Unwary undertones

THE Cold War is over. The fear of spies planting bugs in flower vases, installing miniature cameras in bathrooms and two-way mirrors in bedrooms to secretly tape and photograph leaders' unguarded moments of speech and action has almost vanished with new bridges of friendship being built between the East and West and hands of cooperation extended between the two sides.

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Published: Sat 22 Jul 2006, 10:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:11 PM

But if one is not careful and observant, a simple open microphone can unplug even the mightiest leader.

The person caught on the tape is none other than President George W Bush. What he said about the current Israeli push into Lebanon, Hezbollah and Syria during his aside with his buddy Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain at the G-8 summit in St Petersburg had travelled throughout the length and breadth of the globe several times even before the president realised the power of electronic gadgets and their reach. No need to recall his expletive or his fit of pique over UN chief Kofi Annan's stand on the boiling Middle East situation. Bloggers are having a field day feasting on Bushspeak and his unwary chat in undertones with his friend from across the Atlantic.

Although such harmless conversations in undertones may not really prove earth shaking in ordinary times, they do open a window into a leader's mind and his line of thinking on issues that have an impact on global events.

Of course, President Bush is not the first leader to be caught off guard, or overheard. Many of his predecessors and a host of other world leaders have had their share of embarrassing moments with dangerously inconvenient cameras and microphones. Goes without saying that pressure of working in high places, demands of office, frustration and exasperation all take their toll on world leaders too who once in a while let their steam out, blissfully oblivious of what is going on around.

In President Bush's case, it's his five days of travel and speaking in Germany and Russia and the conflagration that is getting out of hand in the Middle East and a technician's folly to switch off the microphone that gave the world a peek into what B said to B in private that became public.

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