Saturday, September 25, 2004
"Push's vorlt fizhion ist in klarink gontrast do Ahnan's fizhion ov an indernazhional kommunidy unter indernazhional law"
Ayad Allawi, head of the interim Iraqi government, behaved as an electoral agent of George W. Bush's Thursday Septrember 23, in Washington. Before the Congress, then during a press conference in the White House, and in a television interview, he lauded the American president, he repeated all the Republicans' arguments to justify the war, and he accused the media of "giving oxygen to the terrorists" by exaggerrating the importance of the insurrection.And with that, the independent newspaper sweeps away any credibility not only of the visit, but of the character and independence of Iraq's president.
Mr Allawi's visit was nothing other than an episode in the presidential campaign. …
What Patrick Jarreau is saying, basically, is that unless you lambaste America, Dubya, and the fighting in Iraq, your credibility should be put into question. This harks back to the good ol' "anybody who does not oppose Washington is simple-minded, stupid, callous, and treacherous, and a poodle, a traitor, and a Judas who would do better to keep quiet."
Like almost every Iraqi, I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein.Here is another quote, sight unseen inside the independent newspaper which is always babbling on about political solutions to terrorist problems:
I am a realist. I know that terrorism cannot be defeated with political tools only. But we can weaken it, ending local support, help us to tackle the enemy head-on, to identify, isolate and eradicate this cancer.Of course, why should Le Monde report all that? It's "nothing other than an episode in the presidential campaign"…
Let me provide you with a couple of examples of where this political plan already is working.
In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city.
Following weeks of discussions between government officials and representatives, coalition forces and local community leaders, regular access to the city has been restored. A new provincial council and governor have been selected, and a new chief of police has been appointed. Hundreds of insurgents have been pushed out of the city by local citizens, eager to get with their lives.
Today in Samarra, Iraqi forces are patrolling the city, in close coordination with their coalition counterparts.
In Talafa, a city northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi government has reversed an effort by insurgents to arrest, control (inaudible) the proper authorities. Iraqi forces put down the challenge and allowed local citizens to choose a new mayor and police chief. Thousands of civilians have returned to the city. And since their return, we have launched a large program of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.
Here is another "episode" from the presidential campaign:
There are those who want to divide our world. I appeal to you, who have done so much already to help us, to ensure they don't succeed.Here is another:
Do not allow them to say to Iraqis, to Arabs, to Muslims, that we have only two models of governments, brutal dictatorship and religious extremism. This is wrong.
Like Americans, we Iraqis want to enjoy the fruits of liberty. Half of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims already enjoy democratically elected governments.
As Prime Minister Blair said to you last year when he stood here, anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom not tyranny, democracy not dictatorship, and the rule of law not the rule of the secret police.
Do not let them convince others that the values of freedom, of tolerance and democracy are for you in the West but not for us.
For the first time in our history, the Iraqi people can look forward to controlling our own destiny.No wonder Le Monde, aka the organ of official opinion and of the ruling class, refrained from reporting that…
This would not have been possible without the help and sacrifices of this country and its coalition partners. I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
And let me tell you that as we meet our greatest challenge by building a democratic future, we the people of the new Iraq will remember those who have stood by us.
A man's moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
To not appreciate the means undertaken by the French authorities to free two of its countrymen is one thing. Putting spokes in their wheels is something else. One has the right to ask oneself questions: the offensive launched by the Iraqi and American forces against the strongholds of the Sunni rebellion, at the precise moment when negotiations with the kidnappers were just about to be successful, has not facilitated things. That's the least one can say… Is it a way to pay back in kind an ally who did not show up when called upon? That would be policy-making of the basest sort.Elsewhere in their Le Monde piece, Robert Ménard and Pierre Veilletet mention Washington's "impatience" and "disapproval" and "the acerbic remarks" of the Iraqi prime minister. A choice of negative-sounding qualifiers, all of them.
