Desde Bernard Henry Levi hasta Carlos Fuentes, la guerra en Bagdad hace enfrentar a periodistas, escritores, académicos y opinólogos, en su gran mayoría políticos de la pluma, pero sin espada visible.
Parafraseando el célebre dicho de Borges: "un hombre que menciona a Shakespeare es Shakespeare", la guerra en el golfo pérsico y en la alta mesopotamia oriental enciende las intolerantes y precisas pasiones de los intelectuales y los precipita, a veces, en el oscuro y sintético abismo de la intolerancia culta.
Este eco de opiniones, que incluye a exegetas y a camaleones, ofrece un rico muestreo de las ideas en pugna que sacuden al área de los intelectuales cuyas mandíbulas pretenden no solo explicar sino ir un poco mas allá, simplemente devorar la realidad de la guerra para hacerla reductible a sus disquisiciones interpretativas.

LA GALAXIA GUTEMBERG AL ACECHO: ESCRITORES Y PERIODISTAS EN GUERRA.
 

El actor pacifista
Por
CÉSAR ALONSO DE LOS RÍOS

Miradlo bien. Pide el «no a la guerra» y lleva una camiseta de «Egunkaria». La paz y la guerra al mismo tiempo. Ésta como objetivo, aquélla como tapadera. Un desafío a la legalidad nacional por parte de alguien que reclama la legalidad internacional. Un rechazo público y provocador de la decisión de los tribunales en nombre de la libertad de expresión de los que asesinan. ¿Podríamos concebir una síntesis mejor del social-nacionalismo que se nos viene encima? Es un héroe de nuestro tiempo. El arquetipo de la izquierda en una fase que no por senil deberíamos considerar poco peligrosa.

Este actor que formó parte de la comisión cultural que desafió a Ruiz-Gallardón habría parecido un auténtico provocador no hace demasiado tiempo. Lo más probable es que sus compañeros no le habrían permitido llevar una camiseta pro-etarra a un acto oficial. Ahora es él quien le da tono a todos, quien marca la línea o ¿acaso no defienden a «Egunkaria» analistas respetables y los editorialistas de los medios de comunicación que vertebran el pensamiento de la izquierda? Si hay incluso políticos socialistas que critican la ilegalización de Batasuna a pesar de la Ley de Partidos, ¿no iba a poder llevar un actor, es decir, alguien más libre, más independiente, más bohemio, algún elemento simbólico de lo que es la larga-lucha-del-pueblo-vasco-por-su-liberación?

El retrato de este artista, para nada adolescente, refleja de forma fiel y plástica la convergencia de la izquierda y los nacionalismos etnicistas y culturales en una estrategia de ruptura en su doble vertiente: con el modelo de Estado y con el modelo de sociedad. El sentido de esta figura tan grotesca como reveladora es el que para la izquierda la consecución de sus fines -la vuelta al poder- pasa por la crítica radical al sistema democrático -mientras el gestor de éste siga siendo la derecha- y por los pactos con los independentistas allá donde sea posible. En las columnas de estos últimos días he venido refiriéndome a las pulsiones desestabilizadoras, violentas, totalitarias, a las que se está entregando la izquierda con la cobertura «moral» de la paz, pero ¿quién iba a decirnos que la realidad iba a ser tan generosa al regalarnos una imagen con tal fuerza sintética como es la de este colectivo de pacifistas de izquierdas en torno a una camiseta de «Egunkaria»?

El camino en el que se ha metido la izquierda no es nuevo. Como expliqué en «La izquierda y la nación», se trata de una política que se hunde en la noche de los años treinta, en la última etapa del antifranquismo, en la transición democrática y que reaparece ahora con toda su virulencia en la medida en que el PSOE la considera necesaria para volver al poder, e IU para salir de su postración. La guerra de Irak ha creado unas condiciones especialmente favorables para ello en la medida en que la radicalidad antisistema se reviste de pacifismo y solidaridad. ¿Cómo no repudiar el sistema -se viene a decir- cuando éste aparece en su formulación más detestable, más inhumana?

Por si las tesis que vengo manteniendo hubieran podido parecer desmesuradas o catastrofistas, la figura de este simpatizante de ETA que se embosca en la paz es la representación de un proyecto muy ambicioso desde el punto de vista de la desestabilización. Madrazo y Elorza no son excepciones. Son la regla. Representan pautas de comportamiento en Madrid, en la cúpula de los dos partidos de izquierda y tienen el apoyo de viejos democristianos. Con la guerra de Irak creen tener una mayor autoridad moral. La figura del actor que reclama la paz en el terror es deslumbrante. Hace daño a la imaginación.


The Weekly Standard
04/07/2003, Volume 008, Issue 29
The Dynamic Duo
by Fred Barnes

IN THE DAYS before the British Parliament voted on a resolution endorsing war with Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair was a nervous wreck. He feared losing so many Labor members that the opposition Conservatives would be in a pivotal position to save or embarrass him. The Bush administration rushed to his rescue. A campaign was mobilized to induce Conservatives to vote with Blair. A barrage of phone calls was made from Washington by administration officials, key Republicans, and anyone else Bush advisers could find who was close to Conservative members of Parliament. Blair won on a 412-to-149 vote and Conservative backing jumped from 129 to 152.

In the end, the aggressive support of the Bush administration was not crucial. Blair would have won without it. But the episode reveals the lengths to which Bush has gone to aid Blair, his brave and loyal ally against Iraq. In discussions at the White House, Bush is tireless in reminding his inner circle: "We have to do everything we can to help Tony Blair. We don't want his government to fall." Now Blair is asking for more help in two areas where Bush has strong reservations about making concessions--Israel and the Palestinians, and the role for the United Nations in postwar Iraq. A rupture between Bush and Blair isn't likely, but agreement won't be easy.

Bush and Blair formed a tight relationship early in the Bush presidency. This was surprising because Blair had been so close to President Clinton--personally, politically, and ideologically. Blair admired Clinton's intelligence and told associates Clinton had an amazing gift for instantly understanding any issue, even ones he hadn't dealt with. But Blair also found big talk by Clinton was often not followed by action. Bush was less scintillating but more reliable. With Bush, Blair was assured the special relationship between America and Great Britain was on firm and predictable ground.

One act by Blair solidified the friendship in the eyes of Bush and his top aides. On September 20, 2001,the day of Bush's speech to Congress and the nation after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Blair flew to Washington for dinner with Bush. During the speech, Blair sat in the House of Representatives balcony next to Laura Bush, then flew back to London after only a few hours in Washington. Bush was impressed and grateful. After the Taliban was crushed in Afghanistan, Blair was on board from the beginning on the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, administration officials say. Since the war began, Bush and Bush have talked daily. Last week they conferred for two days at Camp David.

Without Blair, the president would be in a dicey situation and far less able to recruit allies against Iraq. Blair's presence meant the war would never be unilateral. Blair, however, lacks the widespread support at home for ousting Saddam that Bush has in the United States. The left wing of Blair's Labor party is fervently antiwar, as are the Liberal Democrats. A slim majority of British public opinion didn't line up behind the war until the invasion started.

Bush feels indebted to Blair and he's shown it. The president began a press conference with Blair at Camp David with a remarkable tribute. "America has learned a lot about Tony Blair over the last days," Bush said. "We've learned that he's a man of his word. We've learned he's a man of courage, that he's a man of vision, and we're proud to have him as a friend." More important, Bush has acceded time after time to serious steps or gestures that Blair believed would aid him politically in Great Britain.

Blair credits himself with persuading the president to take the case against Saddam to the U.N. last fall. Secretary of State Powell gave Bush the same advice. In truth, both were pushing an open door. At the U.N., Blair urged Bush to seek a resolution, which Bush did. Then he got Bush to accept a narrow resolution that didn't incorporate early U.N. resolutions on human rights and other non-disarmament matters.

Blair, again partly for political relief at home, insisted on new arms inspections in Iraq--but not inspections that could be enforced "by any means necessary," the language favored by the president. Blair also asked Bush to go along with a second U.N. Security Council meeting earlier this year, which Bush thought was unnecessary but nonetheless agreed to. And the prime minister argued he needed a second U.N. resolution on Iraq to assuage his critics. This proved an embarrassment. The resolution failed despite intense lobbying by Bush and Blair.

That's quite a list of concessions by Bush and there's more. On March 14, Bush in Washington and Blair in London announced the imminent release of the so-called road map for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. It was drafted by the "quartet"--the United States, the U.N., the European Union, and Russia--and is to be made public once the new Palestinian prime minister, Abu-Mazin, is sworn in. For Blair, the announcement was intended to placate Labor left-wingers obsessed with the Palestinian cause and to establish Blair as a significant player in the Middle East. Bush has deep qualms about the road map. Among other things, it treats Palestinian terrorism and Israeli retaliation as morally equivalent. Blair used the occasion of the announcement to advocate "evenhandedness," a code word for pressuring Israel.

The final concession--for now, anyway--came at the Azores summit three days before the war began. The summit itself was as much Bush's idea as Blair's. But the notion of going back to the U.N. to recruit it to oversee postwar Iraq was Blair's. Bush agreed with enlisting the U.N., but not for the commanding role envisioned by Blair. The two discussed the issue at Camp David without reaching agreement. Afterwards Blair said the U.N. "has got to be closely involved in this process." But deliberations on this are "best done" privately.

Accommodating Blair may be impossible. For one thing, Blair has a higher opinion of the U.N. than Bush does. And he has more amicable relations with U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan. In London last week, Blair said the U.N. should be "centrally involved" in administering postwar Iraq. He said this would be "in the interests of the international community and the coalition forces." Of course it would also be in Blair's political interest. The Labor cabinet member for international development, Claire Short, threatened to resign over the war but didn't, raising suspicions Blair had bought her off by promising to push for a major U.N. role.

Bush is wary of the U.N. for good reasons. It doesn't make sense for an organization opposed to the war in Iraq to control the people and the country that the war liberated. Besides, an administration official says, the U.N. failed disastrously in its efforts to administer Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Cambodia. "The Iraqis don't need someone running the country for them," the official added. The U.S. initially wants the military to administer postwar Iraq along with a council of Iraqis. The U.N. would serve as an umbrella group through which countries could funnel humanitarian assistance. If Bush has his way, the U.N. would immediately turn over the oil-for-food program and the $12 billion it holds in escrow to the new Iraq governing body.

The president and Blair are even further apart on the Middle East. Their most visible difference is over Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Bush has called him a roadblock to peace and urged his ouster. Blair treats Arafat as a legitimate leader, phoning him when release of the road map was announced and once more since then. "I know Arafat," says former U.S. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross. "He will see this and use it and say, 'I'm the address for the world' to reach the Palestinians." Last January, Blair set up a London conference on Palestinian reform and asked Arafat to send a delegation. Arafat tried, but Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon barred the Palestinians from leaving.

On the road map itself, Bush and Blair are at odds. Blair wants the document to be released and implemented. Bush sees it as a pretext for reviving talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The document, according to Bush, should be open to revision with fresh ideas from both sides. Administration officials are also skeptical about the quartet's willingness to hold the Palestinians accountable--for stopping suicide attacks on Israel, for instance. After all, the U.N., E.U., and the Russians have been unwilling to impose accountability on Saddam.

