Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Battle for Democracy

Where is it taking place?

In the United States, of course.

That's the lesson readers got from Le Monde last week, as the independent newspaper embarked on a three-part series in which Sylvie Kauffmann reassured its readers that it was Americans, not they, who were in need of opening their eyes and who were living in a false democracy (or in a democracy in constant danger of being undermined by dark, evil forces)…

A Case of Principle deals with the legal situation following 9-11, notably the prisoners at Guantánamo. It's all about "excesses" in the "world war against terror" and individuals, within and outside of government, deciding to "follow their conscience" (Tom Wilner, William Taft IV), meaning, of course, their decision to oppose… the Bush administration. Sylvie Kauffmann tells us about previous wrongs committed by the Supreme Court, without once providing any kind of historical context. ("In 1943, it agreed to the internment of over 100,000 Americans of Japanese origin. Under Maccarthisym, it waited until the mid-1950s before condemning the abuse.") Ever heard of the Japanese Imperial Army, Sylvie, or the gulags and expansionst plans (Eastern Europe, China, Korea, etc…) of Josef Stalin?

Where Is the Fourth Power? deals with the "emptiness left behind" by the media, "accused of self-censorship, conformity, and a lack of objectivity" since September 11. The first person quoted is a Kerry supporter who is half Egyptian and who thinks Al-Jazeera is a "force for democratization". Jehane Noujaim, of course, is the director of The Control Room, and she was "ecstatic" that the documentary could be shown in America at all. Towards the end of her piece, Sylvie Kauffmann also manages to pay homage to weblogs:

And then, there is … the latest inferior product of the Web, the blogs, powerful means of dissemination.

But apart from sone leaders in the élite, blogs do not furnish scoops. … Journalism and information remain the prerogative of the fourth power …

The "inferior products" thank you and promise they will do their best to make it to your lofty heights…

Alerts and Balances deals with government whistleblowers, including an Iranian-born translator who was "revolted" by the silence of her superiors inside the FBI and the media-savvy diplomat (Joseph Wilson) who said that "when I discovered that my government had lied, I took my responsability as a citizen." We learn that "most of these men and women are convinced that they brought a halt to an anti-democratic drift inside the United States." Beyond a single mention of whistle-blowing being "a very Anglo-Saxon tradition", there is no thought given to the fact that French society does not have this tradition or even that France might be in (dire?) need of such a tradition.

Of course not. In France, the citizens are taken care of, they know they are safely protected in a country with republican principles (principles constantly being defended by their leaders). Secure in the knowledge that they are living in the most democratic society possible, they can safely look judgmentally and condescendingly across the Atlantic to see all that is so wrong over there. In short, three page-long articles in the newspaper of reference to give us the usual hexagonal fare.

Kerry to fold in the face of Al-Qaeda? Kerry se pliera-t-il devant Al-Qaida?
Why not? It's not like he hasn't done this sort of thing before. ... and with the help of his French friends too.
Pourquoi pas? Après tout, il a l'habitude de faire ce genre de chose. ... et tout ça avec l'aide de ses potes franchouilles.

"France is being manipulated … Anglo-Saxon allies will stab France in the back"

Some [French politicans'] statements betray undertones of the justifications for the Vichy government's collaboration with Nazi Germany — to the effect that France is being manipulated by a Zionist-American lobby, that France should not cut its ties to a strong, modern Arab state like Iraq, and that Anglo-Saxon allies will stab France in the back.

…[Following in the footprints of Jean-Marie Le Pen, several] former ministers in Gaullist governments [including Jacques Chirac] have accused [François] Mitterrand of "following the United States" into a possible war against French interests.

Joseph Fitchett
International Herald Tribune
17 October 1990

New hope for Sarcelles Une lueur d'espoir pour Sarcelles
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine celebrates the return of it's favorite terrorist.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine sabre le champagne pour le grand retour de son terroriste préféré.

The Best Humor of Campaign 2004

From JibJab's cartoons to Will Ferrell's Bush shtick to election satire from "The Daily Show" and "The Onion," check out the best political humor of campaign 2004.

