Saturday, October 16, 2004

The issue is simple: Which is the better representation of a person's views: the one they say to your face, or the one they say behind your back?

Following the Transatlantic Intelligencer's Legend of the Squandered Sympathy, don't fail to read Being American in T.O:
One of the biggest lies being promoted by Sen. Kerry is that we were loved before 2000. Its corollary, that we had lots of support after Sept. 11, is equally false.

The issue is actually incredibly simple. Which is the better representation of a person's views: the one they say to your face, or the one they say behind your back? (If you need help with that one, stop reading right now because you're too nuanced and I'm probably going to piss you off.)

I received an email from a Canadian who moved to the UK in 1993. He made some extremely pertinent observations from the perspective of a Canadian who was often mistaken for an American. When he would identify himself as a Canadian, sometimes the assumption would be made that he hated Americans too and he would hear what he described as some pretty vile comments. Both he and I heard things that most Americans never heard before Operation Iraqi Freedom (remember that people up here assume I'm a Canadian until I set them straight.) In retrospect, I should have spoken out about it, but back then I didn't recognize the danger it represented so shrugged it off. After all, we were strong and could afford to be tolerant.

My kids have also heard far too many expressions of anti-Americanism up in this bastion of tolerance and diversity, and much of it came from teachers and university professors.

But this nonsense that we were universally loved before GWB became president and before Operation Iraqi Freedom is so false and so dangerous that it must be confronted. …

Of course there were Canadians who were genuinely friendly to the USA. Of course we aren't hated by everyone in every country, but the unfortunate fact is that we make far too many of the social democracies look bad because we are a thriving, active and industrious people who exude confidence and determination.

But made no mistake: the elites in Canada and Europe hate us virulently, and their media reflect that hatred. They always have and always will. They hide it when they want something, and bring it out, fully formed, when we're down.

And why? Because our standard of living and way of life shame them. Our technological advances, the fact that Americans are actually happy gives lie to all their deconstructionism and nihilism and what really angers them is that we don't care. That stubborn Yankee independence stands between them and world domination, and they don't like it.

And we have the finest military in the world. And make no mistake: we've used a lot of tax dollars for that military and thus have sacrificed to have it.

Thank about it. When a country's social democratic programs are bankrupting it, they resent countries that manage to thrive without a huge civil service to oversee those mountains of regulations that stifle economic growth and keep people on the dole. When a country has been paying off terrorists, it makes them look bad when another country chooses to fight back. When a country has pandered to its citizens' notions of entitlement, it's hard for them to persuade their citizens that those policies are not self-sustaining but so long as there is the possibility of channeling resentment away from the failures that produced it and towards a people, like us, that are flourishing because we renounced socialism, they have gained one more term to rule.

(Thanks to the Expat Yank)

Keep going Jacques! Next year they'll name a bomb belt after you! Vas-y Jacquot! L'année prochaine, ils crééront une ceinture d'explosifs qui portera ton nom!
Chiraq dates on sale in Cairo. I always knew Chiraq was a fruit.
Les dattes Chirak en vente au Caire. Des dattes pleines de vers.

But they'll salad toss for Hamas or Hezbollah any time Mais ils bouffent la rondelle de Hamas et de Hezbollah
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine keeps plugging the tired line that the French do not hate Americans, they only hate George Bush. In the same issue, in one of the more hateful illustrations of the across-the-board anti-Americanism that is ritually practiced by the French, the newspaper denigrates religious Americans who peacefully practice their faith. The presentation is full of the standard condescending, paternalistic French bullshit. There is no limit to French hatred of all things American. Americans, keep cancelling your trips to France.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine répète le même refrain que certains imbéciles avancent inlassablement: que les franchouilles ne détestent pas les américains, mais uniquement George Bush. Dans le même numéro, dans une manifestation singulièrement haineuse de l'anti-américanisme universel tel qu'il est pratiqué en tant que rite par les fwançais, le quotidien dénigre les américains croyants qui pratiquent de façon non violente leur religion. La présentation est représentative des foutaises habituelles jactées par ces connards de fwançais condescendants et paternalistes. Il n'y aucune limite à l'exécration que les franchouilles vouent à tout ce qui américain. Américains, continuez à annuler vos voyages vers la Fwance.
UPDATE: The real news is that no one reads Le Monde anyway (except a few clown faced buffoons).
DERNIERES INFOS: La vraie annonce est que plus personne ne lit Le Monde de toute façon (à part quelques zigotos aux bouilles à bozo).

Vichy 2000
It's a genetic thing.
C'est congénital chez eux.

What's in a word? Le mot juste
Operation Days of Penitence. Animal like behavior must be made costly. Cracking down on the filth, the sum, and the shit. Boq explains the appropriate vocabulary.
Opération Jours de pénitence. Un comportement animalier devrait coûter très cher. Casser les reins à la caillera, les raclures des chiottes, et la vermine. Boq nous explique le vocabulaire adéquat.

How much do French hookers go for these days? Ça fait combien la passe avec une pute franchouille ces jours-ci?
Ask the Chinese. Chiraq bends over for China. Mad Minerva comments.
Demandez aux chinois. Chirak offre sa rondelle à la Chine. Mad Minerva commente.

It's real, it's across-the-board, it's every single day C'est bien vrai, c'est universel, et c'est tous les jours
So much so that it is studied. 'Anti-Americanism is a central facit of French cultural and political life, and it is stronger than in any other European country.' Americans, you are hated here.
A un tel point qu'il constitue un sujet d'étude. 'L'antiaméricanisme est une donnée centrale de la vie culturelle et politique en France, où il est plus vif qu'en tout autre pays d'Europe.' Les américains, vous êtes détestés ici.

Muffled Voices (2): "Many Afghans Must Recall the Soviet Occupation with Deep Nostalgia"

If a letter to the editor in the International Herald Tribune states that "many Afghans must recall [the Soviet occupation] with deep nostalgia", where is it likely that the writer is writing from? It may be that several answers are possible, but one possible answer is France. I.e., one of those places where reporters, pundits, intellectuals, and politicians are regularly analysing everybody and everything, except… for the people most directly concerned.

Notice that the reader from Echenevex (she seems to be married to an Anglo-Saxon) does not actually quote any Afghans (men or women), she just states that "many Afghans must recall" the Soviet occupation "with deep nostalgia" — which, if you think about it, is entirely logical, based upon the double standard reporting one reads, hears, and sees in the French media day after day, year in and year out.

