The gulf crisis isn't boosting President Bush's approval rating at home, and his stock has hit rock bottom in the small Arab nation of Jordan.
That, of course, probably doesn't bother the U.S. president.But the fact that he is not bothered is bothering a lot of Jordanians. Strong anti-Bush sentiment is expressed nearly everywhere:
- A prominent Jordanian banker: "Bush is not reacting thoughtfully (to the gulf crisis). Someone needs to come and wake him up and say, `Wait a minute, have you exhausted other solutions and considered the consequences of war?' "
- A college student: "Bush is an intelligent man, but Israel is making him look silly. (Many Jordanians believe it was Israeli interests that dragged the United States into the crisis). George Bush doesn't mind if all the children in the world die except the Israelis."
- A taxi driver: "I think Americans are nice - but George Bush is not nice."
- A luggage salesman: "You American? Oh yes, Ronald Reagan very good; George Bush very bad."
- A T-shirt hanging in a shop window: "Get Bush Out!"
The gulf crisis has already severely damaged Jordan's economy. (See box.) War, while not likely to be fought on Jordanian soil, would, at minimum, be an economic disaster.
Those sad-but-true facts of life would probably be palatable to Jordanians if they felt they were being consulted in decisionmaking.
The Jordan Times, the country's English-language daily newspaper, quoted Jordanian sources this week questioning why Bush decided to not meet with Jordan King Hussein during Bush's recent Mideast visit.
The article quoted the White House as saying Hussein canceled the meeting. But Jordan's Royal Court said it was Bush who canceled the meeting. At any rate, the article left the reader believing that Bush had snubbed the Jordanian ruler.
Additionally, Jordanians are keenly interested in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. That Bush refuses to link the two issues has apparently delivered a one-two punch to his popularity in this generally friendly country.
Jordan continues to push for a peaceful diplomatic solution to the crisis, but Jordanians worry that Bush leans toward a military solution.
The price Jordan pays
Damage to Jordan's economy from the Persian Gulf crisis:
-Tourism has fallen to almost nothing.
-Iraq was perviously a major destination for Jordanian exports.
-The gulf blockade has made importing raw materials difficult.
-Jordan was a major exit point for refugees fleeing to their homelands from Iraq to Kuwait. Though most were there only temporarily, many remain. The cost of caring for them has been staggering.
-One of Jordan's main exports was its people, who worked in good-paying jobs in the gulf and sent money home. Those jobs, obviously, are no longer available.