Iran: Derrière les pitreries nord-coréennes, la vraie menace d’un Iran nucléaire (If North Korea has been a danger, then a bigger, richer, and undeterred nuclear Iran would be a nightmare)

12 avril, 2013
J’annonce au monde entier, sans la moindre hésitation, que si les dévoreurs du monde se dressent contre notre religion, nous nous dresserons contre leur monde entier et n’auront de cesse avant d’avoir annihilé la totalité d’entre eux. Ou nous tous obtiendrons la liberté, ou nous opterons pour la liberté plus grande encore du martyre. Ou nous applaudirons la victoire de l’Islam dans le monde, ou nous tous irons vers la vie éternelle et le martyre. Dans les deux cas, la victoire et le succès nous sont assurés. Ayatollah Khomeiny
Dans le monde moderne, même les ennemis de la raison ne peuvent être ennemis de la raison. Même les plus déraisonnables doivent être, d’une façon ou d’une autre, raisonnables. (…) En cohérence avec cette idée, les socialistes regardaient ce qui se passait outre-Rhin et refusaient simplement de croire que ces millions d’Allemands avaient adhéré à un mouvement politique dont les principes conjuguaient théories paranoïaques du complot, haines à glacer le sang, superstitions moyenâgeuses et appel au meurtre.(…) Les kamikazés étaient certes fous, mais la faute en incombait à leurs ennemis, pas à leurs dirigeants ni à leurs propres doctrines. (…) le nihilisme palestinien ne pouvait signifier qu’une chose: que leur souffrance était encore pire … Paul Berman
Il y a beaucoup de gens qui ne peuvent se résoudre au fait qu’il n’y a pas d’alternative au marché libre et à la démocratie bourgeoise (…) Parfois il faut tout simplement que David triomphe du Goliath américain. Christopher Hitchens
La possibilité d’une annihilation existe. Le projet sioniste entier est apocalyptique. Il existe dans un environnement hostile et dans un certain sens son existence n’est pas raisonnable. (…) Oui, je pense à Armageddon. C’est possible. Dans les vingt prochaines années, il pourrait y avoir une guerre atomique ici. Benny Morris
Quand les Palestiniens ont rejeté la proposition (celle du Premier Ministre Ehud Barak) en juillet 2000 et la proposition de Clinton en décembre 2000, j’ai compris qu’ils étaient peu disposés à accepter la solution de deux Etats. Ils veulent tout. Lod et Acre et Jaffa. (…) Les explosions des bus et des restaurants m’ont vraiment secoué. Elles m’ont fait comprendre la profondeur de la haine envers nous. Elles m’ont fait comprendre que l’hostilité palestinienne, arabe et musulmane envers l’existence juive ici nous amène au bord de la destruction. (…) Il y a un profond problème dans l’Islam. C’est un monde dont les valeurs sont différentes, un monde dans lequel la vie humaine n’a pas la même valeur qu’elle a en Occident. La liberté, la démocratie, l’ouverture et la créativité lui sont étrangers. C’est un monde qui prend pour cible de ceux qui ne font pas partie du camp de l’Islam. La vengeance est aussi importante ici. La vengeance joue un rôle central dans la culture tribale arabe. Ainsi, les peuples se battent et la société qui les envoie n’a pas d’inhibitions morales. S’ils obtiennent des armes chimiques, biologiques ou atomiques, ils les utiliseront. S’ils le peuvent, ils commettront aussi un génocide. Benny Morris
Un peu comme les hooligans de la tribune K du Parc des Princes, les hooligans au pouvoir en Iran veulent prendre le contrôle d’une tribune, le Liban Sud, et puis faire régner leurs lois dans le stade du Moyen-Orient et ses alentours. A la différence près que dans ce coin perdu du 16e arrondissement de Paris ne se trouvent pas la plupart des réserves pétrolières ou gazières de la planète. Iran-Resist
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
L’équilibre de la terreur était en fait d’une grande fragilité, comme de nombreux incidents, mais surtout une crise majeure, la crise des missiles de Cuba, l’a révélé en 1962. Le problème a moins concerné la relation entre les Etats-Unis et l’Union soviétique que la présence d’un troisième acteur, Fidel Castro, qui a failli faire basculer le « système bipolaire » dans la guerre nucléaire. Cette crise mérite qu’on y revienne, non seulement parce que, si elle se reproduit, nous n’aurons probablement pas la même chance, mais aussi parce que le monde contemporain a désormais plusieurs acteurs nucléaires de type Fidel Castro, qui, à la différence de Kennedy ou de Khrouchtchev, partisans de la dissuasion, n’hésiteront pas à recourir à l’arme nucléaire comme à un moyen de coercition. Thérèse Delpech
La Corée du Nord a appris au monde qu’au poker nucléaire la folie feinte vous vaut de l’aide étrangère ou l’attention planétaire — du fait que même la certitude qu’on a affaire à un bluff à 99% reste suffisante pour effrayer les opinions publiques occidentales. La Corée du nord est le proverbial envieux psychopathe du quartier qui agresse constamment ses voisins prospères d’à côté, en partant du principe que les voisins ne pourront manquer de prendre en compte ses menaces aussi sauvages qu’absurdes parce qu’il n’a rien et qu’ils ont tout à perdre.
L’Iran pourrait reprendre à l’infini le modèle de Kim — menaçant une semaine de rayer Israël de la carte, faisant machine arrière la semaine d’après sous prétexte de problèmes de traduction. L’objectif ne serait pas nécessairement de détruire Israël (ce qui vaudrait à l’Iran la destruction de la culture persane pour un siècle), mais d’imposer une telle atmosphère d’inquiétude et de pessimisme à l’Etat juif que son économie en serait affaiblie, son émigration en serait encouragée et sa réputation géostratégique en serait érodée. La Corée du nord est passée maître dans de telles tactiques de chantage nucléaire. A certains moments, Pyongyang a même réussi à réduire les deux géants asiatiques – Japon et Corée du Sud – à la quasi-paralysie.
Un Iran nucléaire n’aurait à s’inquiéter ni d’un ennemi existentiel avec une population d’un milliard d’habitants à côté tel que l’Inde ni d’un mécène tout aussi peuplé comme la Chine susceptible d’imposer des lignes rouges à ses crises de folie périodiques. Téhéran serait libre au contraire de faire et de dire ce qu’il veut. Et son statut de puissance nucléaire deviendrait un multiplicateur de force pour son énorme richesse pétrolière et son statut auto-proclamé de leader mondial des musulmans chiites. Si la Corée du Nord est un danger, alors un Iran nucléaire plus gros, plus riche et sans dissuasion serait un cauchemar. Victor Davis Hanson

Attention: une menace peut en cacher une autre !

Images de propagande d’un autre temps, guignolades avec les bouffons utiles à la Dennis Rodman, troupes jouant aux pompoms girls, grossiers photomontages à l’iranienne, essais nucléaires plus ou moins bidonnés mais vrais cannonages et attaques informatiques …

Alors qu’avec l’indispensable et cynique soutien chinois, la Corée du nord a repris, tout en continuant à affamer sa population, son habituel poker menteur contre ses voisins et les Etats-Unis …

Comment ne pas voir, derrière cette guerre des nerfs incessante que font subir les bouffons nord-coréens aux quelque 23 millions de résidents de l’agglomération séoulite à à peine 50 km de la frontière …

Que si les ennemis d’Israël comme l’Iran ne sont probablement pas assez fous (du moins la plupart des dirigeants et la plupart du temps) pour risquer la vitrification qui suivrait imanquablement une attaque nucléaire d’Israël, ils n’ont justement pas besoin d’annihiler réellement Israël pour arriver à leurs fins …

Qu’il leur suffit de leur rendre la vie tellement intenable par les menaces constantes qu’une partie des Israéliens les plus dynamiques (notamment derrière le "miracle" de haute technologie qui place actuellement Israël à des années lumières de ses attardés de voisins: 77 brevets aux EU pour les Saudis de 1980 à 2000 contre 7,652 pour les Israéliens !) décident finalement, comme je le disais dans un autre billet, "repartir si on leur fait assez peur pour les silicon valleys américaines où ils ont souvent gardé non seulement des contacts mais des résidences secondaires" …

D’où, comme l’explique bien l’analyste miltaire américain Victor Hanson, la menace autrement plus dangereuse, une fois doté de l’arme nucléaire et surtout les possibilités de chantage et d’intimidation qu’elle permettrait, …

D’un Iran assis sur des réserves energétiques parmi les plus importantes du monde, l’absence outre Israël de véritable contrepoids régional et une idéologie à forte dimension fanatico-messianique appuyée sur l’ensemble du monde chiite ?

Iran’s North Korean Future

Victor Davis Hanson

National review

April 11, 2013

The idea of a nuclear Iran — and of preventing a nuclear Iran — terrifies security analysts.

Those who argue for a preemptive strike against Iran cannot explain exactly how American planes and missiles would take out all the subterranean nuclear facilities without missing a stashed nuke or two — or whether they might as well expand their target lists to Iranian military assets in general. None can predict the fallout on world oil prices, global terrorism, and the politically fragile Persian Gulf, other than that it would be uniformly bad.

In contrast, those who favor containment of a nuclear Iran do not quite know how the theocracy could be deterred — or how either Israel or the regional Sunni Arab regimes will react to such a powerful and unpredictable neighbor.

The present crisis with North Korea offers us a glimpse of what, and what not, to expect should Iran get the bomb. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would gain the attention currently being paid to Kim Jong Un — attention not otherwise earned by his nation’s economy or cultural influence.

We should assume that the Iranian theocracy, like the seven-decade-long Kim dynasty in North Korea, would periodically sound lunatic: threatening its neighbors and promising a firestorm in the region — if not eventually in the United States and Europe as well.

An oil-rich, conventionally armed Iran has already used that playbook. When it becomes nuclear, those previously stale warnings of ending Israel or attacking U.S. facilities in the Persian Gulf will not be entirely laughed off, just as Kim Jong Un’s insane diatribes are now not so easily dismissed.

North Korea has taught the world that feigned madness in nuclear poker earns either foreign aid or worldwide attention — given that even a 99 percent surety of a bluff can still scare Western publics. North Korea is the proverbial nutty failed neighbor who constantly picks on the successful suburbanites next door, on the premise that the neighbors will heed his wild, nonsensical threats because he has nothing and they have everything to lose.

Iran could copy Kim’s model endlessly — one week threatening to wipe Israel off the map, the next backing down and complaining that problems in translation distorted the actual, less bellicose communiqué. The point would not necessarily be to actually nuke Israel (which would translate into the end of Persian culture for a century), but to create such an atmosphere of worry and gloom over the Jewish state as to weaken its economy, encourage emigration, and erode its geostrategic reputation.

North Korea is a past master of such nuclear-shakedown tactics. At times Pyongyang has reduced two Asian powerhouses — Japan and South Korea — to near paralysis. Can the nations that gave the world Toyota and Samsung really count on the American defense umbrella? Should they go nuclear themselves? Can North Korean leadership be continually bought off with foreign aid, or is it really as crazy serious as it sounds?

Iran would also be different from other nuclear rogue states. The West often fears a nuclear Pakistan, given that a large part of its tribal lands is ungovernable and overrun with Islamic radicals. Its government is friendly to the West only to the degree that American aid continues.

Yet far larger and more powerful India deters nuclear Pakistan. For all the wild talk from both the Pakistani government and tribal terrorists, there is general fear in Pakistan that India has superior conventional and nuclear forces. India is also unpredictable and not the sort of nation that can be periodically threatened and shaken down for concessions.

Iran has no comparable existential enemy of a billion people — only a tiny Israel of some seven million. The result is that there is no commensurate regional deterrent.

Nor does Iran have a tough master like nuclear China. Even Beijing finally pulls on the leash when its unpredictable North Korean client has threatened to bully neighbors and create too unprofitable a fuss.

Of course, China enjoys the angst that its subordinate causes its rivals. It also sees North Korea as a valuable impediment to a huge, unified, and Westernized Korea on its borders. But that said, China does not want a nuclear war in its backyard. That fact ultimately means North Korea is muzzled once its barking becomes too obnoxious.

A nuclear Iran would worry about neither a billion-person nuclear existential enemy nearby such as India, nor a billion-person patron such as China that would establish redlines to its periodic madness. Instead, Tehran would be free to do and say what it pleased. And its nuclear status would become a force multiplier to its enormous oil wealth and self-acclaimed world leadership of Shiite Muslims.

If North Korea has been a danger, then a bigger, richer, and undeterred nuclear Iran would be a nightmare.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Voir aussi:

Comment la Corée du Nord organise sa propagande à l’aide de photomontages

Slate

09/04/2013

Nous avons passé les photos fournies par l’agence officielle nord-coréenne à l’AFP ou à Reuters au crible d’un logiciel d’analyse approfondie exclusif et réservé d’ordinaire aux ministères français de la Défense et de l’Intérieur.

Menaces de débarquement chez son voisin du sud, promesses de frappes nucléaires, d’attaques ciblées sur des points stratégiques de la région, rejet d’armistices et attaques annoncées sur le sol américain… La logorrhée de la Corée du Nord, pourtant coutumière des annonces agressives à l’égard de ses ennemis historiques, a atteint ces dernières semaines un niveau de violence jamais vu.

Pyongyang «est prête à mener une guerre totale», a promis le dirigeant nord-coréen Kim Jong-un, elle est désormais «en état de guerre», a-t-il dit après l’annonce d’un renforcement des sanctions internationales contre le pays et le survol du territoire sud-coréen par des avions furtifs B-2 de l’armée américaine. Accompagnant comme à son habitude ses paroles de vidéos de propagandes, cette fois montrant le congrès américain en flamme et photographies officielles produites dans le seul but de prouver que son armée est prête à faire face à tout type d’agression extérieure, Kim Jong-un s’est montré ces derniers jours en chef de guerre déterminé et incontrôlable.