Nicholas Kristof (Afghan women still in thrall, Views, Oct. 7) draws a depressing picture of life for Afghan women today, two years after George W. Bush announced that they were "at last free." What a contrast to their situation from 1978 to 1990 under the "evil" rule of the nominally Marxist People's Democratic Party, which the United States and Britain with their Saudi ally did so much to destroy while helping to create the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the bargain.

On several visits as a Moscow-based correspondent during the Soviet occupation, a period many Afghans must recall with deep nostalgia, my husband did not need official "minders" to point out the young women without headscarves, let alone burkas, pouring into Kabul and Kandahar universities every morning, the young girls skipping to school with their brothers, the female doctors running hospitals and holding high posts in ministries.

And regarding the Kremlin, I recall reading that Russia's czarina also said that life could only be good in Russia's villages, following the visit into the countryside a certain Potemkin (no minder, he, either) had taken her on.
Meanwhile, the "freedom fighting" mujahedeen whom the West was arming were destroying schools and clinics wherever they could in their own zealous war against such abominations as coeducation and medical treatment for women.
I thought the only mujahedeen destroying schools and clinics were the Taliban (opposed by many of the other factions), and that education and medical treatment under the latter's government — as well as under the communist government — was much of a sham, but then again, who am I to put the word of a one-party government's public relations policy (whether Islamist, communist, secular, or other) into question, much less be so uncouth as to call it "evil"?
Not too different from what we are seeing in Iraq today since the destruction of Saddam's secular, if brutal, regime by the ideologues in power in Washington and London.
"If brutal": oh, well, if Saddam's régime was just a teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, brutal (but just a tad, you understand), at least Iraq was secular, Dieu merci, and women had rights! And, yes, Eugénie, many Iraqis must recall Saddam's secular régime with deep nostalgia as well!

Coward: Kerry hides his French roots Lâche: Kerry occulte ses origines fwançaises
Out-fucking-standing. If he won't acknowledge his roots, how could he stand up for his country?
Jouissif. S'il ne peut pas admettre ses origines, comment défendrait-il son pays?

Wilde on Bloggers and Commentators

In the perspective of the raison d'être of this weblog, and of the indignant comments we often get from some readers, t'is no bad thing to remember that today is the birthday of Oscar Wilde, the Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854-1900) who opined:
A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

As for those who, with a wry smile, are always pointing to America's alleged monetary gains in the "war for oil":
The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
As for those who are always defending the "peace camp", in spite of numerous pieces of evidence that their members' humanistic posturing was, at least partly, a scam:
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

As far as the "sky-is-falling" stories about Yankee plots and conspiracies are concerned:
I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.
Et, pour finir:
A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

GM axes 12000 jobs in Germany GM envoie 12000 employés aux chiottes en Allemagne
You know what? They can drop dead. Suffocate Zeropa. I don't want to see their stinking Kraut faces unless they are bringing me a plate of hot dogs and potato salad in a restaurant.
Oui et encore, ils peuvent tous crever. Il faut suffoquer la Zéropa. Je ne veux pas voir leurs sales tronches de schleus à moins qu'ils ne m'apportent une assiette de hot dogs mit kartoffelsalad dans un restau.
UPDATE: Schröder knows his place as a stinking flunky and keeps his pie-hole shut. He knows how to do that very well.
DERNIERES INFOS: Schröder sait bien qu'il n'est qu'un larbin merdique qui doit fermer son claquemerde, ce qu'il fait très bien d'ailleurs.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The one voice that noone listens to belongs to the Iraqis, whose very existence has been overlooked by a sneering press corps

This came out a couple of weeks ago, but it is typical of the "peace camp's" haughty attitude.
Iraq Pundit:
Seemingly everyone has had something to say about the [Iraqi] prime minister's U.S. visit with the exception of one voice. That voice belongs to the Iraqis, whose very existence has been overlooked by a sneering press corps.

We've heard all kinds of reactions from the press. Bush is dishonest when he said things are getting better in Iraq. Sen. Kerry asked whether Allawi was living in some fanatasy world when he said that democracy was taking hold in Iraq. Some critics have been particularly snide. Maureen Dowd in the New York Times compared Bush and Allawi to puppets. Dowd writes "It's hilarious that the Republicans have trotted out Mr. Allawi as an objective analyst of the state of conditions in Iraq when he's the administration's handpicked guy and has as much riding on putting the chaos in a sunny light as they do."

This is a laughably parochial reaction. Does Dowd think that Allawi is only talking to her and her ilk? Iraqis know very well that Allawi was flown to the United States for U.S. election purposes. What Dowd forgets is that Allawi knew that Iraqis too were listening to his speech. As a leader, he has to sound positive for his own people about the future of the country. Morale is vitally important to the nation's future.

It's exactly that future — the Iraqis' future — that Dowd can't be bothered with. To her, it's an occasion for cheap sarcasm. "Faced with their dystopia," she writes, amusing herself. "the utopians are scaling back their grand visions for Iraq's glorious future."

Critics like Dowd see Iraq and Iraqis as beyond redemption, if not beneath contempt. Certainly, they are not worth bothering with or thinking about. Not everyone has abandoned the Iraqi future. For example, David H. Petraeus writes in the Washington Post that he sees tangible progress. The Army Lt. General, who is training Iraq's security forces, writes there is reason for optimism. One of Dowd's own colleagues writes in today's New York Times that if the U.S. were to withdraw, Iraq would only get worse.

But it's the Dowds who seem to have the floor. The vast majority of Iraqis who want to make the country succeed and are willing to take risks and work hard to achieve that goal are all fodder for her snide jokes. Rest assured, Iraqis know Allawi's history very, very well. Iraqis know about his Baathist past; they know that he is no Nelson Mandela. But for now, he's their chance. For figures like Dowd, Allawi and indeed all his fellow Iraqis are just punchlines. But if this is about sarcasm and jokes, we'll see who — the Iraqis or the sneering press — has the last laugh.

(Thanks to Richard Thompson)

Did they chopper in the T-bones and the Jameson? Et les entrecôtes et le whisky irlandais sont héliportés aussi?
Every word a enriched uranium bullet, every post a balistic missle. The poetry is just choppered in.
Chaque mot une balle à l'uranium appauvri, chaque billet un missile ballistique. De la poésié héliportée quoi.