We have already seen the beginnings of the campaign to put the blame on Uncle Sam. Notice how much is based on questions, on double-guessing, on the unknown, on wishful thinking, and on unproven statements ("That would be policy-making of the basest sort", "negotiations with the kidnappers were just about to be successful"). And notice what kind of images are brought up:
- Americans (or their leaders) and their allies (or those of their leaders) are eternally belligerant, callous, treacherous, and without an iota of common sense. One should always wonder what those hypocrites are (really) up to, second-guess them, and put their motivations into doubt.
- Everybody else — the French, the "insurgents", the kidnappers, and all the hand-wringing innocents behind them — displays nothing but rationality, reasonableness, sophistication, understanding, and the willingness to set down their weapons to discuss and negotiate in full peace and harmony. But then the uncouth Americans and their allies, deliberately or not — and in this case it is supposed to have been deliberate — butt in and cause total confusion and discord. (As usual. Vietnam, Chile, etc, etc, etc…)
Now, of course, I will allow for some leeway, generally speaking, because the pro-journalist group is trying to win the release of their (and our) colleagues. But this article is simply more of the usual American-bashing coupled with its corollary, unlimited trust for the French government and its pro-Arab (dictators) policy.
organ of official opinion and of the ruling classThe author variously described as "our greatest modern military historian" and "the most readable and most original of living military historians" goes on to say that
despite the cinematic sensation of the event [the fall of the Saddam statue on 9 April, 2003], many in the media resisted the impulse to exult. As representatives of the bien pensants in Europe and even parts of North America, many television and print journalists declined to celebrate the fall of the dictator the toppling of his statue symbolized. Monster though he clearly was, his humiliation at the hands of the capitalist system — the United States, the world's largest economy, Britain, the fourth — rankled. In Saddam's own world, many followed the media lead. Iraqis who had suffered under his selfish autocracy rejoiced. The beneficiaries were downcast, as was 'the Arab street' in general.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Most significant are Bill Whittle's Essays from a Democracy at War ("Silent America" in the right-hand margin), which he has been planning to issue in book form. There are soliloquies about strength, responsibility, confidence, courage, history, freedom, honor, power, celebrity, empire, victory, and… magic.
Last, but not least, is the essay devoted to war, which takes on special significance when Bill gets "get down to brass tacks", providing thoughtful replies to "some of the reasons why people oppose this war" (below cause # 5 for the war, about 13 clicks down the right margin).
UN Resolutions: "if the Iraq war was illegal, so too, and probably more so, was the 1999 war in Kosovo"
Perhaps Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs commissioner, put it best: "If you want to get a cheap cheer from certain quarters in America, it seems that all you have to do is bash the United Nations."Not as resounding a cheer as that you hear, Chris, when bashing Uncle Sam abroad…
The attacks of Republican hawks may be grotesque. Patten had every justification in lamenting that "multilateralists, we are told, want to outsource American foreign and security policy to a bunch of garlic-chewing, cheese-eating wimps."Well, wicked American unilateralists, we are told, want to destroy humanity's last reservoirs of humanity, mutual understanding, and brotherly love.
Also, Cohen makes little of the "Investigations of widespread corruption in the UN-directed Oil-for-Food program in Iraq". The only thing he can come up with is a five-word sentence: "All of this is unsettling." So it is a scandal which Cohen effectively drops (just as quickly as he picked it up) as he segues to… "the startling declaration from the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, that the war in Iraq was 'illegal'" (followed by a description of the ensuing row with Colin Powell).
Still, Cohen gets it right when he says:
I am not enough of an expert on international law to know if the war was legal, but believe a strong case can be made that it was. Good lawyers in good faith have disagreed. But I do know that if the Iraq war was illegal, so too, and probably more so, was the 1999 war in Kosovo, another fight not specifically authorized by a UN resolution. It is thanks to that war that Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia was stopped and sits where he belongs: in court in The Hague.Cohen does end his article by making a pointed reply to Chris Patten's laments:
Chapter VII of the UN Charter endorses collective military action to counter "threats to international peace and security," and Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 on Iraqi disarmament were all adopted under this chapter. On this basis, the British attorney general, among other legal experts, determined that the war was legal to force a compliance that Saddam Hussein had been unwilling to demonstrate.
