Saturday, January 08, 2005

A Land of Two Countries

There are all sorts of countries and then, of course, there is France, or, to put it better, La France, a state but also a being, with its pretensions, its contradictions, its lapses and its loveliness that make us love it or loathe it or, more likely, both at once
writes Roger Cohen in the International Herald Tribune.
As he set out his "project for France for the 10 coming years," Chirac embraced competition, but not, he hastened to add, "savage competition." He praised economic openness, but not at the price of solidarity. He said the 35-hour work week would never be revoked, but made clear ways should be found to get around it.

Some stock-market profits should be taxed less, he suggested, but lest anyone imagine that the lure of the Bourse might alone inspire creativity, he called for the establishment of a new state agency to foster industrial innovation, financed — yes, it's true — with money from privatizations.

Say what you like about Chirac, he knows his country. Decades in politics, and a lifelong obsession with securing his current post, have assured that. So if the vision he describes seems almost schizophrenic in its contrasts, at once a defense of the state's role and a plea for a less fettered economy, it is worth considering whether this dualism it not the essence of the French condition.

There are at least two countries here trying their best to ignore each other. One is that of some of the world's most efficient companies, battling it out in the global economy, circumventing the 35-hour week as best they can, innovating without state aid, offering top executives some of the best pay in Europe, using stock options as an incentive, and driving up productivity.

The other is the vast universe of public employees, several million strong, holding fast to acquired privileges, suspicious of the market forces equated with the "Wild West capitalism" of the United States, always ready to descend into the streets to protest some proposed modification of their status, conservative beneath their left-leaning politics, full of the discourse of "solidarity" and "social partnership" that is de rigueur on an ossified French political scene where anyone under 50 is deemed unready for the big time.

"There is one part of France that does not want to change and another competitive France that knows it must change every day in order to survive," said the Socialist Party leader, François Hollande. "There is a society of movement and a society of immobility."

… the price of this unresolved dualism is also clear and it weighs on France, deadening it, confusing it, holding it back, and pushing its president into verbal contortions that poor Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the prime minister, will have to try to sort into policy.

France also pays a price for its divided state in the spread of a culture of grumbling rather than grit, and in the constant temptation to grasp for a compensatory glory on the international scene because its domestic state is rather less than glorious.

Chirac is aware of these contradictions and tensions. He has heard for a long time from many people that things cannot go on this way. But things do go on, of course, and France is still beautiful. He reckons that Nicolas Sarkozy, the upstart conservative who wants to shake things up, will get his comeuppance soon enough when he learns that France does not like to be buffeted from its conflicting habits.

So presidential speeches become exercises in a little bit of this and a little bit of that. One message goes to the entrepreneurial France, another to the dependent France; a wink to the world of business is offset with another to the legions of state functionaries; praise of America's coherent economic policies and flexible mortgage market is compensated for with a stout defense of equality as a guiding principle. …

Museums to Open Branches Outside Paris

In the International Herald Tribune, Alan Riding reports on French museums taking steps away from home:
For the French, culture is culture and commerce is commerce and the twain should ne'er meet. That at least is the theory. In practice, because culture here requires even more money than the government provides, French museums charge admission fees, operate gift shops and woo corporate sponsors. And now two of them, the Louvre and the Georges Pompidou Center, are going still further: they are preparing to open branches outside Paris.

… So why are Western museums energetically spreading their wings?

Throughout the 19th century, museums displayed art and antiquities from far-off lands to people who did not travel. But today, with tourists representing around half the visitors to leading European museums, the issue is less how to draw crowds than what to do with tens of thousands of art works that never go on display. The opening of outposts, then, eases this problem …

A press that will use every journalistic exaggeration, trick, and sleight of hand to blacken an alleged adversary's name

The International Herald Tribune has an article about the many British tabloids that love to hate the European Union. As reported by Graham Bowley:
Recently published articles have reported, among many other things, that the EU could ban homemade cakes from church functions; that it was insisting that Europeans sing a new Euro-hymn in which they pledge allegiance to a Stalinist-sounding "motherland"; and that it was ordering the British government to change the names of Waterloo Station and Trafalgar Square because these insulted the French.

