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A Cool Frog Who Kicks Butt
February 16, 2003 5:49 AM   Subscribe

The coolest Living Frenchman I can think of is Dominique de Villepin, the Ladies' man who swept the UN off its feet, Colin Powell's latest arch-nemesis (although they used to get along) who has, by speaking against the US war effort, seriously reduced the likelihood of a war against Iraq, and may have engineered great changes in the way that global problems are resolved. But the main link is to an interview that de Villepin conducted with the Times of India several months ago. And I'm asking: don't you wish that all politicians could speak so well, that all politicians had his intelligence, his education, his sensitivity, his understanding of global concerns, and just his ability to quote from an actual book and understand what it meant? And if they did, can you imagine the sort of world we could be living in now?
posted by chrisgregory (75 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
If all politicians surrendered like the French, we'd all be posting in German, that's for sure.
posted by dagny at 5:54 AM on February 16, 2003


Godwin!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2003


that fromage smell.... c'est moi?
posted by ph00dz at 6:01 AM on February 16, 2003


Didn't take long (for Godwin's law to be invoked), did it?
Just read the freaking article. Sure, the guy's French. So is the Statue of Liberty (and doesn't that mean anything to you?). And being from a country even younger than the US of A (Australia), I don't think that being old is necessarily bad. A point de Villepin made.

When I was a kid, I always imagined that politicians were the best people, our brightest and our fairest: after all, they were the ones who got elected. But as adults, who would believe that was true now?

How many politicians do you know of who you would really want to meet? How many of them would you want as friends, who you feel that you admire and whose opinions you respect? I submitted this post because the guy fit that description, for me anyway. And that's rare, and I wonder why.
posted by chrisgregory at 6:18 AM on February 16, 2003


If all politicians surrendered like the French, we'd all be posting in German, that's for sure.

And if they were as full of shit as you, dagny, we'd have fertile fields surrounding parliaments the world over.
posted by riviera at 6:21 AM on February 16, 2003


I don't want to troll, but being articulate or erudite does not mean that one is a pacifist or able to solve all the problems of the world. The Roman republic had hordes of erudite and skilled orators who's highest aspirations were to butcher the neighbours.

That said, it's not that hard to out-speak Colin Powell. If you've ever actually seen his speeches to the UN, he's a mediocre orator at best. He tends to coast on his reputation and the substance of his speeches rather than their rhetorical power. He was lost the moment he set aside his prepared remarks.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2003


To Pseudoephedrine: Then again, being articulate doesn't mean that you are necessarily insincere...and ignorance (an affliction most politicians seem to suffer from) is not a point of view.
posted by chrisgregory at 6:33 AM on February 16, 2003


I recall that it is customary for some countries to send to the UN articulate, well-read, sophisticated, cosmopolitan speakers rather than give them positions of great power within the countries they come from. That said: one has to decide the issue rather than the messenger, or we are all caught up in the Celebrity (TV?) game, non?
posted by Postroad at 6:43 AM on February 16, 2003


"He's not much of an orator, and slides by somehow on the substance of his speeches ..."
What a concept!
posted by sheauga at 6:44 AM on February 16, 2003


Sheauga> The ability to structure one's verbal expressions and then present them in an appealing way is very important - at least as important as what you're actually saying, if not more so. In text, things like intonation, enunciation, somatic expression and the like are unimportant, but they're critical in any sort of persuasive speech, and Colin Powell does poorly on them, forcing him to present a very dry and boring list of facts. One might bemoan this, but it's how things are. If the Bush administration could find a competent public speaker to present their decisions and policies, they'd have a tenth of the problems that they are now.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:12 AM on February 16, 2003


his understanding of global concerns

Which concerns? Does "understanding" mean he agrees with your position? Can someone who disagrees with your views, would you still say they are "understanding?"
posted by fried at 7:37 AM on February 16, 2003


