Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Marine Witnesses About Fallujah's "Hatred for Rumsfeld's Soldiers"

To mark the 100th day of the two French hostages' detention, Le Figaro's Charles Lambroschini has another editorial in the newspaper where he whines about the injustice of it all. Don't the terrorists — sorry, the activists — understand that the French are their copains? And that they understand them, sympathize with them, and support them?
The most frustrating thing is not understanding what the kidnappers want. … The kidnappers' cruelty is even more unbearable given Georges [Malbrunot (and Christian Chesnot)'s] fascination with the Middle East … As regards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has never accepted the Zionist credo of "A land without a people for a people without a land" because, in his eyes, both people are equally in the right.
Certainly, the kidnappers' cruelty is more bearable when their crimes are committed against Americans (and their allies), i.e., people "who deserve it"
…when I joined him in Baghdad in July, Georges was thoroughly skeptical about President George W. Bush's chances of turning Iraq into a democratic oasis at gunpoint. Like "The Quiet American," the innocent CIA agent of Graham Greene's novel who sowed chaos in Vietnam, Donald Rumsfeld's soldiers, Georges said, weren't even aware of a very simple fact: It is their good intentions that earn them so much hatred.
Meanwhile, Dominique Moïsi says that "in view of the prevailing violence and insecurity on the ground", the warnings of Paris "were amply justified and it should have been listened to." He adds that if the United States "is pragmatic, it … should start to realize that the time for vendettas or punitive behavior is over."

Is that so, Monsieur Moïsi? It just so happens that a number of people (and governments) consider Paris's behaviour and statements during the Iraq crisis not as "warnings", but rather as (wholly undeserving) "vendettas" and "punitive behavior" towards Uncle Sam (and its allies). To now insist that America refrain from such lowly behaviour and to call for compromise and bargaining may sound offhand like reasonable advice and wise leanings, but to some of us, it sounds rather like moralizing of an entirely self-serving nature.

Whatever the case, if French (and German) media pundits were listened to, the only conclusion that one must make about Iraq is that, as Medienkritik points out, it is CHAOS, CHAOS, CHAOS everywhere!

Certainly it cannot be denied (can it?) that the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk bears this out, as do the troops in Fallujah:

… my little brother is an enlisted Marine … in Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a report in the media of this. Imagine that [Emphasis David's].
Oh oui, Monsieur Moïsi. Paris should have been listened to, there can have been no doubt about that. Oh oui, Monsieur Lambroschini. How appropriate to be "thoroughly skeptical" about the chances of "turning Iraq into a democratic oasis at gunpoint" (you had to use the "oasis" caricature to totally ridicule any improvements in the human rights situation, didnt'cha?). And as European journalists everywhere have been saying, the Americans are sowing "chaos" in Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld's soldiers are sowing hatred.

P.S. from the Marine in Fallujah:

Additionally, he said their spirits are high, but they would certainly appreciate any "care packages" that folks in the States would care to send their way (preferably consisting of non-perishable food items, candy, deodorant, eye-drops, q-tips, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, hand/feet warmers, black/dark undershirts, underwear & socks, and non-aerosol bug spray)…
Would anyone know what address to send packages to?

Friday, November 26, 2004

Caption contest Soumettez vos libellés pour cette photo
Jacques Chiraq and the language of love.
Jacques Chirak et le langage de l'amour.

Thanks to Gregory.
Merci à Gregory.

Flies to horseshit Mouches à merde
Do you hear a buzzing? Good riddance. Hopefully more of these guys will get hooked up. Thanks to Gregory.
La caillera a pris la mouche. Bon débarras. Avec un peu de chance, il y en aura encore plus de ces connards qui vont prendre leurs bâtons de pelerins pour partir là-bas. Thanks to Gregory.

Discretely, Le Monde's Correspondent in Washington Disowns the Anti-American Tone in Some of the Articles That Appeared With His Byline

Under the cover of an opinion piece in Le Monde criticizing French anti-Americanism in general, the independent newspaper's correspondent in America, Patrick Jarreau, disowns some of the pieces his editors forced him to write (or the objective stories he penned that America-bashers rewrote after he filed them)…

Read Patrick Jarreau's article and
the message it hides
(en français)…

Thursday, November 25, 2004

le Jour de Merci Donnant

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.
says Art Buchwald as he explains thanksgiving to the French.
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pélerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content. …

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). …

Masters of Deception: Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and the 9-11 Conspiracy Industry

The Big Lie gets lots of public attention and is carried forward as in a big parade, with many hungry listeners, while the truth must come limping behind on crutches, struggling to catch up, panting with it tongue hanging out

Wilhelm Reich (paraphrased)

Be sure to read about the the lecture circuit experiences of James DeMeo during his European tour in his article Masters of Deception: Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and the 9-11 Conspiracy Industry. I frankly don't know enough about his orgone energy theory to vouch for it one way or the other, but I will stand behind Masters of Deception 100%. (And by the looks of his experience in Europe, DeMeo is a man whom I would like to welcome into Americans Anonymous.)
…the 9-11 conspiracy books do not stand alone in making … fantastic charges. In fact, they are what might be called the "icing on the cake" of a larger onslaught of historical revisionist accusations, circulating for many years since even before 9-11 and originating from within neo-fascist far-Left and Right-wing political groups, which attempt to tarnish the USA and Israel as engaged in a much larger and ongoing conspiracy of conquest and empire…

Why should one need to bother wasting time to rebut them? The answer is, because so many people are attracted to them, creating real-world problems regarding credibility and international relations at many levels, not only between governments, but as I touch upon below, between ordinary people.