These stories have emerged from a British press that appears to revile most aspects of the grand European project, and will use every journalistic exaggeration, trick and sleight of hand to blacken the EU's name. Occasionally the stories contain truth, but often they are plain wrong.

…Most of the stories tend to portray the commission as menacing, out of touch, or quite literally crazy.

This is all fine. Problem is (and American newspapers such as the IHT's mother newspaper just don't understand this) that this is what Europeans periodicals (not just the tabloids) tend to do do day in and day out, year after year, regarding Uncle Sam!

See if the following makes sense or not…

the many [periodicals] that love to hate the [United States]

These stories have emerged from a … press that appears to revile most aspects of the [American way of life], and will use every journalistic exaggeration, trick and sleight of hand to blacken [Uncle Sam's] name. Occasionally the stories contain truth, but often they are plain wrong

And now, think of George W Bush for a moment, will ya?
Most of the stories tend to portray the [alleged adversary] as menacing, out of touch, or quite literally crazy

Like Other Americans, Jack Valenti Should Remain Open to French Criticism

Claudine Mulard has an article on Jack Valenti in which she describes, among other things, the 1993 fight over the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), using, naturally, the word "intransigeant" to describe Washington's position (when it is France which is refusing to yield in any international crisis, it is the word "firm" and/or "principled" that the French media use)…

When the 82-year-old (the age Mulard gives us doesn't fit with the DOB provided below) who headed the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for 38 years complains about the French attitude during the talks (and that in a rather diplomatic tone of voice — "I was extremely troubled by the hostility which arose in 1993 and afterwards"), Mulard manages to temper this with tongue-in-cheek criticism of Valenti: "the fighter whom one would have thought less sensitive to criticism!" (Exclamation mark hers).

(Needless to say, the Texan was not troubled for himself, but at the extent to which the American position — and America itself — were being defamed in the French press and French society.)

Of course, if (the) criticism is French, it can only be "valid", "creative", and "objective" — or, as Le Figaro likes to put it, "pertinent".

Elf, the Africa Gas Pump

The Théâtre des Déchargeurs. is showing Elf, a Gas Pump Named Africa, the play Nicolas Lambert wrote about the trial concerning "the break-in of the century".

As Le Monde's Pascale Robert-Diard writes,

Nicolas Lambert a tout retenu [du procès]. … Il a saisi ces phrases dignes des meilleurs dialogues d'Audiard, pointé la soudaine pudeur sémantique des prévenus dès lors qu'il s'agissait d'évoquer la "caisse noire" d'Elf et les financements politiques — "l'opaque", "l'occulte", "la cuisine", "ces choses-là", "cela" —, noté les petites lâchetés, les demi-vérités, les vrais mensonges et les faux aveux qui ont jalonné l'instruction à l'audience de cette incroyable affaire de détournements de fonds et de corruption où s'entremêlent intérêts pétroliers et déboires conjugaux, hommes d'Etat et hommes de main.
And so, after reading about this play concerning "French oil colonialism", you may be tempted to say, "At last! The French are finally going to come to their senses, and see that what they have been accusing Uncle Sam of is far worse, or a at least as bad, at home"; you may be tempted to say, "Ah, all these accusation about the lies of the Bush administration, they have finally seen the light and will be less eager to listen to the self-serving opinions of the media and the élite".

If you were thus tempted, you would be wrong. You would be making a big mistake.

The French, like the other Europeans (and the UN), never fail, it is true, to be good at judging domestic events that occurred in the past.

It is in the present that they fail, that they fail entirely.

Which is totally normal, when you think about it, as they currently (whenever that "currently" happens to be) have far worse things to worry about, and far worse enemies to themselves (and to the world) to confront than the excesses of their own leaders. Those great dangers, as always, come from Uncle Sam.

And so, five, 10, 20, 50 years down the road, the truth of Chirac's involvement with Saddam Hussein and the oil-for-food scandal may finally come out, and may be fully exposed.

As for the domestic scandals of the day, they will not be dealt with, or dwelt upon, because France will be far more charged up about Uncle Sam's latest perfidy!…

Just like today's scandals over the Elf affair or, say, the (10-year-old) Rwanda genocide, the élite and powers-to-be (and journalists) will spend the necessary time upon it, but will proceed to get it quickly behind them, a very necessary thing, you understand, not only "to quicken the process of national healing" but also in order to get back to the "nitty and gritty", i.e., confronting the latest perfidy to emerge from across the Atlantic…

Friday, January 07, 2005

Judges in the News

Piotr Smolar has an article on Jean-Louis Bruguière, France's anti-terrorism judge who is considered a friend of, and by, the "Anglo-Saxons".

