Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year, to One and to All!

McOndo: McDonalds Macintosh Condos
Magical realism is dead. With Allende out of the way: Progess through market-driven bilingualism in Chile.
Le réalisme magique est mort. Allende aux chiottes: Le progrès grâce au bilinguisme et marchés ouverts au Chili.

Palme d'or Cannes 2005

Thursday, December 30, 2004

What Type of Iraqi Citizen Should a Journalist Choose as Guide in Order to Send Home the Most Objective Articles Possible?

When reporting from the new Iraq — you know, the Iraq that has been existing since the fall of the Ba'ath dictatorship in April 2003 — what type of local native should an independent journalist choose to take with him as his guide for the most objective, penetrating articles possible?

If you are a French journalist, the answer is a Syrian member of the Ba'ath party, of course, preferably one who still refers to Saddam Hussein as "president"…

Tewfik Hakem reports in Le Monde that the former chauffeur of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot dreams of a pan-Arabic world.

A partisan of Arab unity since his youth, faithful [notice the presence of the positive-sounding word fidèle] to the Ba'ath movement created by the Christian Michel Aflaq in Damascus in the 1940s, [Mohamed al-Joundi] forsook Syria for Iraq a short time after Hafez al-Assad's régime forced the party's founders, including Michel Aflaq, into exile in 1963. In Baghdad, he became an employee in the party of Saddam Hussein, whom he still calls 'president'. His contacts at the heart of the fallen régime interested the two French reporters who were investigating 'the Iraq resistance'.
(Strange. When mentioning the birth of Ba'athism, why would anyone forget that the movement was modeled after Hitler's Nazi party? Probably nothing more than a slip of the pen…)

During a release celebration at the Paris townhall on December 22, during which he gave a toast not only "to the health of Georges and Christian" but also "to Jacques Chirac and the French government", Mohamed al-Joundi said that as early as two days after all three men's kidnapping, he knew that "things could only go well, because our kidnappers were resistants to the American occupation, and not crooks."

(Here is some more Iraqi praise for 'the president' along with another example of the typical dastardly deeds carried out by the villainous American occupiers which manages to parallel a description of the proud, brave, and noble members of the Baghdad resistance — as well as their legendary mutual solidarity.)

Al-Joundi has said he is planning to sue the American army for "ill treatment and death threats". Before their release, he had not made any comments, because as long as Malbrunot and Chesnot were still being held captive, the "highest French authorities" had asked him not to go public with his grievances against the Americans.

Just in case you don't think al-Joundi has been clear enough, he was speaking with a radiant face, and (now that diplomatic niceties were no longer necessary) did not hide his joy when, referring to the release coupled with the attack that killed 19 servicemen inside a Mosul base mess hall, he added that "Yesterday was a very good day for the French and a very bad one for the Americans".

Read Liberal Iraqi's comment on this
(shookhran to MiF), then bookmark his weblog

At last the two French journalists have been released by their kidnapers. See, these terrorists (errr.. freedom fighters) are not dangerous at all! They don't kill you if you don't mess up with them and if you support their just cause. They only kidnap you, hold you for few months and "treat you well" and then release you. That's not bad, is it? I dare say it's even a good reason to celebrate. …

France's opposition to the Iraq war had a soupçon of principle in a kettle of cynicism burbling with Iraqi oil and blood

For centuries France has claimed a monopoly on political virtue by glomming all the credit for the Enlightenment and by pretending to be its anointed protector throughout history
writes Jonah Goldberg as the NRO editor-at-large discusses "two great new books" that attack the French from France's "most vulnerable sides: facts and logic."
… let's also not gloss over the fact that more than a few French intellectuals have been known to look at dictators and mass-murderers the way Michael Jackson gazes at posters of Macaulay Culkin.

… France's opposition to the Iraq war had a soupçon of principle in a kettle of cynicism burbling with Iraqi oil and blood. Indeed, we forget that the phrase "millions for defense, not a penny for tribute" stemmed from [early] America's [1798] refusal to acquiesce to French shakedowns during the XYZ affair.

… But the most annoying irony is that while they ribbit a big game about bringing liberty and civilization to the world, France's record is one of sowing the seeds of tyranny and corruption almost everywhere they've planted their flag.

… The British valued virtue more than liberty; the Americans had it the other way around. But where the French differed is that they sought to replace the religion of old Europe with a new cult of reason. … By making a religion out of politics, with the state at its center, the French never embraced liberty the way Anglo-Americans did. It was this legacy that lent intellectual heft to all the great dictators — Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. …

(Merci à GS)

Stingy? Radin?
Other countries aren't stingy, they just don't have any pocket change. 'Day by Day' is back.
Les autres pays ne sont pas prêts de leurs sous, ils n'ont pas de sous. 'Day by Day' est de retour.

We Are Wrong, and Damn Proud of It Too!

Which is better: to be right with Aron or to be wrong with Sartre?
was the question asked during the Cold War, when the pro-American, pro-capitalist (and, dare I say, pro-common sense) Raymond Aron took on the pro-Soviet moral relativism spewing out of the mouth of Jean-Paul Sartre (and much of French society). As the very fact that the question was even asked can tell you, the unspoken answer was that it was better to feel good, humanistic, and lucid with the latter's pro-Soviet faction than to boringly agree with the former's pro-common sense faction.

An old fogey in the académie française proves that the question has not (and the feelings have not) gone away. Describing what he calls "the twain attitudes of French thought in the 20th century" (and comparing the two men to rival predecessors such as Corneille and Racine, and Voltaire and Rousseau), Bertrand Poirot-Delpech writes:

Aron frantically sought all that could be said that was truthful, that was logical, and that would shed light on the ideologies in his presence.
That should make him the winner, non?


Just see how much farther Sartre went:

Sartre made of the act of reading and of writing a challenge of existence. He made a game of exercising his multiple talents by turns, without sacrificing an ounce of lucidité.
Well, no wonder it is better to be wrong with Sartre!

Fallujah Again?

It's a dangerous world, out there, Roland.

One of Doonesbury's liberal reporters flies off "to some dusty backwater with inedible food, an incomprehensible culture, and hordes of hostile fundamentalists!"

Kipling on Being a Man…

Today is the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, the British author (1865-1936) who said
A man's mind is wont to tell him more than seven watchmen sitting in a tower.

All the people like us are we, and everyone else is They.

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.

Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbors.

What happened at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo was, and is, beyond belief…

an infamy which the world's press must focus on to prevent the planet from descending into barbarism…

In France, "Islam has replaced Marxism as the ideology of contestation" with a transnational ideology tilting toward an eventual utopian vision

In his Letter from France, Craig S Smith reports in the International Herald Tribune that in Europe, Islam fills Marxism's old shoes:
When Azzedine Belthoub was growing up in the shantytowns outside of Nanterre, France, 40 years ago, the people who came to take the young North African kids to swim in the community pool, to register them for school and give them candy and comic books, were Marxists. The French Communist Party offered a political voice for the working classes, including the growing number of North African immigrants imported to fill labor shortages after World War II.