…Interest in my Saharasia discovery had grown over the years, and I was invited to lecture in Europe on many occasions. After 9-11, all that began to change. During one lecture trip to Berlin in 2002, I was pelted with questions derived from the conspiracy theorists — Didn't Eisenhower massacre a million German Prisoners-of-War? Wasn't it proven that FDR knew well in advance about Pearl Harbor? Didn't the USA provoke the Japanese, and Churchill provoke the Germans? Wasn't the USA now going fascist? Didn't Bush steal the last election? And wasn't 9-11 the result of a big American plot? No, I replied, with amazement that people had no embarrassment to ask such questions in public, without undertaking a lot of serious homework on the subjects, so as to really know. …

After [another] lecture, the Minister of Women's Affairs for Luxemburg, who had been in attendance, apologized to me with much embarrassment for the rude treatment I had received, saying she had never before seen such an outburst of hatred towards a speaker . …

Near the coffee bar, one large German fellow from the audience approached me, literally shaking with rage as he informed me that the "World Behavior Map" I had shown during my lecture was validating "Bushes Achse des Bösen " — the Axis of Evil. Somewhat astounded at this remark, I had to admit there was something to it. I told him my maps had been prepared in the 1980s, well before Bush or 9-11, and suggested it was no accident that the most socially violent cultures which were identified in my maps were also the fountain-heads of international terrorism. I asked, "what about Saddam Hussein and the millions he has killed? Don't you think he really was an evil character? Or the ethnic genocide and miserable treatment of women by the Talibans? What about the concentration-starvation death camps in North Korea, filled with political dissenters?" My suggestions that the modern terrorists and terror-supporting states were predominantly Islamo-fascist or totalitarian communist regimes brought only the most dismissive denials, and the even more incredulous accusation that I must be "a CIA agent, come to spread confusion". …

That same week, Der Spiegel magazine published a major expose on the worst of the 9-11 conspiracy books, focusing upon the popular books by Broeckers, Gerhard Wisnewski, Andreas von Buelow, and Thierry Meyssan, detailing the falsifications, fabrications, half-truths and lies-of-omission (the worst kind, as Orwell noted), as well as the whole-cloth fairy-tales. For awhile, it seemed the European intellectual scene would be completely over-flooded by the conspiracy materials, without any counter-critique whatsoever, when Der Spiegel waded into the quagmire with the article Panoply of the Absurd, revealing the most obvious distortions and fabrications, and in so doing, considerably drained the swamp. However, Der Spiegel (a liberal-left publication with anti-American sentiments) avoided discussion of two of the larger and probably more radically "serious" but willfully deceptive critics of the USA, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, whose influence and book sales have soared in inverse proportion to their factual content. …

Noam Chomsky is best known for his missives against the USA and Israel, who are misportrayed as the cause of all the world's problems. In this, he echoes the Islamo-fascists who rail against the "Great Satan" and "Little Satan", an idée fixe so intellectually nailed to the floor that he successfully avoids any mention of the genocidal butchery and crimes committed by the "Saharasian" Soviet Union, Red China and the multiple branches of the COMINTERN (100 million dead from that nasty bunch) — except perhaps to either blame their crimes on the USA and Israel, or deny that they occurred at all.

…With my own eyes, I have seen people take a deep drink from the revisionist's poisoned well, only to rise up having been wholly blinded to the authentic history of the 20th Century, and begin throwing hate at Americans, "the Jews" and Western democracy in general, a new form of generalized "scapegoating" among those who enjoy all the benefits the West can offer, while simultaneously openly supporting some of the most blood-soaked dictators and totalitarian fanatics one could imagine. The strange phenomenon of Western intellectuals, movie-stars and antiwar activists, throwing hate at Bush, imperfect leader of the free world, and then jetting over to give a big friendly hug to mass-murderers like Saddam Hussein or Kim Jung Il also can be traced back to similar poisoned wells, which legitimize bringing to the surface all the buried anger and rage people carry in their guts, and transform the character no less than wearing of the mythical "Ring" of Tolkien. They would have us believe, the world would be a better place if only the West, the USA and Israel in particular, had not existed.

…And then there is Michael MooreMoore has shown himself to be expert in the use of "lies of omission" — as well as of commission — which most people won't know about unless they consult his critics. … The devil is in the details, which in this case one can find most clearly gathered and discussed at the web site of David T. Hardy, a Tucson lawyer with genuine working-class roots and a respect for facts, who has devoted considerable time and energy to revealing the quite elaborated deceptions in Moore's books and films…

The precise details of Moore's lying in Bowling, Stupid White Men, Downsize This and Dude, Where's My Country? are presented by Hardy as well. He has a marvelous spoof essay on the shadowy connections between Moore and the Bin Ladens, using the same over-reaching illogic as employed by Moore and others against Bush. And he is not alone in gathering together documentation on Moore's quite deliberate distortions. Again, with some digging, an internet search brought forth a list of websites exposing Michael Moore's deceptions.