Check out the Le Monde article and read about all the hassle (and all the bile) a person gets when he is efficient, does good work, and gets results.

In a not wholly related story "involving French-speaking international diplomacy" (merci à Big Daddy Cool), one of the

country's best-known public magistrates … is now under intensive Justice Ministry scrutiny for his alleged behavior at the Fifth Conference of European General Prosecutors in Germany this past May. [Pierre] Hontang attended the gathering as keynote speaker for a session on "fundamental principles of ethics for prosecutors" … however, Hontang also slipped away from the conference at least twice …
(This is where the story gets interesting…)

The world according to Plantu: Elections for Palestinian terrorists, yes --- elections for Iraqi citizens, no Le Monde selon Plantu: Elections pour les terroristes palestiniens, oui --- élections pour les citoyens irakiens, non

Millard Fillmore on Change and Progress

Today is the birthday of Millard Fillmore, the president (1800-1874) who asked the rhetorical question,
It is not strange... to mistake change for progress.

Filthy scumbags Sales fils de pute
If it's not enough it's stingy, if it's more than enough it's tied to political second thoughts.
Si ce n'est pas assez c'est pingre, si c'est plus qu'assez c'est sujet à des arrières pensées politiques.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

First Guantánamo, then Abu Ghraib, and Now This…

The horror, the horror…

Shame upon Iraq's citizens, how dare they…?!

Don't Iraqis and America's evil reactionaries alike understand that the "suspected" insurgent needs to have every last one of his rights guaranteed and respected? Who cares whether he stealthily tried to place a bomb under a car in Baghdad? Who cares whether he tried to kill innocent and unaware bystanders? That is simply not pertinent… This man was a courageous member of the Iraq's brave resistance movement demonstrating the legendary valor of his brave comrades…

Also, remember that the gentleman must be treated with the utmost cordiality; he must not incur the slightest bodily harm; and in jail, he must be guaranteed comfort, the basic necessities, and the privacy of his own cell, not to be intruded upon by anyone except his lawyer…

Shookhran to Gregory

(P.S. So yes, it does seem like Iraqi bomb-finding is improving…)

What Zeropa does best Ce que la Zéropa sait faire de mieux
Stand around and say nothing. At the same time, American choppers roared.
Rester immobile et se tenir coite. Au même moment, les hélicos américains rugissaient dans le ciel.

Tsunami: Chirac Is Concerned

What about?

I mean, what is it about the horrendous tsunami disaster that the ever-wise, -lucid, -rational, -Cartesian French are concerned about, and that they can edify us retards and/or simpletons about?

What is the biggest threat facing mankind at this time? (Surely not Uncle Sam again?)

[Jacques] Chirac was concerned that the U.S. tsunami aid operation had sidestepped traditional UN channels. This followed a U.S. decision to form a separate aid coalition with Australia, Japan and India, all key regional powers with substantial resources.
Brian Knowlton explains in the International Herald Tribune that the Tuesday meetings between the EU and the U.S. "came after France, in particular, had grumbled over a U.S. official's suggestion that France was not being particularly generous, and as President Jacques Chirac was reported to be growing increasingly concerned that U.S. aid efforts were designed to circumvent the United Nations in potentially damaging ways."

Needless to say, when France criticizes America about anything, the "comments" are always "pertinent" and said in nothing more than an oh-so-friendly manner, mais quoi. Let's read on…

The account, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported that Chirac, without openly criticizing the Bush administration, feared "that Washington is deliberately circumventing the United Nations and wants to compete with the international organization."

It said, without citing its sources, that "President Chirac wants to hinder America from using its ad hoc-organized aid operation to set a precedent that will lastingly weaken the role of the United Nations."

It quoted him as having said publicly that the tsunami had provided proof that the fate of all people "cannot be separated from that of our planet" and that global organizations like the UN must therefore be strengthened.