La communauté internationale est habituée à la rhétorique belliqueuse et paranoïaque de la Corée du Nord, toujours été accompagnée de tentatives de manipulation par l’image (sans doute davantage diffusées pour asseoir auprès du peuple l’autorité interne de son leader).

Nul ne peut croire que la Corée du Nord dispose de la force militaire nécessaire pour attaquer un pays aussi puissant que les Etats-Unis ou l’un de ses alliés, ni même pour tenter une provocation physique. Pyongyang sait d’ailleurs ce qui lui en coûterait.

Ce qui frappe cette fois, c’est la capacité exceptionnelle des autorités nord-coréennes à user d’outils de communication assez performants pour faire douter les experts, tromper des agences de presse pourtant aguerries à ses techniques de propagande et finalement obtenir l’effet recherché: laisser planer une incertitude sur la survenance d’événements corroborant les déclarations de Pyongyang sur ses capacités réelles à lancer avec succès une attaque militaire d’ampleur.

Alors que les médias propagent massivement les photographies de Kim Jong-un censé étudier des documents présentés comme liés à la stratégie d’invasion élaborée par la Corée du Nord, aucun ne se doute qu’il participe en réalité à la diffusion d’images fictives créées à dessein propagandistes.

Nous avons passé plusieurs photos diffusées par l’agence officielle nord-coréenne KCNA au logiciel d’analyse approfondie exclusif Tungstène –réservé d’ordinaire aux ministères français de la Défense et de l’Intérieur. Une façon de voir comment la Corée du Nord modifie les images qu’elle veut donner d’elle-même (cliquez sur les images pour les voir en plus grand).

1. L’exemple de la flotille d’aéroglisseurs

2. Les photos officielles

La flotille

Mardi 26 mars, alors que Kim Jong-un fait monter la tension avec la Corée du Sud et menace les Etats-Unis d’une guerre thermonucléaire, l’Agence France Presse reçoit de l’agence officielle nord-coréenne KCNA une série de clichés censés montrer un exercice de débarquement nord-coréen sur la côte est du pays.

On y voit d’abord une flottille d’aéroglisseurs en mouvement puis, débarquant sur une plage légèrement enneigée, plusieurs unités d’infanterie. Ici un exercice de tirs de missiles, le sol est légèrement plus terreux. Là le dirigeant nord-coréen, jumelles en main, regardant tout sourire l’entraînement supposé de son armée depuis un point d’observation.

Aux côtés de Kim Jong-un, une poignée de généraux, carnet en mains, semblent prendre note de la progression des fantassins, au loin. Derrière eux patientent une poignée de jeunes soldates chaudement vêtues, tenues de camouflage de rigueur, qu’on aperçoit plus tard au sommet d’une dune, déplacer à la force de leurs bras un lanceur de missiles embourbé dans la boue.

A première vue, on pourrait croire que les images proviennent d’une même source, et que les clichés ont été pris dans des lieux identiques, et à des instants rapprochés. Le paysage des différentes photographies, sol neigeux, mer calme, grand soleil, pourraient même permettre de les lier entre eux.

Cependant aucune information crédible permettant de confirmer cette thèse n’a été communiquée par les services nord-coréens. Les aéroglisseurs au sol n’ont pas la même position d’une photographie à l’autre. Pour l’une d’entre elles, rien ne prouve qu’ils sont en état de fonctionnement, et pour l’autre ni même qu’ils… existent.

Ce que révèleront finalement les analyses réalisées ce jour-là par l’Agence France Presse, qui a eu raison d’être suspicieuse.

D’abord parce que la plupart des informations de la partie supérieure (mer et ciel) de l’image ont été méticuleusement détruites, au point qu’il est possible d’émettre des doutes sur le fait que qu’il s’agisse de deux éléments appartenant au même cliché, ce que prouve de façon évidente l’analyse 3D de la signature numérique de l’image.

Le graphique a été tourné afin de mettre en évidence les différences entre les deux zones. En jaune, la partie basse de la photo correspondant à la plage, à droite la partie haute, correspondant à la mer.

«On remarque une différence de signaux très marquée entre les deux zones. L’information a été détruite sur toute la partie haute de l’image, dont la signature numérique ne correspond pas à celle d’une photographie normale, à la différence de la partie basse du cliché», explique Roger Cozien, dirigeant de la société eXo maKina, qui développe et commercialise le logiciel Tungstène, un logiciel d’analyse approfondie réservé d’ordinaire aux ministères français de la Défense et de l’Intérieur.

Ensuite, parce qu’une partie des informations présentes dans la partie inférieure du cliché a été renforcée, notamment les personnages au sol, un à un.

Enfin parce que certaines informations de la partie supérieure de l’image ont été truquées, voire dupliquées.

«Les signatures d’anormalité des motifs des deux aéroglisseurs situés en bas à droite de la partie haute de l’image sont quasiment identiques, ce qui trop rare pour ne pas faire naître de très fortes certitudes sur la possibilité d’une duplication de l’un des engins amphibiens à partir du deuxième», analyse Roger Cozien.

Il faudra plusieurs heures à l’AFP, qui dispose de la technologie Tungstène, pour arriver à la conclusion que l’image du groupe d’aéroglisseurs menaçant les côtes avait été structurellement modifiée. Celle-ci avait déjà été retirée de la banque d’images de l’agence française, et ses clients avertis.

Elle n’était toutefois que le point de départ d’une tentative de propagande massive orchestrée par Pyongyang dans un but simple: montrer aux Coréens et au reste du monde que la Corée du Nord est prête à entrer en guerre.

A tous les niveaux, on trouve des altérations plus ou moins sérieuses parmi les clichés censés illustrer la suite logique d’événements présentée comme telle par les services de communication nord-coréens.

L’AFP a d’ailleurs également émis des doutes sur la photographie des missiles, qu’elle a supprimé de sa banque d’image. A raison, car la quasi-totalité des informations de la zone correspondant au lancement des fusées ainsi que la fumée s’y échappant, avait été détruite méthodiquement…

…comme d’ailleurs la zone supérieure, ainsi qu’une zone importante de la partie basse de l’image censée représenter des aéroglisseurs débarquant au sol une unité d’infanterie, que certains médias présentent pourtant encore aujourd’hui comme authentique.

S’agissant de cette image, une de ses caractéristiques, que l’on retrouve d’ailleurs dans les signatures de la plupart des photographies diffusées le 26 mars par la Korean Central News Agency, l’agence officielle du régime, est que celle-ci est subdivisée en plusieurs carrés, invisibles à l’œil nu.

«L’hypothèse qui prévaut à ce stade de nos investigations, c’est que ces images aient pu être extraites de vidéos, plus ou moins anciennes, ou qu’il puisse s’agir de scans d’images argentiques anciennes et que ces différentes opérations aient été réalisées avec des matériels anciens et, dans tous les cas, très différents de ce que nous observons habituellement», explique Roger Cozien.

Le flux des images distribuées par l’agence KCNA peut en effet être divisé en deux types de fichiers distincts: celles qui pourraient avoir été extraites de vidéos de propagande, et celles qui ont toutes les caractéristiques d’une photographie numérique classique, truquées ou non. Car il arrive qu’elles n’aient pas fait l’objet d’une modification. Reste encore à savoir quand elles ont été prises, et où.

Les symboles du pouvoir

Les plans d’attaque

Vendredi 29 mars, la Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), l’agence officielle du régime, publiait dans le journal du Parti des travailleurs, le Rodong Sinmun, des clichés montrant le dirigeant nord-coréen «ratifiant le plan de frappes stratégique des forces armées révolutionnaires lors d’une réunion d’urgence» en présence de militaires haut-gradés.

Tout a été réfléchi pour appuyer visuellement les récentes déclarations de Kim Jong-un sur la préparation de tirs de roquettes stratégiques sur le continent américain et des bases militaires de la péninsule coréenne, afin d’«ouvrir une nouvelle phase de l’histoire en mettant un terme définitif à l’épreuve de force avec les Etats-Unis». Et notamment en laissant sciemment derrière des documents militaires montrant des plans d’attaque «stratégiques» élaborés par Pyongyang contre «les forces impérialistes américaines» dans l’océan pacifique, ainsi que des détails sur la puissance militaire supposée de la Corée du Nord.

La carte montrant le «plan de frappes» nord-coréen sur le territoire américain a-t-elle été laissée intentionnellement? En réalité tout l’arrière plan de la photographie a fait l’objet d’un traitement logiciel, invisible à l’œil nu.

Soumise au logiciel d’analyse approfondie exclusif Tungstène, la photographie révèle que des zones ont fait l’objet d’une post-production importante.

On remarque alors qu’un certain nombre d’éléments, notamment les symboles liés au pouvoir du régime, insignes, attaches, étoiles, sur les personnages comme dans leurs reflets, ont fait l’objet d’un renforcement (zones blanches), mais aussi que certaines zones ont fait l’objet d’un traitement inverse, c’est-à-dire que des informations ont été sciemment détruites (zones noires).

Ces zones concernent les documents posés sur le bureau devant lequel est assis Kim Jong-un, ainsi que le verso de la feuille que le leader coréen tient en main et s’apprête à signer, mais pas seulement.

«La photographie numérique ne renvoie aucune information de texture ni de propagation de lumière au niveau de deux zones précises, qui correspondent toutes deux aux zones basses des cartes situées en arrière-plan des personnages», explique l’expert Roger Cozien, dirigeant de la société eXo maKina, qui développe et commercialise le logiciel Tungstène.

Le renforcement classique de certains éléments du décor et des personnages réalisé par les autorités nord-coréennes cache en réalité un travail plus important de destruction d’informations sur ce qui est présenté par Pyongyang comme les plans de frappes stratégiques contre les Etats-Unis. En particulier au niveau des zones maritimes se situant au sud-ouest de la Californie, reproduite à l’identique sur les deux cartes. «On a vraisemblablement voulu cacher des éléments», note Roger Cozien.

Le service photo de l’AFP, destinataire parmi d’autres de l’agence de presse officielle KCNA, reçoit régulièrement ce type d’images de l’organisme de propagande du régime de Pyongyang, par ailleurs source quasi unique d’informations en provenance de Corée du Nord.

La communication officielle

La plupart du temps, pour ne pas dire toujours, ces images ont fait l’objet d’une post-production, c’est-à-dire que leur qualité a été altérée, parfois simplement pour appuyer un élément visuel, ce qui n’est pas rare non plus chez des services de communication occidentaux, parfois pour modifier en profondeur d’autres éléments à des fins de manipulation.

Sur cette image montrant la place Kim Il-sung noire de monde, censée illustrer le soutien du peuple nord-coréen à la décision du «commandant suprême» d’entrer en guerre contre les Etats-Unis, l’ensemble des drapeaux, banderoles, bannières, panneaux et slogans, ont été renforcés à l’aide d’un outil de traitement d’image, afin de les rendre plus prégnants.

En jaune, les zones ayant fait l’objet du renforcement particulièrement important. On observe que celles-ci correspondent aux éléments visuels relatifs au pouvoir nord-coréen, mais aussi aux affiches et panneaux brandis par les personnages présents.

Les photographies officielles nord-coréennes ont presque systématiquement une qualité notoirement insuffisante pour permettre l’identification visuelle des détails, ce qui permet, mais il ne s’agit pas du but premier, d’occulter d’éventuels trucages. Tout au plus souhaite-t-on que l’on retienne une impression d’ensemble, ici l’ordre, la discipline, la foule compacte. «Dans le cas présent, cela peut permettre de cacher les coulisses du rassemblement et l’omniprésence du service d’ordre en nombre très important», explique Roger Cozien.

Les zones blanches représentent les éléments ayant fait l’objet d’une post-production plus classique (lissage, floutage, pixelisation). Elles correspondent à la foule et à certains bâtiments entourant la place Kim Il-sung.

Comme il est souvent impossible d’évaluer la date de l’événement qu’elles sont censées illustrer, ni son existence, les agences de presse destinataires traitent toujours les images de Corée du Nord avec la plus grande précaution. Et lorsqu’elles décident de les mettre à disposition de leurs clients, elles le font en les avertissant de leur provenance et en les conseillant de les considérer avec attention.

Lorsque le photomontage est trop grossier, ce qui pouvait arriver régulièrement par le passé, les agences ne le diffusent pas. Mais de plus en plus souvent, il arrive que les montages en provenance de Pyongyang soient d’une telle qualité que même un œil avisé est incapable de les détecter sans une aide logicielle. Ce qu’il était possible d’interpréter à l’œil nu comme une tromperie, devient aujourd’hui presque impossible sans une analyse méthodique et des outils exceptionnellement performants.

Sur cette image non datée, et a priori anodine, on remarque que certains visages ont été appuyés par une lumière artificielle (flèches bleues). La présence de personnages tournés vers la foule, comme pour la surveiller, de même que l’orientation des visages des personnes leur faisant face, peuvent laisser penser que le rassemblement spontané que le cliché est censé illustrer ne l’est pas (flèches vertes). Le spectre visible à l’œil nu au troisième rang (cadre rouge) permet d’envisager l’hypothèse qu’un élément, peut-être un visage, ou un personnage, a été supprimé de la photographie.

De là à accréditer la thèse selon laquelle la Corée du Nord serait capable d’accompagner ses paroles d’actes, il n’y a qu’un pas. Car si la modification des images accompagnant la propagande de Pyongyang ne permet à aucun moment d’affirmer que les événements qu’elles sont censées illustrer ont jamais réellement eu lieu, rien n’indique non plus que ceux-ci ne pourraient pas un jour survenir.

Lundi, Séoul indiquait surveiller avec la plus grande attention les activités sur le site atomique nord-coréen de Punggye-ri, évoquant la possible survenance prochaine d’un quatrième essai nucléaire organisé par Pyongyang et qui, cette fois, risquerait de transformer définitivement l’escalade verbale en escalade militaire.