I would take issue with the idea just posted by Pseduophedrine: Powell (not our UN person) may or may not be articulate, but he represents the adminsitation position, much as the Frenchman or the Iraq delegate represent positions held by their respective governments. We will not change the minds of the French or Germans no matter who we send. Governnments and not UN representatives make, change, suggest positions. And these are formulated in advance of UN discussions.
posted by Postroad at 7:44 AM on February 16, 2003


fried> Understanding means just that. You read the link? You are capable of understanding someone who has a different view of things than you maintain yourself: it is possible. Or you can ignore them entirely and do whatever you wanted to do in the first place.
In this case, I was referring to the way that de Villepin managed to negotiate the issues surrounding the current antagonism between India and Pakistan by suggesting that closing off ways in which the conflict could be solved amicably and peaceably was a bad idea, all the while talking to the representative of an Indian newspaper and not managing to insult anyone. It's called diplomacy.
That sounds pretty understanding to me. Or would you prefer to go outside, where we can settle this like men (big, boofheaded, stupid men)?
Or maybe I could make the effort to understand where you're coming from, and decide it was best that we came to a peaceful agreement.
I'd prefer that option. I am a physically weak specimen and you'd most likely beat me up if it came to that.
But then even if I was buffed out and heavily armed, I would still prefer to resolve things peacibly. Because I am a reasoning sentient being, and that is the way that reasoning sentient beings resolve problems.
And if I was a buffed-up Mike Tyson-sized bully, that still wouldn't be a reasonable argument for me to get violent on your arse. It would only be an excuse, based on the fact that I knew I was going to win.
End of allegory.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:04 AM on February 16, 2003


You forgot to mention "and effectively defended the possibility that the lucrative oil contracts the French signed with Saddam Hussain may still deliver their benefits to the French economy".
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:17 AM on February 16, 2003


The rhetoric and ones' ability to present it are, sadly, a great part of the equation. I agree with the aforementioned statement about the Bush Administration, that they'd have 1/10 the troubles they have if they would re-frame their arguments and present them differently.

For example, why has the Bush Administration *not* pressed the "Democracy" button? Why has the Bush Administration *not* pressed the documented fact that Hussein is a man whose publically stated goal is to be remembered as the man who brought the United States to its' knees? Why has the Bush Administration so blindingly pushed the "irrelevance of the UN" so much?

There are too many questions, surely. I believe that the Bush Administration had, up until now, a good plan: puff up your chest and make the enemy believe you're going to blow them to hell for sure if they don't follow the line. However, this plan has backfired severely because of the Administration's inability to cooperate and take others' opinions seriously, without scoffing and poo-poohing.

Clinton had many flaws - but he was damned good when it came to international politicking: He'd talk the multilateral talk, and other nations loved him for it, but he'd walk the unilateralist walk when it was in America's best interests. Bush & Co. are unilateralist and they want everyone to know it. Not necessarily good for international stability.
posted by tgrundke at 8:20 AM on February 16, 2003


To go along with MidasMulligan: I think that many people are buying the "Euroline" on the war with Iraq as being a major ideological and philosophical shift in the way international crises are managed.

To a large extent, I disagree. What I see is good old fashioned power-politics at work. The Europeans have had it with America's preponderance of influence and are drawing a line in the sand (if it were). They are also after a very large petroleum reserve (sold in Euros, by the by) and many billions of dollars worth of contracts.

The Euro Post-Modernism line has a place and position and can be effective in some cases. But don't allow it to cloud some of the good old boys' real intentions - on both sides of the Atlantic.
posted by tgrundke at 8:26 AM on February 16, 2003


*garf* American anti-intellectualism disguised as anti-French sentiment. Yes, the French have yet to come to grips with their collaborationist history. Given the current mess that the U.S. is sliding into, we would do well to pay attention to what happens when a country bows mindlessly to power, rather than skank up cheese sites and call it political action.

I am convinced that we are enhanced by the gaze of others.

I think that it both charming and impressive that a politician working at the global level can toss off references to a major body of psychoanalytic theory. Knowledge for its own sake is so quintessentially French that it makes my heart ache. How many American pols are you familiar with who know more than just what was necessary to get by in their civilian lives: whatever stuck after they crammed for the bar exams, started working as a professional politician, or learned whatever it is that a wrestling coach needs to know (or the owner of a baseball team)? I'm not talking about the practical knowledge that goes into being a successful professional. I'm talking about knowledge about history, culture, science and the vast array of learning to which we are all heir.