Not all of this is edifying

Meanwhile, Roger Cohen adds that

Jacques Chirac, the French president, sees a chance to place the United Nations, rather than the United States, at the center of an international initiative that plays to the image he seeks to cultivate of Europe as peacemaker and donor. His government has proposed the creation of a global civil protection force to intervene in such emergencies, a form of intervention that could scarcely be more distinct from that of American forces in Iraq.

The United Nations, hurt by the oil-for-food scandal, battling the image of ineffective talk-shop, sees an opportunity to demonstrate its ability to coordinate an emergency relief operation. Its bureaucrats have become loquacious, indulged by European television networks with on-air time to fill.

Not all of this is edifying. …

Where is the Muslim aid?

…asks Hanns Stadelmann, a Hague reader of the International Herald Tribune.
Something really baffles me. Where is the tsunami assistance from Muslim nations? Why do I see only the Red Cross and not the Red Crescent? Where are the aid workers from Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, to name but a few?

Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on earth, the province of Aceh, the most conservative of all. Shouldn't Aceh be saturated with doctors and nurses and helicopters and aid workers from all these Muslim nations?

French parano
Paranoid? Nah! ChicType spills the dope on the State of the Nation.
Parano? Nan! ChicType nous fait le topo sur l'Etat de la Fwance.

Zeropa: incontinent and inconsequential Continent La Zéropa: Vieux Continent incontinent et inconséquent
"... most Europeans, having been made stupid by their own weakness, would rather see America fail in Iraq than lift a finger for free and fair elections there."
"... la plupart des européens, abrutis par leur propre faiblesse, préfereraient assister à un échec américain en Irak plutôt que de consacrer des efforts en vue de l'organisation d'élections libres là-bas."
"[terrorsts] are murdering Iraqis every day for the sole purpose of preventing them from exercising that thing so many on the political left and so many Europeans have demanded for the Palestinians: 'the right of self-determination.'"
"[les terrorsts] tuent des irakiens chaque jour dans le seul but de les empêcher d'obtenir la chose réclamée pour les palestiniens par tellement de gens de gauche et d'européens: 'le droit à l'auto-détermination.'"

Here comes another Iraqi voter.

No go for No logo Les anti-pubards l'ont dans le baba

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rest in Peace

Will Eisner

Hitler's Last Surviving Bodyguard

People who can read French may be interested in checking out Nicolas Bourcier's article on the last surviving bodyguard of Adolf Hitler.

During his five years by Hitler's side, Rochus Misch, now 87, witnessed many things. One of the last was der Führer talking to Joseph Goebbels: "And so that the same thing doesn't happen to me that happened to Mussolini [who was stoned and hung upside down], take all dispositions that I be burned after my death."

One of the most interesting statements is found in a documentary in which Hitler's secretary was interviewed. Hitler was "a true criminal" stated Traudl Junge, but "like millions of other people", she did not note this…

Well, how can one blame those millions of people? After all, those millions of people were more concerned with the true enemies of humanity, such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Jews…

Douglas's website offers
a much more complete translation

In related news (Danke zu Herr Schreiber),
a French boy is expelled from school

Und How Apout eine Ronald-Reagan-Strasse?

Fouten't a Ronalt Reakan Schtreet pe more abbrobriate for dee city off Perlin?

Nein, nein, dat man vas doo reagzhionary, zee, Ronalt Reakan tid no goot, he tid nos'eeng vor dee atfancement von zoschiedy

How Should the West Reward Castro for Releasing Prisoners from His "Pigsty"?

Confronted with Fidel Castro's early December release of a handful of political prisoners, members of the European Union, pressed by Spain's Zapatero, have eased their opposition while debating to what extent they should normalize relations with the Caribbean island.

Meanwhile, Olivier Languepin has an article on the "hellish" prison of Boniato. The Cuban Guantánamo (it is located not far from its Yanqui counterpart) is quite a different place from the American Guantánamo ("If I were to make a one-sentence summary of this ordeal" at Boniato, said Manuel Vazquez Portal, "I would say I spent 15 months inside the latrines of an army barracks or inside a pigsty"), but apart from this (token) article, the least one can say is that Le Monde has not written a whole hell of a lot about the subject. (More here…). When you think about it, though, isn't that normal, after all, given that the independent daily's clear responsability to its readers is to keep them informed of "the crimes of the Americans"? (The latest example, in which Éric Fottorino coined a new word, appeared as long ago as… this afternoon.)

