Protesters are getting ready to take to the streets of Surrey on Thursday, to protest a visit by former U.S. president George W. Bush to the annual Surrey Economic Forum.
While they are entitled to protest, as protest is an essential part of free speech, many of these protesters are quite hypocritical. They do not seem to have any problem that former U.S. president Bill Clinton is also on the agenda at the forum.
Whether their fixation with Bush is due to the fact that one former president is a Republican and the other is a Democrat is unclear.
What is clear is that Bush is the target. Some of the more off-base protesters insist that he should be arrested while in Surrey — stating that he is a “war criminal.”
Such an inflammatory charge is frequently made, and it is often based on the fact that waterboarding and other forms of prisoner treatment by U.S. authorities at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba have been highly controversial.
However, it is important to remember that such treatment has ended, at least partially because protesters have refused to let the issue go. It is also important to remember that the U.S. has been above-board about how it was trying to get information from prisoners held at the military base.
Such open acknowledgement of prisoner treatment does not take place in many other parts of the world.
Whether or not Bush bears some blame over how the U.S. treated some prisoners during his watch really has little to do with his appearance in Surrey. He was twice elected to the highest office in his country, and oversaw some very trying circumstances after Sept. 11, 2001, which really defined his presidency.
Clinton too had issues he had to deal with on his watch, and many people weren’t happy with the way he handled some of them.
Those who plan to attend the conference hope to learn some lessons about leadership, decision-making and the world economy from the two former presidents. It is significant that they are coming to Surrey, an up-and-coming city in its own right and the most important part of the region south of the Fraser.
Peaceful protests are fine. However, it is also important that those who pay to hear two former presidents get to do so, without being impeded or assaulted by dissidents.