No need for a copy-and-paste function, that's all they are good for anyway Pas la peine de coder une fonction copier-coller, c'est tout ce qu'ils savent faire de toute façon
Should socialists be replaced by software?
Faut-il remplacer les socialistes par des logiciels?

Where the Wild Things Are Au régal des vermines
Hilarious posting on Indymedia Nantes where some French cunt wakes up and smells the coffee (scroll down for English translation). Oh, and she is upset about being contacted in English.
Un poste vraiment marrant sur Indymedia Nantes où une connasse franchouille vient de ramasser quelques évidences sur le coin de la gueule. En plus, elle est offusquée d'être ainsi contactée en anglais.

Bad company Fréquenter la caillera
The Zeropean globophobe left is a true 5th column.
Les gôchistes globophobes zéropéens constituent une véritable 5ème colonne.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ike on War and the World's True Pacifists

Insofar that European do-gooders are always giving lessons on peace to the war-mongering Americans, it is probably not unhelpful to remember that Dwight D. Eisenhower (whose birthday it is today) once said:
I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
Hating war "as only a soldier who has lived it can"…
Other quotes by the US general and 34th President of the US (1890-1969) include:
A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book...

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.

There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.

We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.

Hand-wringing reporting on the inhumane plight of the "young soldiers so badly prepared for war" without once interviewing… an American serviceman

In a cover article entitled "Bring Home Our Kids", Le Monde 2 describes "the Revolt of the GIs' mothers".

Le Monde 2, as you will remember, is the weekly magazine of France's newspaper of reference and, as such, contains no small amount of bile directed towards American shores.

Inside, Annick Cojean's title reads "Susan Goes to War: The Fight of the Soldiers' Mothers Against Bush". Already, from the titles alone, we understand that is all the GIs' mothers who are concerned, without fail, or people presuming to speak for every single GI mother…

"'Television, with its patriotic mindset, systematically ignored the suffering of the Iraqi civilians. So I had to make up my own mind'," Susan Galleymore explains as to why she took a flight to the battlezone. After describing a plethora of difficulties that the Code Pink member met in getting into Iraq (a country at war, remember), Cojean writes in a sentence laden with irony: "Welcome to Iraq…"

In Baghdad, we are informed, Susan "wanted to walk around, visit hospitals and schools, meet other women" (i.e., do everything haughty pacifist militants can be expected to do when they are protected by warriors who put their life on the line for them).

"She met a psychiatrist, specialized in post-traumatic stress disorder, terribly worried about the psychological state of Baghdad's children". And how was the psychological state of the kids whose mother was pulled into the street by Ba'athist thugs, and decapitated, pray tell? Oh, that's right, at least the U.S. military and no fancy weapons were involved in that case…

No, wait. The psychological state the psychiatrist is worried about is that related to the "children who are disconcerted by the savage pictures of the fall of Saddam whose absolute cult had been taught by the school". How horrifying. "Terrified by the humiliations and the violence visited upon their fathers" — Oh yeah? How many fathers had their arms amputated, their tongues cut out, their eyes gouged, by American soldiers, whether in front or out of sight of their offspring? Oh, that's right, the following cannot be denied; the Americans did humiliate the fathers! This can only have been gratuitious sadism, no way was this related to the fact that the warriors were in the middle of a combat zone. "Traumatized by night-time arrests, doors kicked in, houses turned upside down, machine guns pointed at them, orders shouted in a foreign language." Yes, that's right: at least, Saddam's thugs didn't kick in the doors (they didn't have to), they never turned citizens' houses upside down, orders were not shouted (no need for that), and the members of Saddam's state police apparatus spoke the native language! How bloody jolly life was for Iraqis in the good ol' times.

Susan, protected by the presence of Uncle Sam's soldiers, proceeds on her pacifist militant pilgrimage. Pull out your hanky: "She visited orphanages, ate dinner with Iraqi fanilies, talked to women living with their children in the ruins of bombarded buildings, unable to pay the rent in their former house." Now, why couldn't General Franks have done that?! Note the intense courage that Susan displays: "She even participated, under a banner reading U.S. Out of Iraq, in a demonstration of Iraqi women worried about a drop in their rights." (A drop in their rights?! Look up the sentence on the Ba'athist beheadings above.)

She finally manages to meet her son, Nick, a young Ranger who is startled by his mother's arrival. After visiting for an hour and a half (every few minutes, the youth would shake his head and say, "I can't believe you're here"), she tells her son "Don't do anything in Iraq that you'll be ashamed of in the future." As she leaves, through "streets filled by barbed wire and full of tanks and heavily armed soldiers", Susan is "satisfied, relieved. Overcome with emotion [these are all feelings that only peace activists can have, you understand], also, by the young soldiers so badly prepared for war and for the hatred that the Iraqis bear them, [those soldiers] who thought they came to fight for democracy and who, more and more bitter and more and more conscious of having been led into a trap, have to fight only to protect one another. What a waste, she thought on the plane trip home. What an incredible waste! 'We are destroying both our soldiers and the Iraqi people in a senseless, immoral, and corrupt war. We are shaming ourselves. And instead of appeasing the world, we are launching more terror'."

At the end of the piece, Susan is described as "our heroine", "whose trip was the dream of numerous soldier moms".

Before we get that far, we hear more tragedies from Iraq: Because of the news from the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, the husband of Marianne Brown, "already in depression [over his son's presence in Iraq as one of the prison's guards], has had to be hospitalized". "How can we not ask ourselves endlessly what atrocities our son, who was brought up to be a good boy, has witnessed?" (Rush Limbaugh, of course, would say that if Michael Brown ever joined a fraternity, he's seen worse, but let's not get into that…)

But worse is to come: Adele Kubein has seen her only child daughter, M'Kesha Clayton, leave for Iraq. "How unexpected it was, that departure to war!" waxes Cojean poetically. "And how badly prepared she was, that young sensitive woman who had been told that she would help build an orphange when in fact she was placed without any fanfare behind the machine gun of a Humvee." More American treachery. More neocon treachery. More military treachery… It must be said here that Cojean claims that M'Kesha's contract with the Oregon National Guard stipulated that she would never take part in combat operations (!?!?). "Not only has M'Kesha taken part in fighting, in spite of her contract, but she has killed men. And that memory obsesses her." Her mother cries, "They have used her, they have broken her, now let them release her!"

