Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Alexandre Adler

Adler used to write for Courrier International and recently published an essay on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in Le Figaro that detailed how certain elements of the Saudi and Pakistani leadership have more fully begun to divorce themselves from Islamist extremism. Adler published a book back in 2002 entitled, J'ai vu finir le monde ancien, an extract of which is available here. It consists of inaccurate generalizations infused with French prejudice such as:

"Clinton was involved in the defederalization of the United States, an entirely negative phenomenon that was begun under Reagan. Although Clinton was a leftist concerned about social justice, he belonged to an anti-federalist movement that swept America by storm from the 1980's onward. Clinton did not have a real foreign policy because he did not like the central government."

One can see the French love of centralized government combined with a myopic vision of the American political landscape. It is hard to believe that someone might seriously claim that Clinton and Reagan had similar visions of the federal government.

On the other hand, Adler has some interesting cultural insights. One involves the use of the word "crusade." Adler points out that this word has different connotations depending upon which side of the Atlantic one finds oneself. While Europeans often view the term in its religious sense, it has a broader definition for Americans. Adler cites the use of the phrase "Crusade Against Poverty" by communists and socialists (who are not generally religious fundamentalists) during the 1930's EPIC movement in California. He also points out that Bush's home state of Texas has 60 mosques in Houston alone.