Today, Islam plays that role, especially in France, where men like Belthoub, wearing long beards and short djellabas, reach out to the poor and disillusioned in the country's working-class neighborhoods.

Young Arabs and Africans here have turned to Islam with the same fervor that the idealistic youth of the 1960s turned toward Marxism.

"Now, religion has become our identity," Belthoub said last week, sitting in a friend's apartment in a largely Muslim suburb north of Paris.

The question is whether Islam in Europe will follow the same path that communism did here, shedding its revolutionary extremism, electing mayors and legislators and assimilating itself into normal democratic political life.

As with Marxism in the 1960s, Islam in Europe has its radical fringe and its pragmatic mainstream. The latter is much the broader, intent on expanding Muslims' political power in French society. It has consciously mimicked many of the tactics of the left, including organizing summer camps where urban young people learn the tenets of the movement.

… Islam's growth in Europe as the most vibrant ideology of the downtrodden is part of a wave of religiosity that has swept the Arab world in the past 30 years, propelled by frustration over feeble economies, uneven distribution of wealth and the absence of political freedom.

Like communism, it represents for many of its devoted adherents a transnational ideology tilting toward an eventual utopian vision, in this case of a vast, if not global, caliphate governed according to sharia, the legal code based on the Koran.

But the religion's appeal reaches beyond the communities of Arab and African immigrants born to the faith. … "Islam has replaced Marxism as the ideology of contestation," says Olivier Roy, a French scholar of European Islam. "When the left collapsed, the Islamists stepped in."

… The map of France's Islamists today largely matches that of the country's Marxists from decades ago. Many predominantly Muslim municipalities are still under Communist-led administrations, but Islamic organizations are now the active ones. …

In similar news, the AP's Anthony Deutsch has reported that (dank u to GS) "The Netherlands' intelligence service [has warned] that radical Islamic ideology is spreading to thousands of young Dutch Muslims through Internet sites and online chat rooms." …

It's just a blip on the screen Ce n'est qu'un blip sur l'écran
So while Pavlovian bitches continue to bark at the slightest mention of the United States or Bush, Zeropa has dropped off the US' radar.
Alors que les petites lopes pavloviennes se mettent à aboyer dès qu'on parle des Etats-unis ou de Bush, la Zéropa a disparu du radar aux Etats-unis.

Go for the jugular Arrachez la jugulaire
A new Iraqi blogger trashes France.
Un nouveau bloggeur irakien s'en prend à la Fwance.

Blind hatred Haine aveugle
The false accusations of stinginess have already made the rounds here in Fwance. The panty-waist wing of the French blogosphere does not yet know that their puny little country was Amazoned. That doesn't stop them from going at it like Pavlov's dogs (bitches).
Les fausses accusations de radinerie ont fait la tour de la Fwance. La frange pédaloïde de la blogosphère franchouille n'a pas encore compris que son pays de gagne-petits était foudroyé par Amazon. Ça ne les arrête pas d'y aller avec leurs reflexes pavloviens (et on ne peut pas être certain que ce soit de la bave aux lèvres avec eux).

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Andy Johnson on Good Laws and a "Poor" Government

Today is the birthday of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States (1808-1875) who said 
There are no good laws but such as repeal other laws.

The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people

Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigourously, more vigourously, and more severely, than by one.

We have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects.

There are some who lack confidence in the integrity and capacity of the people to govern themselves. To all who entertain such fears I will most respectfully say that I entertain none . . . If man is not capable, and is not to be trusted with the government of himself, is he to be trusted with the government of others . . . Who, then, will govern? The answer must be, Man for we have no angels in the shape of men, as yet, who are willing to take charge of our political affairs.

Spike in Casualties, Degrading Morale, Baffled US Commanders: The Only Solution Is Dialog…

You will never get rid of the insurgency in Iraq, there will just be more and more and more, you cannot defeat them

(Shookhran to Greg und Danke zu RV)

The NRO's W. Thomas Smith Jr agrees:

Surprise attacks in supposedly secure areas. A spike in casualties. A few baffled American commanders. Suspicions of degrading morale within some units. Outright refusal to carry out lawful orders in others. Troops stretched too thin. Blame heaped on planners and those said to be responsible for unreliable intelligence.

Sound familiar?

(Read "The present situation is to be regarded
as an opportunity for us and not a disaster"

Ghost Firms Hinder Oil-For-Food Probe

The AP's Sam Cage:
The U.N.-ordered probe into oil-for-food corruption is being seriously hampered by an elaborate system of ghost firms set up around the world to cover the tracks of bribes to Saddam Hussein as he cheated the $60 billion program, a top investigator said.

"Switzerland and Liechtenstein have promised to help," [Swiss criminal lawyer Mark Pieth] said of the two countries where more than two dozen companies got oil under the program, according to an AP examination of records.

Neither nation is known for having oil reserves of its own. But according to a list Volcker released of 248 companies that "lifted," or exported, Iraqi oil under the program, companies based in Switzerland took more than those from any other country except France and Russia. The tiny principality of Liechtenstein — which has 33,000 inhabitants — came in eighth on the list.

[former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul] Volcker has said that being on the list doesn't necessarily imply guilt in paying kickbacks.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein are among countries whose lax regulations and traditions of discretion in business and banking make them attractive for trading companies.

Front companies registered in other tax havens — such as Cyprus, Jordan, Panama, Curação in the Caribbean, and Jersey in the Channel Islands off the United Kingdom — also feature in the oil-for-food investigation.

The French Foreign Ministry and the Iraq Hostage Situation: Coaching the Journalists, Sabotaging Private Initiatives, and Playing the Blame Game

Or: And so what is new at the Quai d'Orsay (and in French politics in general)?…

Pas grand chose

A member of the Didier Julia team has warned Foreign Minister Michel Barnier "not to go too far" in his vendetta against the UMP representative who, single-handedly, attempted to bring about the liberation of Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot in September, writes Philippe Le Cœur.

Seeing Barnier's vendetta as an attempt to cast all the blame on Julia, adds the AFP, history professor Philippe Evano has threatened the foreign ministry with "providing light" on what really happened.

Already he has given a taste of what he might reveal by saying, in general terms, that if anybody is responsible for the Julia mission floundering, says Evano, it is the French foreign ministry's Barnier, who sabotaged it "at least twice".

Didier Julia himself has denounced the "manipulation of Barnier and his friends, who coached the hostages in the plane bringing them back to France", and which he "caught straight in the smacker." He adds that "the term of mythomaniac used by Malbrunot at my expense when he got off the plane is the deed of an énarque [a professional politician], not of a journalist. It is inadmissable."

Moreover, Hervé Gattegno et Stephen Smith point out that the French authorities never disavowed the Didier Julia initiative until it emerged that it had been a failure; in addition, they suggest that the French secret service is now trying to take revenge on a team that tried to circumvent it.

As for the UMP representative from Deux-Sèvres, Dominique Paillé has said that Barnier's call for sanctions against Julia was uncalled for, which may be far from unrelated to Evano's threat to reveal all.