As for Jason Miller, his mother Pat claims that the wounded Pennsylvania youth was cajoled into signing up to return to duty in Iraq, where his wounds would prevent him from returning to the combat zone. Emphasis mine: "As soon as he had returned," writes Cojean, who has obviously never met the 24-year-old man who "had always dreamed of being in the service" (and writing in her own [so-called] passionless, objective reporter's voice, i.e., not quoting Jason's mother), "he was forced to sign a declaration stating that he was in perfect health, that he was in no need of therapy, and that he felt ready to return to his former post."

"But", the Le Monde 2 journalist asks rhetorically, and in full empathy with her interviewees, "are Americans really that sensitive to the intelligence of their president?"

Marianne Brown does her duty, we are informed, trying "to shake the indifference towards Iraq out of her neighbors". She goes through the traditional litany: "How can one be so credulous [as to believe the president]?… Bush has made a thousand lying promises … It is Bush, that election thief, who is the best ally of Al-Qaeda." From other mothers, we hear "it's infernal, it's a disgrace", "It was all about oil", "Bush, the Texan, is an oilman. He wanted to grab the Iranian supplies while endangering the lives of our kids. It's criminal. … False, false, false!" spits Pat Gunn who prays that Bush is not reelected. "Everything that George Bush has said was false!" "I will do everything so that the most dangerous cowboy in America leaves the White House." As for Lili Jean, the Vietnam war nurse confides to Cojean that she isn't sure she should tell Susan "that in every conflict experiments are made on soldiers and that they lose all their rights when they enter the army".

Marianne Brown "sends letters and articles to the newspapers, calling for the destitution of President Bush and his impeachment before the international criminal court." (See? We just knew that that august body would be used only for hardened criminals and international psychopaths while Washington insiders were obviously wrong (or arrogant) to think it would be used for political or other partisan reasons…)

The article ends with a full-page picture of Joe Wezorek's War President portrait and the following information:

[Thanks to the internet, these families have created] an extraordinary chain of dialog and solidarity, [in which,] without taboos, they share news, advice, letters, photos [and the names of informative websites], especially foreign ones [such as that of… the] Qatar TV station, Al Jazeera.
Then Cojean asks: "At what limit should one set the number of acceptable deaths? And at what point will the American people finally express its indignation?" And she quotes Ann as saying more pictures of coffins and instances of "horrifying torture" or the return of the draft "would finally open the eyes of the sleeping Americans". Thank God, Americans are "less and less" asleep, Cojean adds, as, among other things, the treatment of the Iraqi prisoners has touched, for the first time, the "arrogant and untouchable defense minister", and as the association Military Family Speak Out grows from parents "who, previously trembling to emit an opinion on Iraq [?!] today have only one single battle cry: Bring them home!"
What [Denise Miller] is sure of is that no family of a serviceman in Iraq wants to vote for the reelection of the current president.
She is?

Notice that in this article — strangely enough — no word, ever, is given to a single member of the armed forces. We never hear from Nick Galleymore or from Michael Brown or from Jason Gunn or from M'Kesha Clayton. No word from Anthony Lopercio, Giselle Valencia, or Nick Capone (some of the other servicemen mentioned in the story). Nothing, not even anonymous quotes. Offhand, there is no reason to doubt that M'Kesha's mother is upset about her fate, although we may be tempted to ask if her mother isn't exaggerrating her plight, even slightly. More to the point, Marianne Brown speaks about her hospitalized husband, but he's in Michigan. She never says anything directly about their son Michael.

It would seem that Michael and Jason and M'Kesha and Anthony and Giselle and the two Nicks are not part of… the "extraordinary chain of dialog and solidarity".

Oh, here may be an explanation. Oh wow, this is fabulous: on (counting) six, seven, eight, nine, ten pages devoted to the inhumane plight of the soldiers in Iraq, there are two lines, exactly two lines, i.e., two sentences, concerning the viewpoints of the soldiers' themselves…

Listen to this: When Susan Galleymore visited with her son Nick in Baghdad, Annick Cojean tells us,

they spoke neither of the war, nor of its stakes, nor of President Bush. They don't share the same viewpoint, it was not the place to start an argument.
They don't share the same viewpoint…

They. Don''t. Share. The same. viewpoint…

It was not the place to start an argument.

It. Was not. The Place. To start. An Argument.


Might it be that this is/was the reason why no other serviceman is quoted in this piece? (Surely, if the servicemen mentioned above were afraid for their careers, they — or their comrades — could have been quoted anonymously, non?)

Well, if you can't get your own offspring, your most loved and cherished ones, the ones who are in the line of fire, the "young soldiers so badly prepared for war [who are] more and more bitter and more and more conscious of having been led into a trap", if you can't get them to join in your condemnation of the "war for oil", its stakes, and the man who sent them there, how validly can you expect your position to be taken?

This reminds me of John Kerry's meeting with four marines in a Wendy's restaurant last summer.

The Democrat is the man who said the Iraq conflict was "the wrong war, the wrong place, the wrong time." He is the man who agrees, at least partially, with what the parents' organizations are saying, and who would do a better job and, supposedly, bring the boys back home…

So why did the four Marines dis the man? Why did they turn

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]."

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.

Were these particular fellows brimming with testosterone? Were they perhaps not representative of the overall military population?

Part of the answer comes from USA Today, where Dave Moniz informs us that a survey of U.S. military personnel showed they support President Bush for re-election by a 4-to-1 ratio (Hat tip to Gregory Schreiber and Ray D).

In the [unscientific] survey of more than 4,000 full-time and part-time troops, 73% said they would vote for Bush if the election were held today; 18% said they would vote for Kerry. …

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who for years has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military … said he suspects Kerry is losing support among those in uniform because he seems less committed than Bush to prosecuting the war in Iraq.

(By the way, only "12% of active-duty troops and 16% of Guard and reserve troops said Bush's actions in the National Guard made them less likely to vote for him.")

So there you have it. The press, within the United States and without, soak us with stories and polls showing how much Bush is disliked and how people around the world would love nothing more than to be able to vote in America's election in order to boot Dubya out. The Europeans, the Arab street, the cynics, the press, within the United States and without, all tell us the same story: everybody is against the war; everybody hates Bush — at the very least (wry smile), you must admit that he has handled the war wrongly and that it is a bloody disaster. Everybody says this, we are told, everywhere it is said, and the polls they choose to quote seem to bear them out.

Everywhere, except where it matters most. Everybody, except the people most directly concerned.

The members of the United States military.

And the citizens of Iraq.

