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February 21, 2005 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Words and images from the Belgian Front.
posted by pwedza (41 comments total)

 
I am by no means pro-war or pro-Bush. But, after posting a comment not gushing enthusiasm for the all of the protest pictures that was quickly erased, indymedia.be makes me wonder a bit.

I'm just left to think that, while our European friends may be boycotting US products, there is no shortage in the demand for a little good 'ol American masochism.

Having lived in Europe for quite a long time, I can't help but get the feeling that sometimes it goes a bit farther than Bush.
posted by pwedza at 1:30 PM on February 21, 2005


Cheap date.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:44 PM on February 21, 2005


I don't think Che means what they think he means.
posted by undule at 1:49 PM on February 21, 2005


Nice rendition of the American flag... I've got $5 riding on "Bush doesn't get it."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:55 PM on February 21, 2005


I think that it is a magnificent accomplishment and testament to our society that people have the right to free speech and can peacefully and creatively protest whatever and whomever they wish. Kudos!
posted by loquax at 1:55 PM on February 21, 2005


Nothing like street theater puppet shows to stop the war machine! I wonder, though. How were the street puppet shows while the Belgians soldiers were running like little bitches from Rwanda?
posted by tkchrist at 1:57 PM on February 21, 2005


Loquax, this right seems to suffer sometimes when your President is in town and the protesters are being held in a Free Speech Zone a few miles away. Googled

This and many other incidents where free speech is banned are a sad example of what your country stands for.
posted by nostrada at 2:04 PM on February 21, 2005


Well, tkchrist, they do seem genuinely concerned about the Congo. Albeit, a little late.
posted by pwedza at 2:05 PM on February 21, 2005


I assume the Che banners mean they would like Bush to follow his lead and set up concentration camps for the mentally ill, homosexuals and the HIV infected, like the ones he got started for Castro. Of course, in Che's government, protests like this would not be allowed and the leaders quickly given a bullet to the brain.

But of course the Patriot Act is much worse that that.
posted by acetonic at 2:07 PM on February 21, 2005


What's with all the children in those pics? I guess children at protests has been discussed before.
posted by tomplus2 at 2:07 PM on February 21, 2005


tkchrist,

tell me you are kidding. Why don't you listen to the NPR interview with Romeo Dallaire, a former Canadian general who was head of a U.N. peacekeeping force. Their mandate clearly stated what they can and can not do. And many nations sat on their behind when it came to getting the UN to kick into gear. The interview is very tough to listen to.
posted by nostrada at 2:09 PM on February 21, 2005


tkchrist - *** cough *** Somalia *** cough ***
posted by nostrada at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2005


a circus for mobs, as usual.
posted by ori at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2005


He's not my President, nostrada! I have no President. I have a Queen.
posted by loquax at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2005


I'm sorry, I don't mean to be baiting anyone here but what exactly are they protesting.? The war in Iraq is over. Say what you will about the US going in and removing Saddam; but that phase has finished. Protesting now and wish the US would leave is in no way a positive for Iraq or the Iraqi people. In this instance they are with the terrorists.
posted by CCK at 2:22 PM on February 21, 2005


I think that it is a magnificent accomplishment and testament to our society that people have the right to free speech and can peacefully and creatively protest whatever and whomever they wish. Kudos!

If only! Which society would this be?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:27 PM on February 21, 2005


Yeah. I'm aware of the Belgian soldiers TRIED to do. But what their military establishment and the Belgian people did afterwards was disgusting. They essentially blamed the victims and Dallaire and put their own soldiers under court martial to shut them up.

BTW - the dig ws more a comment on Belgian/European colonialism than anything. Lets not forget that Rwanda had been under Belgain occupation since 1916. We been in Iraq for what - two years?
posted by tkchrist at 2:37 PM on February 21, 2005


Somalia was not a US colony. And the US did not have occupation force there for over sixty years. We were truely aliented from that culture by orders of magnitude. The Belgians KNEW what was going down in Rwanda - hell they encouraged in times past.

And I don't recall thier ever being a single demonstration here in the US (and hardly any in Europe) decrying European occupation of Africa at the time.

Besides all that... yeah I see what you mean.
posted by tkchrist at 2:42 PM on February 21, 2005




I wonder what the American and British troops who liberated Brussels from the Nazis would think of this.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:53 PM on February 21, 2005


An excellent point, IndigoJones.
posted by loquax at 2:55 PM on February 21, 2005


CCK, correcting me if I'm wrong but, I don't think they are protesting the war on Iraq directly but rather the bellicose trend the U.S. seems to be perpetuating quite well as it now turns it's sights on Iran and North Korea. Watching CNN today I heard the phrase "regime change" used several times in the context of Iran. Is this not exactly what we saw several months before we started bombing Iraq? We do not want another war based on misinformation and business interests. This is but one of the many, many topics of concern that these people are protesting.
posted by RobertFrost at 3:03 PM on February 21, 2005


I am as liberal and as European you can get, but still... Demonstrations seem to demand so much polarization of all opinions that in the end even the best of opinions are rendered useless and silly.