If you like Moore's works, and think he really is a good guy who wants to expose hidden facts and truth to mostly-ignorant Americans, you owe it to yourself to review these on-line materials. I'll add my own observation, made at the Hugendubel bookstore in Berlin. The cover of Moore's book Downsize This in the American edition shows him respectfully tipping his hat to the reader. The German edition … shows him menacingly holding forth several sticks of dynamite, in the manner of a terrorist. … The differences between the covers for his Bowling for Columbine DVDs are even more alarming…

[The] awful emotional rage … is a "feel-good" exercise, but one which so muddies the waters, that legitimate criticisms of Bush administration policies … are drowned out and lose effect. And what is genuinely honest, freedom-supporting and antifascist within the Bush policies, which have liberated the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq from genocidal tyrants and finally confronted global Islamofascism, this is shamefully ignored and thrown into the mud by the Chomsky-Moore-9/11-conspiracy crowd. …

Andrew Carnegie on Dubya and the "Peace Camp"

Regarding America's relationship with the sort of countries of the world whose populations bemoan Dubya's reelection (while their leaders engage in such activities as the UN oil-for-food scandal), it is not unnecessary to remember that today is the birthday of Andrew Carnegie, the US industrialist and philanthropist (1835-1919) who said
As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.

Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.

Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.

As for the presence of independent thought in certain European countries, and the extent to which such is accepted, this is hardly inappropriate:
He that cannot reason is a fool.
He that will not is a bigot.
He that dare not is a slave.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

China Shows Its Clout by Joining the Movers and Shakers of the World

Two years in a row, first in Beijing, next year in Shanghai. More proof that China is joining the great powers of the world and will be a force to reckon with in the new century. (Is that Nelson Mandela in the picture on the right? Top-rate sponsorship if it is…)
(Suggestion: Put down your mug and swallow before proceeding…)

Actually, no, I can't say I did know that… (three years!… some people I know, it feels like 30…)

I found the third and fifth guidelines some of the most helpful guidlines of all… The ninth one ("For guys…"), I somehow seem to have heard in the past. Thanks to the vandalism guideline (# 8), I now understand why I am invited back so rarely to friends' houses — I guess I will have to make drastic changes in my behaviour — Thank you,!

They even have "I would be having a much [more?] wonderful experience" contests — and prize-winning contests with "mysterious" gifts, at that! Enough blogging — back to the drawing board!

If they are honest in naming the association they work for, I think the (mainland) Chinese and the Finnish members probably find it easier to get a date (smart move, Finland!)

For more info, check out the instructive articles (I can't wait to read the top one; do you realize how often I've tried to google about that very subject and never come up with an informative web page?!)…

Latest News: "Because Iran Isn't Weak Enough, Bush Doesn't Dare Attack"

Another self-serving editorial from Le Figaro. As the Iraq war broke out, the French were predicting that the American foot-soldier, "that spoiled child of modern war", reared "with cereal at breakfast and deoderant" in the comfortable homes of suburbia, would not put up much of a fight. When he did, the French turned to calling him a blood-thirsty scoundrel. (Who cares what the accusation is, right? As long as it makes the American a caricature, one to be mocked, pitied, or castigated.)

Now that George W. Bush hasn't acted against Tehran, Le Figaro is suggesting that… the Americans are cowardly again.

when, even for the United States, the designated adversary is not weak enough … Bush doesn't dare attack
writes Charles Lambroschini, totally oblivious to the fact that a nation's, or an administration's, or a man's, timetable may not be the same as his own (or his own nation's), and that in matters of war (as in peace, for that matter), one does not necessarily go around announcing one's intentions and plans… (I suppose that prior to June 1944, the editor would have opined that if the Allies fought the Italian army in Sicily and the Germans in North Africa, they would never dare cross swords with the armed forces of the Third Reich on the continent.)
With its 70 million inhabitants … that country [Iran] is too big a bite to swallow. … Because the GIs deployed in the South [of the Korean peninsula] run the risk of vitrification, that country [North Korea] has [also] become untouchable.
The entire tone, needless to say, is replete with condescending phrases about America:
Three years after the fall of New York's towers under the blows of Ben Laden's kamikazes, international politics seems to obey only two rules: the law of the strongest and the law of the richest.
here are quite a number of Iraqis, Monsieur Lambroschini, who would tell you that was exactly how life was for people in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. (Oh, and regarding international politics, that was also how life was under the UN's oil-for-food program.) But you never did pay much attention to those people, did you?
Faced with the axis of evil, George W. Bush is thus the only judge. He is the one who condemns and he is the one who pardons.
Mon Dieu!

Always Being "Lucide" Means Never Having to Say "Merci"

Or, How the French Mindset Is Conditioned to Deal with Unsavory Subjects Such as the Ivory Coast

Part of the psychological benefits (if such is the appropriate word), consciously or subconsciously, of always being lucide, i.e., always being right, is never having to say "Thank you" (or "Sorry", for that matter).

So when America votes with the other members of the United Nations Security Council to put an embargo on the sale of weapons to the Ivory Coast (i.e., when it is doing France a favor), do not think that Paris will be thanking Washington, either for its gesture or for simply refraining from doing a tit-for-tat on France's 2003 vow to veto any UN measure as to action on Iraq.

And when a top American soldier, the deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, comes sharply out in favor of France's jets wiping out Ivory Coast's entire air force ("We strongly believe that the French took exactly the right action", said General Charles Wald), do not expect the slightest gesture of remerciement.

No, of course not. It is only common sense, it is only proof of lucidité on the part of the Americans (however little they have of that or however little they make use of it) that they would follow in the sensible footsteps of the specialists in humanitarianism, rationality, tolerance, solidarity, and wisdom.

This is also why the Ivory Coast footage (thanks to LGF and Grégoire) will not be played up (or even shown) on French TV. When the French media spent days, weeks, months playing up the Abu Ghraib snapshots, that was for a good reason. (To demonstrate to all the reality of the unbelievable callousness of America's leaders.) Conversely, when they hardly mention the shooting of civilians in Africa, it is because it would be too much of a shame if France's visionary humanitarians and their promising (I almost wrote "prophetic") vision of an equal society and a peaceful world were allowed a setback because of something (that in the final analysis is) inconsequential.