Of course, anti-intellectualism is as old as the American Republic, so I don't know why I let it bother me so. Except that willful stupidity really grates my cheese.
posted by elgoose at 8:33 AM on February 16, 2003


didn't most if not all of the sept 11 terrorists travel through and study in france and germany? aren't those relationships, intelligence and assistance in the war on terror in jeopardized by the US's bellicose and unilateral quest for war against iraq? or should we just point the jdams at paris suburbs and clean up the problems there as well?


lets not forget the real reason we are going to war against iraq.


i thought villipen blew powell out of the water on friday - and was agreed with by a bunch of beer drinking - middle americans - who had just left a national motocross race last night. i can tell you based on the comments of the red blooded americans i was talking to last night, bush has serious issues here in middle america.

and in light of yesterdays colossal turn out at anti-war protests around the world, elsewhere as well.
posted by specialk420 at 8:33 AM on February 16, 2003


MidasMulligan>Honestly, that does concern me. I don't know. I think that you're probably right, given what I have read.
But is that a good reason to kill a lot of innocent people and generally go ballistic, just so that the US can get cheaper oil instead?
Who are you going to side with? I'm going to go with the no killing of lots of innocent people option.
But then there's something basic here, involving the whole notion of democracy. Are the French advocating non-violence solely for personal gain? Or is there some principle that they are trying to uphold? They did come up with democracy in the first place.
Look at the opposition (that's a joke). They are advocating war for what reason? I'm not sure why. Stubborness maybe. But if you say it's for oil, then there's no argument. This could not be a righteous war.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:38 AM on February 16, 2003


On should point out, ala this week's Economist, that it isn't really European governments who have had it with the US, but France and Germany, which view themselves as the center of Europe. (The European public hates Bush and opposes war with Iraq, but they did in 1991 too.) The fact that F&G are outnumbered in both the EU and NATO in their opposition to war is significant.

Neither France nor Germany seem to have much of a plan past "oppose Bush." Neither have a solution that disarms Saddam or maintains the influence of the UNSC, which looks likely to ignore Iraqi violation of 1441.

Bush will go ahead anyway, and this president won't trust the UNSC again. Bad for the US, incapacitating for the UNSC, and devastating for France's claim to be a world power.
posted by ednopantz at 8:39 AM on February 16, 2003


who has, by speaking against the US war effort, seriously reduced the likelihood of a war against Iraq

I think just the opposite is true. If France and the rest of the countries had presented a united front with the U.S. against Saddam and showed that they were serious about Saddam cooperating and disarming, Saddam would quickly back down and cooperate. Instead, now Saddam can sit back and continue to not cooperate while countries bicker back and forth at each other, making war all that much more likely.
posted by gyc at 8:46 AM on February 16, 2003


"I am convinced that we are enhanced by the gaze of others."

I think that it both charming and impressive that a politician working at the global level can toss off references to a major body of psychoanalytic theory.


Oh, for heaven's sake. Without prejudice to M. de Villepin and his accomplishments, it's no more impressive that a French politician can "toss off" references to currently fashionable intellectual theories than that an American politician can make sports analogies. Autres pays, autre moeurs. (And I was not blown away by the interview in general; he sounds like a diplomat, which is good but not remarkable.)
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2003


gyc> I thought Saddam had (mostly) cooperated...wasn't that the point?
posted by chrisgregory at 8:59 AM on February 16, 2003


"If all politicians surrendered like the French, we'd all be posting in German, that's for sure."

Ha. Well judging by yesterday's protests we (the french) are not alone surrending 'so easily'.
Ladies and gentlemen, after antiamericanism, antieuropeanism...
posted by Sijeka at 9:00 AM on February 16, 2003


midas: You forgot to mention "and effectively defended the possibility that the lucrative oil contracts the French signed with Saddam Hussain may still deliver their benefits to the French economy".