…it is also true that the cheese eaters need to set aside their Château Montrose and get real.
Today is the birthday of Ray Charles (1930-2004), the visionary singer who said
Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it.
You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
In the comments section of the weblog, as in private emails sent to me, several times I have read that people refusing to join in the Bush-bashing and in the condemnation of the Iraqi war (i.e., people such as myself) should either enlist in the U.S. army and go physically over to Iraq to fight or shut up.
The point of view that these people (not all of them French) mention holds that unless somebody enlists, (s)he is in no position to judge. Here is my answer to this, part of which comes from an email I sent a good friend (a very hot dame she is too!).
In other words, unless the citizen meets specific criteria (of the peace camp's choosing!), the citizen cannot be heard. Offhand, it would appear that the criteria make sense...
But notice a couple of facts: first of all, the "argument" is similar (to use a simile of less far-reaching and less serious consequences) to saying that the customer of a bakery (I almost used a butcher's shop as an example!) cannot complain about a cake he or she bought unless he or she is willing to make (or capable of making) a cake him- or herself. Alternatively, it would mean that a car owner should not criticize a garage's repair job unless (s)he is willing to crawl under the vehicle himself and is able to produce the same results.
To use a less personal and perhaps more appropriate simile, the argument amounts to telling newspaper readers and TV viewers (within the United States or elsewhere) that they should refrain from criticizing, say, the Ford motor company for the four-wheel drive that kept turning over or for the wheels that kept blowing unless they go to Dearborn and start working in the Ford factory…
Second of all, and more importantly: notice how this position can be turned against the so-called peace camp.
If only a soldier can speak for the war, then how can somebody who is not a soldier speak against the war?
If it so happened that (a majority of) the soldiers in Iraq were/are against the war, then yes, the anti-war position might make sense...
In other words, my point is, shouldn't we be asking ourselves (and shouldn't the "pacifists" be asking themselves) what the soldiers themselves are saying about the war?
If the news reports and military blogs I have consulted are to be believed, you don't hear many servicemen saying that unless people in favor of the war enlist, they should shut up... I have never gotten a message from a soldier saying "Do not write in support of us (or the war) on your blog, unless you are with us in uniform" and I know of no other blogger who has recieved such a message... (They do tend to complain, however, about the peace activists, both individuals and nations, i.e., the people supposedly on their side, not to speak of alleged peace candidates — see below...)
More importantly: of course, they aren't thrilled with being at war, and being shot at, and being away from their families, and being in 130º heat, but still... for better or worse, it would seem that they overwhelmingly support the war. As something necessary. Certainly it cannot be denied that the administration feels comfortable that the soldiery will vote Republican in the elections.
"John Kerry's heavily hyped cross-country bus tour stumbled out of the blocks" reported the New York Post's Stefan Friedman, as the "group of Marines publicly dissed the Vietnam War hero in the middle of [the] crowded restaurant."
The Marines — two in uniform and two off-duty — were polite but curt while chatting with Kerry, answering most of his questions with a "yes, sir" or "no, sir." But they turned downright nasty after the Massachusetts senator thanked them "for their service" and left. "He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands," one Marine said, adding, "I'm 100 percent against [him].""I speak for all of us. We think that we are doing the right thing in Iraq." Certainly one can ask, with a smirk, how long these Marines — or the rest of the servicemen in the Iraqi Freedom contingent — are going to support the war, or one can opine that the soldiers are manipulated and don't know any better, or they are just loyal and used to following orders, or whatever, but notice that in that case the "peace camp" has upped the demands, raising the standards of the criteria.