Meanwhile, a Le Monde reader, Gérald Arnaud, points out that, contrary to the four-month period of incessant noise surrounding the reporters kidnapped in Iraq in August, nobody (no journalist and no politician) has made a big deal about the French journalist kidnapped in Abidjan seven months ago (on May 16). No news has been heard of Guy-André Kieffer since, and no public clamor has arisen over the man who "was investigating embezzlement in the cocoa importation network, a sector where considerable French private interests have often mixed with those of the leaders of Ivory Coast."

Hmmm… Makes one wonder where the difference lies regarding Malbrunot and Chesnot… Now what was it again that that duo was investigating?…

"What Can They Have Against France?"

…wondered Georges Malbrunot, concerning the Iraqi kidnappers, during his and Christian Chesnot's captivity. What indeed, since the two were "good guys", i.e., they were in Iraq
to show the realities of the resistance [and] we confirmed that we are not at all following a pro-American line.
What indeed, can the kidnappers have against France, since
we Frenchmen are virginal. We have no troops, we have no businessmen, we have nothing.
In case the message of relativization still wasn't clear enough, Malbrunot added:
we feel that there exists a game of mirrors between Bush and the jihadists, who want a clash of civilizations…

Asia's Tsunami Disaster Is the Occasion for France to Lionize the UN Again…

Notwithstanding the extent of the tragedy in the Indian Ocean, the tsunami is the occasion, once again, for the French to take the opposite tack of anything involving Uncle Sam (note the contrast of the Blue Helmet above with Plantu's usual depiction of American GIs) and lionize the UN as well as all organizations involved with internationalist agendas…

(Click here for a list of aid groups accepting donations for the victims…)

PS: I'm not sure to what extent the vodka ad was appropriate when I checked out articles on the New York Times website

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

America's War Was All About Oil; The "Peace Camp's" Steps to Avert Conflict Were All About Harmony, Respect, Solidarity, Tolerance, Wisdom, etc, etc…

According to the U.N.-ordered inquiry led by Paul Volcker, these are the top 10 countries that purchased oil from Iraq under the oil-for-food program from 1996 until 2003
writes the Associated press.
1. Russia $19.259 billion

2. France $4.394 billion

3. Switzerland $3.480 billion

4. Britain $3.380 billion

5. Turkey $3.343 billion

6. Italy $2.718 billion

7. China $2.625 billion

8. Liechtenstein $2.468 billion

9. Spain $1.644 billion

10. Malaysia $1.485 billion

The United States is listed in 26th place at $482.826 million.

(Five barrels to Gregory)

The UN's Abu Ghraib?

Home-made pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UN’s Abu Ghraib
write Jonathan Clayton and James Bone in The Times.
The case has highlighted the apparently rampant sexual exploitation of Congolese girls and women by the UN’s 11,000 peacekeepers and 1,000 civilians at a time when the UN is facing many problems, including the Iraqi “oil-for-food” scandal and accusations of sexual harassment by senior UN staff in Geneva and New York.

The prospect of the pornographic videos and photographs — now on sale in Congo — becoming public worries senior UN officials, who fear a UN version of the scandal at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. “It would be a pretty big problem for the UN if these pictures come out,” one senior official said.
Can you imagine European periodicals and television devoting as much newsprint and airtime as they did on Abu Ghraib itself? No, right?
“The fact that these things happened is a blot on us. It’s awful,” Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping, said.

“What is important is to get to the bottom of it and fight it and make sure that people who do that pay for what they have done.”
When George W Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other American honchos said much the same thing (often much more forcefully), they were blasted, castigated, and mocked for their comments. How much do you want to bet that media coverage of the UN scandal(s), insofar as it gets (they get) any publicity at all, will be replete with the leaders' quotation marks reported verbatim, as well as the absence of any comments, except of the tear-jerking, hand-wringing type?…

Merci to Monsieur Schreiber)

Monday, December 27, 2004

Pasteur on Barren Skepticism

In reference to constant French cynicism regarding Uncle Sam, capitalism, et al, today is the birthday of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist (1822-1895) who said
Do not let yourself be tainted with a barren skepticism.

In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
And — remembering that cynicism is not an exclusively French trait in Europe — Sunday was the birthday of Charles Babbage, the English mathematician and inventor (1792-1871) who said
Propose to any Englishman any principle or instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Ghost of Christmas Past


De : Sophie BONNET - Direction des Ressources Humaines
A : Tous les salariés
Date : 01 / 12
Sujet : Fête de Noël

Chers Tous,

Je suis heureuse de vous informer que la
Fête de Noël du CRC aura lieu le 23
Décembre, à partir de midi, dans les
salons privés de notre Espace.

Il y aura un bar payant avec tout un
choix de boissons !

Nous aurons aussi un petit groupe
musical amateur qui chantera des
cantiques, alors n'hésitez pas à chanter
avec lui. Et ne soyez pas surpris de
voir arriver notre PDG déguisé en Père
Noël !

Le sapin sera illuminé à partir de
13H00. Les échanges de cadeaux entre les
membres du personnel pourront se faire à
partir de ce moment-là.

Cependant, pour ne gêner personne
financièrement, aucun présent ne devra
dépasser une valeur de 10 Euros.

Joyeux Noël à vous tous et à vos




De : Sophie BONNET- Direction des Ressources Humaines
A : Tous les salariés
Date : 02 / 12
Sujet : Fête de Fin d'Année

Chers Tous,

La note d'hier n'avait bien sûr pas pour
but d'exclure nos employés de confession
juive. Nous savons que Hannoukah est une
fête importante qui coïncide souvent
avec Noël, même si cela n'est pas le cas
cette année.

La même optique s'applique à tous ceux
de nos employés qui ne sont ni chrétiens
ni juifs. Pour calmer les esprits et ne
vexer personne, toutes nos Fêtes de Noël
s'appelleront désormais Fêtes de Fin

Nous n'aurons par conséquent ni sapin ni
cantiques, mais d'autres musiques pour
votre plus grand plaisir.

Tous contents, maintenant ?




De : Sophie BONNET - Direction des Ressources Humaines
A : Tous les salariés
Date : 03 / 12
Sujet : Fête de Fin d'Année

Je m'adresse à la personne membre des
Alcooliques Anonymes qui souhaitait
qu'il y ait une table pour les non
buveurs et qui n'a pas donné son nom. Je
suis heureuse de pouvoir répondre
favorablement à sa demande, mais si je
mets sur la table une pancarte « Réservé
aux Alcooliques Anonymes », vous n'aurez
plus du tout d'anonymat ! Comment puis-
je résoudre le problème ? Une idée,
quelqu'un ?

De plus, sachez qu'on laisse tomber les
échanges de cadeaux : Aucune remise de
présents ne sera autorisée, suite aux
préavis de grève déposé par la CGT et FO
qui estiment que 10 Euros pour un cadeau
c'est trop cher, et suite à la pétition
signée par tous les cadres qui estiment
que 10 Euros pour un cadeau c'est
minable et mesquin.