As chummy as Bush and Blair are, prospects for agreement on the U.N. and Middle East are poor. Bush feels beholden to Blair, but gratitude has its limits. Until now, Blair has faithfully followed the advice of Winston Churchill that the British government should "never get separated from the Americans." But his closeness to Bush has led to sneering accusations that he's become Bush's "poodle." For Blair, once the war in Iraq is won, a little separation from the Americans may be what politics at home requires. Regardless, the special relationship will survive.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard
The Washington Times - April 2, 2003


Ties of faith and freedom

Tom DeLay

Today in Washington, several hundred Christian pastors and activists will gather in support of Israel. They will not be marching in the streets, blocking traffic and assaulting law-enforcement officers at taxpayer expense. Instead, they are gathering to hear from national leaders who understand that faith binds their hearts with the nation of Israel. These people of faith have traveled long distances to be here in our nation's capital for today's Stand for Israel Washington Briefing and Banquet. They share the conviction that, at this crucial moment in history, Israel is our indispensable ally and brother in democracy, religious freedom and human rights. And they have come to Washington to learn how to demonstrate their support for America and for Israel in a peaceful and meaningful way. These are America's true advocates for peace.
Many question the sincerity of Christian conviction toward Israel. Those who blame political strife on religious differences are echoing the rhetoric of our enemy. Saddam Hussein would like the world to believe that the "American-Zionist criminal alliance" is the source of strife in the Middle East. He would like to redirect American attention away from the evil he condones and practices in the Arab states, and instead have us focus on his rhetoric of intolerance. He teaches hate and religious prejudice to his citizens, which in turn separates us from the Iraqi people. But, what he fails to realize is that Americans believe strongly in the right to religious freedom, exhibiting that belief by bridging religious divides to come together with people of different faiths to support the promotion of democracy in Israel, and one day soon in Iraq.
This Christian support for Israel is not a recent phenomenon, yet it is surprising to many in our country who hold the belief that Israel is a Jewish cause. A recent Tarrance Group poll commissioned by Stand for Israel found that most American Christians support Israel because the two countries share common values and enjoy friendly relations. This basis of support transcends religious doctrine and points to why supporting Israel is inherent in supporting America.
The defense of Israel is a cause that cries for support from freedom-loving people everywhere. All free nations must understand that Israel's fight is their fight. It is our responsibility to uphold and defend the principles of social equality in the sole democracy in the Middle East. Now, more than ever, as the United States fights for the liberation of the Iraqi people from the crushing hand of a harsh dictator, we must stand with the nations that uphold our same principles and values.
It is for this reason that Christian leaders will converge on Washington, just days after the annual AIPAC conference, in a show of solidarity with their Israeli brothers and sisters. Stand for Israel wants to show the world, but more importantly, the people of Israel, that American Christians and other people of faith recognize the importance of the bonds that unite them and that they will defend Israel and the spread of democracy.
It will be a great honor to accept the inaugural "Friend of Israel" award from Stand for Israel, a group that represents the growing number of Christians who support this cause, at their annual banquet this evening. It will be an honor to share the company of such dedicated leaders in the righteous struggle for Israel.
On this historic day, I commend the American Christians who will gather in our nation's capital to support the sole nation upholding the principles of democracy a world away. I am proud to be counted among those who stand for Israel.
Tom DeLay is the majority leader of the House of Representatives.
National Review Online - April 2003


Sniping: War Critics Divorce War from Politics

by Mackubin T. Owens

In Tuesday’s Providence Journal (April), Yale historian Paul Kennedy relates the contents of an e-mail he received from another historian, William Hitchcock. "Five days into the Normandy landings, U.S. troops were not even off the beaches. In Korea, the U.S. forces were almost wiped out around Pusan before the successful invasion of Inchon a few months later. In 1999, it took the Clinton administration 78 days of bombing to get the Serbs to agree to withdraw from Kosovo." He might have added that the first Gulf War lasted for some six weeks.

Those with any sense of history at all can only wonder at the negativism that has erupted after less than two weeks of fighting in Iraq, despite unprecedented gains by Coalition forces. Article after article have talked of an operational pause, that the coalition supply line has been interdicted by Iraqi irregulars, that the Iraqis have not welcomed the Coalition forces as liberators, and that planners have gone back to the drawing board to come up with a new strategy.

Much of what’s out there is nonsense. For my money, the award for the most defeatist articles goes to paleo-con Bill Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, who in a commentary dated March 26 offers this worst-case scenario:

…our current advance on Baghdad proves to be a trap. We get there, our 350-mile single supply line is cut, and the 3rd Infantry Division, which is the spearhead, is forced into a desperate retreat or even surrender. Could it happen? Yes. As the Iraqi leadership seems to understand, a modern defense does not try to keep the enemy out. Rather, it seeks to suck him in, then cut him off. This type of defense was first developed by the German army during World War I …and it was the standard German defense during World War II. The key element, the counterattack by armored forces, will probably be impossible for the Iraqis because of air power. But there are other ways to cut a supply line.

Fortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that such defeatism is influencing support for the war. More troubling however are reports stressing differences between civilian leaders and the uniformed military over the planning and conduct of the war. The most inflammatory example of this kind of writing is "Offense and Defense: The Battle Between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon" by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker this week. "As the ground campaign against Saddam Hussein faltered last week," wrote Hersh, "with attenuated supply lines and a lack of immediate reinforcements, there was anger in the Pentagon. Several senior war planners complained to me in interviews that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his inner circle of civilian advisers, who had been chiefly responsible for persuading President Bush to lead the country into war, had insisted on micromanaging the war’s operational details."

In many respects, this is old news. Reports of dissension among civilians and soldiers regarding a possible war with Iraq go back almost a year. For instance, on August 14, 2002 in an article entitled "With Eyes Wide Open", I attempted to lay out the fissures in the Pentagon, and I was by no means alone. But Hersh specializes in recycling old stories, spicing them up with harsh criticisms from "anonymous sources." A case in point was his New Yorker story of May 22, 2000, claiming that then-Major General Barry McCaffrey unleashed his 24th Infantry Division in an unnecessary attack that mercilessly pummeled retreating Iraqi soldiers two days after the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991. Even though the U.S. Army had investigated the charges against Gen. McCaffrey years earlier, Hersh’s story created the usual furor.

The first thing to realize when considering Hersh’s story is that disagreements between civilians and soldiers about the conduct of a war are not uncommon in American history. Abraham Lincoln constantly prodded George McClelland to take the offensive in Virginia in 1862. McClelland just as constantly whined about insufficient forces. Despite the image of civil-military comity during World War II, there were many differences between Franklin Roosevelt and his military advisers. One of the most contentious issues was the timing of the cross-channel invasion. Certainly one of the best-known episodes in the history of American civil-military relations was the relief of General Douglas MacArthur by President Harry Truman during the Korean War.

It is also important to understand that when civilians and soldiers disagree about the conduct of the war, the former are often proved right by events. History has vindicated Lincoln and Roosevelt. It has also vindicated the civilian leaders during the first Gulf War.

In late 1990 and early 1991, the civilian leadership rejected the early war plan presented by Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf at Central Command and ordered a return to the drawing board. CENTCOM’s first plan called for a frontal assault to penetrate Iraqi positions in southern Kuwait and a drive toward Kuwait City. The problem was that this plan was unlikely to achieve the foremost military objective of the ground war: the destruction of the three divisions of Saddam’s Republican Guard.

The revised plan was far more imaginative. It called for the Marines and other Allied forces to "fix" the Iraqi forces south of Kuwait City while the VII and XVIII Airborne Corps executed a Kesselschlacht, a strategic envelopment from the west toward Basra — dubbed "the left hook" by the media. The purpose of this maneuver was to trap the main Iraqi forces, especially the Republican Guard, before they could escape across the Euphrates.

The plan had some problems in execution (the best account of this war is The Generals War by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor), but probably would have trapped the Republican Guard anyway had not the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell, advised the president to end the war before this objective was achieved (for this story, see my essay "The Real Gulf War Blunder" in The Weekly Standard of June 5, 2000).

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, NRO contributor Jed Babbin was asked about the anonymous sniping at the war plan. Paraphrasing Claude Raines in Casablanca, he observed that we should be no more shocked by politics in the Pentagon than by gambling at Rick’s. For the services, the political stakes are high because they will go far in determining the future allocation of resources for defense.

Accordingly, many Army officers believe that Secretary Rumsfeld wants to gut ground forces because he favors air power and "information warfare" — thus the charge that he constantly overruled planners who wanted a larger ground component for the war because he believed that air power could do the job. They contend that the failure of the Iraqi regime to crack after the campaign of "shock and awe" illustrates the shortcomings of air power.

Air-power advocates reply that the air plan was too constrained, that for political reasons, planners placed too many targets off limit for air power to really have the promised impact. "In the weeks leading up to the campaign," writes William Arkin in the Los Angeles Times, "Air Force planners say [that] hundreds of targets were rejected for fear of civilian casualties." The outcome was "a strategy likely to fail."

The problem with both of these positions is that they treat war as somehow independent of politics. But war is a means to political goals, not an end in itself. Politics necessarily will always limit military courses of action.

Would Gen. Franks have preferred to have another heavy division or two before the war began? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Would air planners have preferred an expanded target list? Again, yes. But given the political realities faced by the president, the timing of the war limited the forces available. Did this increase the risks? It probably increased some, but it also reduced others.

The snipers are essentially arguing that "if" decision-makers had listened to them, the coalition would be doing better than it is. But I am reminded what an old Marine once told me: "If a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass when it jumped."

*Mackubin Thomas Owens is professor of strategy and force planning at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, and an adjunct fellow of the Ashbrook Center. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of the War College, Navy Department, or Department of Defense.

Revuepolitique.com - Saturday, March 29, 2003


Un lâche consensus

Brice Couturier - maître de conférence associé à l’Université de Marne la Vallée, producteur de l’émission ‘Cause Commune’ sur France Culture.

On s’en voudrait beaucoup de faire entendre une voix discordante dans un de ces trop rares moments d’union sacrée qu’a pu connaître notre beau et grand pays. Oui, savourons comme il convient l’une de ces époques bénies où, des trotskistes au Front National, toutes les forces vives de la France communient dans une même détestation de l’Amérique et de son allié « sioniste », où des néo-gaullistes aux socialistes, l’on n’entend plus qu’une seule voix, celle des appels à la paix envers le régime national-socialiste de Saddam Hussein.

Excellente illustration de cette unanimité retrouvée, le chœur des média nationaux, qui rivalisent à qui relaiera le mieux la pensée présidentielle - selon laquelle l’intérêt pétrolier de la France commande que rien ne bouge au Moyen-Orient et que ses tyrans puissent continuer en paix à y massacrer et à y affamer leurs populations.

Lecteur du grand essayiste russe Alexandre Herzen, je n’ignore pas son fameux avertissement : « Les Français se font une idole de tout, et malheur à celui qui ne plie pas le genou devant l’idole du jour. » Qu’on veuille bien cependant laisser se faire entendre une voix discordante, celle de quelqu’un qui a eu le bonheur de vivre plusieurs années en Europe centrale, ce qui est mon cas.

Dans cette région du monde, hélas, le souvenir qu’a laissé notre pays n’est pas exactement celui des « soldats de l’an II », risquant leurs vies pour la liberté de l’Europe en affrontant les armées des princes. A Prague, on n’a pas oublié comment la Tchécoslovaquie fut sacrifiée par les alliés français aux appétits territoriaux du « chancelier Hitler », dans le vain espoir de « sauver la paix ». A Varsovie, le souvenir est encore cuisant de cette « campagne de septembre 1939 », où la Pologne se battit seule, tandis que la puissante armée française attendait, l’arme aux pieds derrière sa ligne Maginot, que la fureur nazie s’épuise et nous épargne, nous. Plus récemment, la France offrit un nouvel exemple de son peu d’empressement à défendre la liberté des peuples frères, lors du coup d’Etat du général Jaruzelski, avec la trop célèbre réaction du ministre des Affaires Etrangères de l’époque : « bien entendu, nous n’allons rien faire ». Cela est connu. Ce qui l’est moins, c’est la manière dont sont jugées, à Zagreb, la lâcheté et l’aveuglement français. On s’y souvient avec amertume de la distraction de la France lorsque Vukovar fut détruite par les armées de Milosevic. Et de notre diplomatie, conseillant aux Croates de renoncer à leurs appétits « tribaux » pour se résigner à une Yougoslavie pan-serbe. En Bosnie, on n’a pas oublié non plus le martyre de Sarajevo, attendant trois ans, sous les tirs des snipers de Karadzic, interlocuteur régulier du Quai d’Orsay, que la « patrie de la liberté » daigne enfin réaliser qu’il s’agissait de l’agression armée d’une population civile musulmane désarmée (par nos soins, pour cause d’embargo) par des milices serbes ensauvagées. Et non pas de « deux peuples qui veulent se faire la guerre, qu’y pouvons-nous ? », - comme l’a dit un ministre français, à l’époque. Au Kosovo, ce ne sont pas non plus les Français qui ont fait lâcher prise à Milosevic, mais bien les bombardiers américains. Même si dans ce cas précis, l’arrivée de Jacques Chirac à l’Elysée en 1995 s’est traduite par un tournant positif dans l’attitude française.

Dans tous ces pays, on sait dorénavant qu’en cas d’agression, mieux vaut ne pas confier sa défense à Paris, allié plus qu’incertain, mais au seul pays qui compte, les Etats-Unis d’Amérique. On n’y oublie pas non plus que, contre toute attente, il a été plus facile d’obtenir l’accès à l’OTAN, alliance militaire, dont Washington tient la porte, qu’à l’Union Européenne, où la France n’avait nulle envie de partager le pactole des subventions agricoles avec des cousins pauvres, des Orientaux, des espèces de Tziganes, des presque Nègres.