Emile Van Bever

Images eXo maKina


Plagiat: L’université aussi ! (Who will watch the watchmen ?)

10 avril, 2013
A qui se fier ? Qui gardera les gardiens ? Philippe Bilger
Non, malheureusement pour moi. Mon éditeur ne me refuse rien. Il me faut deviner si le livre est mauvais ou non, parce qu’il ne me le dira pas. Frédéric Beigbeder
Il nous semble qu’il occulte en l’occurrence la dimension cosmique desdits phénomènes ; une dimension qui, selon le paradigme astrologique – et notre conviction – vient coiffer le social. En effet, le social est loin d’expliquer toutes les “crises… qui se produisent dans la société”. À preuve les actions totalement illogiques, non linéaires, non-logiques et inexplicables autrement que par le paramètre astral qui joue alors le rôle de paramètre éclairant et englobant coiffant le non-logique apparent. Dr. Elizabeth Tessier
C’est l’occasion pour moi de revenir sur deux idées fausses. [...] L’autre erreur est de m’accorder le rôle de corédacteur de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme. Stéphane Hessel
Démissionner sur une initiative personnelle (…) serait un acte d’orgueil alors je me dois d’agir aujourd’hui dans la plus grande humilité. Gilles Bernheim

Je n’ai rien à cacher aussi bien sur des choses anciennes que sur des choses à venir. Lorsqu’une faute a été commise, je le dis, et là-dessus c’est parfaitement acté. Et j’ajoute par ailleurs que lorsqu’un livre est imprimé, il y a parfois des étapes intermédiaires. Cela n’enlève rien à ma responsabilité. (…) Ce qui montre bien que ma démarche était soit suicidaire, soit parsemée d’un certain nombre d’erreur liées à la confiance mal donnée ou accordée à tel ou tel qui se servent de textes et qui ne donne ni la référence ni les guillemets. En toute situation j’assume et je suis pleinement responsable. (…) Mais ceci étant dans l’activité rabbinique qui est la mienne depuis prés de quatre ans et demi, je n’ai pas commis de fautes et l’histoire de l’agrégation, l’histoire des emprunts ou des plagiats. Ceux sont des faits importants, moralement graves. Mais je n’ai pas commis de fautes dans l’exercice de ma fonction dans l’attachement aux causes qui sont les miennes. Gilles Bernheim

Je me permettrais d’ajouter que lorsque je me suis présenté en 2008 à l’élection pour le Grand Rabbinat de France, l’information avait déjà circulé à l’époque. Je n’ai strictement rien dit et d’ailleurs vous observerez qu’au dos de tous mes écrits, jamais n’apparait l’expression : agrégé de philosophie. Que sur des notices, cela ait pu apparaître parce que les notices, elles, elles ne sont pas faites par l’auteur, par le sujet que je suis. Elles peuvent être faites par d’autres personnes qui s’appuient les uns sur certains réseaux d’informations, d’autres sur le net ou d’autres choses. Il y a des erreurs qui se véhiculent et qui finissent par devenir pour beaucoup des vérités. Pour ma part, je le regrette profondément. Gilles Bernheim
Cette affaire confirme que la pratique du plagiat est rarement ponctuelle – le fait malheureux d’un auteur qui a failli accidentellement -, mais bien une méthode d’écriture par procuration, parfaitement au point chez certains publiants – inutile de parler d’auteurs, et encore moins d’écrivains. Encore que ces types de livres soient quelquefois les plus lus, puisqu’ils sont plus des produits de promotion d’une personnalité ou d’une institution qu’un véritable travail intellectuel s’inscrivant dans une réflexion personnelle. Hélène Maurel-Indart
Même les trois pages de remerciements, très originaux, avaient été plagiées. Seul les noms des personnes remerciées avaient été changés! Jean-Noël Darde
Au mois de décembre, on a démasqué un cadre qui se prétendait diplômé de Polytechnique alors qu’il n’y avait jamais mis les pieds. Quand je l’ai rappelé, il m’a dit que nous étions les premiers à nous en rendre compte en vingt ans de carrière. Emmanuel Chomarat (président du directoire de Verifdiploma)
Comme le nuage de TcherNobel, le phénomène des faux diplômes s’arrêterait juste du bon côté de la frontière ? Ouf, nous voilà rassurés ! Mais, en insistant un peu, la plupart des recruteurs lâchent une petite anecdote sur un candidat affabulateur, voire faussaire. Ainsi, Florian Mantione, directeur du cabinet du même nom, n’oubliera pas ce cadre qui prétendait avoir fait Sup de Co Toulouse en 1972 : "Malheureusement pour lui, c’était justement mon école, ma promotion, et je ne l’avais jamais vu." Pas de chance ! Pour l’instant, les menteurs sont plus nombreux que les faussaires. Mais, récemment, le patron de Verifdiploma a découvert que le diplôme de BTS d’un jeune candidat était un faux. Courrier cadres

Attention un "funeste secret de famille" peut en cacher un autre !

Plagiats de thèses massifs (jusqu’aux remerciments !), logiciels d’analyse automatique des textes dépassés par les traductions ou les reformulations, mode de financement des laboratoires de recherche  fondé sur le nombre de publications réalisées par les chercheurs,  universités et institutions de recherche en lutte de plus en plus féroce pour les financements et pour progresser dans les classements internationaux, absence d’instances internes aux établissements d’enseignement supérieur adaptées, chasseur de plagiats voyant ses cours et ses primes de recherche suspendues, plagiés qui ne prennent même pas la peine de déposer plainte  …

A l’heure où, affaire Cahuzac oblige et après le mensonge légal du mariage pour tous, nos dirigeants et députés rivalisent de candeur soudaine …

Et qu’après nombre de nos journalistes et gens de lettres et sans compter l’évident abus de faiblesse dont a été tout récemment victime notre grand Hessel national, c’est au tour d’un étrangement cryptomnésiaque et (déformation professionnelle?) casuistissime grand rabbin de France lui-même de se faire prendre (jusqu’au plagiat systématique, "trahi" selon la formule consacrée "par son assistant d’écriture",  et à l’usurpation de titre !) par le miroir aux alouettes médiatiques…

Pendant qu’en ces temps – internet oblige – d’industrialisation de la triche, les têtes tombent en Allemagne ou en Corée  …

Comment ne pas voir avec ce président d’université cité dans un article du Figaro évoquant déjà l’an dernier une institution et des chercheurs français paupérisés et sommés de « publier ou mourir » pour retrouver des financements et remonter des profondeurs des classements internationaux

Que le plagiat, pourtant devenu massif et sans parler des faux CV et diplômes (voire, au pays des madames Soleil docteurs en sociologie, des thèses fantaisistes), n’est pas près de "faire partie des objectifs de recherche" ?

Thèses, doctorats : le plagiat reste tabou à l’université

Quentin Blanc

Le Figaro

18/10/2012

La ministre allemande de l’Éducation vient d’être mise en cause dans une affaire de plagiat qui pourrait la pousser à démissionner. En France, la plupart des établissements préfèrent fermer les yeux dans de tels cas. Une situation jugée honteuse par certains universitaires.

Annette Schavan, ministre de l’Éducation allemande pourrait bien être obligée de démissionner dans les jours qui viennent. Elle aurait plagié de larges passages de sa thèse de doctorat. L’année dernière, déjà, le ministre de la défense et étoile montante du parti de Mme Merkel avait du quitter son poste suite à une révélation similaire.

En France, nos dirigeants passent avant tout par l’ENA ou les grandes écoles. Ils sont peu nombreux à avoir soutenu une thèse. Laissant le phénomène dans l’ombre des amphis. Pourtant «Le plagiat a pris de l’ampleur à l’université, s’offusque Michelle Bergadaà, spécialiste du sujet, mais il n’est pas pris au sérieux». Pour que ces fraudes ne restent pas impunies, des universitaires français ont décidé de dénoncer les cas, de sensibiliser leurs collègues, d’exposer sur des blogs les textes incriminés.

Des thèses plagiées à 99 %

Les «emprunts» sont souvent spectaculaires. «Les cas dont je parle et que je présente sur mon site sont des thèses qui sont entre 75 et 99 % plagiées» précise M. Jean-Noël Darde, maître de conférence à Paris 8 et auteur d’un blog consacré au sujet. Il cite «un cas où même les trois pages de remerciements, très originaux, avaient été plagiées. Seul les noms des personnes remerciées avaient été changés!»

Les moyens nouveaux de traquer ces abus se développent. Des logiciels comme Compilatio, par exemple, analysent automatiquement les textes à la recherche d’emprunts. Ils sont malheureusement faciles à tromper. Les traductions ou les reformulations lui échappent le plus souvent. Le cas de l’ex-ministre allemand de la Défense est un bon exemple. Des milliers d’internautes avaient du s’allier pour traquer tous les emprunts non sourcés dans sa thèse.

En France, les chasseurs de plagiaires sont encore peu nombreux. Il revient aux professeurs de se montrer vigilants. «Il n’y a rien de déshonorant à être abusé par un plagiaire. Ce qui l’est, c’est de ne pas réagir lorsque l’on s’en aperçoit» explique M. Darde. Et d’accuser: «Trop souvent, les autorités académiques ignorent les cas signalés». Elisabeth Sledziewski, philosophe à l’université de Rennes, parle même de «funestes secrets de famille».

«Les établissements se décrédibilisent aux yeux du public»

Le plus souvent, «il n’existe pas d’instances internes aux établissements d’enseignement supérieur adaptées à ces nouveaux enjeux» selon Mme Bergadaà. En conséquent, «les cas de plagiat doivent être traités par la justice civile. Ce qui implique qu’il y ait un dépôt de plainte réalisé par l’auteur plagié. C’est rarement le cas.» Elle estime que cette politique de l’autruche dessert les établissements d’enseignement supérieur: «Ils se décrédibilisent aux yeux du public et des étudiants car ils sèment le doute sur leur intégrité.» Dénoncer publiquement les cas avérés reste généralement la seule solution possible.

Mme Bergadaà, comme d’autres, pointe «le mode de financement des laboratoires de recherche qui est fondé sur le nombre de publications réalisées par les chercheurs. S’il faut publier beaucoup, et vite, eh bien, on hésitera moins à aller se servir discrètement dans les œuvres des autres.»

Or, aujourd’hui plus que jamais, nos universités se battent pour leurs financements et pour progresser dans les classements. Dans ce contexte, sont-elles vraiment prêtes à lutter contre ce problème? La question mérite d’être posée. Car en attendant, M. Darde a vu ses cours supprimés et sa prime de recherche suspendue par Paris 8. Bien qu’il se défende de tout laxisme, le président de l’établissement lui a adressé une lettre lui expliquant que le plagiat ne faisait pas partie des objectifs de recherche de l’université.

Voir aussi:

Un scandale "typisch deutsch"

Frédéric Lemaitre

07 février 2013

Annette Schavan et la chancelière Angela Merkel, le 13 décembre au Bundestag, à Berlin. Photo : Rainer Jensen/AP

Annette Schavan, ministre de l’éducation et de la recherche, est sans doute sur le départ. Lundi 4 février, l’université de Düsseldorf où elle a fait ses études de philosophie, lui a retiré son titre de docteur. Sa thèse, soutenue il y a plus de trente ans, contient trop de passages "empruntés à d’autres" sans qu’il y soit fait référence. Dans ce pays où le titre de docteur est un précieux sésame – que l’on ajoute à son état civil –, on ne plaisante pas avec le plagiat.

En 2011, le baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, alors ministre de la défense, que certains voyaient déjà chancelier, avait dû démissionner pour les mêmes raisons.

Pourtant, les deux cas ne sont pas tout à fait identiques. "K-T" comme l’appelaient les Allemands, avait carrément plagié 60% de sa thèse, rédigée à la va-vite quand il était déjà responsable politique dans le seul but d’être non seulement baron mais aussi docteur.

Le cas Schavan est plus compliqué. Cette célibataire de 57 ans, catholique pratiquante un brin austère, est une bosseuse reconnue et discrète. Le contraire du flamboyant "Baron de Googleberg", comme on a surnommé son ex-collègue. De plus, le plagiat est moins flagrant. D’ailleurs, le conseil de l’université n’a pas rendu son avis à l’unanimité. La communauté scientifique est divisée. Si l’opposition réclame la démission d’Annette Schavan, ce n’est pas l’hallali.

Reste qu’Annette Schavan est ministre de la recherche et qu’on la voit mal rester crédible à un tel poste.

Alors que la ministre est – opportunément – en voyage en Afrique du Sud et ne rentre que ce vendredi à Berlin, Angela Merkel, dont elle est une amie proche, lui a renouvelé sa "pleine confiance". Les deux femmes devraient se rencontrer dès vendredi soir. Et Angela Merkel tranchera. A quelques mois de l’élection, la plupart des commentateurs parient sur la démission de la ministre. Malgré tout, celle-ci se défend. "Non pas pour mon titre mais pour mon intégrité", dit-elle. Elle a d’ores et déjà intenté un recours devant le tribunal administratif. Mais outre qu’il n’est pas très glorieux pour un ministre de la recherche de demander à des juges de contredire des scientifiques, aucun magistrat n’aurait, depuis les années 1960, donné raison à un plaignant dans ce cas de figure.

Voir également:

Comme Annette Shavan, peut-on perdre son doctorat en France ?

Michel Alberganti

Globule et téléscope

6/02/2013

Un doyen de faculté qui s’avance vers les caméras pour annoncer que le doctorat de philosophie de la ministre de l’éducation et de la recherche, Annette Schavan, est invalidé 33 ans après lui avoir été décerné… La scène s’est déroulée en Allemagne, le 5 février 2013, à l’université de Düsseldorf. Quelque chose me dit qu’elle est difficilement imaginable en France. Mais pourquoi, au fond ?