On va y arriver,



De : Sophie BONNET - Direction des Ressources Humaines
A : Tous les salariés
Date : 04 / 12
Sujet : Fin d'Année

Quelle diversité de cultures dans notre

Je ne savais pas qu'exceptionnellement
cette année le Saint Mois du Ramadan
commençait le 20 Décembre, avec son
interdiction formelle de consommer toute
boisson ou nourriture de toute la

Nous pouvons bien sûr comprendre qu'une
réception festive à cette époque de
l'année ne cadre pas avec les croyances
et les pratiques de nos amis salariés

Devant la Fatwah prononcée à son
encontre par l'Imam de notre ville à
leur demande, notre PDG propose que les
repas destinés à nos salariés musulmans
soient congelés jusqu'à la fin du
Ramadan ou gardés au chaud pour qu'ils
puissent les emporter chez eux le soir.
Notre PDG certifie en outre qu'ils ne
contiendront pas de porc, même si
l'entreprise dirigée par son frère
s'appelle « Tout est bon dans le cochon ».

Par ailleurs, je me suis arrangée pour
que les femmes enceintes aient une table
au plus proche des WC et les abonnés aux
Weight Watchers le plus loin du buffet
des desserts. Je confirme aussi que les
gays et les lesbiennes pourront se
regrouper et que chaque groupe aura sa
table pour ne pas avoir à se mélanger.
En revanche, non, aucun travestissement
en Drag Queen ne sera toléré, avec ou
sans play back de Dalida. Oui, les
diabétiques auront des sièges surélevés
et des fruits frais en dessert, sachant
que lces restaurant ne pourra
confectionner de dessert sans sucre.

Ai-je encore oublié quelque chose ?


De : Sophie BONNET - Martyr des Ressources Humaines
A : A vous tous, salariés de MERDE !!!!!
Date : 10 / 12
Sujet : SALOPERIE de Fin d'Année

Les végétariens, maintenant !! Il ne
manquait plus que ça !!!! J'en ai plus
que marre, nous maintenons cette
réception au CRC, que cela vous plaise
ou non. Vous n'aurez qu'à vous asseoir
le plus loin possible du grill à viande
pour brouter vos salades à la con et
têter vos putains de tomates Bio.

Vous avez pensé à la douleur des salades
et des tomates quand on les coupe ? hein
?? Elles ont des sentiments et sont
vivantes, elles aussi. Elles sont comme
moi, elles HUUURLENT !!

Maintenant le premier qui me demande du
pinard sans alcool je le transforme en
pompe à merde et je vous souhaite une
fête archi pourrie, bande d'abrutis
congénitaux !!!!

Allez vous faire foutre,



De : Catherine TAVENIER - Directrice intérimaire des
Ressources Humaines
A : A tous les employés
Date : 14 / 12

Sujet : Sophie BONNET et les Fêtes de Fin d'Année

Je pense pouvoir parler au nom de tout
le monde pour souhaiter un prompt
rétablissement à Sophie BONNET, à qui je
continuerai de transmettre vos cartes.

En attendant son retour, je la remplace
et vous annonce que notre PDG a décidé
d'annuler notre Fête de Fin d'Année et
d'offrir à tous la journée du 23
Décembre sans perte de salaire.

Annie Tatin

Merci à Lafayette.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

And Proud They Are of It Too…

We Are All Anti-Americans!


Non, non, it is not the Americans we are opposed to per se. It is only Bush and their leaders, you see…

(Mercy buckets to R-vé & E-nough's K-rine)

This makes me want to go back to Paris Voilà qui donne envie de rentrer à Paris
Dream ride. French Space Mountain. Thanks to Pierre.
Un instant de rêve. Mais vraiment, juste un instant. Merci à Pierre.

Is America Alone?

Is Uncle Sam unilateralist?

Does America suffer alone?

These are the men, Monsieur Chirac, who would have done better to have kept quiet…

Witamy w Domu, heroes…

(And if you are thinking of a vacation…)

(Gindobreh to Valerie (via RV))

Listen to the Lady Bird Sing…

Today is the birthday of Lady Bird Johnson, the first lady (1912- ) who said
Any committee is only as good as the most knowledgeable, determined and vigorous person on it. There must be somebody who provides the flame.

Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.

Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.

It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.

The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Does That Include Tibet and Corsica?…

…asks GS as the Associated Press's William J Kole reports that the entire world feels bullied by Washington.
Oh, and by the way, just in case you were wondering: it is not anti-Americanism, it is only about Bush, it is not about "our American friends", for whom we have nothing but the highest respect and the friendliest of relations…
Icy Franco-American relations have spawned a new underground newspaper in Paris, L'Anti-Americain, filled with venom, toilet humor and general disrespect for the United States. "We are all anti-American!" its masthead taunts.


Leftist humanist poets? Des poètes humanistes de gôche?
A Stalinist leftist humanist says that Kerry and his gang should be 'lined up and shot'.
Un Staliniste gôchiste humaniste déclare que Kerry et consorts devraient être 'alignés debout et fusillés'.

Grand Funk Railroad: On Time

Leftist humanist poets? Des poètes humanistes de gôche?
Leftist scum 5th column is thriving in Fwance.
La 5ème colonne des crevés gôchistes fwançais est florissante.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It Turns Out that America Was Wrong to Have Invaded Iraq

Iraqis have been told they should be cautious of the general elections set for January 30.

France and Germany have been praised for their attitude.

Spain has been commended for pulling its troops out of Iraq.

Why doesn't Dubya listen to that wise leader?!

(Merci à RV)

An irrational hate, based on flagrant double standards, arrogance, and misperception…

Criticism of America often turns into an irrational hate, based on flagrant double standards, arrogance and misperception
writes Cathy Young as she recounts a scene that happened to her in Europe in the Boston Globe.
SCENE: An elevator in a hotel in a small town in Germany, about a week ago.

Dramatis personae: Your humble columnist, your humble columnist's mother, a German gentleman in his 60s.

My mother and I exchanged a few words in our native Russian, whereupon the German gentleman inquired amicably, "Russisch?" I explained that we did, in fact, come from Russia originally, but had lived in the United States for nearly 25 years and were now American.

The man's demeanor changed visibly. After a glum silence, he remarked sourly as we were leaving the elevator, "America is always starting wars everywhere in the world. It's not good for people."

I was so shocked that the most obvious comeback did not occur to me until a couple of minutes later, when he was out of sight: "You mean, like World War II?"

I'd heard the stories before — tourists in Europe being subjected to anti-American verbal outbursts. But there's nothing like running into it personally.

…People have every right to be critical of US policies. The problem is that criticism of America often turns into an irrational hate, based on flagrant double standards, arrogance and misperception.

Take my German encounter. First: Sorry to bring up an unpleasant past, but it takes some nerve for Germans to lecture anyone on starting wars. (I don't believe in collective guilt — but if American tourists can be harangued about US policies, it's only fair to remind their accusers of their own country's recent history.)

No less remarkable is the fact that the gentleman was quite friendly when he thought my mother and I were from Russia — a country which doesn't have a stellar record with regard to military aggression. (Hungary, anyone? Czechoslovakia? Afghanistan? Chechnya?) Germans have every reason to love the Russians, I suppose; the Russians built them such a nice wall across Berlin, and free of charge too.