A sergeant with 10 years of service under his belt said, "I speak for all of us. We think that we are doing the right thing in Iraq," before saying he is to be deployed there in a few weeks and is "eager" to go and serve.
First the peace camp chooses the criteria — single-handedly — and when it is not satisfied by the results, it ups them.
It used to be, "you may support the war (reluctantly or otherwise) but, in the final analysis, if you are not in uniform, you display a lack of judgment, and you should not even think of opening your mouth"
Now the following has been added: "You may be in uniform, but in the final analysis, if you do support the war (reluctantly or otherwise), you display a lack of judgment, and you should not even think of opening your mouth".
This is also known as changing the goalposts and, in the final analysis, as "heads I win, tails you lose."
Which all boils down to this: avoiding debate by what amounts to character assassination: "either you are smart and gentle and you agree with my wise outlook on events, or you are dumb (or blinded or simple-minded or callous or treacherous or lacking in judgment) and ought to keep quiet"...
And which also boils down to this: in all cases, avoiding (or dissing) the opinions of the people who just happen to be the foremost concerned by the presence of Uncle Sam's troops among the Iraqis, i.e.… Uncle Sam's troops and the Iraqis (!).
I cannot tell the number of comments on this section and the number of conversations I've had, where the "argument" boiled down to "well, they (or you) may support the war now, but do we really have proof of that, and how will they (you) be feeling about that a year from now?", my favorite being, "well, sure, in July 2003 an Iraqi couple named their newborn son George Bush, but… so what!" Followed by "is that still the name he wears today?"!
In other words — unless they agree with the Bush-bashers — the opinions, viewpoints, and feelings of those most directly concerned (to the point of being in the frontlines thousands of miles from home or of giving their child the name of a person of a different culture and religion) are… fundamentally irrelevant!
From which I draw this conclusion: it is not the people who are in favor of the allied intervention in Iraq who should go to Iraq. It is the people who are against the war who should do so.
Our detractors might be able to convince some of us that "Chirac was right on Iraq", the fact remains that our hypothetically strong agreement with that opinion hardly matters if an overwhelming majority of Iraqis believe that "la France n'était opposée à la guerre que parce qu'elle défendait ses propres intérêts, parce qu'elle était l'amie et recevait des cadeaux de Saddam." (This from Le Monde's correspondent in Baghdad.)
As it happens, the main reason that a number of us do not oppose the Iraqi war is not because we are blinded by patriotism and/or propaganda or because we are manic followers of Dubya, but because we listen to what others say once in a while, namely the people most directly concerned.
It is suggested that unless we oppose the war, we have no choice but to go enlist in the US army. I have a better idea…
Why don't you go to Baghdad (you, the peace activists) and start giving your spiel to Iraqis?
Why don't you go find this person's spouse and children and tell them how Iraq was better off when Saddam provided them with "schools" and "hospitals"?
Why don't you go find this person's friends and tell them that the soldiers in their presence are members of the KKK?
Why don't you go to this father and tell him that Saddam was nothing but a "toothless dictator"?
You will need it…
(Update: Jonah Goldberg and Jeff Jacoby also point out that the Chickenhawk charge is less an argument than an insult and a form of bullying; Ben Shapiro shows how the accusation is dishonest and, not incidentally, how it rejects the Constitution.)
The lecturer should give the audience full reason to believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure and instruction.
The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.
The World little knows how many thoughts and theories which have passed through the mind of a scientific investigator and have been crushed in silence and secrecy of his own criticism.
The important thing is to know how to take all things quietly.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
About nine months ago, Francis Fukuyama, the historian, said that one of the big things distinguishing America from Europe was that, while the United States had staged its great debate on race, Europe hid from dealing frontally with how much Islam it could live with inside its borders.