Voice over: 'I'm John Kerry and I approve of this message' Voix off: 'Je suis John Kerry et j'approuve le contenu de ce message'
OBL stumps for Kerry.
OBL mène sa campagne pour Kerry.

For the Kurds, there is no ambivalence…

Friday, October 29, 2004

How French Festivals Highlight America-Bashing Themes

(…All in the name of the public interest, of course)

You know how it is: Since the French are so lucid as to recognize that the great dangers facing humanity come from Uncle Sam and Yankeedom in general, it is only naturel that they should use any and every occasion to show the true colors of the enemy, all the while wallowing in their own sense of sophistication.

As the Fête du livre d'Aix-en-Provence opened in mid-October, "Another America" was the main theme chosen by Les Ecritures croisées, the association in charge of the literary salon. (Needless to say, the festival is one that is "supported by the city and the region".) In its honor, Le Monde published an article that an American writer, Russell Banks, wrote specially for the independent newspaper, called Apocalyptic Gluttony.

Also this month, Vincennes hosted Festival America and the mairie of one of the Paris arrondissements held a public meeting "in honor of" Uncle Sam. It was filled with anti-American signs and literature, bashing everything from Bush to the bombing of Hiroshima. It was also attended by members of the US Embassy, which brings up the following thought…

It is the same anti-Americanism that is reflected by many Stateside (and State Department?) Americans, who take "criticism" of their leader(s), society, or policies at face value and who cannot, or will not, bother to go behind the façade to see the double standards at work? Across the Alantic, the exact same double standards are in operation, for instance, the selection of "atrocious photos" from Abu Ghraib that has been put on exhibit in New York and Pittsburgh and that will remain so until late November.

In this perspective, I will remind you that the amateur snapshots were the special focus of Perpignan's photo festival until mid-September. You may remember that after I read that "the most important photos of the year" would be displayed there, I wrote that it is a very odd photo festival where the most prominent photos from Iraq concern amateur snapshots taken of abuse under American auspices, and no photos, professional or otherwise, of the very real torture and terror victims of Saddam Hussein.

Subsequently, a couple of readers protested. Basing their arguments on a single website page, they said that I was obviously wrong, as there indeed would be photos of the mass graves at the festival, one of the critics going so far as to add that I needed to apologize to director Jean-François Leroy. After careful examination of the evidence, I came to the conclusion that everything pointed towards the (very few) mass graves photos that would be displayed serving only as "token" items and that on the whole, the festival would be heavily anti-American.

The best way to find out was to go see for myself, I figured. So I filled 'er up, got behind the wheel, and drove to Perpignan. There I walked around the city, visiting the various places set up to welcome the best news photos of the year. To make a long story short, my worst suspicions were confirmed. Concerning the Geert van Kesteren exhibit, the Perpignan festival had exhibited exactly four photos — four! — from Saddam's killing fields. These were on a wall of 30 or so photos in total, and basically, the four were pictures of groups — groups of fully-wrapped faceless corpses lying on the ground or groups of black-veiled women wailing over them. Compare this to the many more numerous photos, and the much more poignant photos, of individuals — individuals squaring off against individuals, i.e., "common Iraqi civilians" being "abused" by US soldiers.

Visiting the rest of the government-subsided festival, it became apparent that Saddam's torture centers and death camps were nowhere to be seen. As for exhibits devoted to Iraqi "resistants" to the American "occupation", they were all over the place, with plenty of material from the suffering in the Holy Land thrown in for good measure (strangely, it would be some 90 to 95% of photos showing Palestinians with the remainder showing Israelis, most of them in uniform). Back in the Iraqi section, there is an interesting note: Under a Ben Khelifa picture of Ayatollah Sistani, the caption reads, partially, "In the context of democratic rule in Iraq", but the French reads "Dans un Irak soumis à la démocratie". The verb soumettre has a negative connotation, meaning submitted to, or oppressed by.