Such double standards abound. For instance: An indignant European chorus that includes France has excoriated the United States for denying judicial protections to suspected terrorists held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. Yet France's own antiterrorism policies dating back to the late 1980s give police and prosecutors broad powers of preemptive detention and drastically limit the rights of suspects.

To some extent, European-American tensions are nothing new. Many commentators now say that during the Cold War, a common enemy — communism — brought the United States and Europe together in a way that the terrorist threat has not. But they may be overstating the old unity. In the 1980s, the deployment of US missiles in Europe sparked furious opposition. America, led by the "cowboy" Ronald Reagan, was often seen as a greater threat to peace than the Soviet Union. …

Journalists Are Freed, French Anti-American Mindset Is Not

As the two French hostages have been freed on the 124th day of their captivity, the spin is already starting…

(What am I saying? The spin never stopped in the first place…)

Towards the end of its article, the AFP states:

Their liberation "brings an enormous relief to the collaborators of Radio France Internationale", indicated Antoine Schwarz, president of RFI, in a statement. He thanked "the political, the religious, and the diplomatic authorities" who contributed to the liberation.
How about the military authorities, Antoine? Well, that would mean thanking les Américains, and we couldn't have that, could we now? It would seem that by "authorities", the RFI head means everybody but the Americans…

Now, noone can deny the possibility that the Americans, military or other, may not have had much, if anything, to do with the release of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot per se. But surely, we can thank the American soldiers for freeing the journalists' Syrian driver? Non; that part of history is already being rewritten, so that the GIs' feat is being obliviated. Not only is the AFP rewriting the circumstances of the Syrian's release (so they read like the kidnappers simply, of their own free will — and out of the kindness of their hearts? — let him go), they manage to throw a punch at the men who risked life and limb to put an end to the Faluja uprising:

As for their Syrian guide, Mohamed Al-Joundi, he had already been released [not freed]. Discovered by the American army on November 12 in Falujah, West of Baghdad, he has complained of the bad treatment by the American soldiers.
Meanwhile, the newspaper of reference had little choice but to quote the words of Iraq's ambassador to France, when he blasted the vocabulary of choice of France's media and government officials, i.e.,
that pseudo-resistance which uses the same barbaric methods as Saddam Hussein, which kills more innocent Iraqis than foreign soldiers, and which, in reality, is doing all in its power to ensure that the so-called 'occupation' remains as long as possible
Mouaffak Aboud adds that he deplores a debate "which is no longer topical", explaining that French officials have "remained prisoners" of their prewar position as they continue to try to "prove that they were right to oppose" the American invasion of Iraq. Those final five words are the Le Monde writer's. We will not know what expression the ambassador really used for the American intervention in Iraq, because Patrice Claude cut the quotation off, in order to insert his own expression — "American invasion".

Disraeli on the Peace Camp

Regarding the "peace camp", their criticizing from the sidelines, their claiming that America's undertaking in the Middle East has brought nothing but further tears and gnashing of teeth, and the numerous books (and weblogs) which support their (lack of) position, let us remember that today is the birthday of Benjamin Disraeli, the British statesman and author (1804-1881) who said:
How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.

Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine: the voice of the incontinent Old Continent Le Monde Al-Jaira sur Seine: la voix du Vieux Continent incontinent

Monday, December 20, 2004

The 60th Anniversary Celebrations of Le Monde

As I recently wrote, Le Monde has been celebrating its 60th anniversary. In that context, it has printed 60 articles, one per day (and one for each year) for the past two months. (Each of those 60th anniversary pages also included a photo from the respective year, as well as a vintage editorial taken verbatim from one particular day during the 12-month period.)

Recently I wrote about the very first of these commemorative articles, which focused on the newspaper itself (i.e, on its birth). Here is a list of the rest, with comments on a dozen and a half of them.

Needless to say, a strong anti-American flavor is present throughout the series…

The 60th Anniversary Celebration of Le Monde

Before we start, allow me to point out that the main headline of its very first issue (dated December 19, 1944), reads France and the USSR Have Signed a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance… It is true that offhand, this means nothing more than simply reflecting the news of that particular day. Still, some might find it fitting…

Read the entire post

The Blueprint for Avoiding War and Strengthening Peace

War being always the worst solution, the blueprint for peace is as follows:

Show respect for one another, increase "good relations", engage in dialog, set up bilateral and/or international conferences, present "the broad outlines of [one's] positions in a frank and friendly way", and get rid of weapons (as this 1929 example demonstrates)…

To Boldly Express the Diversity to Which France Is So Deeply Attached

More on France's CII satellite TV station (International Information Channel), aka the CNN à la française, from the International Herald Tribune's Doreen Carvajal:
… The notion of a new international channel is already creating uneasiness. Some critics contend that the project's costs have been underestimated, and labor organizations express a variety of concerns. The union for RFI, France's international radio station, is worried that the government will reduce RFI's budget to support the creation of the channel. And the union for journalists at the publicly owned France Télévisions has urged reporters to refuse to cooperate in the project, calling it a "parody of a news channel."

"What will be the credibility of an international channel that is led by a multinational with benefits that are dependent on good relations with the government?" the union said.

… French television has already been available for years on satellite through TV5, a consortium of French-language channels from France, Switzerland and Belgium that beams the French nightly news to cable viewers. But the difference is that this new channel will offer a more distinctive French voice, according to Brochand.

… Since 2002, Chirac has pushed for the creation of a French global channel to raise the country's diplomatic profile.

Sounds similar to the 1944 creation of Le Monde, non?
Last year he pressed again, arguing that France needed to raise its own voice in the "battle of footage" led by CNN and the BBC.
It is sad, indeed, to realize to what extent members of the "peace camp" have been tarnished by CNN and the BBC, while the Bush administration and its allies have been lauded by same…
This month, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced … that a new channel would offer the "diversity to which our country is so deeply attached."

He Wouldn't Stand a Chance in France

Today is the birthday of Branch Rickey, the American baseball executive (1881-1965) who said
I don't like the subtle infiltration of 'something for nothing' philosophies into the very hearthstone of the American family. I believe that 'Thou shalt earn the bread by the sweat of thy face' was a benediction and not a penalty. Work is the zest of life; there is joy in its pursuit.

I don't care if I was a ditch-digger at a dollar a day, I'd want to do my job better than the fellow next to me. I'd want to be the best at whatever I do.

I did not mind the public criticism. That sort of thing has not changed any program I thought was good.

NYC: reading Abellio over a few Nathan's Franks
J'attends le moment où les Russo-Américains, enfin unis, essaieront de défendre leur civilisation de robots mécaniques contre une autre civilisation, celle des robots religieux, déferlant des plateaux mongols, des rizières chinoises ou des déserts d'Arabie et poussant devant eux leurs esclaves fanatisés d'Afrique. Le communisme asiatique proposera au monde la civilisation de masse la plus rude, la plus perfectionnée, la plus scientifique, la plus exaltante, la plus étouffante qu'on ait jamais connue. Mais la nouvelle Rome, cette fois, sera sous les décombres de Paris, dans des caves ou des catacombes, comme l'ancienne, et persécutée comme elle. Je me sens déjà vivre dans ce Paris enseveli, réduit enfin à l'état pur ! Les hommes comme moi y seront beaucoup plus à l'aise que dans celui des couturiers pédérastes et des abrutis milliardaires, fit-il d'un ton uni. Et j'imagine assez bien les Champs-Elyssées troués par les bombes et envahis par des fourrés obscurs où les nouveaux hommes d'ici voisineront avec des bêtes sauvages et nobles qui leur rendront le goût de la liberté ...