I find it fascinating that people like Midas will assign ulterior motives to the French without batting an eye (and I don't disagree that there are likely some ulterior motives at work in the french and german positions), but when anybody suggests that bush has ulterior motives, it's tantamount to treason.
posted by jnthnjng at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2003


[he] engineered great changes in the way that global problems are resolved

LOL -- yup he is helping create a situation where any tyrant around the world has to start building WMD to gain and hold on to power. Pretty soon we're gonna have many Iraq's to deal with no thanks to this guy.
posted by stbalbach at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2003


You forgot to mention "and effectively defended the possibility that the lucrative oil contracts the French signed with Saddam Hussain may still deliver their benefits to the French economy".

Still worried that you'll miss out on your own lucrative post-war deal, Midas?

And the extent to which American right-wingers are marching lockstep behind Richard Perle's bait-and-switch bullshit -- 'yes, it is about the oil, but it's the French who want it' -- makes me wonder whether such useful idiots as Midas haven't got microchip implants courtesy of Karl Rove. In any case, the mass reiteration of that one talking point over the past week -- just, coincidentally, when the French represent the major challenge to the US -- doesn't help the right at all. It just makes them sound like Moonies reciting the vows at a mass wedding.

(The point being that TotalFina has fuck-all chance of getting any oil or any money, no matter what.)
posted by riviera at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2003


gyc> I thought Saddam had (mostly) cooperated...wasn't that the point?

Hah!

If Saddam has no chemical weapons, why have Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units been issued gas masks (NY Times)?

Blix is a fool who wants to avoid war more than he wants to enforce UNSC 1441.
posted by ednopantz at 9:17 AM on February 16, 2003


ednopantz> Good one. And if God wanted us to be vegetarians, why did he invent butchers?
posted by chrisgregory at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2003


who would you remove from power to get rid of future Iraq's (sic)?

Well -- let's see: who can figure out the common denominator here:
Suaharto, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Marcos, Noriega, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein. Anyone? Anyone?

Hint: they were all supported by one country. Second hint: It wasn't France.

What maniac are we creating right now?
posted by condour75 at 9:35 AM on February 16, 2003


The greatest maniac of all...Basil Brush!

Boom boom!
posted by chrisgregory at 9:40 AM on February 16, 2003


What maniac are we creating right now?
posted by specialk420 at 9:48 AM on February 16, 2003


Why has the Bush Administration so blindingly pushed the "irrelevance of the UN" so much?

because a very important part of the neoconservatives agenda is exactly that -- destroy UN and NATO, kill Kyoto and non-proliferation treaties. militarize the economy even more (militarize space, too, for missile defense), strive for unaccountable American global domination
posted by matteo at 9:53 AM on February 16, 2003


Dominique de Villepin? He's the quintessential French politician! From an aristocratic family; he, his brother and his sister all attended l’ENA (which is not a small feat btw).

And as another presidential advisor once said, "C'est un homme de coup, qui habille son ambition personnelle sous un lyrisme poétique" (loosely translated: he’s a man who deals out hard blows, disguising his ambition under the cover of poetic lyricism). There is a definite arrogance about him that even the French don’t like. Chirac’s wife has dubbed him “Neron”…
posted by ruelle at 9:54 AM on February 16, 2003


If Saddam has no chemical weapons, why have Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units been issued gas masks (NY Times)?

Just perhaps, it's to make sure that US intelligence knows they've been handed out, so that US troops have to face the prospect of wearing cumbersome protective body suits, whether or not there's actually the capability? You know, the whole 'fool your opponent' thing, which has been a part of military strategy since ever?

I'm sure that the Iraqi fart-bomb factories are working like billy-o now.
posted by riviera at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2003


I can imagine that we are living in a world in which an eloquent French politician invokes the latest psychoanalytic theory and the role of his nation in building modern democracy in order to prevent an anti-democratic dictator from being deposed. That is truly an achievement for the ages! Something for the French to be eternally proud.