In and of itself, it is but a detail, but of course, it is symbolic of the entire culture that is always ready to castigate Uncle Sam. As witnessed by the festival's description: "From targeted bomb attacks to murders committed in total impunity, from the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the difficult introduction of Iraqi rule: ever since the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the situation has been getting worse and worse. These ten months out on the field … there alongside the Arabs, show us just how difficult it has been for a major power to conduct a preventive war to set up 'its democracy' there".

You will notice that the word democracy (like liberation) is in quotation marks… Mais bien sûr… Now compare this to the description of Benoît Gysembergh's Rwanda photos (see the poster on this post's top image): "In 1994, one of the largest genocide [sic] of the second half of the 20th century took place in Rwanda … the death toll is believed to be over than 800.000… this disaster, which shattered an entire country, leaving permanent scars." Note the tone of the piece, it is entirely passive, as if the blood-letting had been due to natural causes, and were the fault, fundamentally, of noone.

That is a main tenet of anti-Americanism: when Americans and/or capitalists are involved, present a situation as the result of their erroneous ways or their ineptitude or the intended result of their duplicity and malice. When a country opposed to Uncle Sam is involved, or if it is one which is not close to America and/or its capitalistic economy (like France itself, say), present disasters as some untoward and uncalled-for event that befell them largely by accident (calling them, for instance, "a long unspoken tragedy").

Walking around town, this is confirmed when we come upon the images from Chris Morris: the American photographer rails against America under Bush-43, calling "the ugly nation" fear-inspiring, full of hate and ignorance, and fascist. (Indeed: see an example of his blood-curdling pictures above…)

Moving away from wars and the situation in the Middle East, we are treated to Ken Light's photos of "a region forgotten by both government and media", the poor coal mine communities of West Virginia's Appalachia, replete with toothless hillbillies and members of the Ku Klux Klan… (Last year, James E. Bates treated us to… l'empire invisible du Ku Klux Klan. See how eager the helpful French are to disseminate knowledge and understanding about America to its citizens?)

By the way: Did I tell you? The government-sponsored festival that spotlights the Abu Ghraib photos and that scoffs at America's attempts at democracy-building also includes photos involving French army operations. How do you think they are presented? Under the same castigating terms used to describe the Americans and/or their actions, or more nonchalently, in a matter-of-fact way, even heroically?

Well, just listen to the caption under Henri Bureau's 1970s picture of Kowezi, Zaire

The massacre which triggered the French military operation
Le massacre qui a déclenché l'opération militaire française
And this caption from an early 1990s picture taken in Rwanda:
French forces, despite (and I still believe this today) not having any real understanding of what their mission was and what the true political situations was, were remarkably efficient in their humanitarian work
Les militaires français, malgré (je le pense encore aujourd'hui) l'incompréhension de leur mission et de la réalité politique, ont éte d'une remarquable efficicité dans l'humanitaire
Quite a different tone of voice, eh? Well, what do you expect? Those soldats, at least, are not des Américains!…

France Issues Arrest Warrants for Foreign Leaders Responsible for Killing Frenchmen

Because five Frenchmen disappeared under the reign of Pinochet, a court case against Chile's former dictator is to take place. The French court issued arrest warrants for Pinochet and some 20 other Chileans, most of them former officers.

It is good to know that if the French authorities get their hands on a man who is responsible for hundreds, or thousands, of deaths, they will do their duty and place him under arrest.