Raymond Abellio, La Fosse de Babel, 1962

Horrid Pictures from the British Troops in Iraq


(Cheers to RV, ol' chap…)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Want to Support the Troops in Iraq?

Here are some suggestions to help our troops.

And while you are visiting Blackfive, don't forget to read the story of a Marine convoy rolling through the dusty streets of Baghdad, where it found the heart of…

(Danke für Franz Hoffmann)

In related matters, we join David und Ray in honoring, and thanking, the American veterans of the Battle of the Bulge on the 60th anniversary of the battle…

Finally, read or listen to Merry Christmas, My Friend

Using Bush as an Acceptable Cover to Bash America

Read Manfred Gerstenfeld's hard-hitting interview with Jeffrey Gedmin, the director of Berlin's Aspen Institute, which Davids Medienkritik correctly terms "the interview of the year". Here is an excerpt from the excerpt:
"Dependency on America during the Cold War has bred terrible European resentment. Americans have underestimated how deep that runs. …

"Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that Germans were tired of being a satellite of the United States. All this before we had made any decision about what to do in Iraq."

"I remember passing the American embassy on Unter den Linden and seeing a sign hanging out there for weeks from protesters, which read: 'Mr. Bush, remember Nüremberg. Death by hanging.' It leaves me to believe that part of this debate about Iraq — and maybe much of it — had to do more with containing the United States than with whether Saddam Hussein should be removed."

"Why has it become so acceptable that — at elegant dinner parties — very distinguished people openly say, 'I'm not anti-American, but Bush disgusts me and makes me physically sick? He is a war criminal and a real threat to world peace.' I can only interpret such statements as being partly about Bush and partly about using him as an acceptable cover to bash America.

Brezhnev on Free Elections

Today is the birthday of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (1906-1982), the Soviet leader who said
The trouble with free elections is, you never know who is going to win.

Friday, December 17, 2004

"Independent Since Its Inception"

In the context of its 60th anniversary commemoration, which Le Monde has been celebrating with 60 articles, one for each year and one per day for the past two months, the newspaper of reference has published an article on the birth of the independent daily.

The 60th Anniversary Celebration of Le Monde

What is hard to understand is why the International Herald Tribune's John Vinocur would evoke "the newspaper's close relationship with" the French Foreign Ministry and why John Keegan would call it the "organ of official opinion and of the ruling class", when it is a well-known fact that the daily's motto is: "Indépendant depuis sa création".

Especially when two members of the French media (who happen to be Le Monde's partners), RTL and Arte, featured broadcasts on the anniversary, called respectively Birth of a Free Newspaper and A Free Press.

Ah, well… let's take a look at Le Monde's version of the circumstances of its own birth. We are in late 1944, Paris has been liberated, the war is not yet over, and… a vow is made…

"I will present the full information. I will force them to read me!" That vow is made by the first director of Le Monde
So far, so good. Hubert Beuve-Méry sounds exceedingly forceful and independent. But wait a minute; let us read the rest of Laurent Greilsamer's sentence:
That vow is made by the first director of Le Monde as he is given the mission to create a newspaper of reference worthy to represent France abroad.
Huh? "Is given"? "The mission"? "To create" not a newspaper but "a newspaper of reference"? "Worthy" not to bring the news but "to represent France abroad"? What's going on here?!

Read the full story

At Least, the Stiff-Backed German Occupiers of Paris (Unlike the Big-Toothed GIs) Were "Correct"!

As we start commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge (between the big-toothed costumed civilians from l'Amérique, and the "correct" — the word that is always used — stiff-backed Germans), I thought it not inappropriate to dig out Mary Blume's full-page IHT article on the liberation of Paris
Was it really possible to be that happy and to believe you would be that happy again and again? In Paris, on the 25th day of a pleasantly hot August 60 years ago, the answer was an exuberant yes: the Germans were gone and the city was again free. "Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated!" General Charles de Gaulle proclaimed that evening in the Hôtel de Ville.

… In the days following Aug. 25 the GIs arrived with their candies and cigarettes, but the Day of Liberation was strictly a French affair, the Allies having allowed French troops to enter the city first because — again accounts disagree — they were polite, because de Gaulle manipulated them, or because they knew that the Germans would not put up much of a fight, preferring to save their strength for the Battle of the Rhine, and the Allies needed to do the same.

… Years later, when questioned about the occupation Parisians seemed only to remember the food shortages as if they encapsulated and somehow eradicated the dreariness and shame. … Days before [Colonel Rol-Tanguy] called for an insurrection on Aug. 19, the German and collaborationist press had fled, and civil servants went on wildcat strikes. The major strike was by the Paris police, whom the Germans had just disarmed. Whether the strikers wanted their arms to fight the Germans or the Parisians who had suffered from the many collaborators among them is not clear. It was the police who had rounded up 13,000 Paris Jews, including 4,000 children whom even the Nazis were ready to spare, and sent them in open buses and trucks across Paris to the Vélodrome d'Hiver and death, a journey that no Parisian seems to have witnessed, though it occurred by day.

… No resistant, dead or alive, was mentioned by de Gaulle in his Aug. 25 speech at the Hôtel de Ville where, fearful of Communist takeover by Colonel Rol, he declared that the broken city had risen to free itself, sparked by la France éternelle. Throughout his career, de Gaulle's greatness would be bolstered by his useful gift for denial; he was a one-man show, and at that moment, as Alan Moorehead wrote, he filled an immense void.

The city was ready to move from a frozen present tense into the American optative mood, and when the GIs were allowed to arrive on Aug. 26 the welcome was so joyous that they quickly became rather choosy about whose embraces they sought, preferring the prettier girls. Jean Genet contempuously described them as big-toothed costumed civilians, and indeed they did not resemble the "correct" — the word that is always used — stiff-backed German occupants.

The French physicist Albert Libchaber, then a child hiding near Marseille, remembers that the GIs seemed more like children than soldiers — "they gave us oranges and played with us, we hadn't seen soldiers like that" — and his wife, Irene, saw them jumping into the fountain at the Place de la Concorde. When the Canadian writer Mavis Gallant came to Paris in 1950, she said you could still recognize Americans because they strode while the French shuffled.

Liberated Paris, with its morning-after blues, was gray, literally; its facades would be cleaned under Culture Minister André Malraux in the 1960s. Food shortages grew as the black market collapsed. People were vengeful and wary. "There was a terrible discretion between friends, after the years of separation, not knowing what the friends had thought or done, or where they had been," Martha Gellhorn wrote.

