Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year to One and All

Gandhi: “If you can’t retain your principles, take out your sword and fight”

In its 50 Years Ago section, the International Herald Tribune mentions a Gandhi quote that is not often referred to, reverently, by the war-and-violence-is-always-bad peacenik crowd.
1961 India Abandons Gandhi’s Policy

Premier Jawaharlal Nehru said today [Dec. 28, 1961] that his ruling Congress party had abandoned Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of non-violence. Mr. Nehru told a press conference that peace could not be maintained by cowardice, and that Gandhi’s concept of non-violence implied the disbanding of armies and virtual elimination of police. He defended his decision by quoting Gandhi as saying: “If you can’t retain your principles, take out your sword and fight.” He denied that India’s action constituted an encouragement for Indonesia to take over Dutch New Guinea. While India supports Indonesia’s claim to the Dutch-held territory, he said, he was hoping for a peaceful settlement of the problem. Mr. Nehru said that India had “full justification” for using armed force against Portugal, and by doing so India became the agent of “the irrepressive force of history.”

Friday, December 30, 2011

Will Obama Lose Iraq the Same Way that Carter Lost Iran?

In 1979 President Carter "lost Iran"
Gérald Olivier reminds us, as even French commentators (!) start noticing the good tidings that have reached Iraq (well, some of them at least) and start drawing comparisons between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter.
The whole planet is still paying the price of his blindness. Tomorrow, will we be saying that Obama "lost Iraq"?
For a long time, I have been drawing parallels with Carter (not that there is anything unduly virtuoso in doing so) and, indeed, a number of us made the Jimmy Carter comparison before Barack Obama even won the 2008 election

What Gingrich's liberal critics have always found insanely maddening about him is a reputation for intellectual depth

While Thomas Sowell again endorses Newt Gingrich, the New York Times Magazine publishes an interesting portrait of Newt.

The money quote of Matt Bai's long piece, followed by the concluding sentence:
What Gingrich provides, and what his liberal critics have always found insanely maddening about him, is a reputation for intellectual depth. Among the candidates, he alone combines contempt with credibility, not just giving voice to conservative fury but also making it sound like a legitimate basis for governing.

… The way Newt sees it, fate doesn’t hinge on his being a perfect man. Only a great one.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Can we just take a month or two to contemplate Obama the way we might a painting by Vermeer or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement?

And the winner of the Media Research Center's Obamagasm Award is (dramatic pause)…

…Stephen Marche!
“Can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph....’I am large, I contain multitudes,’ Walt Whitman wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy....Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.”
Esquire’s Stephen Marche in a column for the magazine’s August 2011 issue: “How Can We Not Love Obama? Because Like It or Not, He Is All of Us.”
Check out all of the Media Research Center's Notable Quotable awards

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Because of Bush, "Iraq Has Been Deprived of Part of Its History" as Well as of Its "Stability" Under Saddam

Because of George W. Bush, editorializes a Le Monde editorial, Iraq has been deprived of the… "stability" that it apparently enjoyed under Saddam Hussein. And the country "has been deprived of part of its history" — whatever that means…

Specifically, writes Le Monde,
it will be years before Iraq rediscovers the path of stability.
Rediscovers (retrouve); doesn't that mean that Iraq enjoyed stability,i.e., a positive state, before the American invasion (called in Le Monde "Bush's war", as well as "a disaster"), i.e., during the murderous Saddam era?

To be sure, Le Monde goes out of its way to say that nobody will regret "one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants of the Middle East," a man "responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis." Needless to say, it ends all these "to be sures" with a "but" — and what a "but"!
But the Iraqis did not liberate themselves from this tyranny. The United States did not associate them with their [the Americans'] intervention. There are no "Free Iraqi Forces" to accompany the American troops when they enter Baghdad in April 2003.
Yeah? And so (what)? How many legions of Dutchmen, finally, helped in the allies' liberation of the German-occupied Netherlands and how many Filipinos helped in the ouster of the Japanese from the Philippines? Who cares?! As long as the oppression and blood-letting came to an end! This is where Le Monde writes that "Iraq has been deprived of part of its history", as if the family members of the "tens of thousands" who disappeared in the killing fields would not want their oppressor and his henchmen to be overthrown unless it was Iraqis who stood behind the deed and as if they would wait around for months, for years (decades?) more with more thousands of deaths until an Iraqi-led rebellion occurred…

Le Monde goes on with the Bush-lied canard as well as the can't-export-democracy-with-weapons meme, but in the final analysis, it all boils down to everything being the fault of the invasion, aka "Bush's war", from "the destabilization of America's public finances" to "the 2008 crisis" through the current "dead end" in Afghanistan.