Arte: Casting Uncle Sam in the Most Negative Light Imaginable

The Transatlantic Intelligencer has an article on Arte that confirms what I have written about French TV in general. (No, it is not just about Dubya, no matter what the French say…)
Those Americans inclined to react to every apparent expression of French rage at America by posing the proverbial and doleful question “Why do they hate us?” might consider Arte and then realize that perhaps “they” don’t know us. The problem with Arte in this connection is not that there is a lack of material on American society and politics in its programming, but rather that there is a wildly excessive offering of such material, almost all of it, however, being selected and spun in such a way as to caste the US in the most negative imaginable light and some of it consisting of outright disinformation. …

George W. Bush is, of course, a favorite object of derision and scorn on Arte, and in the run-up to the American elections hardly a day has passed without Arte devoting at least a report, if not a full-length documentary or even an entire “thematic evening”, to some alleged failing or failings of the current American president. …

But it would be wrong to think that Arte seeks “merely” to encourage contempt for the American president and not also for America and Americans as such.… [One typical example] insidiously permits the drawing of a moral equivalence between "the Americans" and the Islamist extremists with which the US is presently at war. …

Numerous examples follow

Chirac's opposition to "American hegemony" did not start with Bush and will not end even if Kerry enters the White House

Amir Taheri:
The main criticism that John Kerry has leveled against President Bush's foreign policy is that it has alienated U.S. allies. Kerry proposes to "bring back the allies" with a multilateralist approach.

There is, of course, no factual basis for Kerry's claim. The United States is heading a coalition of 67 nations in Afghanistan and 34 nations in Iraq. …

Australians have just re-elected the unambiguously pro-Bush Prime Minister John Howard with an increased majority. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi makes no secret of his admiration for Bush, whom he calls "Gary Cooper." And Russia's Vladimir Putin has just offered his own roundabout endorsement of Bush.

So who are "the allies" that Kerry wants to bring back on board? The only possible answer is French President Jacques Chirac. But Kerry would quickly find out that he has more in common with George W than with frère Jacques.

Kerry, for example, supported the liberation of Afghanistan from the start. Chirac dragged his feet until the Taliban had fled Kabul. Kerry voted for the liberation of Iraq, while Chirac did all he could to keep Saddam Hussein in power.

Chirac's opposition to U.S. leadership has a long history. His Gaullist party asked America to close its bases in France in 1965 and to withdraw U.S. troops stationed there since liberation. The same party cancelled France's membership of NATO's key military committee because it did not want French troops ever to serve under U.S. command. …

Chirac is especially sensitive on the issue of Iraq for several reasons. Since the late 1950s, successive French governments have regarded Iraq as France's fiefdom in the Middle East. For decades, the state-owned Compagnie Française des Petroles controlled much of Iraq's oil. And without arms sales to the Iraqi market (it was Saddam's No. 2 supplier, after the Soviets), France would have been unable to develop several new generations of its famous Mirage fighter planes.

Chirac first met Saddam on a visit to Baghdad in 1975. According to Philippe Rondot, a friend of Chirac and a biographer of Saddam, it was "love at first sight." Gaullists always like "strongmen" and, in Saddam, Chirac found an impressive Arab example of that.

In order to supply Saddam Hussein with a nuclear capacity, Chirac refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). And when the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear center in a raid in 1980, Chirac described the action as "an act of barbarism by an outlaw state."

Chirac was the only Western head of government to visit Baghdad during the Ba'athist reign of terror. He was also the only Western leader to invite Saddam for a state visit accompanied by full honors.

Chirac's opposition to "American hegemony," in short, did not start with Bush and will not end even if French-speaking John Kerry enters the White House.

… Reduced to its bare bones, Kerry's foreign policy amounts to little more than wishful thinking, especially as far as enlisting Chirac's support for American ambitions is concerned.

(Merci to Gregory Schreiber)

Swan song of the chattering classes Le chant de cygne des pseudo-intellos
The Lancet joins MSM in throwing away its own credibility in order to try and influence the outcome of the US elections. Of course, the scum over at Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine joined in.
Le Lancet se joint aux média grand public en sacrifiant sa propre crédibilité pour essayer d'influer sur le résultat des élections américaines. Bien entendu, Le Lancet était accompagné par les fumiers qui bossent pour Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine.

Your polls are deadly!

Today's French Workers Think the Company Owes Them Everything...

