What is it that we're winning?

According to the Administration, 'freedom' is on the march in the Middle East and elections (that have already beeen held or will be held in that area) will usher in a new era of peace.

We have been told that, due to our invasion of Iraq, the citizens and politicians of Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq are well on their way to establishing democracies and the Israelis and the Palestinians are forging ahead to a peaceful co-existence. Furthermore, according to the Administration, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have been a key allies and friends in our search for stability in that region.

All thanks to George Bush's far- sighted foreign policy, unique vision, and steely resolve.

Before embarking on a vacation to one of those countries, it's a good idea to check newspaper headlines and take a peek at the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs International Travel Sheets.

As for headlines, heavy fighting is reported in Iraq and even Afghanistan. The Uzbeks have just suffered through a riot leaving hundreds, if not thousands, dead. Fighting beween Israel and Hezbollah has reached its highest level in some time. Pakistan has had protests in the streets, a round-up and imprisonment of journalists, fundamentalists have beaten women for taking part in a foot race (traditionally an activity only engaged in by men), and Pakistani fighters have been found in Iraq. Lebanon, and even Indonesia, have held anti-U.S. rallies due to an unfortunate incident between a marine, a secretive prison, an Afghan prisoner, a toilet, and the Koran.

However, these reports are from 'liberal-elite' newspapers (from all around the world), which act, per Administration cautions, as 'filters' for those unhappy with the stunning success of the Bush Doctrine and all other Bush policies.

That's why it's best to go to the State Department for the information. The State Department is currently being run by Secretary Rice, a close friend and confidant of George Bush who will, no doubt, only allow the unvarnished truth on State Department websites.

A quick review shows the following advice offered by the State Department to travelers:

Afghanistan- "The security threat to all American citizens in Afghanistan remains critical...The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and non- Governmental organization (NGO) workers throughout the country..."

Iraq- "The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous."

Lebanon- "The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully weigh the necessity of their travel to Lebanon in light of the risks noted below...Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present and retain the ability to act."

Libya- "The United States Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to Libya to exercise caution...any American citizen who decides to travel to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel."

Uzbekistan- "The United States Government has received information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks against U.S. interests in Uzbekistan in the near future...The Department of State urges Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution, including avoiding large crowds, celebrations, and places where Westerners generally congregate."

Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza- "The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully weigh the necessity of their travel to Israel in light of the risks noted below. The Department also urges U.S. citizens to defer unnecessary travel to the West Bank and avoid all travel to Gaza...Resentment against efforts to promote peace, and ongoing Israeli military operations in the Occupied Territories could incite further violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories."

What is interesting is that the travel advisories say nothing about dangers in Syria or North Korea (but do describe the latter as 'poor') and as for Iran, the warnings are couched in terms of "may" language rather than the explicit danger warnings regarding the "marching" towards 'freedom' countries.

The result is, if one were to believe everyone but the Administration, that the "Axis of Evil" seems pretty safe to travel to while the countries we're taking credit for 'liberating' seem downright deadly.

But that conclusion would require a temporary suspension of belief in the Administration- something a true 'patriotic' American would never do.

Feel free to visit the countries that "need" our presence- but first, make sure your affairs are in order.



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