The fact that there are always demonstrations wherever the "leader of the free world" travels is in itself far more interesting than the actual substance of the protests.
posted by hoskala at 3:04 PM on February 21, 2005


Justice Stevens definitely can't hold out until 2012, and we Republicans need to make sure Ohio has something to vote against in 2008 -- so, thanks Belgium, and keep it up!
posted by MattD at 3:13 PM on February 21, 2005


From the "words" link: "I am a peace activist (Rhetoricians for Peace)."

I actually don't think it's healthy for democracy when one side of the game is so dumb ... please, you all, it's not like Bill Clinton is dead -- why don't you check with the coach who actually has the winning playbook?
posted by MattD at 3:17 PM on February 21, 2005


hoskala - true. But then again protesting when a dictator visits your country doesn't do much good. Peaceful protests only really matter in, and to, democratic leaders.
posted by tkchrist at 3:18 PM on February 21, 2005


I wonder what the American and British troops who liberated Brussels from the Nazis would think of this.

Why don't you show up at a VFW meeting and ask them?
posted by euphorb at 3:25 PM on February 21, 2005


Robert,
I think you are right we are hearing regime change again mentioned, but I think this really is a scare tactic. If you watch the sunday shows ever single one of them in the last week has used the phrase "carrots and sticks" when examining the US-EU relationship. I think these are hollow threats to light a fire under the EU more than they are for Iran.
I also wondered about the Nazi star field on the flag. I wonder what the older generations of Belgians think of this. Notice how of all of the placards depicting American bombs, there weren't any for WW2 there.
posted by CCK at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2005


hoskala: and yet we would be screwed without demonstrations. A loud, polarized, overly confident statement of opinion shouted at people in power with whom you do not agree is necessary, especially when these people in power forget that we outnumber them. As an American living abroad and never, ever going back, I applaud the Belgians and anyone who protests Bush, fully aware nonetheless of the fact that protest can sometimes parody itself.
posted by sninky-chan at 4:09 PM on February 21, 2005


Can I just say no anti-war protest is complete without juggling!
posted by photoslob at 4:24 PM on February 21, 2005


I wonder what the American and British troops who liberated Brussels from the Nazis would think of this.

Well, they were told at the time that they were restoring liberty and democracy and helping to free the Belgians from occupation. Liberty implies free speech, so they ought to be happy that they did the job right.

Still, most of them were not asked if they wanted the job, they were drafted and fought where and for what their superiors directed, their feelings weren't of prime importance then (except as "morale"), so no reason to give them undue weight now.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:48 PM on February 21, 2005


Forget about their loathsome brutal occupation of the Congo and their crimes in Rwanda -- do you realize that the Belgians just may be responsible for a lot of World War II?

After their experience in the Great War, and the recent experiences of Denmark and Norway, Belgium still clung to a bloody-minded absolute neutrality.

Neutrality, fine. But don't be stupid about it. They could have held secret staff talks with the Allies. If they had, it is possible -- possible, I say -- that combined Franco-Belgian forces could have prevented the German breakthrough at Sedan.

No Sedan, quite possibly no French collapse. No French collapse in 1940, and WWII takes on a quite different aspect. No invasion of Russia, no Battle of Britain, no Italian intervention and so no African campaign, no Pearl Harbor, and no alignment of Rumania and the other eastern states to the Axis are all quite likely results.

The latter especially would have resulted in a much weaker Germany. Who knows what would have happened. Maybe a quicker victory with fewer casualties.

Instead, the Belgians acted as if France was exactly and precisely as great a threat to their sovereignty as Nazi Germany. There was no coöperation. When French units rushed into Belgium, some were resisted, for God's sake.

In addition, the Belgian Army then went on to surrender a couple days too early and without telling anyone, which tore open the Allied flank. The battle was lost by then anyway, but still, that's another reason why Belgium might want to consider a little humility.
posted by herostratus at 5:04 PM on February 21, 2005


pwedza: I am by no means pro-war or pro-Bush. But, after posting a comment not gushing enthusiasm for the all of the protest pictures that was quickly erased, indymedia.be makes me wonder a bit.

They are independent in the sense that they are not accountable to shareholders and other capitalistic institutions, but not independent in the sense that they are objective and they don't pretend to be. As you've noticed, they have a clear agenda they want to push forward.
Although this site seems a more of grassroots effort (never heard of this site before), most of the news media in Belgium are politically colored and don't always pretend to objective. With that in mind, one should always take the media here with a healthy dose of skepticism, know where they are coming from and really on more then one source if you want to know what's going on in Belgium.
US journalism on the other hand dictates that it always has to be objective and leave subjective comments to it's op/ed sections.
This is probably also one of the reasons the war was sold so easily in the US. At one point right after 9/11 the US press itself stopped being skeptical and everybody believed the press without question. As a Belgian, this was a very scary thing to witness: the world's most powerful democracy could actually be so easily manipulated. It's a relief to see that they have started to questions things again.

tkchrist : BTW - the dig ws more a comment on Belgian/European colonialism than anything. Lets not forget that Rwanda had been under Belgian occupation since 1916. We been in Iraq for what - two years?