An interview with the head of CE Consultants, a French head-hunting company, caught my attention, and not just for what the Le Figaro article teaches about today's French attitudes to the working environment.
Catherine Euvrard: Before, work was the center of our preoccupations. You did our utmost for your company and, when that didn't satisfy you anymore, you resigned. Today, the vast majority of wage-earners furnish the least possible efforts. They think the company owes them everything and that their only obligation is to fulfill the number of hours in their contract. … We are in a decadent country. …

To what do you attribute this phenomenon of disinvestment from one's job?

To the negative images one gives of work and the company. For the past 20 years, the French have been taught that one can earn money without working. The media value individuals who succeed without doing anything (notably through television's reality shows). Also, they touch on company heads only to denonce the financial scandals in which some of them are involved. To such an extent that the word "boss" has become tarnished.

…In addition, those who have climbed from the lowest rungs of the ladder often have more audacity then others. Unfortunately, today, the weight of diplomas remains extremely strong. Bosses still seek executives from the grandes écoles, because endogamy reassures them. And yet, what French companies need today, on the contrary, is to take risks!

This article about a collection of individuals and the national culture that encompasses them got me to thinking about nations on the international scene, notably France's (or old Europe's) relationship with the United States.

Isn't it quite similar? Besides making speeches, the French want to furnish the least possible efforts, and they feel that their country is entitled to have its views not only heard, but have them predominate. As for that upstart across the Atlantic, it is supposed to owe everything to the France of old and follow the precepts of age-old wisdom. In addition, the French think that one can earn peaceful relations with one's neighbors without working (at it); provide some understanding to dictators, to terrorists, to criminals, and everything will be well.

Meanwhile, who are the French media busy denouncing? The world's preeminent "boss", n'est-ce pas? And the world's hardest workers. (Think only of Canal +'s mocking United States as "the World Company".) Always looking for the darkest way to present anything American, always invoking the worst scandal in the field, always likening Washington's every move (or failure to move) to a deed of shame…

The right stuff La bonne étoffe
Le Chat Borgne, blog covering French literary news, gives us the lowdown on Guy Millière's latest work, 'Why Bush will be Re-elected'.
Le Chat Borgne, blog traitant l'actualité littéraire, nous fait le topo sur le dernier livre de Guy Millière, 'Pourquoi Bush sera réélu'.

Socialism kills Le socialisme tue
Just say NO to Zeropa. Socialized medicine kills. No one needed the 2003 heat wave to know as much.
Il suffit de dire NON à la Zéropa. La couverture médicale sauce sécu tue. On n'avait pas besoin de la canicule de 2003 pour comprendre ça.

American Black Box
American Black Box, the latest work from Maurice G. Dantec, will be out shortly. In the meantime, Dantec has given an extensive interview to Stalker. More here and here.
American Black Box, le nouveau livre de Maurice G. Dantec, sera bientôt sorti. En attendant, Dantec a fait une longue interview avec Stalker. Voir également ici et .

Thursday, October 28, 2004


…But the October surprise involves not the capture of Osama Bin Laden (along with the attendant duplicity it hints at), but uncontrovertible revelations on the duplicity — the very real duplicity — of the holier-than-thou members of the "peace camp" and the blindness (or the hypocrisy) of those who crowed that Saddam Hussein had no no WMD and that therefore Dubya was a liar!

BREAKING NEWS (If you already know the story, scroll down past the blockquote to see what it inevitably means for the Bush campaign!):

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation …

    John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

    "The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."

    … Most of Saddam's most powerful arms were systematically separated from other arms like mortars, bombs and rockets, and sent to Syria and Lebanon, and possibly to Iran, he said.

    The Russian involvement in helping disperse Saddam's weapons, including some 380 tons of RDX and HMX, is still being investigated, Mr. Shaw said. The RDX and HMX, which are used to manufacture high-explosive and nuclear weapons, are probably of Russian origin …

    "That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."

    … the most important and useful arms and explosives appear to have been separated and moved out as part of carefully designed program. "The organized effort was done in advance of the conflict," Mr. Shaw said.

    The Russian forces were tasked with moving special arms out of the country.