1°/ Le titre de “Doktor” jouit d’une grande notoriété outre-Rhin

Alors qu’en France, seuls les docteurs en médecine peuvent espérer voir leur titre accolé à leur nom, en Allemagne, Herr Doktor jouit d’une aura considérable quelle que soit la discipline. Le paradoxe de l’université française conduit ainsi son diplôme le plus prestigieux a n’être jamais mis en avant par ceux qui l’ont obtenu après, au moins, une dizaine d’années de laborieuses études. Ainsi, alors que je reçois chaque année environ 200 scientifiques dans Science Publique, l’émission que j’anime sur France Culture, très rares sont ceux qui se présentent comme docteurs alors que bon nombre le sont. Pourquoi ? Il semble que la filière du doctorat reste refermée sur l’université. La vocation d’un docteur est de devenir professeur et/ou directeur de recherche. Même s’ils entrent au CNRS, les docteurs ne sortent guère des murs de ces institutions.

En Allemagne, après leur thèse, la plupart des Doktor font leur carrière dans l’industrie. Leur visibilité n’a alors pas de commune mesure. Surtout dans un pays où l’industrie est également fortement valorisée.

En France, conscient de ce problème qui leur barre souvent la route vers des emplois dans les entreprises alors que l’université est saturée, les docteurs se sont réunis dans une association nationale des docteurs, l’ANDès dont l’objectif affiché est de “promouvoir les docteurs”. Étonnant paradoxe… Le titre le plus élevé a donc besoin de “promotion”. C’est pourtant justifié. Le docteur reste loin d’avoir la même cote, dans l’industrie, d’un polytechnicien ou d’un centralien. Résultat, le faible nombre de docteurs dans les entreprises est l’une des principales causes du retard français en matière de pourcentage du PIB consacré à la recherche.

2°/ Pas besoin d’être docteur pour être ministre de la recherche en France

En Allemagne, donc, on ne badine pas avec le doctorat. Et même, ou surtout, un ministre de la recherche ne saurait avoir usurpé son titre. En France, ce cas de figure a d’autant moins de chances de se produire que… les ministres de la recherche sont rarement docteurs. A partir d’Hubert Curien, docteur es sciences, ministre de la recherche jusqu’en 1993, on ne trouve guère que 3 docteurs sur ses 19 successeurs: Claude Allègre, docteur es sciences physiques, ministre de 1997 à 2000, Luc Ferry, docteur en science politique, ministre de 2002 à 2004 et Claudie Haigneré, docteur ès sciences, option neurosciences, ministre déléguée de 2002 à 2004.

Force est de constater que ces trois ministres n’ont pas laissé un souvenir impérissable. Lorsque Luc Ferry et Claudie Haigneré étaient aux commandes, l’un des plus forts mouvements de révolte des chercheurs s’est produit avec “Sauvons la recherche“, en 2003. Il a fallu un autre couple, beaucoup plus politique, François Fillon et François d’Aubert, pour rétablir l’ordre et redonner un peu d’espoir dans les laboratoires.

3°/ Pas besoin d’une thèse de valeur pour être docteur en France

C’est peut-être ce qui fait le plus mal à l’image de l’université française. Et c’est peut-être lié à la sous-valorisation du doctorat. Même s’ils peuvent paraître anecdotiques, trois exemples publics ont suffi pour jeter un discrédit tenace sur l’institution qui délivre les doctorats. Il s’agit du diplôme décerné à Elizabeth Teissier, docteur en sociologie en 2001 avec sa thèse intitulé “Situation épistémologique de l’astrologie à travers l’ambivalence fascination-rejet dans les sociétés postmodernes”. Ex mannequin et comédienne, Elizabeth Teissier est surtout astrologue depuis 1968. Elle avait, certes, obtenu un DEA en Lettres modernes… en 1963.

Les autres exemples de doctorats ayant défrayé la chronique sont, bien entendu, ceux des frères Bogdanoff en mathématiques appliquées et en physique théorique. Ces cas sont-ils des exceptions ou la partie émergée de l’iceberg ? C’est toute la question.

Mais la France aurait sans doute besoin d’une “affaire Schavan”. Pas forcément, d’ailleurs, concernant le doctorat, rare, d’un ministre de la recherche. Mais juste une reconnaissance d’erreur. Histoire de montrer que l’institution universitaire est capable de revenir sur la décision de l’un de ses directeurs de thèse et d’un jury. L’erreur étant humaine, son absence est d’autant plus suspecte. Lorsqu’un peu moins de 10 000 thèses sont soutenues chaque année en France (contre environ 15 000 en Allemagne), une faute devrait être pardonnée. Encore faudrait-il qu’elle soit avouée ou déclarée…

Voir encore:

Texte intégral de l’interview de Gilles Bernheim sur radio Shalom

Israel Infos

10.04.2013 – 30 Nisan 5773

Nous reproduisons ci dessous le texte intégral de l’entretien réalisé par Pierre Gandus sur radio Shalom, le 9 Avril 2013. Transcription : Franck Sebbah

[Gilles Bernheim] PIERRE GANDUS :

Le Grand Rabbin de France s’exprime ce soir et en direct sur Radio Shalom. Dans une tourmente médiatique concernant plusieurs faits qui vous sont reprochés et qui pour certains d’entre eux vous avez reconnu.

Ces révélations, Gilles Berheim, ont provoqué étonnement, stupeur voire même un sentiment de trahison quant on sait le temps et les difficultés qui ont été les vôtres et celle de votre équipe pour imprimer une nouvelle image au judaïsme français plus moderne, plus dynamique, plus en phase avec la société française.

Nous allons parler de cela en toute franchise car ce soir la communauté juive attend vos réponses qui comme mes confrères de la presse et toux ceux qui nous écoutent et qui ne sont ni juifs, ni journalistes.

Alors on va dans un premier temps être assez factuel.

Première affaire, suite à de nombreuses attaques de plagiat sur Internet concernant "Les 40 méditations juives" parus en 2011, vous déclarez le 20 mars que l’emprunt aurait été le fait du philosophe Jean-François Liottard et de son interlocutrice qui aurait eu entre les mains la photocopie manuscrite d’un cours tenu par vous alors que vous étiez aumônier des étudiants.

Devant l’afflux des révélations alors que vous vous trouviez en Israël pour la clôture de la fête juive de Pessah, vous avez changé de discours en reconnaissant le plagiat et l’utilisation d’un nègre et en demandant à votre éditeur de retirer l’ouvrage de la vente ainsi que de votre bibliographie. Vous précisez aussi que c’est la seule et unique fois où vous vous êtes livré à un tel arrangement. Pourquoi cette réponse en deux temps et pourquoi vous êtes- vous enferré dans ce mensonge ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Vous savez lorsqu’un fait comme celui-là, quand des faits comme ceux-là sont révélés brutalement sur la place publique, que vous ne vous y attendiez pas, que vous n’êtes pas du tout préparé à la réaction, vous mentez bêtement.

Quand je dis, vous mentez bêtement, vous vous défendez immédiatement sans réfléchir.

Et pour ma part, je regrette profondément aujourd’hui.

PIERRE GANDUS :

La Deuxième affaire concerne "Le souci des autres, fondements de la loi juive" paru en 2002 où ce sont plusieurs pages qui ont été empruntés à Jean-Loup Charvet dans son livre "L’éloquence des larmes" dont la révélation a pris corps aujourd’hui même.

Sur cette affaire que répondez-vous ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Très simplement.

Le livre "Le souci des autres" est un livre de cours que j’ai donnés en tant qu’aumônier des étudiants pendant de très nombreuses années au Centre Edmond Fleg devant des dizaines et des dizaines d’étudiants.

Ce qui veut dire quoi ?

Ce qui veut dire que beaucoup plus tard, il m’a été demandé d’en faire un livre.

Et que pour illustrer – pas illustrer au sens d’illustration – mais parfois pour rendre plus clairs, plus pédagogiques, plus compréhensibles des enseignements de Torah que j’avais retranscrits de mes cours, soit j’ai demandé à des personnes de me faire ce travail plus pédagogique avec donc des références littéraires ou autres (et même si d’autres ont commis des fautes, j’en suis le seul responsable puisque c’est moi qui l’ai demandé, que ceci soit parfaitement clair), soit, et cela a pu arriver à plusieurs reprises, lorsque je préparais les cours durant toutes ces années, c’est-à-dire depuis le début des années quatre-vingts où j’ai enseigné au Centre Edmond Fleg – et c’est ma faute mais c’est une réalité – à savoir que pour rendre plus fluides et plus accessibles des enseignements de Torah qui sont parfois d’une certaine exigence, d’une certaine rigueur, d’une certaine difficulté du langage, je me suis servi, je prenais des notes à la main, j’écrivais au crayon pour reprendre dans tel ou tel livre quelque chose qui me semblait très proche du raisonnement de tel ou tel maître de la tradition rabbinique.

Et la faute qui est la mienne et je le dis très clairement, c’est que je ne mettais pas de références au point que ces notes devenaient miennes.

Jusqu’au jour où j’en ai fait un livre avec, très certainement, des emprunts – ce que d’autres appelleront des plagiats – de textes qui convergent avec l’essentiel de l’enseignement des maîtres rabbiniques mais qui restent des emprunts et, cela, non seulement je le regrette profondément mais je sais que c’est une faute morale.

PIERRE GANDUS :

D’autant que vous auriez pu signaler la référence.

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Tout à fait.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Troisième affaire, le 21 décembre dernier dans son discours annuel à la Curie romaine, lors d’un discours très attendu, le Pape Benoit XVI avait cité votre plaquette contre "le mariage pour tous", publiée le 18 octobre dernier sous le titre : "Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité et adoption, ce que l’on oublie souvent de dire."

Un événement salué par la communauté juive et la presse dans le monde entier.

Là encore, on vous reproche d’avoir emprunté plusieurs pages de son livre à Joseph Marie Verlinde : "L’idéologie du Gender – Identité reçue ou choisie ?" publié en mars 2012.

Vous confirmez ou vous infirmez aussi cet emprunt ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Je confirme.

Je n’ai rien à cacher aussi bien sur des choses anciennes que sur des choses à venir.

Lorsqu’une faute a été commise, je le dis, et là-dessus c’est parfaitement acté. Et j’ajoute par ailleurs que lorsqu’un livre est imprimé, il y a parfois des étapes intermédiaires. Cela n’enlève rien à ma responsabilité.

Ce que j’entends par une étape, c’est que d’aucuns peuvent reprendre du texte et reprendre à leur compte et ensuite vous l’utilisez.

Il m’est arrivé, enseignant au Centre Edmond Fleg, de laisser des gens enregistrer et de retrouver des lignes ou des pages dans d’autres livres.

Parfois, en général légèrement remaniées et puis, je vais vous dire une chose, si vous imprimez une page telle quelle, c’est complètement imbécile.

Quelqu’un qui est complètement pervers et qui veut se servir du travail des autres, il n’imprime pas les choses telles quelles.

Il les réécrit à sa façon pour s’en inspirer. Ce qui montre bien que ma démarche était, soit suicidaire, soit parsemée d’un certain nombre d’erreurs liées à la confiance mal donnée ou accordée à tel ou tel qui se servent de textes et qui ne donnent ni la référence ni les guillemets.

En toute situation j’assume et je suis pleinement responsable.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Et entre les deux, entre l’attitude suicidaire et la confiance mal donnée. Vous choisissez quoi ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Je choisis d’abord la deuxième solution non pas parce qu’elle m’arrange mais parce qu’elle est réelle. Et aussi des textes en d’autres circonstances qu’il m’est arrivé de reprendre dans les conditions que j’ai évoquées tout à l’heure.

À savoir que pour construire quelque chose, je me suis servi de textes anciens sans mettre moi-même la référence sur mes notes. Jusqu’à faire comme si elles m’appartenaient.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Dernier point il concerne votre agrégation de philosophie.

La société des agrégés n’a pas de trace de votre agrégation.

"Soit il n’est pas agrégé, soit il s’agit d’une erreur de transcription", c’est ce qu’avance la présidente de cette société.

On a entendu plein de choses au sujet de cette agrégation sauf votre version.

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Ma version est très simple, non pas parce que l’affaire fut simple à ce moment-là.

Nous sommes près de 40 ans plus tard, disons 37 ans plus tard. Il s’est simplement passé une chose. Lorsque vous arrivez à un concours, cela peut arriver.

Et c’est ce qui m’est arrivé, alors que les choses étaient très largement bien engagées avec une réussite sinon certaine, en tout les cas probable ou très possible, de craquer.

Craquer non pas sur une note mais parce qu’un événement tragique arrive à un moment où l’on ne peut pas se permettre de subir dans sa vie intime des événements extérieurs au travail intellectuel. Cela s’est passé ainsi.

L’événement tragique et puis ensuite on entre dans le déni.

C’est-à-dire, le fait, non pas de proclamer partout, mais de laisser dire que l’on est agrégé, permet de mettre un pansement sur une blessure qui est très forte et de vivre longtemps avec.

Je me permettrais d’ajouter que lorsque je me suis présenté en 2008 à l’élection pour le Grand Rabbinat de France, l’information avait déjà circulé à l’époque.

Je n’ai strictement rien dit et d’ailleurs vous observerez qu’au dos de tous mes écrits, jamais n’apparait l’expression : agrégé de philosophie.

Que sur des notices, cela ait pu apparaître parce que les notices, elles, elles ne sont pas faites par l’auteur, par le sujet que je suis.

Elles peuvent être faites par d’autres personnes qui s’appuient les uns sur certains réseaux d’informations, d’autres sur le net ou d’autres choses.

Il y a des erreurs qui se véhiculent et qui finissent par devenir pour beaucoup des vérités.