The place most concerned by the American presence in Iraq — Iraq itself — is brimming with people approving the cowboy, his simple style, his policies, and his actions. To wit, members of the American military and citizens of the Iraqi nation.

Let us end with a mother whom Le Monde 2's Annick Cojean did not bother to interview: she is the mother of Ronald Dominick Winchester, the US Marine who said

Better that I go over there. Because if I don't, they're going to come here.
Marianna Winchester recently showed a visitor a favorite drawing of her son's. It showed a firefighter amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, handing an American flag to a marine, who says "I'll take it from here."

"Never once did he say something negative about the war, Bush or anyone else," she said.

Ronald Dominick Winchester, a 25-year-old first lieutenant with the United States Marine Corps, was killed in western Iraq in September 2004.

Marianna Winchester said her son was a hero, and that he died for "all of us."

That is something in today's world, it seems, that only a serviceman or an Iraqi can understand.

(Read also the "Enlist or Shut Up" Spiel)

Normandy Honors Civil War Battle

The summer of 1944 was not the first time that American blood was shed off the coast of Normandy during the month of June. But the D-Day landings of World War II are generally better remembered, in America as well as in France, than the 1864 naval duel between the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama.

That imbalance was slightly rectified on September 23, when a delegation from the Civil War Preservation Trust arrived in Cherbourg to unveil a plaque naming the English Channel town an historic Civil War site, the only one outside the United States.

One of your webmasters; Major Linda Miller, USMC;  the US embassy's assistant naval attaché, Commander Harold E. Williams; and Oliver and Edmund Semmes (the direct descendants of Raphael Semmes, captain of the Confederate raider) visit the tombstones of three sailors who died during the June 19, 1864, battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge

More info at the CSS Alabama Association

"For many Australian voters, the strong security stance against terrorism of the Howard government was clearly an important voting determinant"

A reader from Down Under complains about the International Herald Tribune's coverage of the Australian election (it is the third letter on the letters page; note, in the first two letters, how anybody defending Dubya's policies is automatically accused of being a poodle).
As one who voted in the recent Australian election, I and many of my friends and acquaintances take strong exception to the line being espoused in the press discounting the Liberal-National coalition's Middle East policy as a factor in its victory (Howard reiterates commitment to Iraq and economy, Oct. 12).

For example, your reportage has attempted to downplay the link in a number of ways: First, by claiming the Iraq policy is "unpopular" — no one is saying any war can be "popular," but if the election was a referendum on the war, which both the Labor Party and the Greens sought to make it, they lost and Prime Minister John Howard's increased majority speaks for itself.

Second, by claiming that the election was fought solely on domestic issues, a contention that ignores the strong antiwar campaign of the competition, all of whom lost heavily.

Third, by downplaying the important Australian military contribution by claiming it to have insignificant size, to be engaged in "noncombat roles" and, just for further emphasis, that "no Australian troops have been killed."

For many Australian voters, the strong pre-emptive security stance against terrorism of the Howard-led government was clearly an important voting determinant.

Those who favor the Middle East policies of the losing political parties may want to dispute this, but theirs is a misinterpretation of the electoral result.

Joe Lederman, Melbourne

Ever see a shithole shrink? T'as déjà vu un trou à merde se rétrécir?
The Middle East? The World? Nevermind. In Zeropa alone French influence is shrinking so fast that the best the French can do now is mutter something about how it's not shrinking as fast at it seems. Whatever you say dude.
En Proche Orient? Le monde? Laisse tomber. Rien qu'en Zéropa l'influence de la Fwance s'affaiblit tellement vite que tout ce que les franchouilles trouvent à faire est de marmonner des phrases creuses pour expliquer qu'elle ne s'affaiblit pas si vite que ça. Ouais, c'est cela mec.

Kerry gay baits Dick Cheney Kerry joue les homophobes avec Dick Cheney

Now he looks like a chimp Alors lui, il ressemble à un macaque
Balagan blasts ex-Education Minister Claude Allègre for his moronic Libération PropagandaStaffel piece.
Balagan envoie une volée de bois vert dans la direction de Claude Allègre, ancien Ministre de l'Education, pour son essai débile paru dans Libé PropagandaStaffel piece.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Here Is Another Story…

…we will not be reading much about in the French press (or the German one)…
A mass grave being excavated in a north Iraqi village has yielded evidence that Iraqi forces executed women and children under Saddam Hussein.
Of course, the media would write about the story if they had time. But you must understand, they are much too busy looking for damning evidence about George W Bush. You know who we mean… the lying cowboy whose warmongering brought chaos and insecurity to Iraq…
…investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.

The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said. …

The victims are believed to be Kurds killed in 1987-88, their bodies bulldozed into the graves after being summarily shot dead.

One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.

The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face.

"The youngest foetus we have was 18 to 20 foetal weeks," said US investigating anthropologist P Willey.

"Tiny bones, femurs — thighbones the size of a matchstick."

Make sure you read the part in which Greg Kehoe explains what is the cause for the work having been delayed for so long…

(Danke, Ray)

French hero worship Les sous-pubards sont prêts à mener la révolution: dès leur prochaine RTT; et dès qu'ils gagnent 2 sous avec leurs 'Google ads'

White trash Franchouilles de souche bons pour la casse
Kerry won't even mention in public the existence of his sub-cultured deviate French family.
Kerry ne pipe pas mot en public au sujet de l'existence de sa famille fwançaise sous-cultivée et bonne pour l'asile.

Brown shirts go back to their roots Du rififi dans les backrooms
He should have said 'turd burglar'.
Il aurait dû dire 'pédaloïde'.

Duelfer's Iraq Survey Report Gets Good Press in the French Media… Except for the Scandal Implicating France

All Le Monde 's articles (well, the very few articles the independent newspaper has written, I should say) on the Iraq Survey Group report implicating France in the UN's food-for-oil graft scandal are being presented with the emphasis on Paris's denials of any implication (Le rapport pointe le rôle de la France et de la Russie, La France dément les accusation de corruption du rapport Duelfer). "Without foundation", screams an article in its subhead, whose author I cannot quote because, very oddly, none of the articles are signed.