It is also much to be proud of for a nation that when two of its college students on a tour are raped by the son of the President that the nation then says to the President, We will do business with you, and protect you. Yes, French pride knows no bounds. Surely this friendship with Saddam will bring them credit in history.
posted by dhartung at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2003


Thanks dhartung. And US presidents have such a distinguished and blemish-free record. I don't have to provide a link.
And the US wants us to go out and kill people and the French want us to not go out and kill people.
I worked in an abbattoir. I've killed things. It was always terrible, a terrible feeling in my stomach.
You want to kill people, you want to make this less than academic, why don't you go sign up? Then you can put your money where your mouth is.
Do it. It'd really help prove your point. That'd really teach the French. Or whoever.
posted by chrisgregory at 10:47 AM on February 16, 2003


Haha, Villepin as Neron, very good one. Arrogant, true also.
and about 'all attended l’ENA ', well it seems the ENA won't exist anymore very soon.

Unless they think about 'decentralising' it in Corse (> Joke from my EU politics lecturer)
posted by Sijeka at 10:49 AM on February 16, 2003


I agree with MidasMulligan. This is all about the 4.5 billion that Iraq owes the French government..........and the 8 billion the Russians are owed. Not to mention the lucrative contracts for developing the Iraqi oil fields.
Personally, if I were GW, I'd withdraw every single plane, ship and soldier from the gulf. Let's let Saddam run amok for about two years. After he annexes Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the dead bodies start to pile up, these same anti-war protesters will be howling about how Bush just stood there and allowed the slaughter of innocents. Sure, a few thousand people are going to have to die in the process, but that's a small price to pay for the moral high ground, eh?
posted by reidfleming at 10:56 AM on February 16, 2003


Surely this friendship with Saddam

well, you know, this is slander.
If "not willing to bomb the fuck out of Iraq in the next 3 minutes pronto! and always say respectfully 'yes, masta' to the Bush people" means "friend of Saddam", well, the quality of political debate in America is sinking lower than ever, and is quickly approaching loyalty-oath-era levels

will bring them credit in history.
we'll see. who knows how history will judge many American president's _real_ friendship with scores of various dictators and terrorists around the world (list is too long to mention). also, Osama and Saddam are former Uncle Sam employees, they didn't really work for the French I think
posted by matteo at 10:56 AM on February 16, 2003


oh, and,


If all politicians surrendered like the French, we'd all be posting in German, that's for sure.



Sometimes reading comments by people living in EU or the US, i really feel like we don't realise that war really means WAR.

"If you are a decent human being, war is going to offend you because it has no purpose other than to satisfy someone's desire for power and profit. And it is the little people who suffer. At the first whiff of trouble, the rich and the informed get into their Mercedes-Benzes and off-road vehicles and leave. The poor people, the very last of the dregs of society, can't escape. They get the bill."
posted by Sijeka at 10:57 AM on February 16, 2003


It is also much to be proud of for a nation that when two of its college students on a tour are raped by the son of the President that the nation then says to the President, We will do business with you, and protect you. Yes, French pride knows no bounds.

Let's not forget that, before becoming VP, Dick Cheney did business with Iraq too, not to mention Burma, whose Yadana pipeline was essentially built with slave labor. I realize that this could be said to proove Hitchens arguement that this just gives us a greater rsponsibility to fix our mistakes, but as far as national pride is concerned, Cheney should be a source of shame.
posted by homunculus at 11:12 AM on February 16, 2003


Odai Hussain may be a bully, a rapist and a thug. The link provided by Dhartung reads:

"Two of the students, a man and a woman, told French authorities that Odai invited them to a party in their honor at a Baghdad hotel. But when they got to Odai's room, they say three of his bodyguards forced them at gunpoint to have sex with each other while being taped on video."

He didn't rape them.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:13 AM on February 16, 2003


gyc> I thought Saddam had (mostly) cooperated...wasn't that the point?

um.... no? Even Hans Blix would not say that Iraq has cooperated. Doesn't everyone agree that Saddam has not fully cooperated and only differ on what we should do about it (more inspections v. war)?
posted by gyc at 11:27 AM on February 16, 2003


Personally, if I were GW, I'd withdraw every single plane, ship and soldier from the gulf. Let's let Saddam run amok for about two years. After he annexes Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the dead bodies start to pile up, these same anti-war protesters will be howling about how Bush just stood there and allowed the slaughter of innocents. Sure, a few thousand people are going to have to die in the process, but that's a small price to pay for the moral high ground, eh?