Pour ma part, je le regrette profondément.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Donc vous nous dites ce soir que vous n’êtes pas agrégé de philosophie.

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Non

PIERRE GANDUS :

Jean-Noël Darde, spécialiste des plagiats, est à l’origine de toutes ces révélations.

Est-ce que vous le connaissez ?

Est-ce qu’il y a un contentieux entre vous et pourquoi ces révélations sortent maintenant alors que les livres cités ont été publiés plusieurs années auparavant ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Je ne connais pas cet homme du tout.

Et jusqu’à cette affaire, j’en ignorais l’existence.

Je n’ai strictement rien à dire sur une personne que je ne connais pas.

Quant à la deuxième question – à savoir pourquoi cette affaire sort maintenant – permettez-moi de ne pas y répondre.

Parce que l’heure n’est pas à l’explication de l’histoire, de l’interprétation.

L’heure est à une prise de conscience personnelle des erreurs que j’ai commises.

De manière à en tirer des leçons.

Parce que vous le savez, lorsque l’on a des responsabilités très lourdes, beaucoup de gens – si vous réussissez un temps soit peu dans ce que vous faites- vous perçoivent comme une espèce de héros. Comme quelqu’un qui aurait de très grandes capacités ou des grandes compétences et donc vous n’avez pas envie de les décevoir et de vous enfermer dans l’image que les autres peuvent avoir de vous et finalement que vous vous donnez à vous-même.

Et je pense qu’à l’instant présent, c’est non seulement l’humilité mais la remise en question qui s’impose à moi.

De manière à vérifier chaque jour, à ne pas commettre de fautes, d’erreurs.

De ne pas viser plus haut que ce que je suis capable de faire en terme d’efforts, de réussite. Autrement dit d’être pleinement homme et ne pas se vouloir plus qu’un homme au-dessus des autres. Et je me permettrais de rajouter ce qu’enseigne le Baal Chem Tov, à savoir que "l’homme est le bégaiement de D-ieu". Il faut savoir parfois accepter de ne pouvoir bégayer et pas toujours parler parfaitement pour rien.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Vous parliez à l’instant de cette prise de conscience personnelle.

Je suppose que vous-même, vous vous posez des questions sur ce qui vous a poussé à agir ainsi.

Est-ce que vous avez un début de réponse ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Qu’est-ce qui pousse à agir ainsi ?

Vous savez ce que m’a rapporté l’histoire de l’agrégation ?

Je n’en ai jamais profité.

Je n‘ai jamais demandé un bénéfice, un profit, un poste, un avantage quelconque.

Que ce soit en termes de situation, que ce soit en termes d’argent, de représentation.

Là où j’ai été pour parler, pour enseigner, pour partager la Torah à l‘épreuve du monde, c’est-à-dire la pensée de la Torah à l’épreuve de la pensée occidentale, je l’ai fait oralement, sans notes, rarement avec des notes.

Ce qui nécessite une certaine compétence, un vrai travail de préparation, de réflexion, de clarté, de pédagogie.

Lorsque vous débattez avec de grands philosophes contemporains, avec ou sans titre d’agrégation, que vous débattez sans notes, vous n’existez que si vous êtes à la hauteur, si vous maitrisez votre savoir et ensuite c’est aux autres d’en juger.

De juger de la qualité de vos prestations.

Et vous savez depuis tant d’années, c’est-à-dire depuis 1978 où je suis rabbin, à Paris, en France, en Europe, en Israël et ailleurs, les débats publics ont été très nombreux. L’enseignement de la Torah, j’en parlais tout à l’heure, je l’ai pratiqué dans le cadre de l’aumônerie des étudiants puis de la Synagogue de la Victoire. Ces enseignements ont été multiples. Enseignement sans notes, dont des générations et des générations d’étudiants ont fait leur vie, se souviennent et ce sont eux qui peuvent en témoigner. Le livre en hébreu devant l’orateur et c’est tout.

Que vous dire d’autre ?

PIERRE GANDUS :

Internet où tout se dit sans limites s’est très vite emparé de cette affaire avec aussi bien des comités de soutien à votre encontre que des collectifs appelant à votre démission. Ce soir, que dites-vous à ceux qui nous écoutent ?

Allez-vous démissionner ou rester à votre poste ?

J’ajoute d’ailleurs que certains de ceux qui veulent votre démission vous ont menacé de nouvelles révélations si vous vous maintenez à votre poste.

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Permettez-moi de dire une chose très simple.

C’est que démissionner sur une initiative personnelle relèverait d’une désertion.

Que, par ailleurs, ce ne serait pas conforme à ce que j’ai toujours été dans la vie privée et dans la vie publique. À savoir un homme qui sait prendre ses responsabilités.

J’ajouterais également que ce serait un acte d’orgueil alors que je dois agir aujourd’hui dans la plus grande humilité.

Et puis permettez-moi de dire pour terminer que ce serait contraire à la collégialité qui préside à une telle décision.

Je crois que mon propos est très clair, je travaille, j’assume ma fonction pleinement. Les menaces sont évidemment toujours très brutales et ont pour finalité d’exercer une forme de violence, de casser la personne.

Je suis solide et, dans cette esprit de collégialité dont je viens de parler, j’assume chaque jour pleinement ma fonction de Grand Rabbin de France.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Donc vous ne démissionnez pas.

Est-ce que le Consistoire central vous soutient ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Le Consistoire central est un ensemble de personnes.

Il y a des gens qui me soutiennent, il y a des gens qui me soutiennent moyennement, il y a des gens qui s’opposent à moi, d’autres qui ne me soutiennent pas du tout.

Il y a un peu de tout si vous me permettez cette expression.

Vous savez, des gens qui vous soutiennent, des gens qui s’opposent à vous, cela a toujours existé. J’en ai vécu des situations d’opposition, voire de confrontations violentes.

Rappelez-vous en 2008, l’élection au poste de Grand Rabbin de France, rappelez-vous d’autres situations antérieures…

J’assume. Il n’y a que les gens qui ne s’engagent pas qui n’ont aucun ennemi, aucun adversaire et qui, quelque part, survivent à toutes les situations parce qu’ils sont passés entre les gouttes d’eau.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Je voudrais à présent aborder votre travail comme GRF, vous en en parliez à l’instant.

Avec votre équipe, je le disais au début de cette émission, vous avez imprimé une nouvelle image au judaïsme français.

Plus moderne, plus dynamique, plus en phase avec la situation française.

Vous avez été de tous les combats comme pour redonner un nouveau souffle au rabbinat français, réformer le séminaire israélite : rendre plus saine la filière de la cacherout en France ; se battre contre ceux qui voulaient interdire l’abattage rituel avec le Grand Rabbin Bruno Fison ; le dossier des circoncisions avec le Grand rabbin Moshe Lewine qui est aussi votre porte-parole ; celui des derniers devoirs dus aux morts avec le Grand Rabbin Claude Mamane.

Vous avez alerté les pouvoirs publics sur la résurgence de l’antisémitisme en France. Vous avez rendu visite à de très nombreuses communautés juives à travers toute la France.

Un travail de tous les jours avec une équipe qui est à vos côtés depuis quatre ans et, pour certains, depuis bien plus longtemps.

Qu’avez-vous envie de leur dire ce soir et que dites-vous aux juifs de France qui vous ont soutenus, qui ont cru en vous pour tout ce que je viens d’énoncer.

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Ce que je voudrais leur dire c’est qu’une épreuve, traverser une épreuve comme celle que je traverse, comme celle que ma famille, mes proches, mes collaborateurs et collaboratrices traversent doit rendre plus fort.

Être plus fort, tirer des leçons, ne pas commettre à nouveau les mêmes erreurs, afin d’aller de l’avant…

La Techouva n’existe qu’à condition que l’on sache ne pas répéter les mêmes fautes.

Et donc être plus exigeant, beaucoup plus vigilant après que ce que l’on n’était avant. C’est la première chose que je veux leur dire.

La deuxième chose, c’est au sujet de l’image que j’ai de la communauté, l’idée que je me fais du judaïsme en France – et je voudrais associer le Grand Rabin Haim Korsia qui n’a pas été mentionné tout à l’heure parmi mes collaborateurs et il y en a encore d’autres, qu’ils ne se vexent pas de ne pas être tous rappelés ce soir –, pour imprimer au judaïsme en France un souffle important.

Et quand je dis un souffle, une plus grande proximité entre les Juifs et les non Juifs. Une plus grande proximité entre toutes sortes de Juifs.

Ceux qui pratiquent et ceux qui ne pratiquent pas et ceux qui sont "tièdes".

C’est à dire non pas un judaïsme de clans où il y aurait différents types de Juifs… mais sans lien entre eux.

C’est très difficile parce que cela exige du respect, parfois de la tolérance.

Beaucoup de patience, là où des gens veulent réussir très vite et valoriser leurs réseaux parce qu’ils ont leurs intérêts.

Et c’est vrai que ce travail doit être poursuivi.

C’est ce que je souhaiterais accomplir si la communauté m’accorde sa confiance et si l’histoire me permet de continuer comme je le souhaite, d’aller de l’avant.

Vous avez parlé de l’école rabbinique.

Il y a là un gros chantier qui a été confié au Grand rabbin Kauffman et je l’épaulerai autant que faire se peut avec la commission administrative de l’École rabbinique.

Avec l’amitié, le soutien et la confiance du président du Consistoire central.

Et puis le travail social, le travail interreligieux.

Vous avez parlé de la cacherout, vous avez parlé de la formation continue des rabbins.

Cette formation continue que nous donnons aux rabbins, c’est pour leur permettre de mieux affronter les problèmes des familles, les problèmes sociaux, les problèmes économiques.

Pour pouvoir apporter des réponses, orienter les gens.

Pour pouvoir être de vrais relais lorsque les problèmes se posent à eux dans la communauté. C’est là le travail qui a été accompli déjà depuis quelques années maintenant.

Dans les hôpitaux, avec l’aumônerie des hôpitaux, c’est extrêmement important parce que nous savons que c’est dans les moments de souffrance que les gens réfléchissent, ont besoin des autres, veulent aller de l’avant.

Parfois ils ont des choix cruciaux à faire.

Et l’aumônier des hôpitaux est là pour aider ceux qui sont en grande souffrance ainsi que leurs familles. Je n’ai fait que recenser quelques tâches importantes, il y en beaucoup d’autres.

Le travail dans les petites communautés, les voyages, les visites, les encouragements, les enseignements et surtout, surtout, surtout, dispenser un enseignement de Torah qui parle à toutes sortes de juifs.

Qui leur donne à penser.

Que ce soit dans un langage simple ou que ce soit dans un langage intellectuel mais une Torah qui élève, qui donne l’amour de l’autre. Une Torah qui n’exclut pas, une Torah qui relie.

Et c’est cette Torah que je continuerai à enseigner chaque jour, chaque semaine et, sans doute après l’épreuve que je traverse, une Torah que je veux enseigner encore beaucoup plus et plus encore l’étudier moi-même chaque jour.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Dernier question : comment avez-vous l’intention de renouer les fils de la confiance qui se sont établis entre vous et la communauté juive ?

Entre vous et les gens qui travaillent avec vous au quotidien ?

GILLES BERNHEIM :

Ce sont en fait deux questions.

D’une part avec la communauté, d’autre part avec ceux qui travaillent avec moi au quotidien, et cela c’est important de le dire.

Pour commencer, ceux qui travaillent avec moi au quotidien peuvent être déçus, peuvent avoir l’impression d’avoir été trompés ou d’avoir été trahis.

Il m’appartient de demander pardon à ceux que j’ai pu décevoir, de leur dire et qu’ils puissent l’entendre. C’est comme demander pardon à ses proches.

Parce que les proches souffrent dans cette épreuve. Les proches, ce sont les amis, la famille, et la famille représente, pardonnez-moi l’expression, la partie la plus intime.

Et puis vis à vis de la communauté, c’est un problème d’images.

Elle est à restaurer, à reconstruire.

Ceci étant, dans l’activité rabbinique qui est la mienne depuis près de quatre ans et demi, je n’ai pas commis de fautes et l’histoire de l’agrégation, l’histoire des emprunts ou des plagiats, ce sont des faits importants, moralement graves, mais je n’ai pas commis de fautes dans l’exercice de ma fonction, dans l’attachement aux causes qui sont les miennes.

Dans l’accomplissement des nombreuses obligations qui me sont conférées et cela m’aidera à retisser, à reconstruire une image de confiance, je l’espère, si D-ieu le veut, avec l’aide du Tout Puissant.

PIERRE GANDUS :

Gilles Bernheim, merci pour ce moment de franchise et de vérité sur Radio Shalom. C’est la fin de cette émission.

Bonne soirée.

Interview réalisée par Pierre Gandus

German Fascination With Degrees Claims Latest Victim: Education Minister

Nicholas Kulish and Chris Cottrel

The New York Times

February 9, 2013

BERLIN — For 32 years, the German education minister’s 351-page dissertation sat on a shelf at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf gathering dust while its author pursued a successful political career that carried her to the highest circles of the German government.

The academic work was a time bomb, however, and it exploded last year when an anonymous blogger published a catalog of passages suspected of having been lifted from other publications without proper attribution.

The university revoked the doctorate of the minister, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, on Tuesday (she retains the title pending appeal), and on Saturday she was forced to resign her cabinet post. It was the second time a minister had resigned from the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel over plagiarism in less than two years.

In an emotional news conference, Dr. Schavan said that she would sue to win back the doctorate, but in the meantime she would resign for the greater good. “First the country, then the party and then yourself,” she said.

Standing beside her, Dr. Merkel, who herself has a doctorate from the University of Leipzig, said that she accepted Dr. Schavan’s resignation “only with a very heavy heart,” but that politically there was no alternative.