"There are good reason to be careful [and withhold judgment]" (something that is rarely done in France when Uncle Sam is involved), "Absurd and totally false" (Pierre Joxe), "It's deliriouss and absolutely impossible" (Patrick Maugein), and, of course, the victimitis-of-Anglo-Saxon-treachery defense ("it's not the first time that one has sought to implicate French companies", Jean-François Bureau). Yes, you got that right: by the time of the second article, the report and author Charles Duelfer are not quoted once, nobody but French officials being quoted, French officials, to be precise, who in any case have a stake in denying any corruption (well, maybe it isn't so strange given the number of articles on foreign policy where the only people interviewed and/or quoted are… French officals).

The newspaper of reference also relativizes the word "corruption" by putting it in quotation marks, something it already did concerning the "liberation" of Baghdad, but which it rarely (if ever), does while discussing the "lies" of Bush, Blair, and Aznar.

One single, solitary (unsigned) article on the first day, one single, soltary (unsigned) article on the second day, and by the third day, the story was being relegated to filler status (once again promising France's "total cooperation" in the independent investigation)… We have not seen the story since…

Fait étrange, aucun des articles sur le scandale impliquant la France dans le scandale de nourriture-contre-pétrole n'est signé. Les articles n'occupent pas une place primordiale dans le journal de référence, loin de là (page 5 ou en bas de la page 3, après et en-dessous d'un magistral Un rapport ruine l'argumentaire de Bush), et pas question d'un titre — ou d'un article — qui mette en question ne fût-ce qu'une partie de la politique française (de l'ordre de En trois jours, les fondements de la politique irakienne de la Maison Blanche ont été mis à mal). Jusqu'à présent, ces deux articles — jamais en premier page — sont tout ce que le journal indépendant consacre au scandale ; aucun éditorial, aucun éditorialiste — éditorialiste maison ou invité — n'en parle. Pas de cartoons de Plantu ou de Pessin, tandis que Pancho préfère orienter son dessin vers… le nouveau bâtiment du Parlement d'Écosse…

Il est vrai que comme ce bâtiment ultramoderne à Edimbourg, il y a des sujets plus importants à traiter (les embrouilleurs de filiations [trois formes de parentalité : biologique, nominative, et éducative], militer pour une journée mondiale de lutte contre l'homophobie, les goûts et les dégoûts musicaux des nazis)… Quant aux internautes du, eux aussi ont des sujets bien plus brûlants à recommander à leurs amis, comme la "chasse aux pédés" à Marseille ou les deux études auscultant les rapports des Français avec leur assiette ou Comment choisir son thérapeute

A Further Opportunity to Blast America, Its Society, and Its Leaders Is Given in Le Monde's Portraits of Artists and Other VIPs

Continuing our celebration of Le Monde 's 60th anniversary (following overviews of its Le Monde 2 magazine and the daily's film reviews), we sneak over to another section of its cultural pages, the VIP portrait section…

Regularly, almost every day of the week, Le Monde gives its readers a so-called in-depth portrait of a VIP, French or foreign, whether an artist or a human rights activist or other.

Not unsurprisingly, often part of these portraits are devoted to Bush-bashing or other diatribes against the hyperpower, its policies, and its capitalist society.

(VIPs lambasting Dubya and/or U.S. foreign policy include Gael Garcia Bernal (article by Thomas Sotinel), Björk (Véronique Mortaigne), Judith Butler (Clarisse Fabre), Brigitte Fontaine (Fabre), Philip Glass (Marie-Aude Roux), Alberto Granado (Christine Legrand), Nicolas Hayek (Afsané Bassir), Hong Sai-Wa (Philippe Pons), Lenine (Mortaigne), Ken Loach (Florence Colombani), Sergio de Mello (by his companion Carolina Larriera), Jacques Monory (Géneviève Breerette), Nana Mouskouri (Mortaigne), Véronique Sanson (Bruno Lesprit), Will Smith (Florence Colombani), Fernando Solanas (Paulo Paranagua), Michael Stipe (Stéphane Davet), Tsunenari Tokugawa (Pons), Paul Verhoeven (Sotinel).)

The big news came when even Johnny Hallyday — France's favorite "American" rocker! — voiced impatience with America and its policies. Now that means something! (I couldn't find the article's hyperlink, malheureusement; if any lecteur knows of it, merci de me le faire savoir…)

In addition, Le Monde has shorter and more news-itemish articles about celebrities, albeit on the front-page, whose only purpose is to bash Bush (Woody Allen [Florence Colombani], Cat Stevens [Véronique Mortaigne], Bruce Springsteen [Bruno Lesprit], etc). On the other hand, Bob Dylan — the protest singer par excellence — refused to comment (to Lesprit) on Bush and the American presence in Iraq.

In fact, here we get to what is surprising. What is odd about Le Monde's portraits is that you rarely, if ever, see anybody speaking about Bush (or American foreign policy) in positive terms. On the other hand, you do find portraits (a large amount of them) where Bush (and American foreign policy) is not mentioned at all. Nor do you ever hear anybody say anything negative about John Kerry.

It's almost as if, when face to face with someone who either 1) is a Bush supporter, or 2) doesn't care one way or the other, or 3) didn't come up with a very original and quotable anti-Bush one-liner (because some of these VIPs are well-known for their vocal opposition to all things American — see next paragraph), the Le Monde journalist decided that that part of the portrait wasn't worth mentioning (unless, of course, his or her editor cut it). In any case, something that isn't worth reporting.

(Portraits in which Dubya and/or US policies were not mentioned at all include those devoted to Anonymous 4 (article by Renaud Machart), François-Marie Banier (Josyane Savigneau), Booba (Stéphane Davet), Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi (Thomas Sotinel), Jackie Chan (Sotinel), Dominic Chianese (Damien Bonelli), Olivier Cohen (Alain Salles), Michael Connelly (Gérard Meudal), Raymond Domenech (Philippe Broussar), Kitsou Dubois (Rosita Boisseau), Daniel Cordier (Philippe Dagen), Serge Dassault (Dominique Gallois & Pascale Santi), Henri Dutilleux (Marie-Aude Roux), Ichikawa Ebizo XI (Fabienne Darge), James Ellroy (Gérard Meudal), Isaac Fanous (Xavier Ternisien), José Frèches (Philippe-Jean Catinchi), Jan Garbarek (Antoine Jacob), Nicole Gautier (Jean-Louis Perrier), Michel Gondry (Sotinel), Jean Guidoni (Véronique Mortaigne), Judith Henry (Darge), Philippe Herreweghe (Machart), Yannick Jaulin (Davet), Elfriede Jelinek (Joëlle Stolz), Gérard Jugnot (Jean-Michel Dumay), Daniel Keene (Darge), Joël Kermarrec (Harry Bellet), Aubert Lemeland (Machart's headline says the composer is "crazy [!] about America"), Wangari Maathai (Jean-Philippe Rémy), Michael Mann (Jean-François Rauger), Miossec (Davet), Nagui (Guillaume Fraissard), Genesis P-Orridge (Odile de Plas), Georges Prêtre (Roux), Noël Quidu (Michel Guerrin), Sam Raimi (Jean-Luc Douin, no link available), Denis Roche (Savigneau), Mylène Sauloy (Marie Jégo), Omar Sharif (Afsané Bassir Pour) Sandra Kilohana Silve (Boisseau), Alberto Sorbelli (Dagen), Daniel Spoerri (Dagen) Rachid Taha (Mortaigne), Anne Tismer (Brigitte Salino), Daby Touré (Bruno Lesprit).)