A year or so ago, I quoted a New York Times op-ed column:

Is it too much to say that more Chiliens would have died and suffered (if only economically), had Allende's party remained in power? Maybe. But if the past — and other leftist systems — serve as any kind of example, [the fact remains that the sequels "of arrests, death, torture, and exile" are often worse under would-be leftist authoritarian régimes than under rightist ones], including in Latin America. In that perspective, the testimony of a Cuban dissident is instructive: the jails of Fidel Castro are far worse than those of Fulgencio Batista, he says. Who is the writer? A capitalist reactionary? An imperialist? A (neo-)fascist? A Batista ally? No. Gustavo Arcos Bergnes is Castro's fellow revolutionary, imprisoned with the future Líder Maximo in the mid-1950s. And he experienced Castro both as a fellow cell-mate and (twice) as a warden. Castro's violent revolutionaries of the 1950s were treated far more humanely by the dictator Batista than non-violent human rights activists are treated by Castro today, he says as he recalls getting special treatment (hospital rooms as cells, private cooking facilities, etc) and pardons after only 21 months. (Since Castro's coming to power, incidentally, there have been 20,000 summary executions, but — unlike Pinochet's 3,000 victims — these are not of any more concern to "human rights activists" than those killed by Spain's Republicans in the 1930s.)
Back to the position that the EU and the West should adopt:
This is … the moment to ask ourselves two key questions:
writes Carlos Alberto Montaner (while informing us, among other things that "a grandson of Ernesto 'Che' Guevera" has gone into exile abroad).

Why is Castro relenting at this time? and What should the international community do now that Castro has given ground? In Don't reward Castro for releasing prisoners, he provides the answers:

The answer [to the second question] was given by Socialist Javier Solana, who happens to be the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy and Security: "The European Union has nothing to give Cuba for correcting an injustice."

That's a fact. It would be a huge mistake to reward Castro for pausing in the commission of a crime. For half a century, the Comandante has learned that the simplest way to achieve his ends is to mistreat the Cubans or harm any unfriendly society and then "sell" to his adversaries a halt to his dastardly behavior.


Thanks to Pierre.
Merci à Pierre.

George Washington Carver on the Origin of 99% of Failures

Today is the birthday of George Washington Carver, the US agricultural chemist (1864-1903) who said:
Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.

Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.

Transparency at last! Enfin, une semblance de transparence!
EU and UN are invisible.
L'UE et l'ONUzi sont invisibles.

"The general attitude of peace activists I met was tension and anger", writes an Iraqi poet. "They were impossible to reason with…"

After hearing numerous outrageous opinions,
we [Iraqis] finally comprehended how little we had in common with these 'peace activists' who constantly decried American crimes, and hated to listen to us talk about the terrible long nightmare that ended with the collapse of the regime
writes Naseer Flayih Hasan on FrontPageMagazine.
We came to understand how these "humanitarians" experienced a sort of pleasure when terrorists or former remnants of the regime created destruction in Iraq—just so they could feel that they were right, and the Americans wrong! Worse, we realized it was hopeless to make them grasp our feelings.

… It’s worth noting, as well, that the general attitude of peace activists I met was tension and anger. They were impossible to reason with. … their dogmatic anti-American attitudes naturally drew them to guides, translators, drivers and Iraqi acquaintances who were themselves supporters of the regime. These Iraqis, in turn, affected the peace activists until they came to share almost the same judgments and opinions as the terrorists and defenders of Saddam.

… You can imagine how … troubling it is to hear Jacques Chirac take satisfaction from the violence wreaked by the terrorists—those bloody monsters that we Iraqis know so well—because they justify France’s original opposition to the war…

Read the entire article
(Danke zu F R Hoffmann)

The world according to Bono Le monde selon Bono
"The world needs more Canada," Bono said. Where is Canada now?
"Le monde a besoin de davantage de Canada," Bono said. Canada en est où au juste?