Belgians colonial history isn't something to be proud of at all. We left a huge mess behind and even today, it's still a mess because we western countries are still more concerned about the natural resources that can be found under the ground then the people that live above it. We're still responsible.
If you still want to go ahead and tarnish your countries history, by all means, don't listen to our warnings.
posted by Timeless at 5:12 PM on February 21, 2005


The war in Iraq is over.

According to Bush, the war in Iraq = the war on terror. Are you saying that war on terror is over? Besides, you defeat your own argument by claiming that the war is over, but we must keep troops in Iraq to defend against the "terrorists. Contradiction is good ... tastes like chickenhawk.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2005


In addition, the Belgian Army then went on to surrender a couple days too early and without telling anyone, which tore open the Allied flank. The battle was lost by then anyway, but still, that's another reason why Belgium might want to consider a little humility.

People, for the love of God, get the fuck over World War II. They don't owe us anything, and we don't have the right to demand anything from them (humility). Saddam was a US friend, then he wasn't. Belgium fucked up, and then became a democracy of friends. Get with the now, and leave the meaningless and stupid grudges behind.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:20 PM on February 21, 2005


Neutrality, fine. But don't be stupid about it. They could have held secret staff talks with the Allies. If they had, it is possible -- possible, I say -- that combined Franco-Belgian forces could have prevented the German breakthrough at Sedan.

Stupid about it? You should read your history a bit more carefully. No sane country is ever going to sign for an alliance that says between the lines: "hey, if war breaks out, and it will, you get to be the designated battlefield."

Both the French and the Germans where gearing up their war machines at the time. Either Germany would attack France to gain back the land and resources it lost in the first war, or France would attack Germany if it felt they where growing to powerful. Belgium couldn't trust both of them but was stuck in the middle and unable to match them in an arms race.

Even if Belgium and France did make secret preparations, they would have made preparations for the wrong war which they both actually did, but each on their own. The French and the Belgians where expecting a long protracted war like the first one.

And with the French Maginot line following the Belgian border, an alliance with France would automatically have turned Belgium into a deadly battlefield if the Germans found themselves not able to get past the Maginot line.

The reality however turned out differently. Even though the Germans had a smaller army then the French, they where far more supperior and creative.

An example:
A bunker not far from here was considered undefeatable using the knowledge we had gained from the first world war. It was able to defend a very large area and hold any advancing German army back, probably indefinitely. Or so it was thought.
It took the Germans 30 minutes to knock it out using several soldiers flying in with gliders and hollow explosives.

Because the Germans found and easier route into France, we'll never know how long the maginot line would have held it out. But with the tactics and technology they used, probably not very long either.
posted by Timeless at 6:57 PM on February 21, 2005


Wulfgar!: "People, for the love of God, get the fuck over World War II."

It's not that easy. The past is the past; maybe some people draw the wrong conclusions from it, but if you disagree with someone's conclusions, you have to tell them why. Telling them to forget the past will blow up in your face, methinks.

posted by koeselitz at 7:02 PM on February 21, 2005


A bunker not far from here was considered undefeatable using the knowledge we had gained from the first world war. It was able to defend a very large area and hold any advancing German army back, probably indefinitely. Or so it was thought. It took the Germans 30 minutes to knock it out using several soldiers flying in with gliders and hollow explosives.

Just guessing: would that be Fort Eben-Emael?
posted by gimonca at 7:08 PM on February 21, 2005


koeselitz, what happened (the past) isn't the problem. The moral assessments of what happened as a guide to modern judgement and behavior is the problem. Judging Nazis as bad = sound judgement. Judging Germans bad because of the Nazis = poor judgement. Judging modern Belgian protestors by the behavior of the 1939/1940 government's behavior = fucking stupid. You are right though, I should have explained.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:20 PM on February 21, 2005


Reasons why street puppetry is the best form of political expression:

1 - It legitimizes being an attention whore. Who doesn't love a little attention?

2 - It guarantees that your organization will produce media coverage, even if it's not political debate.

3 - Anybody who disagrees with you is a republican corporate whore.

4 - Anybody who ignores you is a tool of the mainstream media and needs to have their eyes opened to the truth, man. And puppetry is clearly the way to make a nuanced political point.

5 - Anybody who agrees with you joins the circle-jerk! The more the merrier!
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:59 PM on February 21, 2005


Wulfgar: yes, it is
posted by Timeless at 2:41 AM on February 22, 2005


Belgians colonial history isn't something to be proud of at all. We left a huge mess behind and even today, it's still a mess because we western countries are still more concerned about the natural resources that can be found under the ground then the people that live above it. We're still responsible.
If you still want to go ahead and tarnish your countries history, by all means, don't listen to our warnings.


There were plenty of Americans trying to warn Duhbya of the consequences of invading Iraq. I'm one.

I guess what I want to see from our European brothers is less bitching and blind America bashing/hyperbole and more constructive and productive help in this regard. Like sending help to Iraq would be a start.

And it would be nice if somebody posted pictures of EU protestors demonstrating about EU foreign policy and war mongering for once.
posted by tkchrist at 11:54 AM on February 22, 2005


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