Coming after Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was forced to step down as defense minister over plagiarism charges in 2011, Dr. Schavan’s déjà-vu scandal can only hurt Dr. Merkel ahead of September’s parliamentary election. But the two ministers are far from the only German officials to have recently had their postgraduate degrees revoked amid accusations of academic dishonesty, prompting national soul-searching about what the cases reveal about the German character.

Germans place a greater premium on doctorates than Americans do as marks of distinction and erudition. According to the Web site Research in Germany, about 25,000 Germans earn doctorates each year, the most in Europe and about twice the per capita rate of the United States.

Many Germans believe the scandals are rooted in their abiding respect, and even lust, for academic accolades, including the use of Prof. before Dr. and occasionally Dr. Dr. for those with two doctoral degrees. Prof. Dr. Volker Rieble, a law professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, calls this obsession “title arousal.”

“In other countries people aren’t as vain about their titles,” he said. “With this obsession for titles, of course, comes title envy.”

A surprising number of doctors of nonmedical subjects like literature and sociology put “Dr.” on their mailboxes and telephone-directory listings. The Web site of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, shows that 125 of 622 people elected to the current Parliament (including Dr. Schavan and Mr. Guttenberg) had doctorates when sworn in.

Dr. Merkel appointed Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, the state minister of science and culture in Lower Saxony, to take over Dr. Schavan’s position. Prof. Dr. Wanka got her doctorate in 1980, the same year as Dr. Schavan.

The finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, is a doctor of law. The vice chancellor, Philipp Rösler, is an ophthalmologist and thus the only one most Americans would call “doctor.”

For the plagiarism scalp hunters, the abundance of titles provides what in military circles is known as a target-rich environment, and digging up academic deception by politicians has become an unlikely political blood sport.

There is even a collaborative, wiki-style platform where people can anonymously inspect academic texts, known as VroniPlag.

Here in the homeland of schadenfreude, the zeal for unmasking academic frauds also reflects certain Teutonic traits, including a rigid adherence to principle and a know-it-all streak. “I just think that many Germans have a police gene in their genetic makeup,” Dr. Rieble said.

The University of Heidelberg revoked the doctorate of Silvana Koch-Mehrin, former vice president of the European Parliament and a leading member of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, in 2011, and she is still fighting the charges in court.

Another German member of the European Parliament, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, saw his doctorate of philosophy revoked by the University of Bonn in 2011 after the VroniPlag Web site uncovered a number of dubious passages. Florian Graf, head of the Christian Democrats’ delegation in the Berlin city legislature, lost his Ph.D. last year after admitting to copying from other scholars’ works without properly crediting them.

In many countries, busy professionals with little interest in tenure-track positions at universities do not tend to bother writing dissertations. In Germany, academic titles provide an ego boost that lures even businesspeople to pursue them.

Prof. Dr. Debora Weber-Wulff, a plagiarism expert at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and an active participant in VroniPlag, suggested getting rid of superfluous doctoral titles outside of academia. “A doctor only has meaning at a university or in academia,” she told German television. “It has no business on political placards.”

But she is originally from Pennsylvania. Here the attitudes are deeply ingrained, and few think habits will change anytime soon. “It is a proof that you can handle academic stuff and that you can keep on task for quite a while,” Dr. Peter Richter, a correspondent in New York for the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, said in an e-mail.

It can be a shock to Americans unfamiliar with the practice, as Dr. Richter has experienced in New York. “Here people instantly think that I’m a medicine man when they read my name,” he said.

Even within Germany the practice differs by region, he said, with those in the conservative south insisting on titles more than those in northern cities like Hamburg. There are other divides, with many members of the counterculture generation of 1968 rejecting titles, though many have come to enjoy them as they have grown older.

Dr. Schavan, 57, whose parliamentary district is in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, was granted her doctorate in 1980; her dissertation was titled “Person and Conscience.” Despite that title, she was not shy about chastising Mr. Guttenberg, once an up-and-coming star from neighboring Bavaria, when his plagiarism scandal struck in 2011. One of her fellow cabinet member’s most prominent and outspoken critics, she told Süddeutsche Zeitung that she was “ashamed, and not just secretly,” about the charges against him.

The accusations against Dr. Schavan surfaced the following year on a bare-bones, anonymous Web site. The accusations were particularly significant for Dr. Schavan because she led the federal Ministry of Education and Research.

When Dr. Schavan’s doctorate was revoked, Dr. Merkel said through a spokesman that she had “complete trust” in her. While that may have sounded like a show of support, it was also exactly the same phrase she used for Mr. Guttenberg, right before he had to resign for plagiarizing passages of his dissertation.

Unlike Mr. Guttenberg, Dr. Schavan was widely known to be a friend and a confidante of Dr. Merkel’s, but few here expected that to save her job. The two women met privately on Friday evening to discuss the matter, announced at the chancellery building on a snowy Saturday afternoon. Dr. Merkel was unstinting in her praise for the departing minister but ultimately chose politics over personal ties.

“A health minister doesn’t need to be a medical doctor, but if he is one, then he can’t have committed malpractice,” Dr. Rieble said. “An education minister doesn’t need to have a Ph.D., but if he does, then his dissertation cannot be plagiarized.”

Victor Homola contributed reporting.

Voir par ailleurs:

The cheating epidemic at Britain’s universities

A cheating epidemic is sweeping universities with thousands of students caught plagiarising, trying to bribe lecturers and buying essays from the internet.

David Barrett

The Daily Telegraph

05 Mar 2011

A survey of more than 80 universities has revealed that academic misconduct is soaring at institutions across the country.

See the full list of cheating incidents at British universities

More than 17,000 incidents of cheating were recorded by universities in the 2009-10 academic year – up at least 50 per cent in four years.

But the true figure will be far higher because many were only able to provide details of the most serious cases and let lecturers deal with less serious offences.

Only a handful of students were expelled for their misdemeanours among those universities which disclosed how cheats were punished.

Most of the incidents were plagiarism in essays and other coursework, but others examples include:

* Three cases categorised as "impersonation" by Derby University and three at Coventry, along with 10 "uses of unauthorised technology"

* Kent University reported at least one case where a student attempted to "influence a teacher or examiner improperly".

* At the University of East Anglia students submitted pieces of work which contained identical errors, while others completed reports which were "almost identical to that of another student", a spokesman said, while one was caught copying sections from the Wikipedia website.

* A student sitting an exam at the University of the West of Scotland was caught with notes stored in an MP3 player.

* A Bradford University undergraduate completed work at home, smuggled it into an examination then claimed it had been written during the test.

* The University of Central Lancashire, at Preston, reported students had been caught using a "listening and/or communications device" during examinations.

* Keele undergraduates sitting exams were found to have concealed notes in the lavatory, stored on a mobile telephone and written on tissues while two students were found guilty of "falsifying a mentor’s signature on practice assessment documents to gain academic benefit".

Many institutions reported students buying coursework from internet-based essay-writing companies.

Dozens of websites offering the services are available on the web, providing bespoke essays for fees of £150 and upwards. Some offer "guaranteed first class honours" essays at extra cost and many "guarantee confidentiality and privacy" – hinting that the essays can be used to cheat.

In one website offering "creative, unique, original, credible" essays, a testimonial from a previous customer says: "I am very satisfied with my order because I got the expected result."

There are even sites which offer express services, while many claim the work is written by people with postgraduate qualifications.

Nottingham Trent discovered examples of bespoke essays, and Newcastle reported three cases of essays being purchased from a third party.

Two students bought work at Salford and cases were also reported at East London University, Greenwich and London South Bank, which uncovered three incidents.

Professor Geoffrey Alderman, from the University of Buckingham, who is a long-standing critic of falling standards in higher education, said: "I think it is a pretty depressing picture.

"It is worrying that students now resort to cheating on such a widespread scale and that the punishments on the whole are not robust enough.

"In my book it should be ‘two strikes and you’re out’.

"Although universities are perhaps better than they were at detecting certain types of cheating, such as plagiarism, when I talk to colleagues across the sector there is a view that cheating has increased."

Professor Alderman said the style of teaching and assessment now used at some institutions was partly to blame for the rise in academic dishonesty.

"There has been a move away from unseen written examinations and most university degree courses are now assessed through term papers, which makes it more tempting to commit plagiarism," he said.

"I advocate a return to the situation where it is impossible to pass a degree unit without achieving a minimum score in an unseen written test."

The survey exposed for the first time a huge leap in the number of incidents compared with just four years earlier, with a 53 per cent jump from 9,100 to 14,200 among the 70 institutions able to provide comparable data.

Cheating was reported widely among undergraduates but there were also significant numbers reported among postgraduates. For example, Loughborough reported 151 incidents last year of which 43 were committed by postgraduates.

Greenwich University had the largest number of incidents overall, with 916, compared with 540 in 2005-06, but this may indicate the south-east London institution is more successful at detecting cheating than other universities.

Sheffield Hallam had the second largest number with 801 last year, more than 500 of which were for plagiarism.

The institution had 35,400 students which means 2.3 per cent were caught cheating.

East London University said that among its 733 cases of cheating last year there were 612 of plagiarism, 50 of collusion, 49 of "importation" and three where students had bought work.

One student at Kingston falsified paperwork supporting their application for "mitigating circumstances", in a bid to win higher marks, and at the same institution 14 students were caught out when their mobile rang in the examination hall.

At Leicester, an undergraduate forged a medical certificate before taking an exam.

In 2005-06, Liverpool recorded two cases where a student was impersonating another examination candidate, and one candidate at London South Bank took an "annotated calculator" into the examination hall.

Few cheating students saw their academic careers brought to an end. Durham expelled four students last year for smuggling unauthorised material into exams or plagiarism, and one was expelled in 2005-06.

Goldsmith’s dismissed four students last year – undergraduates in history, politics, psychology and sociology.

Oxford reported 12 cases of academic misconduct, including plagiarism, last year and in two cases students were expelled, while others were marked down.

The university fined one student £100 for taking revision notes into an examination and imposed other fines for talking in an exam and taking mobile telephones into the examination hall.

Bournemouth University proved 53 cases of cheating last year but none of the students was expelled. Instead, most were marked down to nil marks for that piece of coursework or exam.

From Cardiff’s 301 cases of cheating last year, none was expelled but in one case a recommendation was made that the vice-chancellor should disqualify the student from further exams. The remainder of the offenders were reprimanded, marked down or sent on a "study skills" course.

Queen Mary reported one expulsion – for an exam offence and ghostwriting – last year out of 74 cases of cheating.

Voir enfin:

Comment devenir docteur en sociologie sans posséder le métier de sociologue ?1

Bernard Lahire

Revue européenne des sciences sociales

2002

Abstract

Peut-on devenir docteur en sociologie sans avoir acquis les compétences constitutives du métier de sociologue ? Une telle interrogation peut paraître provocatrice. Or, l’examen rigoureux et détaillé d’une thèse soutenue le 7 avril 2001 à l’université de Paris V, sous la direction de Michel Maffesoli (G. Elizabeth Hanselmann-Teissier, Situation épistémologique de l’astrologie à travers l’ambivalence fascination/rejet dans les sociétés postmoderne), conduit malheureusement à émettre une réponse positive à une question apparemment saugrenue. L’objectif premier de cet article est d’apporter les multiples preuves de l’absence de sociologie (de point de vue sociologique, de problématique, de rigueur conceptuelle, de dispositif de recherche débouchant sur la production de données empiriques…) dans la thèse en question. Mais le jugement sur ce cas précis fait apparaître, en conclusion, l’urgence qu’il y a à engager une réflexion collective sur les conditions d’entrée dans le métier de sociologue.

1Le samedi 7 avril 2001, Madame G. Elizabeth Hanselmann-Teissier (connue publiquement sous le nom d’Elizabeth Teissier) soutenait une thèse de sociologie (intitulée Situation épistémologique de l’astrologie à travers l’ambivalence ­fascination/rejet dans les sociétés postmodernes) à l’Université Paris V, sous la direction de Michel Maffesoli2. Les membres présents de son jury – il s’agissait, outre son directeur de thèse, de Serge Moscovici3, Françoise Bonardel4 et Patrick Tacussel5 (Gilbert Durand6 s’étant excusé de ne pouvoir être présent et Patrick Watier7 n’ayant pu se rendre à la soutenance en raison de grèves de train) – lui ont accordé la mention « Très honorable ». Cette mention est la plus haute qu’un candidat puisse recevoir et le fait qu’elle ne soit pas assortie des félicitations du jury n’ôte rien à l’appréciation très positive qu’elle manifeste (de nombreux universitaires rigoureux ne délivrant la mention « très honorable avec les félicitations » que dans les cas de thèses particulièrement remarquables). Deux professeurs avaient préalablement donné un avis favorable à la soutenance de cette thèse sur la base d’une lecture du document : Patrick Tacussel et Patrick Watier. Formellement, Madame Elizabeth Teissier est donc aujourd’hui docteur en sociologie de l’université de Paris V et peut – entre autres choses – prétendre, à ce titre, enseigner comme chargée de cours dans les universités, solliciter sa qualification afin de se présenter à des postes de maître de conférences ou déposer un dossier de candidature à un poste de chargée de recherche au CNRS.

8 Un tel travail de lecture demande beaucoup de temps et porte plus que l’ombre du doute sur les lec (…)

2Une lecture rigoureuse et précise de la thèse dans son entier (qui fait environ 900 pages8 si l’on inclut l’annexe intitulée « Quelques preuves irréfutables en faveur de l’influence planétaire », p. XII-XL) conduit à un jugement assez simple : la thèse d’E. Teissier n’est, à aucun moment ni en aucune manière, une thèse de sociologie. Il n’est pas même question d’un degré moindre de qualité (une « mauvaise » thèse de sociologie ou une thèse « moyenne »), mais d’une totale absence de point de vue sociologique, ainsi que d’hypothèses, de méthodes et de « données empiriques » de nature sociologique.