In other words, prepare for a shocker — it's all turns out to be… the fault of one George W. Bush.

Update: Will Obama Lose Iraq the Same Way that Carter Lost Iran?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Raúl & Fidel: The Tyranny of the Enemy Brothers

Several books about the Castro brothers have been published in the past year, including one by the Cuban liders' own sister and one by Cuban émigré and specialist Jacobo Machover. We learn in Raúl & Fidel: The Tyranny of the Enemy Brothers that, as the title suggests, the two Castros are basically totally opposites, although they — obviously — work together and it could never have worked out any other way.

According to Martine Jacot's Le Monde book review, "Jacobo Machover points out everything that differentiates the two brothers and that has been doing so since their earliest childhood, even though they form a duo that is as inseparable as it is complementary."
Pour soulager la population, Raul voulait rouvrir les marchés paysans ; Fidel s'y opposait. A l'issue d'une discussion orageuse de plusieurs heures dans le bureau du Lider Maximo, d'où fusaient les éclats de voix, Raul obtint finalement gain de cause.

Pour avoir osé aborder les relations entre les frères Castro - secret d'Etat au même titre que la santé de chacun d'eux - Fernando Ravsberg faillit être expulsé de Cuba. Sermonné par Fidel dans les Réflexions qu'il publiait, le journaliste fit amende honorable sur son blog, où il écrivit : "Il n'y a pas de différences entre Raul et Fidel."

"Cubanologue" méticuleux depuis de nombreuses années - et anticastriste affiché -, Jacobo Machover souligne au contraire dans son livre tout ce qui différencie les deux frères depuis leur plus tendre enfance, bien qu'ils forment à la vie à la mort un duo aussi inséparable que complémentaire. Raul n'a jamais eu ni l'envergure intellectuelle, ni la faconde, ni l'habileté politique de Fidel, de cinq ans son aîné. Mais le cadet, organisateur, pragmatique, impitoyable à l'égard de tous les opposants, a permis au "Commandante" de briller de tous ses feux de chef révolutionnaire charismatique, et à son régime de survivre contre vents et marées depuis 1959.

On en apprend davantage sur Raul, dans cet ouvrage documenté, que sur Fidel. Quoi qu'en ait dit plus tard le Lider Maximo, dont le programme était assez confus lorsqu'il est entré en lutte contre la dictature de Batista, c'est Raul, adhérent du Parti communiste dès 1953 (à 22 ans), qui a fini par structurer la pensée désordonnée de son frère. Celui-ci n'embrassa le marxisme-léninisme qu'en 1961. Ernesto Guevara l'y a aidé, qui vénérait Staline (il a signé certaines lettres à sa famille "Staline II"). Fidel, lui, voulait avant tout le pouvoir, un pouvoir total.

Dans la Sierra Maestra, les "barbudos" définissent leur conception d'une "justice révolutionnaire" qui va confiner à la terreur, tranche l'auteur. Raul organisera l'exécution sommaire de dizaines de prisonniers, sans y assister, laissant ce soin au Che.

… Les temps ont changé, même à Cuba, où un moratoire sur les exécutions des condamnés à mort est en vigueur depuis 2003, réaffirmé par Raul en 2008. Toujours pragmatique, le cadet des Castro a converti ses généraux à la gestion, l'armée ayant fait main basse sur l'économie. Tandis que son frère s'efface peu à peu de la scène publique, le président cubain "décollectivise" l'île depuis trois ans. Avec des limites. Jacobo Machover, de même que la plupart des autres "cubanologues" l'affirment : Raul Castro ne sera pas le Gorbatchev de Cuba.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

After all your obligations are done for Christmas day, and you've done all the reflecting that you can do, might I suggest you settle in and relax with a treasure of a film starring Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young, Monty Woolly, Elsa Lanchester, and one fo the great character actors of his day, James Gleason.

From 1947, this is The Bishop's Wife