You say you want a revolution? Ça vous dit une lobotomie à la chevrotine?
Remember the morons who were calling for Blue State vs. Red State civil war (especially in the panty-waist fringe of the French blogosphere)? Bring it on.
Souvenez-vous des crétins qui appelaient à la guerre civile aux Etats-unis avec les états Blues contre les états Rouges? (surtout chez la frange pédaloïde de la blogosphère franchouille)? Que la razzia commence.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Money grubbers Les franchouilles sont prêts de leurs sous
Stingy. The French dead last in Amazon tsunami donations.
Une générosité de 'pingres'. Les franchouilles 'lanternes rouges' en matière de dons sur Amazon suite au tsunami.

French Hostages' Guide to Sue GIs Who Freed Him

Here, on the other hand, is a news item that Le Monde, France 3, and RFI will feature prominently…

Even the manner in which the chauffeur of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot was released by the American forces that freed him is grounds for his suing them…

The suit that Maître Vergès filed on behalf of Mohammed Al-Joundi states that

this suit is aimed at the members of the American armed forces who are guilty of ill treatment towards me, who tortured me, who threatened me with death, including the way they freed me, at nightfall, in the middle of a curfew, putting my life in danger

A French Journalist in the Know (and How!) Said What?

Do not hold your breath waiting for Le Monde, France 3, and RFI to stop using the words "resistance" and "insurgents" as well as "army of occupation" for the Americans fighting them…
A French hostage who was released last week after four months in Iraq says his kidnappers grouped militants linked to al Qaeda and former members of ousted president Saddam Hussein's ruling party.

Journalist Christian Chesnot told Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview published on Thursday the men who were guarding him and fellow French journalist Georges Malbrunot included "fundamentalists" and former Baath officials.

… "The group, as far as we understood, was made up of former Baathists, including the body guard of the personal secretary of Saddam Hussein," Chesnot was quoted as saying.

"In addition, there are also youths who told us they had been trained in Afghanistan on making explosives and who referred to (al Qaeda leader) Osama bin Laden as Sheikh Osama."

… The United States, whose army led the 2003 war that toppled Saddam, has repeatedly said ex-members of the largely secular Baath Party members were involved in the insurgency in Iraq and that they are working with militant groups — their former foes.

(Merci, Grégoire)

Another Story We Will Not Read in Le Monde…

…or watch on France 2…


“I love American Soldiers. I want to help them in every way possible, because without them we would have nothing”

(Shookhran to GS)

After the riot act ... Suite aux quatres vérités ...
Koffee Hard-On gets a move on. Didn't some spittle shooting clown-faced shithead jabber that their was no problem at the UN?
Kafé Hardeur se magne le cul. Il n'y avait pas un connard de bouseu qui postillonnait avec sa bouille à bozo en baragouinant qu'il n'y avait pas de problème avec l'ONUzi?

The Tsunami Aid Figures So Far

"The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government," Bush said, "it's the good heart of the American people."
According to the International Herald Tribune's Brian Knowlton:
[Jan] Egeland noted that private U.S. donations already appeared set to surpass the $350 million Bush has promised.

That is the second largest donation, after Japan's $500 million, and ahead of the World Bank and Britain. The overall total has reached $2.1 billion.

France, which originally donated €15 million, or $20.5 million, before tripling that amount, said it was further increasing its aid to €48.8 million, and sending two navy ships carrying helicopters, a medical team and an operating room.

"For decades France has viewed the United States as a unique threat"

Antoine Audouard's double-standard whining is neutered by John J Miller's column on neo-Gaullism in the IHT
… Shortly after Bush's re-election, the current French president, Jacques Chirac, called the post-Saddam Hussein world "more dangerous," announced that the United States doesn't "return favors" to Europe and even accused Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of "a lack of culture."

Chirac managed to stuff all these comments into a single interview, which happened to coincide with Bush's firm support for a French military crackdown in the Ivory Coast, where antigovernment insurgents have endangered French citizens.

Yet it's a mistake to assume that Chirac's rhetoric was just a clumsy expression of pent-up frustration with American voters. French foreign policy in the 1960s was not driven by a leader's personal antipathy for a brash Texan in the White House, and neither is today's. For decades France has viewed the United States as a unique threat. …

Before the invasion of Iraq, Paris didn't just express reservations — it tried to sabotage American goals in every feasible venue, from the chambers of the Security Council to the committee rooms of NATO. Since then, it has issued a raft of demands, including the hasty transfer of sovereignty to an ad-hoc Iraqi government, as well as a date certain by which the United States will remove its troops, no matter the circumstances.