Now, Fukuyama, author of the celebrated essay "The End of History," has taken this message to the Europeans. In a speech in Germany about two weeks ago, he urged Europe to stop being intimidated about using its right to defend its own humanist culture. He even employed the expression "leitkultur," or leading culture — touchy among Germans because of its supposed elitist resonance — to describe the legitimacy of shoring up a distinctly European identity.
Fukuyama will return to speak in Europe this month and next. His desire to raise the issue of Islam and Europe is intriguing at the least, and surely intrusive for some Europeans. But it reflects a central concern of other leading American academics. Samuel Huntington of Harvard and Bernard Lewis, the Princeton emeritus professor and Middle East expert, men sometimes schematized with Fukuyama as conservatives (although Huntington and Fukuyama are tough critics of aspects of America's involvement in Iraq), have recently questioned the extent of Europe's stability over the coming century as a result of Islam's growing presence.
…Lewis is known to think that if Europe does not deal with its Islamic and Arab presence — confronting the arithmetic of Muslim population growth and setting guidelines for Muslim assimilation — then the control of the issue will fall into the hands of racists and fascists.
All this, on both sides of the Atlantic, involves entry onto treacherous terrain.
…In Europe, apart from its current focus on its relations with Turkey, there is next to nothing that could be described as coherent, pan-European debate about the more vast question of the parameters for Islam's possible integration.
In fact, Europe's circumstances are tortured. Beyond considering taking Turkey's Islamic population of 62 million into the European Union, its citizens must also must digest the idea of increasingly ceding their national identities to an elusive (or illusive) EU identity. It's here that the American academics think Europeans have to start actively defining who they are in relation to the Muslims in their midst.
…Lewis also went on to point out to Die Welt what he saw as ambiguous feelings among Europeans about Muslims and the United States, saying: "In this connection, the European Union could rename itself the community of envy. Europeans have reservations about an America which has surpassed it so clearly. And that's why the Europeans understand the Muslims — because they have similar feelings about America."
Lewis regards plans in France and the Netherlands to train their own French and Dutch imams with national instincts and loyalties as illusory. And although the United States supports Turkey's entry into the EU, other Americans consider na?ve the European elite's argument that a link to Turkey will be a bridge to Islam and an example to the Arab world. Rather, they say, the resentment lingering from the Ottoman Empire's historical subjugation of the Arab nation makes unlikely any Turkish secular role-model for the Arabs.
Although France's defense of its secular, republican tradition against Islamic head scarves was seen as an important development, and the Netherlands was cited for a rare level of political frankness in its national debate on Islam, there was concern among the scholars about how stubbornly Europe would make the case for its identity. Reality was also a report this summer from a French government internal security agency telling of 300 areas in the country where separatistlike situations, grouping Islamic fundamentalist preachers, contempt for France and the West, and violence held sway.
In a conversation here, Fukuyama said it would be a mistake, with dangerous exclusionary overtones, for Europe to hold up Christianity as its sole defining mark.
"There is a European culture," he said. "It's subscribing to a broader culture of tolerance. It's not unreasonable for European culture to say, 'You have to accept this.' The Europeans have to end their political correctness and take seriously what's going on."
Monday, September 20, 2004
Read the first four paragraphs below. Then read how the story was presented by France's independent newspaper.
If Poland decides to withdraw its troops from Iraq it will appear to be surrendering to terrorists, Poland's largest opposition party, which tops the country's popularity polls, said on Monday.Now check out the article which France's organ of official opinion and of the ruling class wrote about this straightforward news event. (Le Monde, you will recall, was the newspaper that said that the theory about Spain's March 13 vote amounting to another Munich should meet nothing but scorn and which failed to mention the diplomatic row between Madrid and Canberra after the Australian foreign minister said Spain's socialists had allowed themselves to be exploited by terrorists.)
"To decide to stop participating in a war because there are casualties means, de facto, surrendering," Donald Tusk, head of the liberal Civic Platform party, told public radio a day after three Polish soldiers were killed in an attack south of Baghdad.