Et lorsqu’on assiste, cette semaine, au spectacle ahurissant offert par un gouvernement français tout entier mobilisé pour aller donner la fessée aux garnements polonais, tchèques, slovaques, hongrois, baltes, roumains et bulgares, coupables de « sentiments anti-européens » pour avoir osé préféré l’axe Londres-Madrid-Rome-Lisbonne-Copenhague aux seuls qui devraient compter en Europe, à savoir Paris-Berlin-Bruxelles, on devine que la réputation d’arrogance qui s’attache à la France, en sortira confortée. Plus que jamais, on y méditera cette sentence de l’un des plus lucides des Français de notre Age, Alain Finkielkraut, « la France a une manière inimitable de s’incliner devant la force, tout en se réclamant de la justice. » D’autant que tout ceci survient à l’heure où Paris se vante d’accueillir le dictateur zimbabwéen Robert Mugabe, en contradiction avec une résolution de l’Union Européenne, qui a déclaré ce personnage « interdit de déplacement ». Mais combien de téléspectateurs et de lecteurs de journaux français ont été tenus informés de la manière dont ce dictateur ami a fait donné le bâton aux avocats et militants des droits de l’homme africains qui ont tenté, la semaine dernière, de pénétrer dans la salle du « tribunal » où est jugé – pour « complot visant à assassiner le président », dans la pure tradition stalinienne - le chef de l’opposition zimbabwéenne.

On m’opposera que j’ai contre moi 86 % de mes compatriotes. Il y en avait autant pour estimer que les Accords de Munich avec Adolf Hitler signifiaient la paix pour la France en 1938. La lâcheté collective est faite de l’addition de nos renoncements individuels.

LE MONDE - 02.04.03


Les Etats-Unis d'Amnésie, par Carlos Fuentes

Sans la France, les Etats-Unis n'existeraient pas. La sage fermeté de la France, peut ouvrir la perspective d'un ordre mondial fondé sur le droit. Les Etats-Unis semblent vouloir l'ignorer.

La ridicule francophobie développée par les patriotards nord-américains les plus enflammés prouve surtout que la superpuissance mériterait parfois d'être appelée "les Etats-Unis d'Amnésie".
Car on peut l'affirmer : sans la France, les Etats-Unis n'existeraient pas.
Sans le soutien de la monarchie française, il est probable que Washington et ses hommes n'auraient pas gagné la guerre de l'Indépendance. Il est certain, en tout cas, qu'ils l'ont gagnée grâce au puissant soutien que la France leur a apporté. En 1776, Benjamin Franklin s'est présenté en qualité d'ambassadeur de la révolution à la cour de France (en se faisant remarquer par la simplicité républicaine de sa mise et la rapidité, le brio de son intelligence). Cette même année, Louis XVI a autorisé la livraison gratuite de munitions pour une valeur de 1 million de livres aux armées de George Washington.

L'aide française a sauvé Washington au cours du cruel hiver de 1777 : les forces révolutionnaires, assiégées dans Morristown et affaiblies par les désertions, ont été sauvées par l'aide de la France.

En 1778, était signé le traité d'amitié et de commerce entre la France et la colonie rebelle d'Amérique du Nord. Il comprenait une clause de la nation la plus favorisée et obligeait la France à garantir l'indépendance des Etats-Unis d'Amérique. Conséquence logique de ce traité ratifié en février, la guerre éclata entre l'Angleterre et la France en juin.

De nombreux officiers français de haut rang intervinrent directement pour soutenir Washington et ses rebelles.

Une première flotte française, commandée par Charles Hector d'Estaing (un nom que devait illustrer plus tard le président Valéry Giscard d'Estaing), fut envoyée pour bloquer les Anglais dans le port de New York en 1778.

Le marquis de La Fayette, se finançant littéralement "sur ses pistoles personnelles", rejoignit les forces révolutionnaires et fut nommé en 1777 (comme près de deux siècles plus tard, à Cuba, l'Argentin Ernesto "Che" Guevara) au commandement de la révolution. Dès 1776, il avait convaincu Louis XVI d'envoyer un corps expéditionnaire de 6 000 hommes combattre aux côtés de Washington.

La fin de la guerre de l'Indépendance des Etats-Unis n'aurait pas été concevable sans l'intervention décisive des armes françaises. En 1780, la flotte française de l'amiral de Grasse bloqua l'armée anglaise en Virginie en lui ôtant toute possibilité de fuite par la mer. Dans le même temps, toujours en Virginie, le comte de Rochambeau et ses forces faisaient front au général anglais Cornwallis. Le siège mené par la flotte française et le soutien militaire apporté à l'armée révolutionnaire de George Washington scellèrent le destin de l'Angleterre dans ses treize colonies. Cornwallis dut capituler en octobre 1780, l'indépendance des Etats-Unis était ainsi définitivement acquise.

Le général John Pershing, commandant en chef du corps expéditionnaire américain de la première guerre mondiale, s'empressa d'aller s'incliner devant la tombe du héros français de la révolution américaine en prononçant ces mots : "La Fayette, nous voici !"

Mais le général Pershing avait un sens de l'honneur militaire et de la reconnaissance nationale dont manque totalement le colérique et sanguinaire secrétaire à la défense du gouvernement Bush, Donald Rumsfeld. Que ce soit Rumsfeld qui, le premier, a scellé l'alliance des Etats-Unis avec Saddam Hussein en 1983, en lui fournissant les armes de destruction massive qui, aujourd'hui, donnent des cauchemars au Dracula du Pentagone, est une preuve parmi d'autres d'une double vérité. Les Etats-Unis sont le Dr Frankenstein du monde moderne, experts à créer leurs propres monstres qui, ensuite, se retournent contre leurs créateurs.

Saddam en Irak, Ben Laden en Afghanistan sont les enfants de la politique étrangère obtuse, mercenaire et contradictoire d'une nation qui sait être pourtant, quand elle le veut, à la fois clairvoyante et pragmatique. Imaginons ce que serait aujourd'hui le monde si Bill Clinton était toujours à la Maison Blanche ou si Al Gore avait gagné la dernière élection présidentielle (comme il les a gagnées, en réalité, par le vote populaire).

Bill Clinton a rempli ses inévitables obligations de chef de la superpuissance avec une discrétion, une capacité de négociation et d'incitation à des alliances complètement étrangères aux bruyantes manifestations de manichéisme ("Avec nous ou contre nous", "l'axe du Mal") de l'évangéliste bardé de pistolets qui lui a succédé à la Maison Blanche. Clinton et Gore, j'en suis convaincu, auraient concentré les efforts de leur nation, après le 11 septembre 2001, sur le combat contre le terrorisme, un ennemi qui n'est pas conventionnel et ne peut donc être combattu conventionnellement, au lieu de détourner ses forces sur la guerre contre l'Irak, en sacrifiant la solidarité mondiale.

Bush et Cie, par leurs actions atrabilaires et destructrices de l'ordre international, vont transformer le monde en une pépinière de terroristes. Ben Laden a aujourd'hui, grâce à l'aveuglement de l'actuel gouvernement des Etats-Unis, une armée de terroristes potentiels qui – ô ironie ! – n'auront plus à se soucier de la répression antifondamentaliste de Saddam Hussein.

Mais, de toute évidence, il y a encore plus grave : c'est la consécration par la Maison Blanche du principe de la guerre préventive. Si la guerre froide n'est pas devenue chaude, c'est parce qu'ont prévalu la dissuasion et la contention. Ces principes étant remplacés par l'usage discrétionnaire de la force, toute nation opposée à une autre peut désormais se sentir autorisée a asséner le premier coup. L'exemple le plus fort, dans le passé, est l'attaque de Pearl Harbor par le Japon, le 7 décembre 1941. "Un jour qui restera dans les annales de l'infamie", a dit alors le plus grand président américain du XXe siècle, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

L'attaque contre l'Irak restera-t-elle comme un autre "jour infâme ?" Je n'en sais rien. Mais, infâme ou non, il est et restera un jour dangereux. Si la communauté internationale ne conjugue pas ses efforts pour créer un ordre juridique et politique vigoureux pour le XXIe siècle, nous irons cahin-caha de crise en crise vers un abîme qui, lui, a un nom : l'apocalypse nucléaire.

C'est pour cette raison que la sage fermeté de la France, de son président Jacques Chirac et de son ministre des affaires étrangères Dominique de Villepin, n'est pas seulement une chance pour le monde. Elle l'est aussi pour les Etats-Unis d'Amérique eux-mêmes, en ouvrant la perspective d'un ordre mondial fondé sur le droit.

Sans mémoire et sans cervelle, ignorant, l'actuel gouvernement américain ne comprend pas ces raisons. Les ultras du Nord croient qu'ils offensent la France – ridiculement – en changeant le nom des pommes de terre "frites" – french fries– en pommes de terre "libres" – freedom fries. Ils cesseront peut-être de boire de l'eau d'Evian pendant un certain temps et du champagne pendant moins longtemps.

Mais, de l'entrée de la baie de New York où elle se dresse, la statue de la Liberté – don de la France aux Etats-Unis – rappelle aux Américains que, s'ils croient avoir sauvé la France dans deux guerres mondiales, la France n'a pas seulement sauvé, mais aidé de façon décisive à créer les Etats-Unis d'Amérique.

Carlos Fuentes est écrivain.Traduit de l'espagnol (Mexique) par François Maspero. © 2003, Global Viewpoint. Distribué par Tribune Media services international, section de Tribune Media services. (Fue embajador de México en Francia (1972-1978) cargo al que renuncia en el momento en el que Gustavo Díaz Ordaz es nombrado embajador de México en España. El Ex-Presidente era el "asesino" del movimiento estudiantil del 68 en Tlatelolco.)

National Review Online - April 2, 2003

The Axis of Losers
By Kevin A. Hassett

On March 14 German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder delivered a much-anticipated speech outlining his latest plan to rescue the German economy from the doldrums. The speech was an impassioned appeal to continue to defend German workers against the evils of capitalism.

"Our country has not," Schroeder said, "become economically strong through the law of the jungle, through indiscriminate hiring and firing." Indeed, to Schroeder’s eye, there is hardly anything worth cutting, right down to the generous dental benefits. "I do not want to return to an era when you can judge someone’s wealth by the state of their teeth," he observed.

It is wholly appropriate that such a speech could be delivered at the height of the tension between Germany and the United States, for the content of the speech explains better than anything the surprising intensity of the opposition to the U.S. from "Old Europe." President Chirac, after all, has paraded around the world actively recruiting opponents. His smug and malicious actions could hardly be more brazen if he were militarily allied with Iraq.

So the question naturally arises, why do they act as if they hate us? Schroeder’s speech provides a glimpse at the answer. Indeed, an analysis of the economic philosophies of these nations suggests that something more deeply rooted in the struggle between left and right is at the core of this conflict.

Europe is undoubtedly currently divided. Some countries--the U.K. and Spain come to mind--support the U.S. while France, Germany, and Belgium do not. What do those who oppose the U.S. have most in common? That question might arouse hours of debate amongst political scientists, but not economists. There is a striking and significant difference between countries that support us and those that do not. The countries that do not support us have terrible economies, and have had terrible economies for a long time. Weasels they may be, but "axis of losers" may be a more precise moniker.

The facts are striking. For the last decade for which there is complete data, the average annual growth rate of real GDP of the western European countries that support us is about 3%. The average annual growth rate of those that do not is just 1.9%. For 2002, the average unemployment rate of those countries that support us is 6.1%. The average for those opposed is a lofty 8.1%.

What explains the large differences? Two factors stand out. First, our opponents have enormous governments that on average consume 46.4% of GDP. Our supporters have governments that are on average 15% smaller. Second, our opponents have highly regulated economies and governments that are close to large and extremely influential labor unions. In Schroeder’s Germany, for example, an unemployed worker can probably sue if he is fired, and receives unemployment benefits for 32 months after that. No wonder the unemployment rate is above 11%.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the economic stagnation of the axis of losers is that it could endure for so long and not create political turmoil. This has been accomplished by repeated descriptions of the terrible fate awaiting the unjust capitalist states. As clearly evidenced by Schroeder’s speech, Old Europe embraced the view of capitalism formulated by Italian marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci viewed liberal democracy and capitalism as an edifice designed to benefit the privileged at the expense of the oppressed. The privileged control the oppressed by indoctrination into a belief system that reinforces the oppression. A key first step to social justice is the destruction of the capitalist belief system, to fight the view that capitalism, as practiced by the Americans, can ever lead to just outcomes.

When asked to abandon their welfare state, Old Europeans have declined, stating that it is immoral to expose poor workers, as the Americans do, to the law of the jungle. Sure the cowboy capitalists have higher economic growth, but their society is so unjust that it will inevitably become unstable. The oppressed will rise up against the capitalist Americans much as the French peasants rose up against the oppressive royalty.

Our conflict with al Qaeda and Iraq, then, is our own fault. If we had been more concerned with social justice, and less concerned with the spread of global capitalism, then the poor aggrieved terrorists would not have attacked us.

