much of the world has of us as a country, if not for us as individuals, that we feel we don't have to play by the rules we demand of everyone else. It would not, I expect, be appreciated by Mr. Bush if any world leader "dropped in" on him unannounced. Nor would he appreciate having any world leader say he had come to look him in the eye to see if he was up to the task.

Too bad we didn't give that courtesy to Mr. al-Maliki. It would have looked so much better to everyone. Courtesy between individuals is essential and it is the same between countries.