3Ce sont les différents éléments qui nous conduisent à ce jugement que nous voudrions expliciter au cours de cet article en faisant apparaître que la thèse 1) ne fait que développer un point de vue d’astrologue et 2) est dépourvue de tout ce qui caractérise un travail scientifique de nature sociologique (problématique, rigueur conceptuelle, dispositif de recherche débouchant sur la production de données empiriques…). Enfin, nous conclurons sur le fait que, s’il vaut la peine de faire l’analyse critique de cette thèse, c’est parce que celle-ci n’a rien d’anodin ou d’anecdotique et qu’elle remet gravement en cause la crédibilité scientifique de la sociologie et de tous les sociologues qui font leur métier et forment les étudiants avec toute la rigueur requise : si c’est bien la personnalité d’une astrologue connue des médias qui a été à l’origine de l’intérêt public porté à la soutenance, un tel événement pose au fond la question plus générale du fonctionnement collectif de notre discipline.

Un point de vue d’astrologue

9 C’est pour cela que nous ne pouvons pas suivre Jean Copans (« La sociologie, astrologie des scienc (…)

4Que l’astrologie (l’existence bien réelle d’astrologues), les modes d’usage et les usagers (à faible ou forte croyance) de l’astrologie constituent des faits sociaux sociologiquement étudiables, que l’on puisse rationnellement (et notamment sociologiquement ou ethnologiquement, mais aussi du point de vue d’une histoire des savoirs) étudier des faits scientifiquement perçus comme irrationnels, qu’aucun sociologue n’ait à décider du degré de dignité des objets sociologiquement étudiables (en ce sens l’astrologie comme fait social est tout aussi légitimement étudiable que les pratiques sportives, le système scolaire ou l’usage du portable), qu’un étudiant ou une étudiante en sociologie puisse prendre pour objet d’étude une réalité par rapport à laquelle il a été ou demeure impliqué (travailleur social menant une recherche sur le travail social, instituteur faisant une thèse de sociologie de l’éducation, sportif ou ancien sportif pratiquant la sociologie du sport…), ne fait à nos yeux aucun doute et si les critiques adressées à Michel Maffesoli et aux membres du jury étaient de cette nature, nul doute que nous nous rangerions sans difficulté aux côtés de ceux-ci. Tout est étudiable sociologiquement, aucun objet n’est a priori plus digne d’intérêt qu’un autre, aucun moralisme ni aucune hiérarchie ne doit s’imposer en matière de choix des objets9, seule la manière de les traiter doit compter.

10 Tout ce que nous mettons entre guillemets dans ce texte sont des extraits de la thèse. Les italiqu (…)

5Mais de quelle manière E. Teissier nous parle-t-elle d’astrologie tout au long de ses 900 pages ? Qu’est-ce qui oriente et structure son propos ? La réponse est assez simple, car il n’y a aucune ambiguïté possible sur ce point : le texte d’E. Teissier manifeste un point de vue d’astrologue qui défend sa « science des astres » du début jusqu’à la fin de son texte, sans repos. Et pour ne pas donner au lecteur le sentiment d’un parti-pris déformant, nous multiplierons les extraits tirés du texte de la thèse en indiquant entre parenthèses la référence des pages (afin de donner la possibilité de retourner aisément au texte)10.

Des commentaires astrologiques

6La première caractéristique notable de cette thèse est l’absence de distance vis-à-vis de l’astrologie. On y découvre de nombreux commentaires astrologiques sur des personnes, des événements, des époques. Par exemple, sous le titre « Application de la méthode astrologique : l’analyse du ciel natal d’André ­Malraux », les pages 120 à 131 de la thèse relèvent clairement d’une « analyse astrologique » de la destinée de l’écrivain et ancien ministre (« plutonien grand teint »). M. Weber est qualifié de « taureau pragmatique » (p. 38) et l’on « apprend » diversement que G. Simmel est « Poisson », que W. Dilthey est « Scorpion », que le psychologue C. G. Jung est « Lion » (p. 250), que l’ancien PDG d’Antenne 2, Marcel Jullian, est « Verseau », etc. À chaque fois l’auteur, nous gratifie d’une analyse mettant en correspondance le « ciel natal » de la personnalité et sa pensée :

« Par ailleurs, nous découvrîmes que, par exemple, les systèmes philosophiques et religieux étaient en correspondance avec leurs auteurs via leurs personnalités. [...] Autrement dit, qu’ils étaient hautement relatifs et ne pouvaient être qu’à l’image de leurs concepteurs, résultante d’un regard unique, celui de leur ciel natal. » (p. XI)

« L’astrologue n’est pas étonné de constater une amusante convergence entre ce côté ‘flottant’, mouvant, quelque peu imprécis ou fantasque et les Poissons, signe astrologique de Simmel; le signe par excellence, avec le cancer (autre signe d’eau) [...] de la mobilité adaptable, de la rêverie, du sens de l’illimité et du cosmique, d’une intuition fine et sensorielle. Signe double de surcroît, reflétant la dualité fondamentale de la philosophie simmelienne [...]. C’est à ses planètes en Verseau que Simmel doit son goût pour l’altérité, la communication, mais aussi son originalité, son amour du paradoxe et sa nature imprévisible. » (note 47, p. 34)

« Petit clin d’œil de l’astrologue : Dilthey, créateur d’une nouvelle théorie de la connaissance fondée sur la compréhension, né le 19 novembre 1833, était Scorpion et théologien de formation… » (note 91, p. 61)

« après avoir démontré par un exemple concret (l’analyse du ciel natal d’André Malraux) l’application pratique, venons-en à son histoire » (p. 132)

« Puisqu’il s’agit ici de rendre également compte d’une expérience personnelle… en effet, c’est à l’âge de 14 ans et demi (à la mi-temps du cycle de Saturne, planète de la réalisation de soi, surtout pour le Saturnien qu’est le Capricorne) qu’est né notre éveil pour l’astrologie. » (p. 288)

« Elle [l’astrologie] participe de cette mutation culturelle, scientifique, philosophique et morale de notre époque [...] au même titre que l’idée de solidarité et de fraternité libertaire incluses dans le symbolisme du Verseau. » (p. 509)

7E. Teissier est d’ailleurs très claire quant à la primauté de l’explication astrologique sur tout autre point de vue (dont le point de vue sociologique qu’elle est censée mettre en œuvre dans le cadre d’une thèse de sociologie) pour comprendre les faits sociaux. Critiquant une citation de Serge Moscovici qui évoque les causes sociales des crises, elle écrit : « il nous semble qu’il occulte en l’occurrence la dimension cosmique desdits phénomènes; une dimension qui, selon le paradigme astrologique – et notre conviction – vient coiffer le social. En effet, le social est loin d’expliquer toutes les ‘crises… qui se produisent dans la société’. À preuve les actions totalement illogiques, non linéaires, non-logiques et inexplicables autrement que par le paramètre astral qui joue alors le rôle de paramètre éclairant et englobant coiffant le non-logique apparent. » (p. 525). C’est l’astrologie qui explique les faits psychologiques, sociaux et historiques :

[Dans le cadre d’une partie intitulée « La cyclicité planétaire », p. 265-271] « Mais il va de soi que ce sont les mêmes astres avec leurs harmonies et leurs dissonances qui jouent sur les destins individuels. » (p. 268); « Jusqu’au jour où nous réalisons que le 2 décembre correspond à une position de Soleil de 9-10° en Sagittaire, qui se trouvait très impliquée dans le thème de Napoléon Bonaparte » (p. 269); « Le mystère s’éclaircit dès lors que l’on a recours au sésame astrologique : hasard exclu ! »; « Quant aux songes répétitifs, ils s’expliquent par l’angle que fait Neptune (rêves) avec ce même point en Scorpion (10 novembre). CQFD » (p. 270)

« Cette lettre et notre réponse, reproduites in extenso [...] sont aussi un exemple significatif du désarroi psychologique dans lequel peuvent nous plonger certaines dissonances planétaires » (p. 321)

« C’est ainsi que nous avons été en mesure de prévoir, entre autres, le krach boursier du 19 octobre 1987, ainsi que de nombreuses turbulences boursières exceptionnelles, souvent assimilées à des mini-krachs… » (p. 432)

« Signalons que, pour l’astrologue, cette période de convulsions sociologiques et philosophiques ne s’inscrit pas dans le hasard, mais se trouve reflétée par les grands cycles cosmiques. » (p. 830)

8Et c’est E. Teissier qui conclut elle-même son premier tome par un lapsus (sociologiquement compréhensible) ou un aveu, comme on voudra, consistant à parler de sa réflexion comme relevant d’un travail d’astrologue et non de sociologue : « Le travail de l’astrologue sera maintenant d’interpréter ces données, de tenter aussi de les expliquer. Et ce, ainsi que nous sommes convenus depuis notre étude, à travers l’outil de la compréhension. Rappelons-nous en quels termes Weber définit la sociologie dans Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft… » (p. 463)

9L’astrologie est à ce point structurante du propos que, bien souvent, la manière dont E. Teissier conçoit son rapport à la sociologie consiste à puiser dans les textes de sociologues des éléments qui lui « font penser » à ce que dit ou fait l’astrologie. Dans la sociologie, une astrologie sommeille :

[À propos de la notion astrologique d’interdépendance universelle] « Une notion qui, en sociologie, peut être rapprochée du Zusammenhang des Lebens (liaison du vécu au quotidien) de Dilthey, d’une cohérence de la vie où chaque élément est pris en compte et complète le donné social » (p. XIV)

« À noter que la typologie zodiacale rappelle la théorie wébérienne de l’idéal-type, dans la mesure où chaque signe correspond au prototype purement théorique d’une personnalité, en liaison avec le symbolisme du signe. » (p. 248)

« Plus concrètement, cette empathie, pierre angulaire de la consultation, oblige l’astrologue à se mettre à la place de son consultant, d’entrer en quelque sorte dans sa peau afin de comprendre son fonctionnement psychologique. On peut en l’occurrence transposer ici la parole de Weber, afférente à la démarche cognitive de l’observateur en sociologie. [...] En réalité, cette sympathie, cette empathie par rapport à l’expérience d’autrui, une des clefs de la sociologie compréhensive, est aussi le sésame de tout praticien, dont l’objet est la psyché humaine. L’idéal-type de l’astrologue devra, même si c’est difficile, satisfaire à ces conditions opérationnelles de la consultation en engageant la totalité de son être. » (p. 390)

Point de vue normatif et envolées prophétiques

11 M. Maffesoli, « Éloge de la connaissance ordinaire », Le Monde daté du 24 avril 2001.

10Le point de vue sociologique n’est pas un point de vue normatif porté sur le monde. Le sociologue n’a pas, dans son étude des faits sociaux, à dire le bien et le mal, à prendre partie ou à rejeter, à aimer ou à ne pas aimer, à faire l’éloge11 ou à condamner. En l’occurrence, une sociologie de tel ou tel aspect du « fait astrologique » ne doit en aucun cas se prononcer en faveur ou en défaveur de l’astrologie, dire si c’est une bonne ou une mauvaise chose. Or, Elizabeth Teissier demeure en permanence dans l’évaluation normative des situations, des personnes et des points de vue, prouvant qu’elle écrit en tant qu’astrologue et non en tant que sociologue des pratiques astrologiques. Ce jugement normatif se manifeste, comme nous le verrons tout au long de ce rapport de lecture, à différents niveaux :

12 Nous ne vérifierons pas ici la véracité des sentiments positifs à l’égard de l’astrologie que l’au (…)

1) Dans l’évaluation positive (défense) de l’astrologie. De ce point de vue, tous les moyens sont bons pour prouver l’intérêt de l’astrologie. E. Teissier se sert de façon générale de la légitimité des « grands » qui auraient accordé de l’intérêt pour l’astrologie12, quelle que soit la nature de leur « grandeur » (elle peut ainsi tout aussi bien citer Balzac, Goethe, Fellini, Thomas d’Aquin, Bacon, Newton, Kepler, Einstein, Jung, Laborit, le roi Juan Carlos d’Espagne ou l’ancien Président François Mitterrand) : politique, cinématographique, philosophique, littéraire et, bien sûr, scientifique.

2) Dans l’évaluation négative de la partie des astrologues jugés peu sérieux, mais aussi de la voyance et autres pratiques magiques. Si E. Teissier ne se prive pas d’être dans le jugement positif à l’égard de l’astrologie qu’elle qualifie de « sérieuse », elle n’hésite pas à porter un regard négatif sur les autres pratiques. En portant de telles appréciations, elle se comporte alors en astrologue en lutte pour le monopole de la définition de l’astrologie légitime, et nullement en sociologue :

« Qu’il s’agisse de la presse écrite, de la télévision, du minitel ou d’internet, les horoscopes foisonnent, noyés dans un contexte qui, la plupart du temps, n’est qu’une grossière caricature d’ésotérisme – voyance, cartomancie, tarots, numérologie et autres retours d’affection appartenant à l’univers magico-mystificateur de pratiques paranormales » (p. 4)

[Fustigeant ses confrères sur minitel] « rares sont les programmes vraiment sérieux – on peut les estimer à un nombre situé entre 50 et 100 – qui pratiquent une astrologie digne de ce nom. Les autres ? Des avatars plus ou moins ludiques, des cocktails habiles et mystificateurs qui usurpent le nom astrologie, leurs concepteurs nourrissant l’espoir que cela leur donnera une coloration peu ou prou scientifique » (p. 74)

« séparer le bon grain (les astrologues compétents) de l’ivraie (les exploiteurs opportunistes d’une crédulité générale latente) » (p. 294).

Critique de la « fast-astrology » d’une « pauvreté parfois consternante » (p. 305).