False delimma fallacy. Arguing against an invasion and occupation of Iraq does not equate to letting Saddam run amok.

Which is probably one of the big differences between Europe and the U.S. is that the military tactics of invasion and occupation are well within living memory for Europeans in a way that has not been in American history. Russia lost an entire 3rd of a generation during WWII. Germany, France and Italy did not fare much better.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:45 AM on February 16, 2003


I just want to mention that, as of this thread, I have become able to tell what posts are written by MidasMulligan and Dhartung before I even read the names.
posted by Hildago at 11:49 AM on February 16, 2003


riveria>If Saddam has no chemical weapons, why have Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units been issued gas masks (NY Times)?

Just perhaps, it's to make sure that US intelligence knows they've been handed out, so that US troops have to face the prospect of wearing cumbersome protective body suits, whether or not there's actually the capability?


Sure, Saddam spent ten years beggaring his country to prevent inspections of weapons he didn't have. He has brought the US to the brink of a full scale invasion to retain weapons he doesn't have.

Two words: Ockham's razor.
posted by ednopantz at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2003


Something ednopantz said earlier:

Neither France nor Germany seem to have much of a plan past "oppose Bush." Neither have a solution that disarms Saddam

Regardless of ideology, I think everyone can agree that this is the major difference between the US and EU: americans tend to be optimistic and willing to march in with grand plans for reshaping the world, europeans pessimistic about the possibility of unfortunate consequences.

I'm more willing to trust Europeans on this one -- they've lived through "solutions" of the type ednopantz seems enthusiastic about and are more likely to advocate incremental change that's less likely destabilize everything -- what happened to particular Gulf War argument, anyway? (Geography and a better school system also mean they're much more familiar with the way the international world works.) The U.S. has to start recognizing that the world isn't like a machine to be fixed (self-link, but it makes up for it by being out of date in a really embarrassing way).
posted by Tlogmer at 12:22 PM on February 16, 2003


I just want to mention that, as of this thread, I have become able to tell what posts are written by MidasMulligan and Dhartung before I even read the names.

Same goes for fold_and_mutilate, riviera, nofundy and the rest of them, and so on. What's your point?
posted by dhoyt at 12:37 PM on February 16, 2003


Sure, a few thousand people are going to have to die in the process, but that's a small price to pay for the moral high ground, eh?

Excuse me, I'm off to buy a ten-foot pole.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2003


You can talk about how intellectual and charming de Villepin is but all I see is just another politician. Look in the interview how he sidesteps the question of wether he believes the Pakistani president (and I use that term loosely) is really combating terrorism in Kashmir. De Villepin speaks out against terrorism, but carefully does not answer the question. As for is actions at the U.N., he stabs Powell in the back and in the process risks the very existence of the U.N. If Bush bypasses the U.N. and goes to war with Iraq, that will be the signal that the U.N. is no longer relevent and as the U.S. goes, so does the world.
posted by mr. man at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2003


Oh, mr. man, your comment is so . . .

Napoleonic.
posted by rdone at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2003


tlogmer hit a valid point: the US is optimistic, the EU is pessimistic. I would differ about the influence of WWII occupation on political attitudes.

- One would have to be at least 60 to remember wartime occupation.
- Britain's public is opposed to war, yet never faced occupation.

Probably more significant is Kagan's argument that Europe is hesitatnt to use force because it has so little, while America is willing to use force because it has so much. War is a task that European states aren't very good at, the US is good at war so it chooses to tackle its problems that way.

On F&G: what I find so frustrating is that they are taking a useful bulwark against global disorder (Friedman NYT), the UNSC, and ramming it into the ground in a pointless attempt to check US power. If they wanted to get the US to abandon the UNSC as a tool of foreign policy, they couldn't have done a better job.
posted by ednopantz at 1:45 PM on February 16, 2003


Same goes for fold_and_mutilate, riviera, nofundy and the rest of them, and so on. What's your point?

That I can tell dhartung and MidasMulligan's posts just by what I expect them to say now. Were you listening?
posted by Hildago at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2003


Two words: Ockham's razor.