The New York Post commented as follows:

so far, the closest thing to WMDs that's been found is . . . chocolate. (It can lead to deadly obesity, n'est-ce pas?)

Which raises a question: Did that cowboy, Jacques Chirac, fear President Laurent Gbagbo's forces would attack Paris?

… The irony in the strike by the French, who criticized President Bush's war against a real threat in Iraq, is, of course, hilarious.

Oyster puts it less diplomatically:
If the French condemn us for Iraq saying that Saddam was not an imminent threat to the US then what exactly is their excuse for this crap?  Were these people a direct threat to Paris?
Now, here comes the funny part…

The French do not have to answer these questions — because the issue has already started to be deflected.

Any time I start mentioning the Ivory Coast situation to French people I know, I hardly have the time to finish my sentence before they start interrupting me: "Oh, but that has nothing to do with Iraq", "Ce n'est pas du tout la même chose", "But France used to own the place, c'est normal that they should be there", "It used to be a French colony, vous savez", "What do you think the place would be like if we weren't there!? Hein?!" etc, etc, etc (not to mention the downright ugly comments of a racist nature)…

While I was watching the Radio Côte d'Ivoire news footage, the phone rang. After a few moments, the demoiselle asked what the noise in the background was…

"Oh, I am watching the news from the Ivory Coast…" I answered laconically. (The demoiselle is a cute long-legged blonde, so I didn't feel this was the right time to get into an argument.) Just then, the shooting — and the screaming — started.

"Mais qu'est-ce qui se passe?…"

"Well, uh… Not much… just some French soldiers who seem to be shooting on the crowd…"

Her attitude changed faster than you can say auto-congratulatoire.

"Comment?! Comment peux-tu regarder de la pareille propagande!? How can you watch such base propaganda?!" After that, I could not get a word in. It was all fake, exaggerrated, or bogus. And this, although she knew hardly anything about the story (other than what had been in the French news, at least — more of that, later). And this, although she is one to always tell people to put into doubt the reporting of the American press. Needless to say, she refused to let me email her the link for her to take a look at the footage itself…

In other conversations, I have gotten replies ranging from "Well, the crowd was threatening" (or "the soldiers probably thought the mob was armed") to "We don't know the whole story". (Strange, again, how the use of these "deeper truths" is always reserved for the French — or, in America, for the liberals — and never for Dubya, for the conservatives, for the American war in the Middle East, etc, etc, etc.)

Indeed, this is from a nation of intellectuals who like nothing better to put into question all things American, from the real reason for their presence in Iraq to the real meaning of the Normandy landings in World War II through the credibility of American journalism. In cases like that, we rarely hear, "Oh, but it is too early to make a judgment" or "We will have to wait a few years for History to decide". (I have said it before, and I will say it again — all this posturing and relativising is profoundly and inherently self-serving.)

As for the official media…

First of all, we get stories such as the one from Le Figaro in which we learn that "never has the French army been so dangerously implicated". Entitled "14,000 Frenchmen Taken Hostage" Jean-Louis Tremblais tells us about the Ivory Coast's "extremists" and "professional riotors" engaged in "pure racism", adding that "with such protagonists, everything is possible, hélas…"

Good thing they aren't "activists" and "insurrectionists" like the terrorists — sorry, les résistants — in the Middle East… Yup, them Ivory Coast thugs are far more dangerous and have far less claim to being nationalists than them Yemeni and Syrian "freedom fighters" setting off bombs in Iraq…

Meanwhile, pundit Alain-Gérard Slama opines in a reassuring tone:

If it is true that the [Ivory Coast] affair has been badly managed, it is certainly not be an excess of macchiavelism. On the contrary, it is an excess of trust in the power of the rule of law. … the efforts of the Elysée to help solve the country's renewed ethnic conflict had a humanitarian justification. Those inititatives were based on a lucid [there's that word again!] premonition [there's that inherent Gallic wisdom again] of the massacres to come … All that is crystal-clear and juridically impeccable. [I.e., don't even think of seeing things in a different light, chers lecteurs et felleau citoyens…]

The only, but also the vast, weakness that one can reproach [the French government] for is to have exercised angelism in its [intervention]. …

And you bemoan Dubya for saying Americans are fundamentally good, Monsieur Slama, and for believing in good and evil?!

But hopefully, the reader of this website can start seeing the extent to which this mindset is/becomes a vicious circle, where the media, the citizenry, and the ruling classes of a nation feed each other constantly in self-serving opinions; how they are (or seem to be) conditioned to immediately react to dissent (through mockery, castigation, or dismissal such as "how can you believe such propaganda?" — which is even more powerful for a French(wo)man than for an outsider like me — along with "Eh bien, if you do not like it here [or, if you like l'Amérique so much], maybe you should leave"); and of course how this will (or at least, can) go on for generations… (Children growing up among citizens, members of the media, and leaders lionizing French humanism and complaining of foreign propaganda become citizens and, for some, members of the media and/or leaders…) Now, do you see why I have written that it doesn't make much sense to argue?…

But wait, Slama's column isn't over yet:

In order to intervene without provoking disasters, it is necessary to have a deep knowledge of men and the terrain. In June 1990, at La Baule, François Mitterrand expressed the wish to link economic aid to the assisted countries' efforts to democratize; he only succeeded in encouraging a chain reaction in coups d'état. For the past year, the George W. Bush team has been making the world pay a very heavy price for its unfathomable ignorance of Iraqi society.
No "lucid premonition" (about WMDs or the future activities, planned or not, of Saddam Hussein), here, much less "angelism" or "humanitarian justifications" or "trust in the power of the rule of law" (meaning, not the type of international law that allows psychopathic dictators to remain in place, obviously, but a systems that keeps a country's leaders answerable to the population and the laws passed by their duly-elected representatives)…

But what is Dubya — and what is America — doing in a column about France and the Ivory Coast in the first place?