…That Paris survived mostly undamaged explains in part the immense importance given to the Liberation, an importance far outweighing its military significance. The weeklong battle of Paris was not as strategic as Stalingrad or as tragic as the hopeless Warsaw uprising, fiercely going on as Paris was freed. Some 20,000 members of the Polish underground died after holding out for 63 days, almost twice as long as the 1940 battle for France. …

There is more fun stuff towards the end on how Paris was/is viewed by foreigners, what the attitude of its inhabitants is towards them ("It cannot be claimed that Paris welcomes foreigners, distrusting the Other as it does, but in ignoring them it tolerates them; it is accommodating in its indifference"), and such matters as this:
Parisians, for the most part, don't think a lot about high-minded ideas, these having been resolved by the heavy thinkers memorized in the lycée. Americans trumpet moral views and find them, especially to their cost today, hard to enact. Americans want to do the right thing, not realizing it can be plural. Parisians want to do things the right way; that is, with precision and style …

French Foreign Minister in Washington

The Frenchman who called for Iraq's terrorist groups to participate in discussions about the country's future is in Washington. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier met with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, while George W Bush preferred meeting with Silvio Berlusconi. Once again, Paris considers, in Patrick Jarreau's words, that "the members of the European Union will only have influence with the American government if they speak with one voice." Would that voice be closer to Italy's, Monsieur Barnier? Or to France's?

In not unrelated news, here is more tragic news from Iraq that confirm the validity of the "peace camp's" position…

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No beating about the Bush for this Muslim journalist

I can definitely live with Bush as US president — or as the world’s sole policeman — for eight years or longer, but would hate to spend even eight days under the Taliban’s theocracy, Saddam’s dictatorship or a regime of Ayatollahs. I have a strong feeling that the vast majority of people everywhere feel the same way
writes Razi Azmi in Pakistan's Daily Times.
A fellow columnist and friend thinks that I am “soft on Bush”. Considering the degree of President George Bush’s unpopularity in Pakistan and worldwide, it would be an understatement to say that most readers will concur with his view. When Bush is the subject, nothing short of outright denunciation is in order these days. I, therefore, consider it necessary to offer an explanation for my perceived ‘softness’.

… for me Bush is a non-issue. … Bush is not a threat to the world or to democracy and secularism in America, but Al Qaeda and its many affiliates who carry out terrorist attacks in the name of Islam are a clear and present danger. And, finally, the US constitution and civil society are capable of putting religious zealots, not to mention bigots, in their proper place. In any case, those who take the worst possible view of George Bush may relax in the knowledge that on January 21, 2009, he will have passed into oblivion …

George Bush’s military intervention in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq have attracted the most condemnation. However, the former has been an astounding success (above all, from the Afghans’ point of view), while the latter is hardly the debacle many commentators represent it to be. In Afghanistan, an utterly despicable regime has been replaced by an elected president. Schools and roads are being built where the religious police once trod. In Iraq, except for the twenty per cent Sunnis who rode roughshod over the rest of the population under the previous regime, the people are eagerly awaiting the elections due next month.

Many people grieve over the unipolar world and hark back nostalgically to the bipolar world of the Soviet era. They need to be reminded that during the heyday of bipolarism and Cold War, the world came close to a nuclear catastrophe (Cuban Missile Crisis), the Korean and Vietnam wars wrought havoc in the Korean peninsula and Indo-China, there were two Arab-Israeli wars and two wars between India and Pakistan. The Soviet Union invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, while US meddling led to the overthrow of an elected government in Chile and caused turmoil in many Latin American countries. Angola and Mozambique were torn apart by gruesome civil wars with superpower involvement on all sides, China invaded North Vietnam to “teach it a lesson,” and the Iraq-Iran war led to a million deaths.

Taking advantage of the superpower tensions, Morocco occupied Western Sahara and Indonesia invaded East Timor. The Cold War generated a war between Somalia and Ethiopia. It allowed South Africa to remain in the throes of apartheid and gave Suharto a free hand to kill or incarcerate hundreds of thousands of alleged communists in Indonesia. The Khmer Rouge, who wiped out a fifth of Cambodia’s population, were also a by-product of that era.

The world is now a much safer and a much more democratic place. Thanks to the unipolar world with America as the sole superpower, democracy is advancing while dictatorships are receding. Dictators who roamed with a swagger now scurry for cover. Disenfranchised people now feel empowered, from Afghanistan to Georgia, and from Iraq to Ukraine. Bush’s band of neo-cons is succeeding where his more illustrious predecessors failed; they act where others balked.

Bush is not a threat to any democratic dispensation anywhere in the world. If he has made the world a trifle unsafe for thugs and dictators, he is to be commended. In any case, he will be gone sooner than we think. But terrorism in the name of Islam, which now stalks the world, is an unprecedented development in terms of magnitude, intensity, scope and danger. I can definitely live with Bush as US president — or as the world’s sole policeman — for eight years or longer, but would hate to spend even eight days under the Taliban’s theocracy, Saddam’s dictatorship or a regime of Ayatollahs. I have a strong feeling that the vast majority of people everywhere feel the same way.

(Danke zu Franz Hoffmann)

Where colleges are not just indifferent to diversity, but downright allergic to it

The Economist:
… Academia is simultaneously both the part of America that is most obsessed with diversity, and the least diverse part of the country. On the one hand, colleges bend over backwards to hire minority professors and recruit minority students, aided by an ever-burgeoning bureaucracy of “diversity officers”. Yet, when it comes to politics, they are not just indifferent to diversity, but downright allergic to it.

… a new national survey of more than 1,000 academics by Daniel Klein, of Santa Clara University, shows that Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. And things are likely to get less balanced …

“So what”, you might say, particularly if you happen to be an American liberal academic. Yet the current situation makes a mockery of the very legal opinion that underpins the diversity fad. In 1978, Justice Lewis Powell argued that diversity is vital to a university's educational mission, to promote the atmosphere of “speculation, experiment and creation” that is essential to their identities. The more diverse the body, the more robust the exchange of ideas. Why apply that argument so rigorously to, say, sexual orientation, where you have campus groups that proudly call themselves GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning), but ignore it when it comes to political beliefs?

This is profoundly unhealthy per se. Debating chambers are becoming echo chambers. Students hear only one side of the story on everything from abortion (good) to the rise of the West (bad). It is notable that the surveys show far more conservatives in the more rigorous disciplines such as economics than in the vaguer 1960s “ologies”. Yet, as George Will pointed out in the Washington Post this week, this monotheism is also limiting universities' ability to influence the wider intellectual culture. …

Bias in universities is hard to correct because it is usually not overt: it has to do with prejudice about which topics are worth studying and what values are worth holding. Stephen Balch, the president of the conservative National Association of Scholars, argues that university faculties suffer from the same political problems as the “small republics” described in Federalist 10: a motivated majority within the faculty finds it easy to monopolise decision-making and squeeze out minorities.

… As for the university establishment, leftists are hardly likely to relinquish their grip on one of the few bits of America where they remain in the ascendant. And that is a tragedy not just for America's universities but also for liberal thought.