    Mr. Shaw said foreign intelligence officials believe the Russians worked with Saddam's Mukhabarat intelligence service to separate out special weapons, including high explosives and other arms and related technology, from standard conventional arms spread out in some 200 arms depots.

    The Russian weapons were then sent out of the country to Syria, and possibly Lebanon in Russian trucks, Mr. Shaw said.

    Mr. Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from Iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.

    The Russian units were dispatched beginning in January 2003 and by March had destroyed hundreds of pages of documents on Russian arms supplies to Iraq while dispersing arms to Syria, the second official said. …

    "Whatever was not buried was put on lorries and sent to the Syrian border," the defense official said.

    Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, MiG jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.

… Also, an Arabic-language report obtained by U.S. intelligence disclosed the extent of Russian armaments. The 26-page report was written by Abdul Tawab Mullah al Huwaysh, Saddam's minister of military industrialization, who was captured by U.S. forces May 2, 2003. …

    Regarding the explosives, the new Iraqi government reported that 194.7 metric tons of HMX, or high-melting-point explosive, and 141.2 metric tons of RDX, or rapid-detonation explosive, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, were missing.

    The material is used in nuclear weapons and also in making military "plastic" high explosive.

    Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

(Spasiba to Joe N)

Unless I am very mistaken, stupid, or naive, this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt what many of us have been saying since the war ended, that George W Bush and Tony Blair never did lie about WMD, nor were they even mistaken about same. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that, on the contrary, the accusations hurled against the coalition of the willing was filled with hypocrisy, dishonesty, deceit, duplicity, and, yes, betrayal.

(What does Le Monde do with this valuable piece of information? The newspaper of referencethe independent newspaper which, the previous day, had splashed the information of the missing ammunition on the front page, along with a pro-Kerry cartoon — hides it in a filler at the bottom of its list of fillers on the last page of its international news section. (It did much the same six months ago concerning another piece of news indicating that Bush had not lied.) Such is the objectivity of our French "friends" and our European "allies".)

Foes of Bush and of the Iraq war — American and foreign — have been fretting about an October surprise involving the capture of Osama Bin Laden. I have no idea how much willful premeditation went into this latest development, but it shows that the simplistic cowboy and/or his advisors is/are far cleverer than he is/they are given credit for. To spring this five days short of the election is nothing short of brilliant. If they "leaked" it to the Kerry campaign, it makes it but even more of a master stroke. Many, both in America and abroad, were so eager to slam Bush (I should say "to continue their tradition of slamming Bush") that they dived in head first.

And as far as those people who will complain about any Macchiavellism which may (or may not) have been involved, I have a message for them: If you do choose to call this Macchiavallian — as you did choose to rave and rant about Bush's lies — it is time for you to start turning an eye on those who have been castigating Dubya for months and years (i.e., your own selves, your own leaders, and your own media), and turn the spotlight of accusation where it rightfully belongs and where it always has belonged — on yourselves.

Toxic waste to be disposed of in Paris Déchets toxiques seront traités à Paris
Sarcelles granted fly over privileges.
Sarcelles a accordé un droit de survol.

Negative News of France?
Let It Be Censored

Decades-old footage showing French soldiers shooting an unarmed Muslim is in the news because of controversy surrounding the exact year that the images were shot.

What I take from Sophie Malexis and Simon Roger's article, however, is less the debate over whether the footage dates from 1945 or 1955 but the reaction of the authorities and the French in general to the news of the massacre:

Seeing the atrocious scenes, the editor in chief of Movietone France, Charly Meunier, delivered the images to the United States without showing them in France. "The film was shown some weeks later in Mexico, provoking anti-French demonstrations", [says Bernard Favre, author of the 1991 documentary The Algerian Years]. "The French foreign ministry then decideed to censor the images in France and threatened Fox with a ban on all business." [Except for a single issue of L'Express], the images will not be seen in France until well after the war …
Refraining from rocking the establishment, of course, is the rule in France and Europe, even in the strangest occasions. Think only of Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, which remained banned in France for almost 20 years.