Chirac's diplomats even spent October lobbying unsuccessfully for Iraqi insurgent groups — the ones now killing American troops and Iraqi civilians — to be represented at the international meeting in Egypt in November. It is difficult to see how French interests are furthered in any way by this behavior, unless France is understood to believe that its own aims are advanced whenever American ones are thwarted. …

To the Edge of Unreality: The Conceit that the Cartesian French Have the Gifts of Insight, Low-Key Rationality, and Special Leverage in the Arab World

In the International Herald Tribune, John Vinocur dissects the messy French analysis of its Iraq hostage crisis:
'We told them that we were French journalists, there to do our job, and particularly to show the realities of the resistance," Georges Malbrunot said, recounting his first contacts with the Islamic fundamentalists who held him hostage for four months in Iraq.

Rather like a business card, this weltanschauung was offered up to his abductors immediately after Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot were seized Aug. 20 on the road between Baghdad and Najaf.

Handcuffed by a group of masked men, Malbrunot said, he explained to them: "Every time in history that there's an occupation, there's resistance. We distanced ourselves from the Americans right away and stuck to the French position. France's position is to say the occupation is illegal, so from this point on, the war is illegal."

After 124 days in captivity, Malbrunot, who was working for Le Figaro, and Chesnot, employed by the state-owned Radio France Internationale, were freed on Dec. 21.

Yet rather than living a self-celebratory moment through the release of two cool and resilient reporters, France has fallen since into a recriminatory debate about why they were not gotten out sooner. This perceived government failure, and the continuing backbiting around it, devastates a couple of already shaky local conceits: that the French hold special leverage in the Arab world and insights worthy of Descartes into its functioning.

Since his release, Malbrunot has described himself as trying to remain Cartesian and humble in dealing with his captors. After all, during the ordeal of his detention, and in line with the logic France has brought to the aftermath of the war — dismissing the notion of a clash of civilizations in Iraq as a hysterical, essentially Yankee construct, and arguing that the French stand at wisdom's remove from it — who was to say a little low-keyed rationality might not have been the best way out of this mess?

But Malbrunot's account of what happened, and the discussion about the government's brassy overconfidence in trying to prise the men free, show the attempts to rescue the journalists, and perhaps France's notion of its place in the Middle East, pushing at the edges of unreality.

… A month or so into their captivity, a kind of creeping epiphany reached out and grabbed at Malbrunot's French world view. "Little by little," he wrote, "we came to discover we were really on planet bin Laden."

An existential contradiction: in Paris's definition of evil, bin Laden's Qaeda constellation is a terrorist one, whose forces French units are fighting in Afghanistan, and hardly armed resisters against an illegal occupation.

Malbrunot's account points to his coming to the conclusion in September that if the Cartesian in him bolstered his very real courage and lucidity, his Frenchness, and making the case to his captors that this rendered his kidnapping just a misunderstanding among reasonable men, would not get him far.

… During the same period, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and a right-wing Gaullist member of the National Assembly named Didier Julia were working through Arab intermediaries to free the hostages. But their confused, although parallel, efforts failed in very public ignominy. In early October, Julia charged Barnier, who appears to have facilitated his free-lance undertaking, with incompetence, and Barnier accused Julia of putting the hostages' lives at risk through his operation.

What was certain: the French government's embarrassment at having signaled at the outset that the France-friendly pressure of solidarity from the region's Muslims made the journalists' freedom only a matter of days. Perhaps more excruciatingly, as prospects dimmed, Barnier offered up a message to the hostage-takers that sounded like France promising international recognition (participation for "groups and people who have currently chosen armed resistance" at a conference on Iraq's future) to those Malbrunot had come to see as Islamic terrorists.

For his efforts, the reply Barnier got from the Islamic Army in Iraq was a statement that France's history with the Muslims was filled "with hate and blood," and that if France hadn't joined the Americans in the Iraq war, it was "for its own interests and not for the good of the Iraqi people."

More than two more months pass. The journalists come home, their freedom obtained by what Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie called "an exclusively French operation," officially without strings or ransom or gunfire — although one the weekly Le Canard Enchainé says cost France €15 million, or $19.5 million, in payoffs.

