What does it say about our sense of ourselves as a sovereign nation, that the Prime Minister of this country uses the climactic moment of his party’s policy convention to breathlessly inform the citizenry that the President of the United States has returned his telephone call — ten days after the Prime Minister called the White House?

Indeed, there are those amongst the chattering classes, who would cite this as a perfect metaphor for the state of the current relationship between our nations, even though Prime Minister Martin burbled on about the real friendly talk he had with President Bush.

According to Martin, Bush wasn’t annoyed at all that the Liberal Government had decided not to sign up as a partner in the Missile Defence program — that all was tickety-boo between the leaders, and there were no hard feelings at all.

This revelation came at the end of a week in which a Montana-based judge, later backed by the U.S. Senate, refused to lift the ban on unfettered access to the border by Canadian beef farmers.

And there are those who strongly suggest that the two decisions are linked, that we are being punished because we will not go lockstep with Bush in his God-appointed mission to bring democracy to the world, and defence for his Christian army against ballistic missiles at home.

Mind you, Bush has never been able to identify the country, or countries, that have the technological capability and the chutzpah to launch such an attack, those countries knowing that any such paltry effort would be met by a furious retaliation of American might from its arsenal of Weapons of MassDestruction.

(Yes, Virginia, WMDs, nuclear and biological, do exist — not in Saddam’s secret bunkers, nor those supposed to be in Iran — but in the United States of America.)

In any case, there seems to be this vein of supplication running through the minds of some, that we ignore the Bush agenda at our peril, and that retaliation in the form of trade and other barriers is the inevitable consequence of not knuckling under to the American bully in its quest for the establishment of Imperial America to boss the world order.

That agenda is rooted in the peculiarly American vein of political thought beginning with the notion that the gents who got together to frame the American Constitution were divinely inspired in their labours. It is a myth.

It is true that some say the Lord does his works in mysterious ways, but were he peering down over the shoulders of these gents at their labours, it would come as news to them. In reality, several were agnostic and some outright atheist. Others were free thinking Christians of one sort or another. The word God never appears. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God or Christianity, and the writers took the greatest of pains to ensure the greatest degree of separation between church and state.

Bush has unloaded a whopper with his claim that the United States of America was founded on Christian principles. It is fiction, as is the Bush doctrine that he is God’s messenger to bring American-style democracy to every nation on earth.

The document titled The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, issued in September 2002, sets forth the God-given American agenda: “…the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world.

“Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders.”

Drug cartels. Oh yes…those!

Like in Afghanistan, for instance.

In that poor country, the flowering of democracy has brought on the flowering of the opium poppy in numbers of blossoms never before experienced in the opium growing capital of the world.

Bush proclaims in speech after speech that democracy has changed everything in Afghanistan. Now, a report commissioned by the president himself says the country “is on the verge of becoming a narcotic state,” and “represents an enormous threat to world stability.”

Cultivation of the opium poppy hit a new record high last year — 206,700 hectares, and three times the amount under cultivation in 2003. That is enough to produce 4,950 tonnes of opium, 17 times more than Myanmar, the second-place country.

The Taliban had extinguished the production of the opium poppy during its reign in the country. The Taliban did it by imposing a brutal will. But democracy does not seem to have had the desired effect of creating a society where poor Afghans need not grow opium in order to survive.

But then again… “Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists or murderers.”

Then, there is the unending war in Iraq, where American democracy is supposedly beginning to flourish, and American jails are bursting at the seams with Iraqi prisoners. Of course, keeping large numbers of males in jails is a habit for the U.S. Its own jails house the greatest percentage of young males of any country in the world excepting South Africa.

About 9,000 Iraqis are held in jail by the Americans. That’s 1,000 more than last year, and it includes Saddam Hussein, who is being held in a facility near the Baghdad airport.

Democracy certainly is, however, bringing its benefits to Halliburton, the enormous company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney. Currently, $9.6 billion (U.S.) are flowing its way, as the American casualty count trips over 1,500 dead and nearly 20,000 wounded while the Bush budget sent to Congress tries to cut veterans’ benefits.

Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times declares: “The President’s priorities are totally nuts.”

Friedman is succinct, if somewhat irreverent; he gets to the point.

“…we are financing the U.S. Armed Forces with our tax dollars, and through our profligate use of our energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where cash is used to insulate regimes from any pressure to open up their economies….and where it ends up…financing madrasses, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agendas America is trying to promote.

“Now how smart is that?”

About as smart as trying to foist on their country and their neighbours a multi-billion dollar anti-missile defence system that doesn’t work and has three times failed in tests that is supposed to protect fortress America from non-existent missiles fired by countries that don’t possess them and can’t make them — unless they get enough U.S. dollars for their oil to buy the technology they need.

In the State of New Hampshire the license plates of automobiles carry the slogan: “Live Freeâe¦Or Die.”

The American Empire is merely tyranny of another kind.