Five words: Glad you're not a general.
posted by riviera at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2003


Postroad> To demonstrate my point, I'd point to Bill Clinton. I dislike Bill Clinton, but he was very charismatic. As a result, he managed to get away with doing things that would have the left demanding his impeachment were Bush to do them. I don't hate the Bush administration like many people seem to, but they definitely have problems with their image and the rhetoric they use, and this is at least partially because they lack an effective public speaker or spokesperson to sway public opinion towards their position.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:22 PM on February 16, 2003


"but they definitely have problems with their image and the rhetoric they use"

Well i have to admire the Bush administration, considering the fact they have to deal with...err...this puppet who's actually the President. In fact, they do a very good job. People over the world can hate Power or Rice, but at least most respect them.
Same doesn't apply to Bush i'm afraid. Hence, admiration for the administration which still manages to give the world a concern and serious image about the gvt, when most of us europeans know [think] it's a joke.
posted by Sijeka at 2:25 PM on February 16, 2003


Meanwhile, Korea can't wait, say Brent Scowcroft and Daniel Poneman.

"If the United States offers a clear vision of the diplomatic solution it favors -- and a road map to get there -- it can mobilize an international consensus on the North Korean challenge. Only a united international community can muster enough pressure to induce North Korea to reverse course. Otherwise, we will soon face a rampant plutonium production program that could spark a nuclear arms race in Asia and provide deadly exports to America's most implacable enemies."

Right now my biggest re: the UN is that the Iraq situation is distracting everyone from North Korea, which is a real threat.
posted by homunculus at 2:42 PM on February 16, 2003


A very well educated Parisian friend of mine told me many of the French are so against war because they fear their (predominantly Muslim) cleaning ladies will secretly poison them. Honest.
posted by Voyageman at 3:20 PM on February 16, 2003


That I can tell dhartung and MidasMulligan's posts just by what I expect them to say now. Were you listening?

I was listening. Just not sure why you deemed it important or interesting enough an observation to post.
posted by dhoyt at 3:46 PM on February 16, 2003


because they lack an effective public speaker or spokesperson to sway public opinion towards their position.

they don't need one, not after 9/11
There's a looooong war going on, remember? Remember when Cheney said the War On Terror (tm) will go on and on, and we'll probably won't see it end during our lifetime?
Hence, there's no need to "sell" anything to the public opinion. The "Enemy combatants" killed habeas corpus and the very notion of a suspect having actual rights. The Justice Department will be happy to various interesting things _before_ a judge signs an actual warrant. All in the name of the War.
Dissent = treason = terrorism
What do you need a polite spokesman for, in a situation like this? Rumsfeld's free of kicking in the teeth everybody he does not happen to like. That's your "salesman": a big middle finger
posted by matteo at 4:20 PM on February 16, 2003


makes me wonder whether such useful idiots as Midas haven't got microchip implants courtesy of Karl Rove

Ah yes ... when it is those that support your position, they are all obviously profound, deeply feeling, intelligent individuals who completely independently reached conclusions identical to your own, which happens to be the only correct or reasonable opinion it is possible to hold. While anyone that holds an opposing opinion is naturally an unethical, evil person marching in lockstep with Bush, and only capable of preprogrammed responses.

I just want to mention that, as of this thread, I have become able to tell what posts are written by MidasMulligan and Dhartung before I even read the names.

My goodness, many thanks for taking a moment out from discussing ideas to indulge in a thinly veiled, petty personal attack. It's been nearly two or three weeks since I've been honored with one. I'm certain the entire MeFi community finds itself quite edified and enriched by such discourse.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2003


france no good foundmagazine.com
posted by specialk420 at 4:38 PM on February 16, 2003


(mmm... strange edified and enriched feeling deep inside... mmm...)
posted by klaatu at 5:28 PM on February 16, 2003


ednopantz -- it's not just a matter of personal experience; these things tend to seep into the culture, into the collective unconscious (in the non-mystical sense). I've talked to Europeans my own age online, and the attitudes conveyed to them everywhere (government class, for example) are pretty different. Thinking about it as memes is probably useful -- cultures tend to propagate themselves forward, generation after generation.