Desperate measures are for desperate people. The view that socialism helps the poor has been defeated by the data. A recent Columbia University study by economist Xavier Xala-I-Martin, for example, identified the spread of capitalism as the key force reducing poverty around the world. Such well-documented views have spread to the voters as well, even in Old Europe. Schroeder’s popularity, judging from the polls, is approaching the Jeffrey Dahmer level. But the Gramsciites have one last play. If capitalism eventually will lead to unrest, then perhaps turmoil in the Middle East can prove them correct. Having lost the economic battle of ideas, European socialists have turned into rabble-rousers, even selling illegal arms to Iraq, as was recently reported by William Safire of the New York Times.

Terrorism and chaos is the only thing between their failed philosophy and the dustbin of history. Chirac and Schroeder are doing their best to defend their faith.
*Kevin A. Hassett is a resident scholar at AEI. The Washington Times - April 3, 2003


Stop appeasing Russia

Svante E. Cornell

Evidence that Russia has sold advanced weapons to Iraq in recent months is a serious accusation against a putative ally of America. But, it should come as no surprise. While posing as a key ally ever since September 11, Vladimir Putin's Russia has covertly, but systematically, counteracted American national interests in the Middle East, as well as in Central and Northeast Asia. The Bush administration has been aware of Russia's actions, but downplayed rather than confronting them to keep relations at a good level. It is now time to re-evaluate Russia's role in American foreign policy and to end a potentially counterproductive policy of appeasement.
The recent news is indeed perplexing. Russian companies have been selling Iraq advanced high-tech military equipment, including night goggles and GPS jamming equipment. Iraq's use of the equipment hampers U.S. superiority on the ground, and hence puts American lives at risk.
The Russian government was informed in June 2002, but did nothing. For months, its government even claimed the company selling the jamming technology did not exist, though U.S. officials, among other evidence, presented printouts of its official Web page. Russia now alternatively denies the entire affair or claims the deal went through third countries.
That the affair involves private companies should not be taken as an excuse. Military industries in Russia are closely tied to the state, and it is inconceivable that such high-level equipment would be exported without government permission or supervision. Likewise, the use of front companies in third countries is an age-old way of avoiding export controls and sanctions.
Russian companies and the government hardly thought a country like Yemen would buy this advanced equipment: everyone knew perfectly well where the materiel was headed. Why else would Russian specialists be in Iraq training Saddam's troops to use the weaponry?
More serious is that this is only the latest and most incriminating in a long series of Russian actions that run counter to American interests. Russia is also one of the few governments in the world that keeps active and rosy relations with North Korea, providing a certain sense of international legitimacy to the rogue regime of Kim Jong-Il. Russia has been continuing to arm North Korea in spite of the country's steps toward going nuclear and its standoff with Washington, and the Russian foreign minister said there were no plans to cut back on arms sales as late as this January.
As if this were not enough, Russia has, practically speaking, supplied Iran with technology to produce nuclear weapons. Besides agreeing in 1995 to build the controversial Bushehr nuclear reactor and supply Iran with low-enriched uranium, Russia has been involved in the recently discovered Iranian nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak, which experts agree are part of a nuclear weapons program. Moreover, the Bush administration suspects Russia has sold Iran uranium enrichment technology, enabling it to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Russia is deeply involved in arming the three rogue states defined by President Bush as constituting "the axis of evil." But, Russia's policies don't stop at this. With France in the West and China in the East, Mr. Putin is openly pursuing an agenda of multipolarity, plainly seeking to deprive America of its leading role in world politics. In Central Asia, Russia is stepping up efforts to check America's military presence. Its newly set-up air base in Kyrgyzstan is an example, as are its continuing pressure on U.S. ally, Georgia, and recent moves to annex Abkhazia, a breakaway part of Georgia.
How should the U.S. government respond? The first step is to reassess Mr. Putin's sincerity when he claims to be a U.S. ally. Arming rogue states can in no way be compatible with being an American ally. Russia's help in the war on terrorism is important, but cannot come at this price.
The second step is to stop the policy of appeasement that successive American administrations have been employing in their approach to Russia. The Clinton administration was most notorious in its Russia-first policy that set American interests back several years in Central Asia and the Caucasus. But, the Bush administration seems to have inherited some of the benevolence toward Russia that its predecessor suffered from. Mr. Putin needs to be confronted with some stern choices. He has to be made to understand that he cannot both arm America's enemies and call himself a U.S. ally. So far, he has believed he can get away with both. In history, Russian leaders have tended to understand clear and unambiguous language best. It's time Mr. Bush gave him some of that: If you want to be America's ally, it's time you acted like one.
*Svante E. Cornell is deputy director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

A parting shot from the general

For all the ink and broadcast time expended to air the bickering between the Pentagon leadership and commentators over the war plan for Iraq, some of the most important comments have received far too little attention. We have in mind the informed view of Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At Monday afternoon's Pentagon briefing, the general offered a perspective that should be repeated one last time: "I've been in this process every step of the way as well. There is not one thing that Gen. [Tommy] Franks [commander of forces in Iraq] has asked for that he hasn't gotten on the time line that we could get it to him. . . . Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed up to this plan. . . . Every member of Gen. Franks' component commanders signed up to this plan as it was changed over time and as it finally came down to be the one we went to war with."
Clearly, Gen. Myers was just getting started. "Gen. Franks — and for the benefit of our troops — wanted to protect tactical surprise. How do you protect tactical surprise when you have 250,000 troops surrounding Iraq on D-Day? How do you do that? Well, you do it by the method he did it: by having the types of forces. You do it by starting the ground war first, air war second.
"Do you think there was tactical surprise? I think there was. Do we have the oil fields in the south? About 60 percent of the oil wealth has been preserved for the Iraqi people. You bet. Have we had a Scud fired against Jordan or Israel yet? No. Why? Because we went in very early, even before the ground war, to secure those places. Do we have humanitarian supplies flowing into Umm Qasr now? Yes. Why? Because we put the ground forces in there early. Were we 200 miles inside Iraq in 36 hours? Yes."
Later at the briefing, a reporter returned to the much-debated subject. "Mr. Chairman, I hate to take you back to your initial conversation about the variety of reports in the news media," the reporter began, "but I need to ask you to close that loop. You say it's —"
The general interrupted: "I thought I did."
Yes, indeed he had.

While we liberate Iraq, Europe is busy planning to enslave us
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
(Filed: 03/04/2003)

By the time the Iraqi crisis is over, it may already be too late for the Government to stop a political disaster in Europe. The European Union's first constitution will be a done deal, and, from what we have seen of the text so far, it will usher in a new order that overturns the governing basis of British parliamentary democracy for ever.

The EU will no longer be a treaty organisation in which member states agree to lend power to Brussels for certain purposes, on the understanding that they can take it back again. The EU itself will become the fount of power, with its own legal personality, delegating functions back to Britain. Draft Article 9 puts Brussels at the top of the pyramid. "The Constitution will have primacy over the law of Member States," it says.

The new order may also be irreversible. Article 46 stipulates that the terms of secession from the EU must be agreed by two thirds of the member states. In other words, one third can impose intolerable conditions.

A number of fresh articles trickled out two weeks ago, just as the Iraq conflict was erupting, to create what amounts to an EU interior and justice ministry, known as Eurojust, in charge of a proto-FBI - Europol - with the power to launch raids across the EU. An EU attorney-general will be able to prosecute "cross-border crime" in British courts, a catch-all term that gives Brussels wider jurisdiction than the US Justice Department currently enjoys after 200 years of encroachment on state power.

Under a new notion called "shared competence", Brussels takes charge of virtually all areas of national life. Unless the EU chooses to waive its primacy, Westminster will be prohibited from legislating in public health, social policy, transport, justice, agriculture, energy, economic and social cohesion, the environment, internal and external trade, and consumer protection.

The EU will have the power to "co-ordinate the economic policies of the member states" and - showing some chutzpah given what happened over Iraq - "define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy".

This is not exactly what protesters had in mind when they voted no to the euro in Denmark, and no to Nice in Ireland, or when they tore up Gothenburg in the anti-EU riots in 2001. But it was precisely these outbursts of popular dissent that prompted EU leaders, in December 2001, to launch a convention on the future of Europe.

Vowing to end secrecy in EU treaty talks and throw the process open to the "people", they summoned 105 "Founding Fathers" for a year-long brain-storming session in Brussels to redesign Europe's governing machinery. Instead of diplomats, the members were MEPs, as well as MPs and ministers from the EU's 28 current and future states.

The man chosen to shepherd the "people" and enthuse Europe's disenchanted youth was the lordly Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who incarnates the elitism of the 1970s French establishment. It went downhill from there.

The two European Commissioners on his 13-member praesidium, France's Michel Barnier and Portugal's Antonio Vitorino, have used their inside position to hijack the drafting process and push through articles that go far beyond the proposals of the working groups that toiled through the autumn. Much of the constitution is being written by lawyers on loan from the commission. The "people" have become a sick joke.

Tony Blair was slow to see the threat. Downing Street at first dismissed the convention as a talking shop, but woke up when the French, Spanish, German and Italian governments gave it irresistible authority by appointing to it their foreign or deputy prime ministers.

The Government then fell back to a second self-deception, imagining that France and Spain would join Britain in blocking any major assault on national prerogatives. Peter Hain, Downing Street's man on the forum, confidently told reporters that the East Europeans would not give away freedoms so recently wrested from the Soviet Union.

None of this has happened. France has abandoned Britain, and her own historical attachment to a Europe where national capitals always have the whip hand over Brussels. They seem to be accepting federalism as the price of relaunching the broken Franco-German axis. As for the Spanish, they are silent.

So are the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and others, who still have a gun pointed to their head. They know that Jacques Chirac could still try to sabotage their admission next year by calling a referendum in France. Those on the convention will soon become MEPs or Eurocrats themselves, and their salaries will jump by as much as 12 times, which concentrates the mind.

It is almost pitiful to read through the long list of amendments put up by Mr Hain. Britain is alone, supported by just a handful of lonely Euro-sceptics.

The Government still insists that this draft text is nothing more than a wish list. Once the convention wraps up its work in June, EU governments will have their say. They alone will decide what is in the second Treaty of Rome this December. Of course, Britain can veto any text it does not like. But equally, we all know that Labour is not going to destroy a six-year effort to place the Government at the heart of Europe. And there is always the implicit threat that 24 other states could create a new union, leaving Britain in an empty shell.

Mr Blair will win a few face-saving concessions. The meaningless term "federal" will be taken out of Article 1. A watchdog may be created to safeguard "subsidiarity". But in the end he will try to pretend that this monster is more or less what Downing Street wanted all along, even with its legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Only a referendum can stop it now - if the Tories have got the guts to fight for one.
The Daily Telegraph - 03/04/2003


Blair's price must be peace in Israel

By Boris Johnson

Perhaps we were just indulging in the national sport of self-deprecation, but we certainly underestimated our role in the war. Oh, we're just a figleaf for the Pentagon, we said. We're a yapping poodle, trotting after our vast, waddling American masters. In military terms, we confidently asserted, we're nothing but an egret perched on top of the pachydermous Abrams tanks as they sweep through the desert.

Someone - it may even have been me - suggested that the American desire to have a British supporting role was rather like a Hollywood mogul requesting the presence of Hugh Grant in a remake of The Dirty Dozen: kind of classy, but not essential. All we can now say is that this assessment - like several other predictions - has turned out to be very wide of the mark.

Look at the Brits now. So far as I can tell, we seem to be running most operations in the south of the country. If and when the key city of Basra is totally liberated, it is British forces that will be responsible. We are managing the crucial operation to bring in humanitarian supplies, and, on Day One, British forces comprised 30 per cent of the total strength available to Tommy Franks. Some egret. Some poodle.

Already, especially but not exclusively in the British press, comparisons are being drawn between military styles. The British approach, all tam-o'-shanters and ice lollies and ruffling the kiddies' hair, has been contrasted with the more paranoid attitude of American forces. I am not sure how fair this is to the US soldiers, who have had to deal in the past few days with the horror of a suicide bomber. But that is not the point.

Britain's contribution has been unexpectedly large, and that means we have unexpected leverage.

Without Britain, the Americans would have found it almost impossible to give the coalition its genuinely international flavour. It is our war graves that are being desecrated in France; our very membership of the coalition has provoked hatred against innocent British tourists. And by the sheer scale of our effort, our political, diplomatic and human sacrifice, we have surely built up a unique debt in Washington.

Tony Blair is - or should be - in a unique position to redeem the debt, and he must. In the next few weeks, a huge argument will be played out, quite as vicious and difficult as the one over the second UN resolution.

On one side is Clare Short and much of the Labour Party. They want the Americans to boot Saddam Hussein out, and then hand over the entire operation to the UN, or else, says Clare, it will look as though we and the Americans are providing an "army of occupation".

Ranged against the UN solution are those, especially in the Pentagon, who seem to want post-war Iraq to be governed by a couple of dozen American proconsuls, assisted by a few natives. Whatever happens, that cannot be the solution, and Britain must ensure that it is not.