Why must you even ask that? We knew this one was coming, didn't we?…

Do you remember how the French tried to cast the blame for the Haiti episode on Uncle Sam… And how they tried to cast the blame for Kofigate (!!!) on Washington … And how they tried to cast the blame for the failure to secure the release of their hostages on America (and don't expect them to thank the Pentagon, either, for securing the release of Malbrunot and Chesnot's Syrian driver)…

Well, guess what… That's right, the rumor mill has started whispering that the perfidious actor behind the Ivory Coast unrest is, directly or indirectly, Uncle Sam… (Well, why not?)

Edwy Plenel writes in Le Monde 2 that

It turns out today, that, hélas, an African socialist, Laurent Gbagbo, converted to the same pentecoastal illuminations that throw American politics into a panic and turn them to extremism, to radicalize [the] chimera [of Ivoirité (Ivorianness) or Ivory Coast nationalism]
— the "alas" meaning of course, how could a fellow socialist have fallen so low, as to embrace something so basely American?! Something both so basely American and so baseless rightist as the "poison" of "narrow identities, both closed and invented, exacerbated and hysterical identities, dangerous because ill-induced".

But it gets better. In Metro, a "journalist-writer" named Alain Chevalérias writes ominously that the current mess in Ivory Coast…

is not a coincidence. Starting on November 4, it erupted on [dramatic pause] the day after the proclamation of the victory of George W. Bush [!!]. Last June, as it happens, Gbagbo made a one-week private trip to Washington. … We do not think that Washington is behind Gbagbo, but, along with his wife Simone and his chaplain, "the Prophet Koré Moses", we know that they are in the hands of fanatic Protestant networks, extremely active in Africa and powerful in the United States. … The madmen of God [i.e., the religious fanatics] in the Star-Spangled-banner vein may not be the only ones implicated …
And Chevalérias goes on to invoke a stock market trader of …British origin! And to speak of the willingness to risk a blood-bath for cocoa.

Oh. So it's not only treacherous America's fault. It's a conspiracy… A conspiracy involving the greedy Americans, the war-mongering Anglo-Saxons, and the Protestant fanatics. Against the humanistic, tolerant, reasonable, and peace-loving Frenchmen (as well as, presumably, the world-wise Catholics).

Well… why didn't you say so in the first place…?

(…And no wonder they never say "Merci"… or "Sorry"…)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Just Enter Into Talks with the Iranians, and All Will Be Well…

Don't be ridiculous, Saddam had no links to Al Qaeda-type terrorism. As for Iran: it's just that the oafish Americans are unwilling , and incapable, of understanding them. Just enter into talks with Tehran, and you will see what miracles open-mindedness, and dialogue, can create

(Shoukhran, Grégoire)

What a Reassuring Thing It Is to Know That the Reasonable, Pacifist Europeans Have Their Priorities Straight…

They refuse to watch Fox News, for one thing…

It's when you read about this, though, that you wonder whether Bat Ye'or isn't right when she describes Eurabia and Palestinianism

Update: Still, it must be admitted that, according to the dialogue-is-always-the-best-option theory, there is no better alternative to bringing about peace than to show respect for these people and put some trust in what they say

Plus ça change…

John Vinocur and The European Dream Through American Eyes:
The acceptance of trans-Atlantic reality, [an] American said, meant that basic postwar divergences in vision between America and Europe (the welfare state, religion, the legitimacy of military force, etc.) had been exposed by the passing of the cold war. Since the 19th century, America's annexation of Florida, and a European ambassador's complaint back then about "an extremely aggressive country," he said, not much had changed.

Franklin Pierce on American Politics

Today is the birthday of Franklin Pierce, America's 14th president (1804-1869) who said
"A Republic without parties is a complete anomaly. The histories of all popular governments show absurd is the idea of their attempting to exist without parties."

"Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion."

"The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution."

Socially Conditioned to Acquire a Herd Mentality

Here is another type of entry that Le Monde 2 refrains from quoting when citing Healing Iraq's Zeyad as a weblog suppedly intent on castigating the American intervention of March 2003 (links and all emphasis mine). It is suggested that you read through the article before clicking on any links…
I spent the bulk of my time a few days ago closely following the various Arab satellite channels and their extensive coverage on the present state of Islam, global terrorism and the Arab world three years after the earthquake of September 11th.

Not surprisingly, a few channels, such as the Iranian based Al-Alam and Hizbollah's mouthpiece Al-Manar, focused on recycled conspiracy theories that have long been debunked and rubbish speculations unsupported by even the slightest evidence (Al-Alam named its program "9/11, The Hoax Of The Century"). Some of these include the false claim, wildly propagated by the Arab media at the time, that 3,000 New Yorker Jews did not go to work on 9/11, that the Mossad had prior knowledge of the attacks, that the CIA had trained the suicide bombers, that the planes were directed to hit the buildings by ground control, that the Pentagon was not hit by an aircraft, that the Pennsylvania flight was downed by the US Air Force, that there were no Arabs on any of the 4 flights, and the idiotic self-pitiful argument that Arabs simply do not have the required know-how to carry out such a highly coordinated attack. These are only a tiny fraction of the theories given by Arab viewers but, for the sake of brevity, I will not recount them all.