(And England may not have been occupied, but it was bombed.)
posted by Tlogmer at 7:11 PM on February 16, 2003


Ah yes ... when it is those that support your position, they are all obviously profound, deeply feeling, intelligent individuals who completely independently reached conclusions identical to your own.

Anyone who was at the march can attest, the opinions of demonstrators have HARDLY reached identical conclusions. The only thing the marchers agree on is "no preemptive war." There were socialists there, democrats, greens, republicans, libertarians. Workers, doctors, lawyers, old people, young people, black people, white people. The Palestinian flag was held high by some. The Israeli flag by others. And it didn't come to fisticuffs.

The key to the success of these protests is not a lockstep mentality. It's a simple idea: War is not the way we will remove this scumbag from power. Read your Oliver Wendell Holmes: A plurality makes better policy, because the few things that CAN be agreed on, tend to stick. Or read your biology textbook: Genetic diversity leads to a more robust, disease resistant species. Same goes for memes, I'll bet. American media has faded back into a fifties style consensual monoculture. The madness of this pending war is the memetic equivalent of a potato famine.
posted by condour75 at 7:20 PM on February 16, 2003


I don't need to add much to the above, apart from that the 'usual suspects' dismissal from, um, the usual suspects on the right, sounds petty, shallow and ignorant. Obviously, the newspaper features today on the diversity of the marchers are just liberal propaganda.

"Although yesterday's demonstration against war was speckled with professional peace activists, leftist doctrinaires and a kaleidoscopic array of malcontents advocating the end of capitalism, imperialism, sexism and taxation, a great many of those who converged on the East Side of Manhattan were the unaligned and the unaffiliated.... There were the die-hard pacifists who would never countenance a war, but there were also plenty of self-described realists who had decided that this was a wrong-headed conflict."

That those such as Midas can't (or, more likely won't admit to) distinguish the spreading dittoheadism of 'look, someone in costume - all these millions protesters can't be serious' from the composition of the actual protests just proves the point.

But as for my earlier, disputed, contention that Iraq may be equipping its troops with gas masks just to force US troops into uncomfortable NBC suits: hmm.
posted by riviera at 8:38 PM on February 16, 2003


In WWII the U.S. saved the French from evil. Now they are trying to do the same for us.
posted by Sr_Cluba at 8:50 PM on February 16, 2003


France, well I didn't expect much from them.

Germany though - I would have expected more since they basically owe their existence to us. Want to talk about invasions and "living memory"; how about some living memory of us keeping the Soviets from turning them into another ghetto?

In the end, the US has to answer to itself for our external policy decisions... it has always been clear we cannot count on the UN to make important changes and certainly the world as a whole will never rise up and fight for our national interests.

I am always amused by the "americans ignorant and bad, all europeans wise and intellectual" attitude that is so fashionable the last 20 years or so.
posted by soulhuntre at 1:29 AM on February 17, 2003


"americans ignorant and bad, all europeans wise and intellectual"

Me too. I hate clichés, but not facts. Put a 18 yrs old french student in an american school and he'll have a laugh.
posted by Sijeka at 8:13 AM on February 17, 2003


Germany though - I would have expected more since they basically owe their existence to us.

Germany has to agree with everything the US says as some kind of war debt? Fuck that.
posted by Summer at 8:40 AM on February 17, 2003


Has anyone else noticed a particular change in the links and posts to metafilter since the Blix announcement thing? That the anti-war thing has taken over from the pro-war thing?

Doesn't everything seem much better now?

I haven't felt this optimistic since...well, it's been a while.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:42 AM on February 17, 2003


Efforts to Build Support on Iraq Stymied by Two Years of International Resentment
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on February 17, 2003


Superb commentary by Andy Rooney last night on 60 Minutes slamming the French, although, perhaps intimating that he's against a war. He also mentioned that the French (or Normand?) government even refused to let Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan there.

My nausea for the feckless French grows daily. Ridding Iraq of their influence will be one of the joys of the upcoming war.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:09 PM on February 17, 2003


My nausea for the feckless Pakistanis and Saudis grows daily. As does my bewilderment at the lack of anger directed at them by the same people who are upset with the French and the Germans.
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on February 17, 2003


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