Read also Jeff Jacoby's left-wing monopoly on campuses

In other comments gleaned from the Ashbrook Center:

Quoting Robert Kaplan's The Media and Medievalism, Belmont Club's The Absence of Evidence says that the most powerful tool of totalitarianism is to don the guise of righteousness and assume "the right to question and to demand answers, the right to judge and condemn, and the right to pardon and show mercy." It is in the end an attempt to usurp the wellsprings of legitimacy. (Why is it that one might think of the International Criminal Court when reading about those "rights"?)

After the Berlin Wall fell, I reread [the list of ingredients necessary for oppression] and noticed that some of [Nobel laureate Elias] Canetti’s six ingredients were also tools of legitimate regimes seeking to keep the anarchy of the mob at bay. Yet to read Crowds and Power now, at a time when truly noxious authoritarian regimes exist in fewer and fewer places, is to be chilled by another realization.

Boring French drunks Brèves de comptoir
Investigative reporting on the 'holy war' in Iraq. Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine investigates from the comfort of the Baghdad hotel bar.
Enquête sur les filières de la 'guerre sainte' en Irak. Les journalistes de Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine mènent l'enquête depuis le bistrot cossu situé à l'intérieur de leur hôtel à Bagdad.

The cute happy Djihadi is reading a book called 'Holy War: User's Guide'.

The little dude is supposed to represent the UN.

Shock and awe Secousses et effroi
Authors previously published or not: New Paris publisher starting activity in July 2005 is looking for manuscripts from daring French language authors. Contact publisher at
Ecrivains débutants ou confirmés: Nouvel éditeur parisien qui démarrera son activité au mois de juillet 2005 recherche des manuscrits inédits de la part d'écrivains qui osent. Contactez l'éditeur à

250 Years of Anti-Americanism

Where do the following opinions come from? Chirac's France? Schröder's Germany? Villepin's Europe? Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda? Read them and see if you can guess… Read them and ask yourself whether the correct approach to the ranting and raving around the world is simply to "ignore them and they will go away"…
  • "Consumption for the sake of consumption is the sole procedure that distinctively characterizes the history of a world that has become an unworld"
  • Americanization can be defined as the "uninterrupted, exclusive and relentless striving after gain, riches and influence"
  • "the distinctive vice of the new world … is already beginning ferociously to infect old Europe and is spreading a spiritual emptiness over the continent"
  • America's future will bring the "greatest mediocrity in all fields: mediocrity of physical strength, mediocrity of beauty, mediocrity of intellectual capacities — we could almost say nothingness"
  • "The American knows nothing; he seeks nothing but money; he has no ideas"
  • America "is the most fragile thing in the world: one could not bring together more symptoms of weakness and decay"

The "opinions" are respectively from the 1930s, the early twentieth and the late nineteenth centuries, the mid-nineteenth century, the early nineteenth century, and the eighteenth century.

Find out more by reading A Genealogy of Anti-Americanism by James W. Ceaser.

(thanks to Pamela)

Who Is Really Lacking in Lucidité When It Comes to Dealing with Uncle Sam?

In their late eighteenth-century revolution (they have had several since), the French missed a trick when they chose to pursue the visionary theories of Rousseau, instead of following the more liberal advice of Montesquieu, the slightly older and infinitely saner political philosopher. Montesquieu was far less influential in his own country than in America, whose own revolution was guided in part by his books.
writes John Zvesper in Liberty in London
Montesquieu admired the English polity of his day (the first half of the eighteenth century). He saw in it a modern republic hidden beneath the trappings of monarchy. England displayed not only such useful constitutional devices as the separation of powers, but also the liberal democratic moral strategy of supplanting the more martial virtues and activities of ancient republics with tolerance, humanity and commerce.

… For more than a hundred years, and more intensively since the Second World War, one thing that has often inhibited or distorted French thinking about the interests of France is French obsessions with (not to say deep knowledge about) the United States: usually anti-American, sometimes pro-American, obsessions either way. These obsessions currently affect not just the Franco-American disputes about terrorism and war, but also the relations between America and Europe more generally, as well as relations among France and other European states.

… In Paris, Chirac had noted that Blair had failed to get, in return for Britain’s contribution to the Coalition in Iraq, any American commitment to push Israel towards making some concession to the Palestinian Authority. This was a variation of the standard French theme that Britain is weak and undignified in its relationship with the United States. As Charles de Gaulle used to put it, Britain is America’s "able junior partner."

This French view (which quite a few British critics of Blair share) has an insulting clarity, but it is based on the error (very common — my sons sometimes point it out) of assuming that juniority, whether of age or of strength, is incompatible with prudence, maturity, or dignity. Perhaps this error is built into French, a very conservative language that betrays suspicion of youths. …

Blair, for his part in this not altogether cordial exchange with Chirac, made his annual address at Mansion House into a very diplomatic but nonetheless comprehensive critique of Chirac’s view (which many British but more French citizens share) that Europe must build a more distant, less British-style relationship with the United States. Blair’s speech has been very badly reported by a press that is evidently still out to get G. W. Bush. Headlines have commonly agreed with the Associated Press spin: "Blair Urges U.S. to ’Reach Out’ to Allies." No one who has listened to or read the speech could recognize it under that rubric. Blair’s primary audience was not Americans, but the British and other Europeans, and his message was that Europeans should reach out, to each other but mainly to the United States. His address — one of the best political speeches of 2004 — is a concise, spirited and reasoned case for "a strong bond" between Europe and America.

… there is a more serious defect in the French picture of relations between Britain and the United States: it entirely omits the rational and political basis of these relations. This is the crucial point that Blair made in his address.

Chirac insists that the European-American relationship, being less sentimental than the British-American "family" relationship, requires each side "to be aware of the respect that it owes to the other." Blair accepts that such political relations among states are, as Chirac rightly demands, relations in some sense among equals — not as among equal common citizens, but as among equally sovereign states — in other (Thomas Jefferson’s) words, among "powers of the earth" with "separate and equal station[s]." Thus, Blair asserts that "neither Europe nor the US should be arrogant about the other" (subtext: France, too, is sometimes arrogant). But he sees that the British-American relation is already essentially a relation of equals, and that every other sovereign country (including France) has (or could have) such a relation with the United States.

… In agreement with Chirac’s view, Blair emphasized that the relevant basis for these relations is "hard-headed interest" rather than sentiment. But he argued that such practical considerations will lead Europeans to be "enthusiastic for the transatlantic alliance." Not some atavistic "familial" solidarity, nor some dark compulsion to be "America’s poodle," but "the good old British characteristics of common sense" show that Europeans should ally themselves closely with the world’s "one superpower," given that, in spite of many important differences, "their way of life and ours is lit by the same light of freedom, the same love of democracy, the same fellowship of reason." This argument can be rationally disputed, by France or anyone else, but only if it is treated as an argument, not as a sentiment or an unavoidable and indisputable "familial" duty.

Paradoxically, then, it is the French, not the British — nor any other European country — who bring too much sentimental baggage into their relations with America. … It is the French who let their sentiments of envy or resentment of the United States interfere with a clear-headed calculation of their interests. …