We have all read the stories about the contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, worth billions of dollars, that have allegedly already gone to firms such as Halliburton, the oil company that used to employ Vice-President Dick Cheney. We all know that Bechtel and other American giants are waiting to get in on the act.

It must be made clear to the Americans, in the most vivid terms conceivable, that this is not on. We cannot be seen to construct a post-Saddam Iraq in which the spigots of the world's second biggest oil reserves are in the hands of a few Americans, or, which would be little better, in the hands of folk who are nothing but American puppets.

This was not meant to be a joint-stock operation for the enrichment of corporate America, or to lower the price of oil. That wasn't why British soldiers are dying, and will continue to die, terrifying deaths.

This is a war - and for all its faults it is still a very good cause - to remove a bloodthirsty tyrant, to liberate a wretched and tortured population, and to make the world safer.

If the outlines of post-war Iraq resemble an American colony, then there will be revulsion not just across the Arab world, but across this country as well. Blair must understand that, and that is why he must push for a solution that leaves the destiny of Iraq firmly and credibly in the hands of a democratic Iraqi government.

The riches of Iraqi oil are owed to the people of Iraq, and no one else.

Finally, Blair should redeem the debt he has built up in Washington, by continuing to push for progress in the Arab-Israeli dispute. Bush is, of course, mindful of his father's fate. Bush the elder won the first Gulf war, put pressure on Israel, and lost the election.

Dubya must be brave. I do not believe there is a moral equivalence between Israeli security forces and those who launch merciless suicide attacks in Tel Aviv cafés. In a sense, as was the case in Ulster, any concession is a capitulation to terror. But there is no doubt that there are illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank; and, more to the point, there is now a global consensus that it is time Israel did something about it.

Of course it is true that those who carp at Israel are often motivated by anti-Semitism; and it is true that those who attack Israel often wish to destroy her and drive the Jews into the sea. But Israel could deal with these real enemies more effectively if she took away their chief propaganda weapon - the illegal settlements.

Shimon Peres told British MPs as much yesterday, and Ariel Sharon, the demonised prime minister, recognises that reality. There is only one country powerful enough to influence Israel and to keep things moving, and that is America.

There is now a country with the moral authority to influence America. Bush owes Blair big, and it is up to Blair to make sure that Bush delivers.

*· Boris Johnson is MP for Henley and editor of The Spectator
The Washington Post - Thursday, April 2, 2003


U.S. Planes In S. Korea Will Remain As Deterrent
By Daniel Cooney
Associated Press

SEOUL, April 1 -- U.S. stealth fighter jets and other warplanes brought to South Korea for joint war games will remain to act as a deterrent against North Korea, the U.S. military said today. The planes are the newest part of an increase of U.S. military force in the region during heightened tensions with the communist North over its nuclear program.

A statement from the U.S. military said that an unspecified number of radar-evading F-117s, some F-15E Strike Eagle fighters and a small Army task force that were brought to South Korea for exercises with the South Korean military will stay in the country.

More than 85 percent of the forces deployed to South Korea for the exercise will leave, the statement said. They include the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and thousands of soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel.

A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said retaining the stealth aircraft would send a message to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, that it must not threaten its neighbors while U.S. forces are focused on Iraq.

But some analysts said that North Korea might see the planes as a significant threat. The F-117s would be capable of attacking a broad variety of targets in North Korea, including the Yongbyon nuclear plant. North Korea has accused Washington of plotting an attack on the facility.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force moved B-52 and B-1 bombers to the Pacific island of Guam to be closer to Korea. Other specialized aircraft have also been deployed to bases nearer the Korean Peninsula.

The last time the United States based stealth fighters in South Korea indefinitely was in 1994 when Washington was embroiled in a similar dispute with North Korea about its nuclear program. President Bill Clinton considered a surgical strike on Yongbyon, but the crisis ended peacefully.

The Washington Post - Thursday, April 3, 2003

Cuba's Crackdown
WITH EXQUISITE TIMING, the Cuban representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva this week condemned the "pious pontificating" of Western leaders who proclaim themselves champions of human rights. The commission, he thundered, must not allow itself to become an "instrument of the interests of the mighty" or a tool of American hypocrisy.

Meanwhile back in Havana, the Cuban government was waging the most aggressive campaign against its own dissidents in recent memory. At least 78 prominent human rights activists, independent trade union leaders and independent journalists are known to have been jailed. Many are associated with the Varela Project, a stunningly successful initiative that has collected more than 35,000 signatures on a petition calling for free speech, free association and free enterprise. Trials are due this week; apparently, the government is seeking life sentences. One U.S. official calls it "the most extreme act of political repression in Latin America in a decade."

The timing of the arrests is not coincidental. The Cuban regime chose to crack down at this particular moment because the world in general and the United States in particular are distracted by Iraq. At any other time, such a radical shift in policy would be front-page news, particularly because the list of those arrested includes many names widely known in the West. The war also gives Cuban diplomats a means of grandstanding their way through Geneva and an excuse to refuse to cooperate with the human rights commission's envoy to their country.

There may be some deeper reasons as well. Over the past two weeks, there have been two skyjackings and a ferry hijacking in Havana. In all cases, the apparently well-armed hijackers wanted to be taken immediately to Miami or Key West -- also the recent destination of a Cuban government patrol boat. The normally placid Cuban church has recently blasted the regime, and the economy is in crisis. Perhaps Fidel Castro is more worried about the growth of opposition to his regime than he wants to let on. And perhaps this is not the moment for the U.S. government to drop the ball, ease the pressure or allow Cuba to pretend that the country's multiple problems are anything but self- inflicted.

Revuepolitique.com -Thursday, April 03, 2003
Imre Kertész (Nobel Prize for Literature 2002) : "L'Europe de l'Ouest a tort"


NÉPSZABADSÁG - Budapest (Hongrie)
Traduit par Mohammed Ibn Guadi

IMRE KERTÉSZ Je trouve très regrettable que les relations entre l'Europe et les Etats-Unis se soient aussi gravement détériorées. L'Europe se dupe. Parlons ouvertement : elle fait comme si l'Union européenne n'était pas une association qui exploite, comme si les Etats-Unis étaient les seuls à spolier le monde et à oeuvrer pour la globalisation. Or l'Europe fait de même, puisque sa vie économique repose sur les privilèges dont elle s'est dotée au cours des siècles, en tirant profit aussi bien du tiers- que du quart-monde et du cinquième monde. Les intellectuels de gauche ne veulent rien savoir. J'appelle cela de la cécité. Le plus dangereux, cependant, c'est le déchaînement de l'antiaméricanisme, dont les racines sont profondes. Il n'est pas exclu que certains Européens veuillent même réviser nos expériences de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Vous pensez aux Allemands ?
Je pense à tous les Etats européens. Les Allemands sont de loin les plus modérés. Ces Etats oublient que, sans les Etats-Unis, ils n'auraient jamais pu se débarrasser de deux dictatures : celle de Hitler et celle de Staline. Sans l'Amérique, la France serait peut-être aujourd'hui un Etat socialiste, une république populaire. Ils oublient également que c'est l'équilibre des forces aménagé pendant la guerre froide qui a permis l'enrichissement tranquille de l'Europe occidentale. Je ne dis pas que l'Europe doive se prosterner devant les Etats-Unis, mais je soutiens que, sans l'Amérique, il ne peut y avoir de politique européenne. Ces relations politiques peuvent connaître des désaccords déclenchés par des gouvernements ou des dirigeants inadéquats, mais, en Europe et aux Etats-Unis, il y a des régimes démocratiques. Leurs dirigeants sont renvoyés tous les quatre ans. Et, en cas de mécontentement populaire, plus souvent même. Un conflit politique passager ne doit pas conduire à une rupture profonde dans les relations de deux cultures qui se nourrissent, en définitive, l'une de l'autre.

La dictature fait partie de la problématique irakienne. Or les intellectuels de gauche se sont souvent trompés dans leurs jugements concernant les dictateurs...

Depuis l'effondrement de l'Union soviétique, la gauche a perdu ses repères. Certains, après avoir soutenu aveuglément un système stalinien pervers, portent maintenant le drapeau de l'antimondialisme, dont personne ne sait ce qu'il signifie au juste. Ils ont trouvé leurs boucs émissaires : les Etats-Unis et Israël.

Selon Bernard-Henry Lévy, l'antiaméricanisme masque en réalité l'antisémitisme.

Sous l'apparence de la critique de la politique de l'Etat d'Israël, nous assistons à la naissance d'un nouvel antisémitisme européen. Distinguons bien les choses. Il ne s'agit pas de ne pas critiquer Israël. On peut le faire quand ses dirigeants ne sont pas à la hauteur. Mais Israël est un régime démocratique qui fonctionne : c'est un fait. Derrière les critiques de l'Etat d'Israël, on distingue un nouvel antisémitisme. Or cela concerne ma vie, mon existence. La question n'est pas de savoir si Israël peut gagner ou perdre une guerre elle est de savoir que le but est d'anéantir Israël comme entité. Et, après l'expérience de la Shoah, c'est un avertissement : il n'y a pas qu'Israël qui soit menacé, la communauté juive d'Europe l'est tout autant.

La crise irakienne a créé des remous en Europe centrale et orientale. Cette région aurait donc des valeurs propres ?

Oui. Le problème, c'est que les principes fondateurs de l'Europe n'ont pas encore pris forme. Alors qu'ils sont en voie de formation, Jacques Chirac a jugé opportun de remonter les bretelles aux nouveaux membres. Il est possible que ces derniers n'aient pas agi avec diplomatie. Néanmoins, la politique française condescendante qui, pendant l'entre-deux-guerres, a eu des résultats aussi catastrophiques que Munich et l'allégeance ignominieuse à Hitler ne devrait pas réapparaître aujourd'hui sous la forme d'un rappel à l'ordre arrogant.

Est-ce à dire qu'en Europe centrale nous ne sommes pas assez mûrs pour vivre selon les valeurs occidentales ?

Il ne s'agit pas de cela. L'Europe occidentale a hésité pendant plus d'une décennie à accueillir l'Europe centrale dans la famille. Les petits Etats de la région se sentaient abandonnés. Les tapes sur l'épaule distribuées par les Occidentaux étaient vécues comme des signes de condescendance destinés aux parents pauvres. Exclus de l'Union européenne, et alors que la guerre battait son plein dans les Balkans, ils se sentaient profondément inutiles. Ce à quoi ils ont répondu par le nationalisme. Nous en avons vu les formes les plus extrêmes dans les Balkans. Faut-il en rappeler la dernière illustration bouleversante, l'assassinat de Zoran Djindjic ? J'ajoute que l'Europe occidentale est également à son déclin. Des gouvernements populistes y prennent le pouvoir, là-bas aussi, sur fond de nervosité à l'égard des étrangers.

Propos recueillis par Péter Dunai
Revuepolitique.com - Thursday, April 03, 2003
Oui, Moscou a livré des armes à l’Irak
Pavel Felgengauer
"Novaïa Gazeta" , Moscou Traduit par Mohammed Ibn Guadi

La Russie livre-t-elle des armes à l’Irak ? Le 22 mars, l’ambassadeur de Russie aux Etats-Unis, Iouri Ouchakov, a été convoqué au département d’Etat, qui a officiellement protesté contre des "livraisons illégales en violation des sanctions de l’ONU". Les Américains accusent la société moscovite Aviakonversia et le Bureau de conception d’appareils de pointe de Toula d’avoir expédié en Irak des brouilleurs de signaux GPS et un lot de missiles antichars Kornet ultramodernes. Des lunettes de vision nocturne seraient également arrivées de Russie.

Le Kremlin a annoncé que Vladimir Poutine, au cours d’une conversation téléphonique avec George W. Bush, avait déclaré : "Il s’agit là d’affirmations gratuites, les rendre publiques est susceptible de porter atteinte aux relations entre nos deux pays." Il n’y a certes pas eu de ventes officielles, mais cela ne signifie pas qu’il n’y en ait pas eu du tout.

Le 1er septembre 1990, une décision du gouvernement soviétique interrompait "les livraisons de matériel sensible" à l’Irak "en conformité avec la résolution du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU". Douze ans et demi se sont écoulés depuis, et l’armement soviétique dont dispose l’Irak continue de fonctionner. Les chasseurs Mig-23, Mig-25 et Mig-29 volent encore, les radars marchent, les missiles sol-air décollent aujourd’hui même pour la défense de Bagdad. Par le passé, l’URSS avait vendu pour 30,5 milliards de dollars d’armes à l’Irak, dont une grande partie sert encore, malgré l’embargo et les raids américains. Seule explication possible à ce miracle : depuis plus de douze ans, les ventes de pièces détachées et d’armes russes se sont poursuivies en secret. Si les sanctions avaient vraiment été respectées, l’armée irakienne se serait effondrée depuis longtemps, ainsi que le régime totalitaire de Saddam Hussein.