Another funny thing is that another thing you don't find much of in the independent newspaper's portraits is criticism of Jacques Chirac or French foreign policy. It is almost as if… as if the VIPs (French or foreign) did not want to risk alienating part of the Monde readership… (Unless, of course, it is the reporters of the newspaper of reference who do not want to alienate their editors and the powers that stand behind them…)

This, in turn, makes you wonder: how anti-Bush are all the VIPs interviewed really, and how much are they playing (deliberately or unconsciously) to their interlocutors (the journalists interviewing them) and to the general (self-serving) atmosphere pervading Europe and avant-garde America?

This all ties in with the numerous examples of film reviews and portraits lambasting American society, Washington's foreign policy, or the American character's supposed dark side, things that have little to nothing to do with the films' artistic merit (let alone the filmmakers' original intent), or little to do with the artist's actual words.

Thatcher on America

Regarding the tendency of haughty people from the Old Continent to sneer at Americans, telling them that (contrary to the Yanks) they (the Europeans) have history and traditions (sniff), let us remember that Margaret Thatcher (whose birthday it is today) never contested that statement. Instead, she pointed out that
Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
The Iron Lady also said:
Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.

Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and importance, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.

Why the 'Iraq 2003 - Mexico 1941' comparison is historically off the mark

UPDATED — Read why Kerry's 'Mexico 1941 - Iraq 2003' comparison is an insult to Mexico and Mexicans everywhere: "the comparison is an insult to the intelligence of anyone with the most basic working knowledge of the past". Be sure to read a German's take on what would have been the better analogy in the speech.

And while we're on the subject of historical analogies: a more pertinent analogy than the one involving Mexico, I read elsewhere on the web (and I wish I could remember where), would have been if the United States, in response to Pearl Harbour and Germany's declaration of war, had invaded Morocco. Which, of course, is exactly what FDR did.

The Expat Yank takes this further:

… the war between the U.S. and Germany did not commence with a U.S. invasion of Germany's North Sea coast, near, say, Bremerhaven. The U.S. forces in the European Theater proceeded to invade French North Africa in November 1942, and first fought not against Germans, but on landing beaches and in towns against French collaborationist troops. Within weeks, the Americans were also battling against Italians and, finally, ran into some Germans in Tunisia.

In July 1943 the U.S. and Britain invaded, oh, no, not Germany . . . but Sicily. There, most of the defenders were Italians, with a couple of good divisions of Germans in support. …

The U.S. and British Allies finally got around to fighting purely Germans in Normandy . . . well, maybe not "purely", for there the Allies also captured large numbers of Cossacks, Russians and even Koreans, who were, for a variety of reasons, fighting for Nazi Germany.

In October 1944, the Allies FINALLY reached the German border. In their first big ground fight for a GERMAN city, U.S. troops found themselves in Aachen, facing Germans in probably the closest thing to a Stalingrad-like battle that the Americans faced in Europe — house to house fighting against an enemy that used even the sewers to move troops about. The surrounded German forces finally surrendered, but by then the ancient city had been virtually destroyed. …

Nazi Germany fell about 6 1/2 months later.

Interestingly, the Aachen tourist site notes that:

. . .On the 21 October 1944 the city was liberated by the Americans after 6 weeks of intense fighting – approx. 65% of all houses and flats had been destroyed. . .
Liberated by the Americans. Not conquered. That is a GERMAN web site. (Someday, hopefully, one of the first small Iraqi cities liberated by the coalition will have a similar comment on its tourism web site.)

After World War II ended, it all made relative sense. It was all part of the "grand strategy." Uh-huh. But imagine how the strategy undertaken by Washington and London during World War II would have been debated by the public in 1943, had there been bloggers, and — oh, good grief — "anti-war" activists of today's sorts?

It all started with Morocco, echoes Steven den Beste:
…why was it that the first nation that the US invaded in WWII was Morocco? Certainly the Moroccans had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.

Morocco was actually a French colony and was under control of Vichy France, and was defended by French troops. While it was technically true that Vichy France was an "ally" of Germany … It's clear that Vichy France didn't represent a danger to the US and certainly Vichy France had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. So why did we attack Morocco?

It's because we were fighting a war, not a battle, and because we were removing danger to us, not retaliating. It is far more difficult to get Americans to reach the point of being willing to fight a war than most people acknowledge, but when it does happen the general American idea is that you fight to remove all of the dangers, and to clean up the entire situation. If you fight, you fight to win. And you make sure that you completely finish it so that you don't have to fight that particular war again. …

America's involvement in WWII was begun by Pearl Harbor because it made war politically possible. But though Japan had attacked us, and though there's no reason to believe that Hitler even knew it was coming, let alone had anything to do with planning it, Hitler was a greater danger to the US in the long run than was Tojo. Having finally crossed that extremely high barrier and become willing to go to war, the US did not just fight against and defeat the Japanese, for that would have left the German danger unaddressed. …

Germany had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, but American involvement in WWII had nothing to do with revenge. Yes, many individual citizens were motivated by revenge, and on a political level that is what made war possible. But the US government got involved in the war to remove the danger we faced, and the primary danger was Nazi Germany.