Most Arabs and Muslims are unfortunately unaware that these claims would be laughed at by most people, they also cannot be possibly blamed for such thinking simply because they have been repeatedly fed prepackaged rumours and conspiracy theories as truth throughout their lives by school texts, speeches of immortal Arab leaders, official statements and state-sponspored media. Sociologists call this process 'communal reinforcement' One cannot think for himself when he has the state to think on his behalf. One would even feel 'wrong' and out of place if he disagreed with the prevalent opinion all around him. In time, the Arab individual would be socially conditioned to acquire a comforting herd mentality.

Try to imagine it this way: starting with your early childhood you hear adults around you blaming 'Jews', 'Israel', 'Zionists', 'infidels', 'colonialism', 'imperialism', 'the West' for all the ills of your society. At school you are taught a flowery refined version of Arab and Islamic history. One in which the Ummah was the center of the world. You revel in the glories of your ancestors, their superior military and economic power, their benign tolerance of religious minorities, all the wealth of scientific knowledge they brought to humanity while the west was wallowing in the Dark Ages. You then learn about the conspiracies against the Islamic Empire and its divine message for humanity. Colonialism. How the west came to enslave your countrymen and plunder your riches for centuries. You look around you at the Arab and Islamic world today and you wonder what went wrong. How can such a glorious 'chosen' Ummah suffer such a pathetic fate.

Remember that you are completely blocked from the outside world, you only read newspapers and books allowed by the government, the rest are censored. You only watch state-sponspored tv channels. Websites that are 'unacceptable' are blocked by state-sponspored Internet providers. The government tells you that 'this is for your own good', they protect you from 'the other' which is trying to poison your thoughts, undermine your faith, and destroy your traditions. Your fellow countrymen who inadvertently step over the lines are strictly 'punished' by the state because they have become 'spies' and 'agents'. Anyone else who dares to ask for more liberties, reforms, who criticises or acts against the ruler/government/state is an enemy acting on behalf of Zionists and imperialists, or is part of a grand plan (that has been planned for centuries) against 'the revolution' or the historical role of the ummah/Caliph/Sultan/ruler/government/state.

The above situation is not out of George Orwell's 1984, it is what all Iraqis for the last 50 years had to endure. Arabs and Muslims in other countries suffer from basically the same albeit in different or lesser degrees, but again nobody can really know exactly because the state has all its citizens in a constant state of paranoia. I have faintly sensed it when communicating with other Arabs by email or IM. I had online friends from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, Palestine and Egypt reluctant to answer any of my questions regarding their domestic affairs. I remembered my own situation before the war when people asked me about Iraq or Saddam and how I would steer to change the subject or simply end the conversation out of paranoia and fear.

My point is that a significant percentage of Arabs and Muslims (especially the simple minded and the uneducated) are irreversibly affected by this elaborate brainwashing process. Repeated exposure to outlandish theories and nonsensical propaganda propagated by the state, mass media and other members of society strongly engrains them into one's worldview and over time they turn into concrete facts that are almost impossible to let go of, despite their lack of supporting evidence. They become so strong that the person turns a blind eye to any information or evidence that refute his theories. In fact the person may be profoundly astonished that you can't see things the way he does, when his evidence is as clear as the sun in the sky. He might even call you a Zionist or a CIA agent because you would rather think for yourself and refuse to adopt his worldview. He might even go farther and try to harm you or your family physically. Indeed, thousands of individuals across the Arab and Muslim world have been killed for just that.

It should be important to note that the process above is not exclusive to Arabs or Muslims. It can apply to almost any nation, group or society, though perhaps in a lesser degree.

Why is it that France and certain other European countries come to mind here? In fact, I suggest you think of those countries while rereading the parts of the text in bold (all the while bearing in mind the "lesser degree" that Zeyad mentions, needless to say).
What distinguishes us Arabs is that most of us continue to live under repressive totalitarian regimes that owe their existence to such tactics. The recent developments in Lebanon with the constitutional amendment to ensure Lahhud stays in rule are a sad example in practice. … Another example in Sudan where the government accused Israel of being involved in the Darfur crisis. And last, in Iraq where it seems a Mossad agent is behind every bombing and every assassination, and that Israelis are buying land and building settlements in the Kurdish north. Again, the biased Arab media is to blame for spreading such absurd claims without evidence.

Another thing that distinguishes us Arabs is our rich heritage and the wide gap between what we are in theory and what we are in reality. I mentioned before the flowery version of our history and religion every child of ours is fed since the age of nine. Not one word is mentioned about the violent internal conflicts in early Islam, not one word about the bloody civil war that followed the assassination of the third Caliph Othman which marked the schism in Islam, not one word about all the bloody revolts and assassinations throughout our history, not one word about how Muslims converted the defeated nations and how minorities were treated as slaves or tax paying second-class citizens when they did not convert, not one word about the plight of women under Islam, not one word about all the massacres and atrocities that were committed in the name of Islam in all corners of the world.

When I first started to read other history books written by early Muslim historians such as Al-Baladhiri, Al-Tabari, Ibn Al-Athir and Ibn Khaldun, I seriously thought that I was mistaken and was reading about some nation other than Muslims. A few years later, and after devouring every tiny bit of history written about Islam by Muslims and non-Muslims, I had come to the realisation that I was fooled and duped into believing a totally different picture. In fact, I was even scared of what else I might discover next. With that realisation in mind I moved on to the 'untouchable' scriptures, the Quran and the Hadith, but that is another story. …

Monday, November 22, 2004

Le Monde's Partisan Article on Weblogs

True to nature, the independent newspaper's Le Monde 2 weekly has articles that are baffling in their partisanship.