So probably, in, say, 5, 10, or 30 years' time, the French will learn all about their country's participation in the food-for-oil scandal. Then, of course, it will be relegated to the backburner because it doesn't really concern any VIP of the time (i.e., of the future) and, most importantly, because the media and public are more concerned with current (future) issues, being notably captivated by the current (future) drama involving Uncle Sam, the current (future) occupant of the Oval Office (imagine: a worse cowboy than even George W Bush!), and capitalist society…

The French will be able to say, again (as usual), that they are more tolerant, more wise, and more generous than the Americans, and if some VIPs betrayed this rosy potrayal of themselves 5, 10, or 30 years ago, that is only a detail, that is only an exception that has nothing to do with the current (future) heroic generation of Europeans!…

Truth? What's 'dat? La vérté? Connais pas
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine peddles the bogus stolen explosives story, along with the understanding that this is the umpteenth thing that guarantees Kerry's election coronation.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine colporte toujours l'histoire des explosifs disparus, en même temps que sa promesse que cette énième scandale assure la victoire de Kerry.

He should drop dead Qu'il crève
Twice if possible. No pigskin shitsack for him. Just spread his ashes in a pigsty.
Deux fois plutôt qu'une. Pas de sac à merde en carcasse de porc pour lui. Il suffira d'éparpiller ses cendres dans une porcherie.

Top Kerry Ally: "Chirac Only Wanted to Protect His Commercial Interests, French Leaders Were Not Honest"

Listen to the man who would be John Kerry's secretary of state. Hear how understanding, and indulgent, Joseph Biden is of the French position in the war (you know, the one that was supposed to be a guarantor of peace and harmony between all nations). Hear how open-minded men like him would help reestablish good relations between the two countries:
Jacques Chirac only wanted to protect his commercial interests. French leaders were not honest about what they were ready to do to isolate Saddam. Every time I met a minister, or Jacques Chirac, I asked them: 'Okay, what alternative can you come up with?' And never did I get an answer. They didn't want to do anything, except lift the embargo, which would have allowed Saddam to start rearming again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"With an Open Mind and Without Prejudice":
Le Monde's Television Coverage

Our 60th anniversary coverage of Le Monde continues with an in-depth view of its weekly TV guide, along with the kind of programs French television proposes to educate le peuple français with, contributing to make every citoyen more lucide in the process.

The final week of French TV programming before America's November 2 election include France 2's The World According to America; France 3's GIs, Forbidden Words; Canal +'s The Moore Effect; Arte's Hollywood and the Pentagon (a voyage into the heart of "American propaganda", we are told); France 5's The America of the Neocons and The World According to Bush; Planète's USA 2000: The Chronicles of an Electoral Fraud (this from a TV channel that prides itself on its series of documentaries from… the German Democratic Republic); and Toute L'Histoire's Wake Up America! ("Soon after the drama of September 11, a certain part of the American population declared itself clearly hostile to the policies of George W.Bush [sic]. Demonstrations against the war in Iraq, associations, or large meetings, the challen ging [sic] took many faces hoping to wake up an America that is too 'passive'.")

But, never fear: as the newspaper of reference points out (under the title All the TV Stations Have Rallied), the election is an occasion to explore the American democracy "with an open mind and without prejudice".

Read the rest of With an Open Mind and Without Prejudice

The 60th Anniversary Celebration of Le Monde

Teddy on Daring Mighty Things

As far as the differences between New Europe and Old Europe are concerned, perhaps Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) said it best a century ago:
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Where the French Are the Masters…


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Is Bush the World's Worst Leader?

When confronted by a militant leftist many years ago who was ticking off all the sins and failures of capitalist democracy, Winston Churchill finally indicated that he agreed with the man. "Democracy is the worst form of government", nodded the Old Lion. He marked a pause, before adding, "…with the exception of all the rest."