Which is why we invaded Morocco. Morocco had nothing directly to do with the war, but it was a necessary first step. … We fought in Africa to kick the Germans and Italians out of there, so that we could use Africa as a staging ground for an attack on Sicily, conquest of which permitted an attack on Italy proper, which eventually knocked Italy out of the war and made it change sides and forced Germany to send more troops there because they could no longer rely on Italian forces (not that they were ever very reliable). Continued operations in Italy tied down large amounts of Germany forces and supplies which were therefore not available to use against the USSR or to hold France, and Italy was also used as a staging ground for an assault on southern France which took place shortly after the Normandy invasion. Once that happened, Germany had too many fronts to fight on and couldn't be strong everywhere; the Soviets launched a major offensive in parallel with the Anglo-American offensive in France and after that things went very badly for Germany. And it all started with Morocco.

Taking Morocco had nothing to do with anything that the people or government of Morocco had done. It was a strategic step, an individual battle in a much larger war. To try to analyze the Torch landings in Morocco in a vacuum, without that larger perspective, would make it seem completely nonsensical. And attempting to make sense of the attack on Morocco by assuming that it was directly inspired by Pearl Harbor would lead you to believe that we were insane.

But we weren't. Japan was dangerous, and we were fighting against Japan too. But Germany was the bigger danger. Once the US was in the war, we applied two thirds of our strength to the European theater. Pearl Harbor was what it took to get the US into the war, but once that happened America fought to remove all the major dangers facing it no matter where they were. …

To demand that our battle for Iraq be justified in terms of Iraqi involvement in the attacks against NYC and Washington is similar to demanding that the attack on Morocco be justified in terms of Morocco's involvement in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Obviously it wasn't involved, so obviously there's no justification for the Torch landings. But that argument is based on a fallacy: it assumes that we're only permitted to respond directly to actual provocations and must leave alone other dangers we face, no matter how serious they are, until and unless they too directly attack us. …

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Didn't the French call this a quagmire last week? Les franchouilles, n'avaient-ils pas parlé de bourbier la semaine dernière?
Yes they did, and now they look pretty stupid. Remember, the French only cared about Afghanistan when some butt ugly statues were being blown up.
Si, si. Maintenant, ils ont l'air bien con. Gardez à l'esprit, les fwançais se foutent pas mal de l'Afghanistan sauf il y a quelques années au moment où l'on faisait sauter des statues à têtes de cul.

Recent blogs which have come to our (prejudiced) attention

The projections (better known, albeit misleadingly, as weblogs) include Catallaxia, Mondes francophones, Alexandre Leupin, the French Freedom Fighters (Le blog de la Résistance), and Scrappleface, who brings us news reports such as the recent one entitled Father of Deconstructionism Dies (If 'Death' Means Anything):
"Of course, we can't assert anything positively about Monsieur Derrida's recent failure to exist," said [President Jacques Chirac in his eulogy], "We can't even state that he ever did exist, since he may have been a mere metaphysical projection of our own prejudices against absolutes. However, in as much as we may categorically claim anything—Mr. Derrida will not likely be showing up for work tomorrow. Although, who is to say?"

(a trifling merci to Joe N)

How the West was One L'Ouest le vrai
Aussies show pussified Zeropa how to do it.
Les australiens montrent à cette fiotte de Zéropa comment s'y faire.

French reactions to an expanded EU that has decided not to build itself on the basis of a French social model or of France's world ambitions

Never fail to turn to the Tuesday issue of the International Herald Tribune, to check up on John Vinocur's Politicus column. This week's installment is called: French suppress rage over EU constitution. Oh, and while you read it, think of what it says about unilateralism and being the big bully who, supposedly, will not allow his allies to disagree or who will not even listen to them.
There is something seemingly preposterous in the fact that France, one of Europe's quintessential nations, is involved in a do-or-die debate about whether to ratify the European Union's new constitution. When a country so lashed to the EU's future can think of turning its back on what it helped create, reality crushes common sense. But so it is.

The issue is signing on to a European basic law that doesn't reflect France's systemic mirror of itself that much of the country, from left to right, wanted installed as the EU's constitutional template.

The heart of the matter lies in a kind of suppressed rage about coming to terms with an expanded EU that has drawn away from France, and decided, rather incontrovertibly, not to build itself on the basis of a French social model (in practice: 10 percent unemployment, high taxes, an obese state apparatus) or France's world ambitions. A scheduled December canvass within the Socialist Party on whether to say yes or a no to a constitution that obviously rejects the French model sets up a pressing problem. A shivs-out battle among politicians slashing for position to succeed Jacques Chirac in 2007 makes things edgier. And a referendum on ratifying the constitution promised by Chirac for 2005 guarantees the discomfort packed into this excruciatingly public moment — French insecurities and admissions of failure paraded on the European stage — won't go away soon.

"Objectively," wrote Eric Le Boucher in Le Monde, trying to explain where this all began, "France lost the European battle to export its social model." He argues that the French political establishment has become an anachronism for Europe in arguing for a dead-on-its-feet social program — which by my extrapolation means not only a statist ethos but protectionism, controls on competition, and obligatory high-cost welfare schemes.

…But the trouble for France is not only that the draft constitution — the EU's 25-members must ratify it individually — is seen here as officializing a European economic and social system along the lines of Tony Blair's flutes-and-strings reorchestration of Margaret Thatcher's rough-edged policies.

The EU's 25 members also have turned from France's notions of "Europe puissance," code for a kind of activism that many in Europe have come to regard as meaning confrontation with the United States. The Bush administration's venture in Iraq may be the despair of the EU, but a France that, Brezhnev-style, told the Soviet Union's former satellites to shut up about the war before it began, and now wants to obliterate their competitive tax advantages, has won no converts.

There are additional not-always-articulated France-Europe frictions. France has never liked the EU's enlargement (too many of America's pals among the newcomers with too little allegiance to the EU's old powerbrokers). And, in spite of their professed special grasp of the Islamic world, the prospect of Turkey's entry in the EU creates shudders among the French. (Polls show between 55 and 60 percent are opposed.)

Taken together, this has meant enormous stress on the French political fabric, and it has begun to tear. …

Over all, the matchup on the issue involved two opposing insincerities:

  • A) People calling for a yes who would privately acknowledge that the constitution was symbolically burying a certain French vision of Europe.
  • B) People endorsing a no who think the EU's lack of rigor about its own laws and decrees might mean that a future constitution could be effectively disarmed the same way that France and Germany yanked the teeth (and economic constraints) out of the Security and Growth pact this year.
Bernard Kouchner, a physician and former Socialist cabinet minister, whose individuality has never been stifled by party doctrine, sees a "French syndrome" behind all this.

His definition of the abnormality: "Talking louder than everybody else, making a little bit more noise, and thinking that by yourself you constitute a majority."