Ces dernières années, l’Irak a acheté au marché noir des armes et des pièces de rechange pour ses équipements militaires. Des personnes bien informées citent, parmi les intermédiaires, la Turquie, la Jordanie, la Roumanie, l’ex-Yougoslavie, la Pologne, la République tchèque, la Slovaquie, l’Ukraine et la Biélorussie. Dans les années 90, c’est la Bulgarie qui jouait les coordinateurs. Ces ventes d’armes "sous le manteau" sont bien organisées. On fabrique d’abord un certificat pour un destinataire final factice (dans le cas des Kornet, les Américains affirment que la couverture choisie était le Yémen). Au lieu de partir pour le pays "autorisé", les armes sont directement acheminées au vrai commanditaire. Léonide Rochal, le directeur adjoint du Bureau de conception d’appareils de pointe de Toula, a déclaré ces jours-ci que sa société ne livrait rien à l’Irak, pas plus qu’à l’Iran, la Libye, la Syrie ou la Corée du Nord. Etrange, car en 1998, ses collègues m’avaient affirmé avoir signé un contrat pour 1 000 Kornet avec la Syrie et être en train de le remplir. Mais la Russie n’a pas été la seule source d’approvisionnement illégal de l’Irak. Des armes soviétiques semblables à celles utilisées par ce pays sont très présentes à travers la planète. Le complexe militaro-industriel russe a évidemment pris part à tout cela. Le directeur d’une grosse entreprise d’armement russe m’a ainsi avoué : "Oui, nos spécialistes sont allés travailler à Bagdad, pour adapter et mettre en service du matériel militaire, qui était en partie neuf. Que vous voulez-vous ? Le gouvernement ne nous verse pas un sou, nous sommes bien obligés d’aller là-bas pour gagner de quoi survivre."

Naturellement, pareille infraction, assez conséquente, au régime de sanctions ne pouvait passer inaperçue. Un haut responsable du ministère des Affaires étrangères russe affirme que le secrétariat de l’ONU avait connaissance, dès le milieu des années 90, des contacts secrets des marchands d’armes russes. Finalement, Bagdad a réussi à acquérir non seulement les pièces détachées vitales pour son armée, mais aussi une assez grosse quantité (on parle de 24) d’hélicoptères de combat Mi-24, qui ont été livrés dans des conteneurs, puis assemblés et équipés par des spécialistes venus de Moscou. Après la guerre du Golfe, les zones d’exclusion interdisant les vols d’appareils irakiens au nord et au sud du pays ne concernaient que les avions, pas les hélicoptères. En agrandissant son parc de Mi-24, l’armée irakienne a pu, en 1996, effectuer un bond éclair au nord et y installer un groupe d’alliés kurdes, à Arbil. Mais peut-être que cela arrangeait Washington, à l’époque ?

Bien sûr, ces trafics d’armes étaient connus non seulement des Nations unies, mais aussi de Washington, de Londres, de Tel-Aviv et des autorités russes. Or personne n’a rien dit. Washington espérait évidemment que Moscou soutiendrait la position américaine sur l’Irak à l’ONU, et les ventes d’armes auraient alors été pardonnées. Poutine a dès lors parfaitement raison de parler de déclarations "susceptibles de porter atteinte aux relations entre [nos] deux pays". Le fait que ces transactions secrètes aient été révélées au grand jour reflète une sérieuse aggravation de nos relations.

Ces dernières années, des représentants de Saddam Hussein sont venus en Russie sans encombre. Une entreprise spécialisée avait même commencé à construire un satellite espion pour l’Irak, qui aurait dû être lancé par une fusée russe. Il a été sérieusement question de livrer à l’Irak les toutes nouvelles batteries de missiles antiaériens S-300 et bien d’autres matériels. Que vont donc trouver les Américains lorsqu’ils prendront Bagdad ? Ce n’est pas un hasard si les Russes sont si obstinément opposés au renversement de Saddam par la force.

Le Figaro - 03 avril 2003
GUERRE La France, l'Allemagne et les dissensions transatlantiques
On n'unira pas l'Europe contre l'Amérique
PAR WOLFGANG SCHÄUBLE *

Les ruines que les images de la télévision nous montrent chaque jour depuis l'Irak symbolisent l'échec de la politique et de la diplomatie. Indépendamment de la question de savoir qui a commis quelles fautes, et quelles chances il restait encore, il n'a en tout cas pas été possible d'atteindre, avec des moyens pacifiques, l'objectif de ne laisser, de manière durable et certaine, aucune arme de destruction massive à la disposition de Saddam Hussein. Il n'a pas été possible d'éliminer ainsi le risque que ces armes représentaient pour la paix mondiale ; le Conseil de sécurité avait pourtant adopté cet objectif à l'unanimité dans la résolution 1441. Or, il ne fait pas de doute que cette situation a nui considérablement à la fonction de garant de l'ordre mondial du Conseil de sécurité, au partenariat atlantique et au processus d'unification européenne.

La coopération franco-allemande doit (...) prendre pour base une analyse réaliste de la situation du monde au début de ce XXIe siècle et une entente sur la nature de la conception politique qui doit correspondre à nos intérêts et à notre responsabilité. (...) Avec la chute de l'Union soviétique, les Etats-Unis d'Amérique sont restés la seule superpuissance et ont encore clairement accru leur suprématie militaire au cours de la dernière décennie, grâce à des dépenses d'armements élevées et des développements impressionnants dans le domaine de la technologie militaire. Parallèlement, et précisément en raison de leur position hégémonique et au regard des nombreux conflits potentiels dans le monde, les Etats-Unis se voient particulièrement exposés aux menaces du fondamentalisme, du terrorisme et des Etats en cours de destructuration. (...)

Le débat américain a été marqué par un scepticisme croissant depuis la fin de l'ordre mondial bipolaire. La «fin de l'Histoire» proclamée par Fukuyama, c'est-à-dire l'espoir du succès définitif de l'ordre libéral de l'économie et de la politique, a fait bientôt suite à la mise en garde de Huntington contre le «choc des civilisations», qui a alimenté la conviction selon laquelle seule une force militaire écrasante pouvait être garante de sécurité. Comme les Européens n'ont pas pu, ou n'ont pas voulu, suivre le rythme de cette évolution, Robert Kagan soupçonne, dans Puissance américaine, faiblesse européenne, que nous, Européens, défendons plutôt la version kantienne d'un ordre mondial, par faiblesse, alors que les Etats-Unis se laisseraient plutôt entraîner par le réalisme de Thomas Hobbes. (...)

Dans ce monde, nous, les partenaires atlantiques, dépendons les uns des autres parce que nous partageons les mêmes valeurs. Il ne s'agit pas du tout d'une figure de rhétorique solennelle abstraite ; cela a des effets assez concrets, si l'on pense au sort des questions fondamentales de la liberté, de la justice, de la dignité humaine, des droits de l'homme, y compris aujourd'hui dans la majorité des Etats membres des Nations unies. La Libye occupe la présidence de la commission des droits de l'homme des Nations unies, et la Guinée a occupé en mars celle du Conseil de sécurité. Et, en plus de cela, nous subissons ensemble une menace car nous, Européens et Américains, sommes les nantis à l'échelle mondiale et, malgré toutes les différences saisies dans leur détail, c'est tout de même l'Occident, pris comme un tout, qui, à travers la modernité de sa civilisation, avec toutes ses qualités et toutes ses parts d'ombre, attire à lui toutes les convoitises et réactions de défense.

(...) Le droit aura toujours besoin de l'épée : cela tient à l'essence de l'être humain. Et tout ordre politique international a besoin d'ordre. (...) Nous continuons de dépendre du partenariat atlantique, dans l'intérêt de notre propre sécurité. Cela demande cependant de la confiance, et nous devons mieux nous entendre réciproquement à ce sujet. Dans le débat atlantique, nous parlons parfois l'un devant l'autre presque sans nous comprendre. La «guerre» est une expérience tellement existentielle pour les Européens, et plus encore pour nous, Allemands, que nous reculons d'effroi déjà devant la simple évocation du concept. (...) Les Américains réagissent aux événements du 11 septembre avec l'instinct américain profond selon lequel chaque problème doit pouvoir trouver une solution avec la volonté de s'engager et l'investissement matériel et technique nécessaire. Kennedy répondit au choc du Spoutnik en proclamant : «L'homme sera sur la lune dans dix ans.» (...)

Dans le débat allemand, j'ai l'impression que nous nous occupons presque exclusivement des erreurs des autres. Cela paraît naturel à chacun. Mais comme je ne suis pas membre du Sénat américain, ou de la Chambre des représentants, mais seulement membre du Bundestag allemand, j'ai déjà demandé quelles pouvaient être vraiment les bonnes décisions de la politique allemande, indépendamment des différentes opinions sur la justesse de la décision du président Bush. Et j'ai trouvé peu d'arguments en faveur de la justesse de ces décisions. Si l'objectif était d'amener Saddam Hussein à être plus conciliant, cela ne pouvait se faire que par la pression et par une menace crédible. La politique allemande n'a pas renforcé cette pression sur Saddam Hussein. (...)

La tentative d'unir l'Europe contre les Etats-Unis ne peut réussir. Le travail d'unification européenne a quand même en tout premier lieu l'objectif de la sécurité commune, et celle-ci se fait mieux avec les Etats-Unis que sans eux, ou a fortiori contre eux. (...)

La France s'est toujours réservé un plus grand espace d'autonomie. Son passé et son statut au niveau de la politique mondiale étaient différents. Cela n'a pas nui à la coopération franco-allemande, bien qu'il y ait eu des divergences à ce propos précis lors de la conclusion du traité de l'Elysée il y a quarante ans. Le résultat est qu'en quarante années, le partenariat franco-allemand a été bien équilibré. La France a compris que l'Allemagne ne voulait pas être placée devant un choix entre Paris et Washington ou entre Paris et Londres. Peut-être était-ce précisément la raison pour laquelle l'équilibre s'est perdu à la fin, parce que l'Allemagne a donné l'impression de ne plus vouloir tenir à cet équilibre. (...)

La marge est étroite entre, d'une part, une coopération franco-allemande déficiente et un moteur européen chancelant, comme nous l'avons vu à Nice, et, d'autre part, une domination franco-allemande. Nous devrions nous en souvenir, car cette amitié franco-allemande précieuse, nous ne la devons pas seulement à nous-mêmes, mais aussi à nos partenaires en Europe. (...) J'estime d'ailleurs également que nous influençons davantage la formation de l'opinion et des décisions américaines par un partenariat marqué par la confiance que par l'absence de dialogue et la confrontation.

C'est aussi la raison pour laquelle il n'est pas nécessaire de causer plus de dommage aux Etats-Unis, et je pense donc qu'il ne correspond pas à nos intérêts de prétendre que des difficultés supplémentaires peuvent plutôt ramener les Etats-Unis sur le droit chemin. Ainsi, un succès rapide dans cette guerre, avec le moins de victimes possible et les meilleurs résultats pour une stabilisation durable de l'ensemble du Proche et Moyen-Orient, me semble souhaitable, même si une certaine école de pensée devait se voir ainsi confirmée à Washington. (...)

On n'unit pas l'Europe contre l'Amérique. (...) Même ceux qui souhaiteraient concevoir l'Europe comme un élément de limitation de l'hégémonie américaine ne devraient pas mettre la charrue avant les boeufs. Nous devrions d'abord disposer d'une Europe plus forte et capable d'agir, avant de nuire à l'alternative que représente le partenariat atlantique. Car ce faisant, nous scierions la branche sur laquelle nous sommes assis. (...) Mon conseil pressant est d'en rester au principe selon lequel l'unification européenne et le partenariat atlantique sont inséparables. (...) Afin d'améliorer les capacités européennes, nous devons augmenter nos investissements en matière de défense, surtout nous, Allemands. Même le chancelier semble l'avoir reconnu. (...) C'est pour cela que la querelle que l'on a vue à l'Otan autour de la préparation de la protection de la Turquie n'a pas seulement été pénible, elle a été dommageable. (...)

Si nous ne devons pas nécessairement en reprendre les réponses, nous devons tout au moins reprendre les questions qui sont à la base de l'analyse de la menace de la nouvelle stratégie américaine de la sécurité. C'est pourquoi il nous faudra aussi poursuivre avec tact le développement du droit international. La souveraineté et l'interdiction d'intervention, qui étaient la base du droit international depuis les traités de Westphalie, ont perdu de leur force depuis que des dangers peuvent menacer chaque recoin de la Terre à partir de régions qui ne connaissent pas un ordre étatique capable de fonctionner et de sanctionner. C'est le problème des Etats en cours de destructuration, une conséquence du progrès technologique et de la mondialisation. (...)

