Other nations shouldn’t be required to legitimize U.S. fears

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George Bush is at it again.

Under the pretense of national security, Bush is proposing new trans-Atlantic airline safety measures — and expecting foreign nations to comply.

One measure will require passengers to provide airlines with extended information on their family members, which could thwart possible terrorist threats. The rationale behind the plan is that it will increase safety for American citizens, as Homeland Security will then theoretically deter terrorists from entering the U.S. by gathering as much information as possible beforehand.

It’s true — this measure could make America a safer place. But what Bush and his misguided advisers fail to realize is that such a move will have both short- and long-term consequences. In the short term, implementing stricter travel guidelines will increase worldwide hostility towards American power, especially in already-weary regions such as the Middle East and Central Asia. Bush’s proposed trans-Atlantic travel policies will only promote further mistrust in our leaders, companies, and, unfortunately, our people.

With respect to long-term effects, Bush’s plan could make travel to the U.S. even more complex than it is now. The proposed changes will cause the tourism industry to suffer, which could prove damaging to an already weakening U.S. economy. As a retaliatory move, European Union nations could require U.S. citizens to get visas before traveling abroad; they might be profiled simply for being American. This isn’t something we want to happen.

Also, European businesses could start moving to countries such as China and India, where travel rules are not as strict. This is not a risk worth taking, especially since there is no data suggesting that extra screening of passengers’ families has resulted in easier identification of terrorism suspects.

European newspapers have already voiced their discontent for Bush’s plan. The Guardian, a London newspaper, stated in a Feb. 11 article, “Bush orders clampdown on flights to U.S.,” that the plan is a form of blackmail and will result in nothing but trouble. It also pointed out that if European countries do not comply, their citizens may be forced to get visas to visit the U.S., which would make the process of visiting our country that much more of a hassle.

The article makes a valid point: The U.S. should not test the patience of the European Union, which is one of the strongest allies the country has had in past years.

Bush seems to lack respect for the safety of other countries — why should the rest of the world respect his concerns for America? Under Bush, the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, killing millions of civilians. Bush has also continued a policy of economic domination of third-world countries like Nicaragua and Indonesia, with almost no concern for the ideals of freedom and democracy. The U.S., in this light, is no longer a beacon of hope; it is a bully, much like the imperialist powers of the past.

As Bush pushes this plan and others like it, politicians in Washington should keep in mind that the U.S. is not the only country worth protecting. Making a decision without fully evaluating its consequences is something that’s happened all too often under Bush’s reign, and these transatlantic regulations could lead to potentially damaging consequences.

The U.S. government needs to stop being naïve and wake up to the fact that our country is not alone in its need for protection.