Most remarkably, issue 40 (November 20) has a story on "the blog shock", in which it proceeds to parrot Paris's partisan viewpoint.

Straight away (in the opening sentence of the subhead), the tone is given: "The Iraq war is the first www.war" said the Times of London in March. Indeed, hundreds of Iraqi blogs describing the country's occuption, the attacks and life in Baghdad give a different story than that of the 'embedded' press."

Completely ignoring Iraq's pro-American blogs (dare I say Iraq's pro-freedom-from-torture,-from-sadistic-thugs,-from-censorship,-and-from-dictatorial-government blogs?); completely ignoring the fact that the very existence of the blogs (no matter what their tone and viewpoints) is due to the American intervention of March 2003; completely ignoring the fact that the pro-American blogs usually have a (far) longer blogroll than the antis; completely ignoring the fact that embedded journalists were entirely correct not to follow in the footsteps of their couch potato colleagues predicting a long and bloody war, a mass of refuges, Saddamgrad, and other tragedies; completely ignoring the Iraqi people, for that matter, Frédéric Joignot lends credence to the belief that journalists (or citizens) not castigating, mocking, or bemoaning the American presence in Iraq can be nothing but liars, poodles, or dupes; and that gratefully, a popular groundswell of humanists is rising to fight back at America, if not with weapons, then with words.

Joignot proceeds to list a handful of Iraqi blogs that are supposedly among the hundreds telling the truth about the horrors and the devastation in Iraq (Where's Raed, Baghdad Burning, etc), and it ends the list with… Healing Iraq. Now I never heard that webmaster Zeyad was all-out against the war, but it turns out that this is how Le Monde 2 proceeds (or how the European press proceeds):

Either they remain vague about the blog mentioned, or they search through all the weblog entries for the rare critical comment, or for a comment that can be constructed as being critical. Le Monde 2 even mentions the Healing Iraq entry mentioned above (in which Zeyad corrects the Times' estimate of people in a peace demonstration) being quoted in (and on) the Weekly Standard (as if even they were beginning to see through the lies of the Bush administration)!

For an example of their way of proceeding, how could anyone broach the story of blogs without mentioning the granddaddy of weblogs? Well, Joignot does mention InstaPundit. But all he writes, basically, is that it got 200,000 hits during the Iraq war, followed by a quote from the Blogs of War, in which Glenn Reynolds writes that weblogs say what journalists don't dare say. In other words, because nothing else is said about InstaPundit, the impression comes across that Glenn Reynolds is part of the (imagined) world-wide popular wave trying to stand up to (and only to) the Bush administration, its "lies", and its "illegal" war (as well as Yankee capitalism and imperialism).

That is what is most galling (no pun intended) about the article: the numerous weblogs which are pro-invasion and/or pro-Bush (basically, at least) but which are quoted out of context or not at all. Needless to say, Le Monde 2 doesn't mention any blog (or blog entry) that is critical of France (or the Chirac adminstration) — certainly not Le Monde Watch. And certainly not Iraq the Model.

Justement, here is what Iraq the Model's Ali had to say about Jacques Chirac's recent comments in London (hat tip to Tom Penn, emphasis mine):

I heard what Mr. Chirac said few days ago and read about it everywhere I turn my head to. At first, it was something I felt I shouldn’t even bother to listen to. It was something like what Al Jazeera keep showing us or what Arab leaders say all the time. But again this was a president of one of the most advanced and civilized countries in our times. It wasn’t Kaddafi or Assad and it made me sad and furious.

The French government keep surprising me with their intentionally stupid and vicious arguments and I don’t know what to say about it or if it’s even necessary to say something at all. But then I’m an Iraqi citizens and these people are taking about Iraq and usually how the war brought nothing good to Iraq or the world, and I just can’t stay silent about it. I know there’s almost no chance that you’ll read my words Mr. Chirac, but it doesn’t matter, as I’m not writing for you anyway. You live in a different world.

In the past, I used to swallow my anger and frustration because I could get killed if I messed up with one of Saddam’s personal friends, but now Saddam is gone and I’m not afraid and I won’t stay silent anymore. This is a difference Mr. Chirac, and it’s a great one, probably just to me and the rest of Iraqis but not to you, and you just have to understand that it’s not all about you and your European dream which no one want to steal from you by the way.

The world is certainly not a better place after the war Mr. Chirac, but that’s your world, while our world, Iraqis as well as tens of millions of oppressed people everywhere who are dying for some help, is certainly MUCH better now, and I’m sure the Americans and the British world as well as most countries (including yours) is better and safer and will keep getting better. However I agree with you, as your world, your own personal world, the world of your fellow corrupt politicians in France, Russia, Germany, China and the stinking UN, your fortune and your influence is definitely suffering.
I’m even surprised that you ‘saw’ that Saddam’s departure was positive “to a certain extent”, and I can’t wonder why is that! Is it because it left you with some bills you don’t have to pay?!

Is my language too offensive?! Not as half as offensive and irritating as yours and I will NEVER apologize, not even after you apologize and pay the Iraqis back all the money you have stolen from us in return for supporting your partner, Saddam and keeping him in charge for few more years.