Une grande Europe a besoin de structures, qui soient garantes de sa capacité d'action. Tel est le sujet du débat constitutionnel européen. En ce qui concerne l'agenda de la Convention, je voudrais me limiter aujourd'hui à deux observations. (...) Sans l'approbation de l'oeuvre d'unification européenne par les citoyens, rien ne pourra finalement réussir. (...) L'unification européenne n'est pas encore, loin s'en faut, à son terme ; elle ne le sera pas non plus après la clôture, que l'on espère couronnée de succès, de la Convention chargée d'élaborer la Constitution. Mais l'Europe aussi n'est pas à son terme. C'est un motif qui nous donne confiance. Nous pouvons y travailler ensemble, Français et Allemands : c'est la responsabilité que nous a donnée l'histoire et c'est notre espoir pour le futur.

* Vice-président du groupe (CDU-CSU) au Bundestag. Ce texte est extrait d'une conférence qui s'est tenue mardi à Paris à l'initiative de la Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung.

LE MONDE - 03.04.03

Les milieux d'affaires redoutent un divorce franco-américain

Outre-Atlantique, le ressentiment contre la France pourrait être beaucoup plus profond qu'on ne le pensait initialement. Les banquiers et financiers dont "Le Monde" a recueilli les témoignages évoquent des conséquences économiques durables si Paris ne fait pas un geste vers Washington.

"Je ne sais pas si, en France, vous vous rendez compte de l'effet de la position prise par votre gouvernement." L'ancien ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France, Felix Rohatyn, pourtant démocrate et francophile, s'étonne du décalage entre la réalité américaine et la perception de l'opinion publique française, qui ne craint pas les conséquences de la divergence entre Paris et Washington sur le conflit irakien.

L'enlisement des opérations militaires en Irak semble avoir changé la donne : l'hostilité vis-à-vis de la France s'exprime de plus en plus fortement. Les Américains ou les Français habitués à vivre des deux côtés de l'Atlantique sont de plus en plus alarmistes.

"Les réactions aux Etats-Unis sont très vives parce que la France a œuvré pour un vote négatif à l'ONU, explique Michel David-Weill, président de la banque Lazard. Ce qui a surtout étonné les Américains, c'est la façon militante dont le gouvernement français a agi. Ils l'ont perçu comme un coup de poignard dans le dos. Il faut retourner à la guerre froide pour retrouver un sentiment aussi fort contre un pays". M. Rohatyn renchérit : "Les Américains réagissent à tous niveaux. Il n'y a pas de clivage républicains contre démocrates, même si le pourcentage d'Américains qui soutient la guerre est moins important du côté des démocrates." Pour M. David-Weill, "même ceux qui sont opposés à ce conflit ont changé leur manière de manifester leur désaccord : ils sont soucieux d'avoir une attitude très patriotique. Ils prennent soin de se distinguer de la position française".

Felix Rohatyn, qui est aussi administrateur de Suez, explicite le sentiment américain : "Tout allié a le droit d'avoir sa propre opinion. Mais la décision de la France d'utiliser un veto dans n'importe quelle circonstance est une chose tout à fait nouvelle. Cette décision, qui vient d'un allié historique, a créé un choc énorme chez nous qui prendra très longtemps à être réparé". Il se livre à un bref rappel historique : "Vu des Etats-Unis, la France a pris le risque de détruire un système de défense de plus de cinquante ans. Il y a eu, au long de notre histoire commune des différends assez durs, lorsque, par exemple, de Gaulle est sorti de l'OTAN. Mais de Gaulle était à nos côtés dans la crise de Cuba. François Mitterrand et Helmut Schmidt étaient avec nous lors de l'implantation des fusées Pershing en Allemagne -face aux SS20 soviétiques-. La France était également avec nous lors de la première guerre du Golfe".

Plusieurs grands patrons français, réunis mercredi 2 avril par Maurice Lévy, le président du directoire de Publicis, ont entendu ce message en direct. Venus débattre avec Peter Peterson, président du conseil d'administration de la Réserve fédérale de New York, sur le thème du gouvernement d'entreprise et de la crise de confiance financière, ils sont vite passés au sujet des relations franco-américaines. M. Lévy, coprésident du French American Business Council, a lancé la discussion : "Nous ne sommes pas toujours d'accord sur toute la démarche du gouvernement français, (...) mais nous ne comprenons pas pourquoi le président Bush a voulu faire si vite cette guerre". M. Peterson, prenant sa casquette de président du Council on foreign relations (CFR), l'un des groupes de réflexion et de débat les plus prestigieux aux Etats-Unis, a rappelé le discours officiel, en prenant parfois ses distances, mais en soulignant l'importance des attentats du 11 septembre 2001 pour comprendre le sentiment américain actuel.

Stephen Schwarzman, lui aussi membre du CFR, PDG du fonds d'investissement Blackstone qu'il a fondé avec M. Peterson, a parlé sans détour : "Ce que le public américain ne comprend pas, c'est pourquoi le gouvernement français s'est senti obligé de faire le tour du monde pour bloquer le vote à l'ONU." Jean-François Dehecq, PDG de Sanofi-Synthélabo et proche de Jacques Chirac, a défendu la position française : "Notre pays ne cherche pas à gagner quoi que ce soit dans cette affaire. Nous défendons une position morale devant l'histoire". Ce que ne conteste pas M. Peterson, qui s'interroge uniquement sur cet "acharnement sans fin" contre les positions américaines : "Que va-t-il en sortir. Ce n'est pas une politique, n'est-ce pas ?".

Pour l'instant, les conséquences économiques de cette incompréhension ne sont pas encore radicales. Mais les risques sont là. "La France est le paratonnerre qui attire la foudre. Les Américains font une fixation et ne mesurent pas qu'ils sont impopulaires dans beaucoup d'autres pays", constate François Bujon de l'Estang, ancien ambassadeur de France à Washington et président de la banque américaine Citigroup à Paris.

"Du point de vue gouvernemental, il ne se passera sans doute pas grand-chose en termes de conséquences. Mais il faut s'attendre à une réaction des particuliers sur les produits français et le tourisme. L'attitude est généralement très hostile", explique M. David-Weill. "Les réactions seront diffuses, mais relativement longues. Si les entreprises américaines ont le choix, elles préféreront ne pas s'afficher avec quelque chose de français. Pour les entreprises françaises, ce sera peut-être marginal, mais aujourd'hui, le marginal compte", ajoute-t-il.

Dans les couloirs de Publicis, un dirigeant américain qui a des intérêts en France se montrait menaçant, tout en préférant rester anonyme : "Nous sommes à un moment critique. Si l'attitude française ne change pas dans les deux prochains mois, il y a aura un problème. La France sera perçue comme une puissance dangereuse par les Américains, qui ne s'y sentiront plus bienvenus. Les fonds de pension pourraient cesser d'investir en actions françaises." Déjà, un fonds français aurait renoncé à lever des capitaux aux Etats-Unis : "Les banquiers savent que c'était inutile d'essayer".

Michel David-Weill est plus modéré : pour lui, il s'agit surtout d'un réflexe de blessure populaire qui ne devrait pas avoir d'impact sur les investissements financiers. De son côté, M. Rohatyn veut croire que "les relations économiques entre la France et les Etats-Unis et leurs investissements croisés sont sûrement le ciment le plus fort qui devrait ramener, avec le temps, à des relations plus apaisées". "Près de 400 000 Américains travaillent pour des sociétés françaises. A peu près le même nombre de Français travaille dans des sociétés américaines. Le commerce transatlantique se monte à 400 milliards de dollars dans chaque sens", dit-il.

M. Peterson lance toutefois un appel pressant : "Il faut absolument que M. Chirac et M. Bush apparaissent ensemble et montrent ce que nos deux pays ont en commun." Un point de vue que partage M. Rohatyn : "Pour arrêter cette dérive, il faudrait, aussi vite que possible, que les Etats-Unis et l'Europe se mettent d'accord sur le rôle central que les Nations unies devraient jouer dans la gouvernance et la reconstruction de l'Irak d'après guerre. Il faut que nous soyons tous encore une fois autour de la table."

Laure Belot et Sophie Fay

Les "amis" de la France, selon M. Chirac
Au cours d'un déjeuner à l'Elysée avec les dirigeants du groupe sénatorial UMP, mercredi 2 avril, Jacques Chirac a, selon un sénateur, "clairement dit qu'il n'y avait pas de doute sur le fait que les Américains étaient nos alliés et nos amis", malgré les oppositions des deux pays sur leur vision du monde. Le président de la République a estimé que Français et Américains étaient "dans la même barque" et que s'il pouvait y avoir "des soubresauts", cela n'atteignait pas "l'essentiel".

De son côté, le président de l'UMP, Alain Juppé, a affirmé : "La relation entre la France et les Etats-Unis n'est pas en cause. Quelques siècles d'histoire n'ont pas été balayés par la crise actuelle (...). Cela dit, il ne faut pas sous-estimer la divergence entre la France et les Etats-Unis. Elle est profonde, elle va au-delà de la seule gestion de la crise irakienne. C'est un peu la vision de la conduite des affaires du monde qui est en cause." (AFP.)

Les Français boudés, les Anglais encensés
Un sondage réalisé du 21 au 24 mars auprès d'un millier de consommateurs américains adultes, pour le compte de la société de communication Fleishman-Hillard, révèle que 64 % des Américains déclarent "être moins favorables aux entreprises et aux produits français qu'avant les tensions actuelles" et 46 % des sondés affirment être "plus susceptibles d'essayer un substitut". Un ressentiment contre les Français qui semble plus marqué que celui contre les Allemands (52 %). En revanche, plus de 60 % des Américains déclarent "être plus favorables aux entreprises et aux produits en provenance de la Grande- Bretagne", leur allié dans la guerre.

Le sondage souligne que les Américains connaissent assez mal les actifs tricolores : seul un quart des personnes interrogées "sont capables de citer spontanément une marque, une entreprise ou un produit français présents sur le marché américain".


Daily Telegraph - 02/04/2003
Journalists are citizens first and foremost

By Janet Daley

One of American broadcasting's better known war reporters got sacked this week. Peter Arnett, a Pulitzer prize-winning correspondent who had covered the Vietnam War and, more famously, the last Gulf war for CNN, was fired by NBC following an incident that can only be described as bizarre.

While America's troops and those of its allies were engaged in active battle, Arnett gave an interview to the enemy's state television service in which he said that the first allied war plan "had just failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan." He then elaborated helpfully: "Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces."

Nothing new about that particular bit of flat-footed analysis. We hear it on the BBC every hour, on the hour. Nor has it gone unexpressed in the American media, where its possible ramifications are discussed constantly. The claim by the Daily Mirror - which has leapt into the breach and signed him up - that Arnett was "fired by America for telling the truth" is simply ludicrous. You can hear people expressing the views that Arnett was retailing on all the US networks, even Fox News, which liberals castigate as the gung-ho voice of trailer-park USA.

The only thing that was original about Arnett's contribution to the discourse was that he chose to give it to Iraqi state television. Not to al-Jazeera, which, for all the opprobrium it has received, is none the less an independent television station - the only one in the Arab world not controlled by a government.

Not even to non-combatant Saudi Arabian or Abu Dhabi television which has broadcast our own dear George Galloway MP's appeal to other Arab nations to fight on the side of Iraq. Arnett chose to deliver his unimaginative judgment to the official propaganda medium of a totalitarian country with which we are at war.

He was, in the most straightforward sense, offering aid and comfort to the enemy. His elucidation would have been particularly helpful to Iraq's morale-boosting efforts, by informing its population on all the allied self-doubt to which it normally has no access, since it is not permitted to hear British and American broadcasting.

(Hey, there's a suggestion Mr Galloway might make to Saddam. Want to restore hope and optimism to your flagging forces? Force them to watch the BBC. A friend e-mailed me from America last weekend to express her shock at the coverage she had stumbled across on BBC America, which delivered what she called "Leftist propaganda with straight faces".)

Unlike the Daily Mirror, Arnett now seems less than proud of this little episode. He has apologised on national television to his former employers and to the nation for what he calls his "misjudgment".

Misjudgment. The question is, what in the name of God did Arnett think he was doing? How exactly did he see his role at the moment at which he provided Saddam's own personal PR machine with this coup? Even assuming that he is conscientiously opposed to the allied war effort, what purpose did he believe that giving such an interview would serve?

Did he think that it would help to bring peace? He must know enough about war to be aware that his words would tend to encourage further Iraqi resistance and thus prolong the fighting. Surely he does not support the Iraqi regime and wish deliberately to offer it sustaining advice. Even I wouldn't accuse him of that.