In fact, the accounts of what happened appear increasingly out of plumb.

Julia, whose two associates were placed under investigation last week with the extravagant charge of illegal contacts with foreign powers, has threatened the government with embarrassing new disclosures, while Barnier now admits the hostages' families told him to leave Julia alone to try to arrange their release. …

In describing [the despair of the months of fear and humiliation], Malbrunot made something of an admission. "One day," he said, "we had a blowout in the middle of a road. I said to myself, 'If only an American patrol would come through, take out this lovely bunch, and set us free."'

But the Cartesian in him hadn't vanished for long. Malbrunot's next words: "That, however, could have been dangerous for us."

(MiF commented on this article earlier today…)

Trial begins in U.S. Embassy plot

One of France's top terrorism suspects and five of his alleged accomplices went on trial here Monday, accused of plotting to blow up American targets in France three years ago, a charge that all six men deny
writes Katrin Bennhold in the International Herald Tribune.
More than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and 10 months after four commuter trains were bombed in Madrid, the trial is expected to shed light on the possible relationship between European-based Islamist militants and Al Qaeda and on links between terror cells in various European countries.

(Expatica quotes the AFP…)

Suckers Les gogos gobent tout
The French pay 19 million euros to find out that the Clash of Civilisations exists after all.
Les franchouilles déboursent 19 million d'euros pour apprendre que le choc des civilisations existe bel et bien.

Zeropa doing what is does best La Zéropa: maître-ès-rien-du-tout
Solidarity. Chopper in the relief you say? All well and good, 'cept their ain't no choppers. Candlelight vigils and bell ringing. Those are the European specialties and just about the limits of their capabilities with regards to disasters.
La solidarité. Envoyer les hélicos vous dites? Très bien, sauf il n'y a pas d'hélicos par ici. Veillées à la bougie et divers sons de cloches. Voilà les spécialités européennes et les limites de leur expertise en matière de secours aux sinistrés.

How do you spell relief?: N-O U-N L'ONUzi aux abonnés absents
Plantu is shilling for the UN again. The UN is still absent but the French press Pravda is doing everything to make us believe otherwise. In more serious UN news, the Americans read Koffee Hard-On the riot act.
Plantu fait de la promo pour l'ONUzi encore une fois. L'ONUzi est toujours introuvable mais la presse Pravda franchouille fait de son mieux pour qu'on pense le contraire. Plus sérieusement, les américains ont dit à Kofé Hardeur leurs quatres vérités
Le Monde | 05.01.05
Let me handle this. I know the place.

Saint Warcel

Thanks to Pierre.
Merci à Pierre.

Dangerous bureaucrappers Bureaucrottes dangereux
More UN shenanigans in Afghanistan.
Encore des manigances signées l'ONUzi en Afghanistan.

People in Dutch
News from the Netherlands.
Les dernières infos en provenance des Pays-Bas.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Kofi break Pause Kofi
The UN is nowhere to be seen so Plantu has stopped shilling for it in his cartoons. Notice the lack of mention of any USA relief efforts. Panty-waist brown-shirt censorship.
L'ONUzi est aux abonnés absents, donc Plantu a cessé de faire de la promo pour elle sans ses dessins. Vous remarquerez bien le fait qu'on ne parle pas des efforts américans en ce qui concerne les secours. La censure pure et dure de la part des chemises-brunes pédaloïdes tendance 'Pédale Duce'.

Good for nothing UN L'ONUzi bonne à rien
While tsunami survivors cheer U.S. choppers Koffee Hard-On enjoys his ski holiday. The USA does the job and the UN hamfistedly tries to take credit for it.
Pendant que les survivants du tsunami applaudissent l'arrivée des hélicos américains, Kafé Hardeur profite bien de ses vacances de ski. Les USA se tapent le boulot et l'ONUzi essaie maladroitement de mettre à son actif les efforts consentis par les américains.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Julien Dray
Review about a piece of virtual shit spit out by the sphincter of a socialist shithead.
Critique au sujet d'un étron virtuel lâché par le sphincter d'un socialo de merde.

No appy polly loggies to thee and thine Pas d'exqui cucuses usées pour si peu, pas plus à vous qu'à personne

Thanks to Joe N.
Merci à Joe N.