You see, your problem and what separate you from men like Tony Blair is that you look only for what you might gain, and again “you” is not the French people, but rather you in person and the bunch of hypocrites that so sadly control the French people and manipulate them through lies and silly arguments. You never cared what would happen to Iraqis and the rest of the world had Saddam stayed in power, while Tony Blair did. Do you know why? Because he and the British government with all the brave British people live in our world, while you don’t.

Stupid British! Why should they care for us, America or their own kids when they can do exactly like you; take advantage of America’s need, blackmail her, support Saddam without taking much risk and gain billions of dollars.

Stupid British! Haven’t they learned from WW2 when you got your country back and even decided the fate of other nations on victory even though half of you made peace with the Nazis!? You certainly don’t owe the British and the Americans anything for that, as it was just their own stupidity not to do the math and see how much would they gain. Their lands weren’t invaded and the Nazis were trying to make a peace with them, yet they refused and fought as hard as men and women can fight to free your country for you, so that your troops could march victoriously in Paris! And you dare say that the US doesn’t repay favors!??

If you don’t like the world after Saddam, and if you miss him that much, you can keep living in your own world and we won’t bother you all.

Lire la traduction de American Boy

Strangely enough, Iraq the Model was not mentioned in Frédéric Joignot's Le Monde 2 article, (but perhaps I already mentioned that?). Comme c'est bizarre…

"If you want to see true Islam, you must…"

Last week, Ralph Peters had an inspiring conversation with a Muslim-American.
An immigrant from Pakistan, [the latter] hadn't yet been granted citizenship, but he had more faith in America than our native-born elite does.

"I write to my brothers and sisters," he said, "And I tell them that they do not know true Islam. If you want to see true Islam, you must come to America."

He meant the social justice and the respect for the individual, rich or poor, prescribed by the Koran. He had not found those qualities in the land of his birth. Nor do they prevail in any Muslim state between Casablanca and Karachi.

Islam sets high standards for the daily behavior of its adherents — but all too often the Koran's calls for fairness, charity and common decency are rejected in favor of social strictures misinterpreted by bitter old men and fanatics. The oppression of women, terrorism and the police states of the Middle East were not part of the Prophet Mohammed's vision.

My Muslim friend had recently found yet another reason to believe in America — in a place the rest of us would overlook. Coming from a land where the rich can even murder with impunity, he was thrilled that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps had to face drunken-driving charges.

"Seven gold medals!" my friend said. "He is a hero, sir! And still he must face the court!

"It is not hidden away because he is powerful. This is very good, this is Islam."

The crime and possible punishment of young Mr. Phelps looks very different to a man born where the poor are eternal victims. …

(Thanks to Gregorio)

One of the Greatest Triumphs of American Arms

Jack Kelly on Victory in Fallujah:
Fallujah ranks up there with Iwo Jima, Inchon and Hue as one of the greatest triumphs of American arms, though you'd have a hard time discerning that from what you read in the newspapers.

The swift capture of Fallujah is taxing the imagination of Arab journalists and — sadly — our own. How does one portray a remarkable American victory as if it were of little consequence, or even a defeat? …

The resistance has suffered a loss of more than 2,000 combatants, out of a total force estimated by U.S. Central Command at about 5,000 (other estimates are higher) as well as its only secure base in the country. But both the Arab media and ours emphasize that the attack on Fallujah has made a lot of Arabs mad. By this logic, once we've killed all the terrorists, they'll be invincible.

"The experience of human history has been the more people you kill, the weaker they get," [former Canadian army officer John] Thompson noted.

For the Arab and European media, the old standby is to allege American atrocities. …

Journalists quick to judge the Marine [shooting a wounded Iraqi feigning death] are more forgiving when it comes to the terrorists. "They're not bad guys, especially, just people who disagree with us," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

(Shookhran to Gregory S)

Le Petit Baudelaire illustré

A small pause in the blogging to announce a book which was illustrated by a friend who passed away prematurely :

Une sélection de poèmes de Baudelaire, tirés des Fleurs du Mal et du Spleen de Paris illustrés par Philippe Rosenthal. Quand le poète inspire le peintre… une très bonne raison de redécouvrir Baudelaire !

Acheter le livre online
Lire les premières pages

The Stunning Charles de Gaulle

Today is the birthday of Charles de Gaulle, the French general and president (1890-1970) who allegedly told Winston Churchill, regarding the aid and efforts that the Americans and British had provided for the liberation of France from her Nazi overlords:
We shall stun you with our ingratitude.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Why is there is so little French criticism of French policy among French elites?

John Zvesper of the Ashbrook Center asks
why is there is so little French criticism of French policy among French elites? Why does this critical capacity not extend from my bistro chef to French journalists and politicians?
Read about the type of questions French journalists neglect, questions that are "the most important" of all

Voltaire, the Man Frenchmen Love to Quote

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong

Today is the birthday of Voltaire, the French philosopher and author (1694-1778) who said

A company of tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions

A witty saying proves nothing

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities

Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law
Last but not least, Voltaire is the man Frenchmen love to quote as saying
I may not agree with you, but I will fight for your right to be able to say it
except that if, in the final analysis, you do not conclude (or you do not agree with the analysis) that the French are more humanistic, more wise, more humble, more brotherly, more generous, and more visionary than everybody else (especially those oafish Americans), that the type of society the French live in is conducive to such a fraternal state in every citoyen, and that French foreign policy invariably follows those humanistic principles, they (the French) will lose interest in what you have to say, snort in mockery, fly into a rage, and/or ask what are you doing living in France if you don't think that way…