His comments came on the same day Iraq's interim President Ghazi Al-Yawar arrived in Warsaw for an official visit.
"The idea is to withdraw the Polish troops from Iraq in agreement with other allies so as not to give the impression that the Poles are surrendering to terrorism as the Spaniards did" last spring, said Tusk, who is considered a potential presidential candidate for the elections set for the end of 2005. …
The article is entitled The Anti-War "Sensibility" Is Rising in Poland, with the subhead reading "President Kwasniewski is more and more critical of America's policy".
Christophe Châtelot starts out by painting the portrait of an anti-war "militant" (except the man was apparently unwilling to have his last name used). A retired pensioner, a former bureaucrat in the state apparatus, and the member (if I'm not mistaken) of a neo-communist formation, Mieczyslaw is proud of the day's progress made by the petition demanding the immediate withdrawal of Polish troops: "Thirty people have signed in four hours, that's not bad". Indeed. Châtelot continues:
[The campaign] illustrates the rise of doubts in Polish public opinion and in a number of political parties, opportunistically or ideologically. … According to the latest polls, over 70% of Poles are opposed to their soldiers' presence in Iraq …The small party is never identified and we never learn its name! No matter. The quote is so good, how couold you imagine not using it?
"We have nothing to gain from our policy of submission to the United States. It is a war of occupation … " explains Dariuz Wojciechowski, the head of a small party…
Besides the PSL, the ultra-Catholics of the League of Families (LPR) and Samoobrona's populist nationalists criticize President Aleksander Kwasniewski of the Social Democrats (SLD) half-heartedly for having engaged Poland on the Iraqi theater without the OK of Parliament. Filling the spot of the pacifist leftists, the Workers' Union (UP), a member of the ruling coalition, also denounces the engagement in Iraq."also denounces the engagement in Iraq"? "Also"? Didn't Châtelot just write that the criticism of the two former parties was "half-hearted"? Now he uses a journalistic trick to make it sound like the strong opposition of the latter party should be applied to all.
Wait, it gets better:
But all those parliamentary and minority parties cannot wake an apathetic public opinion up.Oh this is good! This is good! We're back with that good ol' charming opinion of self-evident charm and sophistication. Yeah, you know which one. It's the good ol' "If you're not against Uncle Sam, it means you are apathetic, stupid, blinded, simple-minded, etc, etc, etc…"
Isn't that depressing! Isn't that sad? All those lucid, intelligent, humanistic, pacifist, reasonable groups (like the former communists), wanting to wake the Poles up to the reality of the US war, and those apathetic beings, not listening to them. Ohlalaaa…
Are [those parties] having trouble decrypting [the Poles'] mood? … No formation is strong enough to reverse the alliance with the Americans, as Spain's Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) did after its victory over José Maria Aznar's conservatives last Spring.Ah yes, good ol' Zapatero, he is our true hero. Didn't French media call his victory a "blessing"? But wait a minute. Maybe, if we're lucky, some terrorists will set off a couple of bombs in Poland, for if a few hundred, or a few thousand people are killed, we can get some people with humanistic policies to enter government and pull Poland out of the coalition of the willing. That's it. "Trouble decrypting [the Poles'] mood": a trick of some sort should be able to put the Poles on the right track.
Only at that point in the article, and following a subhead reading "American Domination" (quotation marks included), we get some of the above excerpts from the speech of Civic Platform's Donald Tusk: two sentences by the free-market leader, which are important enough to take up… one entire paragraph!
Then it's back to critical comments about the Yankee partnership, with Châtelot finishing his piece with a quote by the pensioner with whom he opened the article.
Mieczyslaw has reached his own moral : "We are nothing but cannon fodder for the Americans."If only that "lucid" message could reach the apathetic Poles, ce serait une véritable bénédiction…
Go to the comments section to read
a Polish citizen's take on the Monde article