That is what I think about when I am confronted by angry people, American or foreign, who proceed to tell me what a "disaster" George W Bush has been and who can tick off his every sin and bewail the sorry record of his administration. (Not to mention every sin linked to America and capitalist society.) Bush, I agree with them, is the worst leader in the world, and the worst politician, and the worst liar, and the man with the worst record… with the exception of… all the rest. (And the same can be said of capitalism compared to the rest of the world's economic systems…)

Foremost among the liars worse than Bush is Saddam Hussein, of course. The tyrant was a known fibber, doubling as a psychopath and — last but not least — a man repeatedly seeking war-making capabilities, and if Dubya mentioned WMD as a reason to oust the dictator, it's not because he (Dubya) was lying, but because Saddam had built the reputation he had.

Take the members of the "peace camp". Their foremost lie lay in their eagerness to castigate Bush and his administration, in the process conveniently forgetting that Saddam was the liar with the reputation just mentioned and that their secret services, as much as the CIA and MI6, had concluded that Saddam was hiding WMD.

In addition, they gave credence to the pretense that with just a bit of goodwill, the United Nations could, and would, solve the entire problem and entice the murderer of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen, if not to share power, at least to tone down on his killing… This being the same organization that threw a democracy out of its seat in the UN human rights committee (it happened to be Uncle Sam, but it could just as well have been any other Western-type democracy) while elevating countries like Libya or Syria to its chairmanship. It was also the organization that, when subsequently faced with genocide in Sudan, proceeded to do little else but issue communiqués deploring the situation and calling upon the murderers to ease up on their killing.

Take the United Nations as a whole, which, in unison with the "peace camp" members, pretended to be objective, detached, and holier than thou, when its members, in fact, were involved in the largest scam in human history. This, of course, brings us back to the Peace Camp, which pretended that their only, or their foremost, concern was a just and lasting peace, in contrast to Bush's "war for oil" when, in fact, it would have been more appropriate to have the pre-conflict situation termed as their "tyranny for oil" gambit.

Then there are the pacifists, both private citizens and government bigwigs, who marched through the streets and/or made rousing speeches, pretending that the largest threat to the world today was Uncle Sam.

Then there are the media outlets, both within the United States and abroad, which echoed those sentiments, while making much out of the fact that Iraq now is supposedly in chaos and insecurity — as if having the thuggish members of Saddam's secret police enter into your home with impunity, take away your parents, spouse, and/or children, and torture and murder them, can in any way be likened to an environment of public safety and to the absence of chaos.

To be totally honest, I liken the accusations concerning Bush and Blair's claims about Saddam's WMD to accusing Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Montgomery of lying to the Rangers when they ordered them to storm the cliffs of the Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1944, to neutralize some long-range cannons (weapons of mass destruction, one could call them); after sustaining heavy losses, the Rangers found that the cannons were nowhere to be found, the Germans having removed them from the Normandy coast not long before.

History has a long flow of evidence showing that when Uncle Sam is being attacked, castigated, or mocked, it is usually the people, institutions, and countries doing the berating who are the worse sinners. And who have something to hide, as much from the rest of the world as from themselves.

To quote Sir Winston again, "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

Lire la version française

Read the three-and-a-half-years-later (!) update

Fox Newss ist ein Tiskrace!

Dee DV jannel isst nos'ink put brobakanta! Tefious, tiskustink brobakanta! A gut tsing it iss dat nos'ink similar gan habben in Chermany!… A goot tsing dat dee metias hier in Europe are endirely free, gretiple, und intebentent

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Lonely Superpower

It's true, Samuel Huntington confirms it, the arrogant cowboy George W Bush has turned America into the lonely superpower. If only Washington would go back to the Clinton years:
On issue after issue, the United States has found itself increasingly alone, with one or a few partners, opposing most of the rest of the world's states and peoples.
This led Newsweek to write:
It's not hard to detect a new and rising anti-Americanism at large. French intellectuals, Malaysian prime ministers, Chinese nationalists, British campaigners against genetically modified food and the death penalty — all seem to have a beef with the United States.

(Now go to the comments section to see when the articles were published…)