Let us be charitable and overlook the sheer overweening conceit that seems to have infused Arnett's decision to make a gift of his opinions to the Iraqi government machine. Let us assume that he saw himself as serving the cause of truth.

He was asked questions by an interviewer (albeit one who worked for a blatantly untruthful organisation) and he had no choice but to give what he believed to be honest answers. That is, he chose to run on the supposition that all broadcasting was based on the premises of free speech and frank opinion, as it is in democracies.

It did not, apparently, occur to him that his material was going to be of instrumental use to Saddam's television station: that he was becoming, for the moment, an actor, not a commentator, and that his actions were aiding a branch of the repulsive Iraqi regime that his country was fighting. It would not have occurred to him because - again, I am being charitable here - Arnett would have seen himself not as an American citizen offering constructive help to Iraq, but as a representative of that mystical, transcendent embodiment of disinterested Truth, the broadcasting media.

That raises the interesting question of whose side we are on. By "we", I mean the media army - the poor bloody infantry of reporters in the field, and the ranks of editors and pundits back at journalistic Centcom, flicking between the 24-hour news channels.

Some people - including, I would guess, Arnett - would find the whole question misconceived. It should not be the business of a free press to support a side, they might say: for the duration, you are, if not spiritually stateless, at least neutral. Your first loyalty is to objectivity, in the service of which you must maintain critical distance from all the interested parties.

Well, it's easier for members of the Commentariat like me: we are paid to give our opinions, the more heated and idiosyncratic the better. In print journalism, partisanship is acceptable. But what about the broadcasters who just report and analyse? When does duty to their supposed impartiality become self-indulgent professional vanity?

No simple answer, but surely, however exalted your sense of self-important detachment, you remain a citizen, with the same obligation not to behave treacherously as any other and the same moral imperative to consider the human consequences of your words and your actions.

The Washington Times - April 2, 2003
The coalition's other 'enemy'
Cal Thomas

Before firing Peter Arnett — the Tokyo Rose of our time — NBC issued a ludicrous statement defending Mr. Arnett's interview on Iraqi TV as a "professional courtesy." When the condemnations started rolling in, NBC saw the handwriting on the ratings wall and quickly cut him loose. NBC News President Neal Shapiro said, "It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV — especially at a time of war — and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview."
Mr. Arnett later apologized on the "Today" show, but the damage to what remains of his career was already done (Mr. Arnett was reprimanded by CNN in 1998 for a report that accused U.S. forces of using sarin gas on a Laotian village in 1970 to kill U.S. defectors and left that network).
Would Edward R. Murrow, William Shirer or Walter Cronkite have allowed themselves to be interviewed on German radio as a "professional courtesy" during World War II? No, because they correctly viewed the Nazis as the enemy of humanity and American forces as the liberators of Europe. What did they study in school that Mr. Arnett skipped?
Mr. Arnett gave aid and comfort to our enemy when he delivered these gems on Iraqi TV: "Clearly the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces," and "Clearly [Baghdad] is a city that is disciplined. ... My Iraqi friends tell me there is a growing sense of nationalism and resistance to what the United States and Britain are doing. ...
"Our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States and help those who oppose the war," he said. It took 63 days to get the Taliban out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Peter Arnett is declaring a more formidable war that is less than two weeks old a "failure"?
Mr. Arnett's remarks may encourage Saddam Hussein to fight on. This could lead to the deaths of more American and British soldiers. Mr. Arnett is a naturalized American. He does not deserve his citizenship, and his comments go far beyond any journalistic ethic with which I am familiar.
Some journalists may think they can reprise their anti-war role from the Vietnam period, but this time the public is not going to let them get away with it. Most journalists probably can't change the oil in their own cars (limos if they're anchors), much less service a tank, but suddenly they have become experts on the pace of troop movements, supply lines and the service requirements of tanks, trucks and armored personnel carriers.
Shallow news anchors and retired generals with no direct information about war plans or their execution speculate and "opinionate" endlessly. The only thing most reporters know about war is what they have seen in the movies. Had they been covering World War II, they would have called for the court-martial of Gens. Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton for causing too many civilian casualties.
As bad as some of the American media are, things are worse in Britain. If Saddam Hussein listens to the BBC World Service, he might think he is winning. A column in last Sunday's (March 30) Telegraph by Caroline Lees, who says she is "stranded in Eritrea," reveals the frustration of British citizens with their media. Miss Lees says the BBC is her only source for war news, but "I am tired of the relentless bombardment of worst-case scenarios, endless analysis of problems before they occur, and blow-by-blow accounts of perceived errors by the coalition forces. I realize war is never easy, and it is not the BBC's job to pretend things are going well when they are not, but all I ask, as a listener, is a little balance."
With competition for viewers (and readers) hotter than ever, the big media cannot afford to ignore complaints about biased and negative reporting. The proliferation of cable TV means newsconsumers have more choices than they did during the Vietnam War. The New York Times reported last week that combined ratings for Fox Broadcast and the Fox News Channel were second only to the larger NBC network.
Is it too much to askjournalists simply to report what is happening in the war and to stop endless speculation and editorializing without direct and credible knowledge of the facts? Apparently it was for Peter Arnett, and NBC, sensitive to the ratings war, made him a casualty.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist
The Washington Times - April 2, 2003


Fellow warrior or useful idiot?

Helle Dale

The appalling Peter Arnett has done a huge disservice, not just to his adopted country, but also to the profession to which he used to belong. It would be nice if Mr. Arnett's recent appearance on Iraqi television disparaging the U.S. performance in the war and claiming credit for stirring up anti-war demonstrations in the United States could simply be dismissed as the ramblings of a misguided egomaniac, an irritating minor splotch on the great canvas of battle. But the damage he did with his bizarre statements on Iraqi television over the weekend is great.
For one thing, the former reporter for CNN, MSNBC and National Geographic handed the Iraqi propaganda machinery a fine propaganda tool, which they have been using diligently, broadcasting in between U.S. bombing raids on Iraq's "Information Ministry." For another, the American media as a whole is actually doing a very decent job of covering the war from the kind of worm's-eye-perspective that we have not seen in combat reporting for a very long time. And they do so at great personal risk and strain.
I had thought this was going to be a column about the U.S. media at war, the Pentagon's clever strategy of "embedding" 600 reporters among its military units and the higher standard of combat reporting it has produced. It was going to take issue with the Washington warriors and the armchair generals who snipe at the frontline reporters because of the narrow perspective of their coverage from their assigned military units and their closeness with the troops on whom they report. Unlike the last Gulf War, this time we really do get some insight into what's happening on the ground from the perspective of the troops — the good and the bad together.
And then, Peter Arnett came along with his ill-judged interview, reminding us of just how irresponsible, biased and twisted reporting can get. On the air, Mr. Arnett complimented the Iraqi Information Ministry, an operation of which Joseph Goebbels would have been proud, for allowing him to operate unimpeded throughout the country. This is the same ministry which has expelled his colleagues from CNN and Fox and taken other foreign media hostage. He told the Iraqi interviewer, "Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces." And he boasted, "Our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war when you challenge the policy to develop their arguments."
For these outrageous and possibly treasonous statements, Mr. Arnett got "fired" by NBC and National Geographic, and rightly so. (To be precise, they declared that they would stop using his reporting as Mr. Arnett was technically there as a freelancer.) The question is, however, why did they ever sign him up in the first place? And why has he now reportedly been signed by the London Daily Mirror? Why wasn't Mr. Arnett thoroughly disqualified from any serious journalistic endeavor years ago? He's done enough to deserve it.
American television viewers will remember Mr. Arnett from the 1991 Gulf War, as one of a few reporters left inside Baghdad, a tool for the Iraqi propaganda machine even then. He became famous for reporting from a bombed-out "powdered milk" factory, which the U.S. government had identified as a chemical weapons plant. Just to make sure no one missed the point, the Iraqis had arranged a large sign reading "powdered milk" in English within range of the CNN camera shot.
CNN had fired Mr. Arnett in 1998 for providing the voice-over narrative in a "documentary" about the Vietnam War, which reported without any factual evidence that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam had used sarin against defectors. The allegations were quickly proven wrong, and the show was a massive embarrassment for CNN. Mr. Arnett's feeble excuse was that he had never seen the script before he read it on the air. The fact that he did not even question these shocking "revelations" suggest a good deal about his view of the U.S. military.
In the April 5 issue of TV Guide, Mr. Arnett gloated about his status in Baghdad, "The Iraqis have thrown the CNN crew out of Baghdad, and I'm still here. Any satisfaction in that? Ha, ha, ha, ha." Mr. Arnett also told TV Guide that he was allowed to stay, because the Iraqis "see me as a fellow warrior." To borrow a phrase from Lenin describing communist sympathizers, a "useful idiot" might be more like it.

Helle Dale is deputy director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation. MRC – Media Research Center - April 2, 2003


Peter Arnett, Cretinous Liar
by L. Brent Bozell III

In 1995, then-CNN star Peter Arnett told The American Spectator’s John Corry that "Rush Limbaugh is the king. He is also a cretinous liar, with off-the-wall opinions. And he has the audacity to call himself a journalist."
Arnett was half-right: Rush is the king of all media. But the rest of that diatribe doesn’t describe Rush. It fits Arnett -- to a T.

You won’t hear that from the princes of our press corps, now tiptoeing silently away from Arnett in embarrassment. Arnett was deified by the media establishment even after (or was it because?) he trashed America from Baghdad in Gulf War I, delighting his Iraqi censors with bizarre stories like the one about American soldiers shooting at the arms and legs of innocent Iraqi shepherds.

When Arnett’s book "Live From The Battlefield" was released in early 1994, his colleagues veritably swooned. New York Times reporter Bill Keller lauded Arnett as the "quintessential war correspondent of our half century." Newsweek Senior Editor Russell Watson called him "the best war correspondent of his generation."

The only explanation for Arnett’s long-overhyped reputation is the triumph of politics over professionalism, and hype over substance. The media elite had found themselves a hero: a reporter "brave" enough to claim that America was an evil player on the world stage, a nation that could drop cluster bombs on civilians or gas its own soldiers. The charges made were defective in their veracity, but electric in their audacity, and that’s all that mattered to a press corps starving for role models.

The truth is a stubborn thing, however, and it’s winning out. After years of being celebrated as a world-class journalist, Peter Arnett has developed a talent for getting fired. When he made the outrageous decision to go on Iraqi TV to praise the freedom granted by his Iraqi censors and tout how the U.S. war plan "failed," he was fired not only by NBC, but by MSNBC, and National Geographic News –– a triple-sacking. He apologized on the "Today" show for his "misjudgment" in choosing media platforms, but not for his Baath-Party-friendly orations.

Arnett should have been fired for the stupidity of his claims to Iraqi television. The first war plan "failed" and the Pentagon’s writing another plan? To reach that conclusion one must have working knowledge of a plan Arnett has never seen. There’s a "growing challenge" to President Bush? Polls haven’t slipped since the war began, and continue to hover in the stratosphere. Iraqi propaganda ministers allow a "degree of freedom"? Tell that to the American reporters and photographers who were abducted and imprisoned by "Information Ministry" goons.

The real mystery was not why NBC & Co. fired Arnett. Why did they hire him in the first place?

CNN also fired Arnett in 1999, almost a year after his role in another anti-American debacle, as star reporter on the program "Valley of Death," which claimed that U.S. forces knowingly killed their own "defector" soldiers with nerve gas in Laos during the Vietnam War. In that case, CNN folded on the veracity of its dastardly claims like a tent.

But still there were no apologies from Arnett. Instead, there was pathetic excusifying: "I was never informed that my face on the air gave me responsibility for a major story," said the allegedly brave reporter. "I’m a company guy. You want me to read a script, I’ll read it."

His reporting for CNN during the first Gulf War displayed a very similar and equally casual disregard for the veracity of his stories -- so long as America was the target. On a March 21, 1991 story on ABC’s "Prime Time Live," Arnett was questioned about the possibility that the Iraqis were disguising a chemical plant behind that infamous "baby milk factory," Arnett countered dismissively, "Why would they go to all the trouble of doing that? Was their nuclear weapons plant disguised as a bagel factory?" Throughout the ABC interview, Arnett revealed his reporting was based upon lame suppositions, not actual knowledge. When asked about a military command center he called a "civilian shelter," he admitted: "I didn't go deep down. I really didn't have any equipment for digging. I just, to this day, I can't really believe that was a command center."

It took Arnett just hours after his sacking to find another venue, and in no time at all, he was back at it, charging he lost his job because of a "right wing media" conspiracy. Arnett also suggested that "Some reporters make judgments but that is not my style. I present both sides and report what I see with my own eyes."

Arnett’s new employer is the Daily Mirror of London, one of the most radical anti-American tabloids in the world. A perfect fit for a cretinous liar.

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