[Les rédacteurs en chef de magazines ou journaux acceptent de publier] « des prévisions bateau minimalistes et d’un niveau intellectuel souvent consternant » (p. 556)

3) Dans l’évaluation négative des scientifiques (astronomes notamment, mais pas seulement) qui ne veulent pas reconnaître la légitimité de la « science des astres » (cf. infra « L’astrologie victime d’un consensus socioculturel et de la domination de la ‘science officielle’ »).

4) Dans l’évaluation négative de nombres de journalistes ou de médias qui se moquent des astrologues et de l’astrologie (cf. infra « Les ‘données’ : anecdotes de la vie personnelle, médiatique et mondaine d’E. Teissier »).

13 Elle peut soutenir à d’autres moments que la vérité sort de la bouche du peuple, parce que – mythe (…)

5) Dans l’évaluation négative d’une partie du public usager des prédictions astrologiques. E. Teissier manifeste un souverain mépris, parfois teinté d’ironie ou d’une extrême condescendance, vis-à-vis d’une partie de son propre public13 :

[Dans les « appels à l’aide » du courrier, des lecteurs lancent de] « véritables cris d’alarme ou de désarroi jetés par des déprimés las de vivre et de se battre contre l’adversité » et certains « se lancent alors dans un historique englobant toute leur misérable existence et nous gratifient d’une épître interminable couvrant parfois une vingtaine de pages d’une petite écriture serrée et frileuse. » (p. 312)

[À propos d’une lectrice qui lui demande si elle croit aux envoûtements car elle pense que ses voisins marocains l’ont envoûtée et qui lui demande si elle connaît des « sorciers sérieux » qui pourraient l’aider] « Manifestement cette lectrice était affligée d’une confusion intellectuelle – sinon mentale – évidente. Car [...] elle assimilait la pratique astrologique à la magie et à la sorcellerie, auxquelles l’astrologie est totalement étrangère [...] » (p. 372)

[À propos d’un allemand qui lui envoie du courrier depuis 1981, « deux à trois lettres par semaine, parfois des petits paquets contenant des bibelots kitsch »] « Il a ainsi dépensé une véritable fortune en timbres depuis presque vingt ans qu’il s’adonne à cette déviance unilatérale, à ce monologue pervers. » (p. 377)

« Les couches les moins cultivées de la société, ouvriers et agriculteurs, sont peut-être les plus vulnérables à cette fascination globale et non discriminatoire. [...] pour peu qu’une idée soit séduisante et si possible étrange, les gens gobent sans discrimination ce qu’on leur sert, tant est profond le goût du merveilleux et mystérieux le besoin de renouer le dialogue avec l’ordre primordial, avec le cosmos. » (p. 470-471)

À propos de T. W. Adorno qui, dans un ouvrage critique sur l’astrologie, dit que celle-ci participe de l’acceptation par les dominés de l’ordre établi, E. Teissier écrit : « En l’occurrence, à quoi servirait de faire sentir à ces petites gens leur dépendance, de les appeler à la révolte ? Peut-être à les rendre plus malheureux encore qu’ils ne sont ? » (p. 582); et elle rajoute une page plus loin, sans s’apercevoir qu’elle semble parler d’elle-même : « Bref, le mépris et l’arrogance percent sans arrêt à travers ces textes, de même qu’un esprit dénué totalement de sérénité et d’objectivité. » (p. 583)

11Mais de même qu’il ne doit être ni dans l’éloge ni dans la détestation, le sociologue n’étudie que ce qui est et non ce qui sera. Or, E. Teissier annonce l’avenir à de nombreuses reprises, prophétisant ce qu’elle désire ou, comme on dit plus ordinairement, prenant ses désirs pour des réalités (à venir). Si l’astrologue critique la lecture de l’avenir dans le marc de café, elle n’hésite cependant pas elle-même à prédire l’avenir sur la base de ses simples intuitions personnelles :

« Mais notre regard se portera plus loin et tentera de se projeter sur une vision prospective, essayant de pressentir et de supputer, étant donné le contexte sociétal d’aujourd’hui, la probable évolution du phénomène bifide qui nous occupe : y aura-t-il fusion, intégration harmonieuse de cette conjonctionis oppositurum, dans une sorte de synthèse féconde, et alors quelle forme pourrait prendre cette dernière ? [...] En d’autres termes, dans quel sens ira, selon toute vraisemblance, cette mouvance sociale ? » (p. 9)

« Nous oserons même tenter une incursion imaginaire dans l’avenir, à la recherche, en quelque sorte, du temps futur et de l’évolution probable du phénomène socio-astrologique » (p. 69)

« Car la raison sèche, la raison ratiocinante a fait son temps. Voici venir l’âge d’une raison ouverte, d’une ‘raison plurielle’, réconciliée avec la passion et le vital en l’homme, sa libido – ou pulsion vitale – véhiculant à la fois sa sensibilité et son feu intérieur. » (p. 834)

« Mais les nouvelles énergies sont en marche, comme l’annonce Abellio, ‘l’incendie de la nouvelle science fera irruption dans le monde’ » (p. 850)

L’astrologie est une science, voire la plus grande des sciences

14 « [...] je n’ai lu nulle part dans sa thèse que l’astrologie était scientifique », A. Touraine, « (…)

15 Elle écrit par ailleurs : « D’autre part, la télépathie ne s’est elle pas imposée comme discipline (…)

12Contrairement à certains lecteurs pressés, et empressés de communiquer à la presse le résultat de leur précipitation, qui soutiennent que E. Teissier n’a jamais défendu l’idée que l’astrologie était une science14, une lecture exhaustive de la thèse fait apparaître très exactement le contraire. L’auteur parle diversement de la « science des astres » (à de très nombreuses reprises tout au long de la thèse) ou de « la science empirique des astres » (p. 258), de « la science par excellence de la caractérologie » (p. XI), de « la science par excellence de la personnalité » (p. 92 ou 815), de la « science de la qualité du temps » (p. 112), d’une « science empirique par définition » (p. 769) ou de « la reine des sciences » (p. 72)15. Parfois l’astrologie est considérée comme une science sociale parmi d’autres, parfois comme une « science de l’esprit » opposée aux « sciences de la nature » ou une « science humaine » (p. 98) opposée à l’astronomie comme « science de l’observation ».

« à défaut de pouvoir être classé dans les sciences exactes, s’agit-il d’un savoir à connotation scientifique – fût-ce par le biais des sciences humaines ? [...] Pour une large part, celle-ci, en tant que science empirique, est de l’ordre du vérifiable et échappe ipso facto à la notion de ‘croyance’. Car l’astrologie, en tant que système culturel cohérent, a pour ambition de déchiffrer le réel à l’aide d’un référentiel universel et permanent – l’alphabet céleste du système solaire – référentiel invariable et donc prévisible dans sa rigueur mathématico-astronomique » (p. 24-25)

« En effet, l’astrologie étant, au même titre que la psychologie, la sociologie ou la religion, une science de l’esprit [...] par opposition à une science de la nature (bien qu’elle englobe celle-ci dans son objet), il n’est pas question ici de faire appel à un positivisme rationaliste expérimental qui ne relèverait que du quantitatif » (p. 27)

« la problématique épistémologique soulevée par la nature des sciences sociales en général et par l’astrologie en particulier » (p. 48)

« Selon nous, on l’aura compris, l’astrologie est un système cohérent, mathématiquement rationnel (supra-rationnel, selon Fischler) et vérifiable d’un astrologue à l’autre, ayant pour soubassement les données astronomiques fournies par les observatoires, à l’encontre de pratiques occultes et plus ou moins gratuites. » (p. 579)

13Mais on trouve aussi, toujours dans l’ordre de la référence scientifique, des revendications de plus grande dignité et de supériorité. Non seulement l’astrologie est une science, mais c’est la plus haute des sciences :

« On peut dire en somme que sans être classable dans l’une ou l’autre de ces catégories de la connaissance, l’astrologie est une émanation partielle de chacune de ces disciplines qu’elle englobe en un système ambitieux. » (p. 22)

« Elle apparaît de ce fait comme peut-être la seule science objective de la subjectivité, avec ce qu’elle peut contenir d’hénaurme, au sens ubuesque du mot, et de dérangeant. » (p. 250)

« L’astrologie est la mathématique du tout(dans la Rome antique, les astrologues étaient d’ailleurs appelés les mathematici). Elle est holistiquement logique, au contraire d’une logique fragmentaire, linéairement rationnelle. » (p. 501)

« Que connaissaient-ils tous de cette science ? Car à nos yeux, c’en était une, une science humaine bien plus charpentée que beaucoup d’autres, qui étaient respectées, elles. D’où venait que la plus vérifiable était justement la plus tabou, la plus salie, la plus rejetée ? À croire que la vérité était maudite quelque part. » (p. 597-598)

14Il ne faut cependant pas attendre de l’auteur trop de cohérence au sujet de la scientificité de l’astrologie, car elle peut tout aussi bien soutenir à d’autres moments que ce savoir se situe entre le mythe et la science ou qu’il est finalement en lien avec la plupart des sciences humaines et sociales, la philosophie, la poésie, la religion et la mythologie. Cette variété des définitions hétérogènes participe de la volonté de mettre en évidence l’extraordinaire richesse et l’irréductible complexité de l’astrologie :

« S’appuyant sur un langage symbolique en congruence avec tous les niveaux de réalité de L’Etant, et ce aussi bien sur un plan collectif qu’individuel, elle participe avant tout des sciences qui étudient l’homme, comme la philosophie (en particulier la métaphysique, à travers la cosmogonie qu’elle implique), la psychologie, la médecine, la biologie; elle flirte avec la poésie; mais elle est partie prenante également des sciences qui étudient la société humaine et ses produits, comme l’histoire et les sciences politiques (à travers la théorie des cycles), les sciences sociales (à travers les modes, les mouvements collectifs et les mentalités), la prospective (via la prévision qu’elle permet). Et n’oublions pas la religion (en liaison avec son caractère originellement sacré, l’éthique et l’esthétique qu’elle sous-tend), ni, bien entendu la mythologie. » (p. 21).

« Nous verrons que l’astrologie se situe effectivement quelque part entre ces deux univers du mythe immémorial et de la pure scientificité… » (p. 210)

« L’astrologie qui se situe au carrefour de la philosophie métaphysique, de la religion et de la science, qui participe à la fois de l’image et du concept, se place également quelque part entre le sacré et le profane. » (p. 478)

15Ailleurs encore, l’astrologie est présentée comme étant presque à l’avant-garde du « Nouvel esprit scientifique » et participant d’une « épistémologie de la complexité ». Non seulement elle est une science, et l’une des plus grandes d’entre elles, mais en plus elle s’avère plus avancée que toutes les autres :

Le « système astrologique » est « orienté sur la loi hermétique des correspondances, sur l’idée de sympathie universelle, autrement dit sur la notion, essentielle pour le Nouvel Esprit scientifique, d’interdépendance universelle » (p. XIV)

« l’astrologie [...] non seulement ne serait pas en contradiction avec le paradigme du Nouvel esprit scientifique, mais serait au contraire depuis toujours en congruence totale avec ce dernier » (p. 752)

« On peut donc imaginer que la science n’admettra la validité de l’astrologie que lorsqu’elle aura elle-même changé de paradigme en se rangeant du côté du nouvel esprit scientifique et en acceptant de reconnaître la réalité de l’esprit. Car en dernier ressort, la science finira par atteindre ses propres limites en touchant les limites de la matière… » (p. 765)

« cette ‘crise de la science’ aboutit à une nouvelle Weltansschauung qui ne demande qu’à renaître, celle de la complexité (Morin). Tournant paradigmatique, donc, équivalent à un glissement d’une épistémologie vers une ontologie, cette épistémologie étant celle de la complexité (Morin) » (p. 843).

16Mais si l’astrologue est si en avance, c’est – nous explique l’auteur sans rire – qu’à la différence de l’astronome « qui a en général une approche purement physique et mécaniste de sa science » et qui « est hypnotisé par la petitesse des astres, leur éloignement, leur faible masse par rapport au soleil », lui, « en écoute la musique » (p. 98). La tristesse du savoir de celui qui « évalue le poids et la matière du disque, ses dimensions et sa température, suppute sa densité » (p. 98) est grande face à la joie de celui qui sait écouter « la musique des sphères, chère déjà à Plotin, avant qu’elle ne fasse rêver Kepler » (p. 98).

L’astrologie victime d’un consensus socioculturel

et de la domination de la « science officielle »

17Pourquoi, se demande E. Teissier, l’astrologie ne bénéficie-t-elle pas de la légitimité académique (universitaire) et scientifique (au CNRS) ? Sa réponse – formulée à maintes reprises dans le texte – est la suivante : l’astrologie (« la science des astres ») est victime d’un rapport de domination qui est parvenu à instaurer un véritable consensus socioculturel en sa défaveur. La science, souvent rebaptisée « science officielle », « pensée unique » ou « conformiste », opprime l’astrologie et fait croire au plus grand nombre qu’il s’agit d’une « fausse science » en cachant la réalité des choses (« conjuration du silence », p. 816). La « science officielle » est donc considérée comme une idéologie dominante, un « lieu totalitaire », un « impérialisme » ou un « terrorisme » face à cette « contre-culture » astrologique qui est maintenue dans un véritable « ghetto ». Pire encore, la science n’est qu’affaire de « mode » et de « convention » et ne parvient à maintenir sa domination que par un enseignement officiel qui dicte à tous ce qu’il est bon de penser :

« Plus ou moins consciemment, nous étions convaincue, à l’instar de toute personne fermée à l’astrologie a priori et par convention, que l’absence de tout enseignement officiel reléguait la science des astres dans les fausses sciences. » (p. IX)

« Presque aussi ahurissante était l’occultation de ce paramètre philosophique dans notre culture occidentale, le fait qu’à travers toutes nos études – jusqu’à vingt-quatre ans – jamais nous n’avions entendu parler d’astrologie. Mieux : on nous avait soigneusement caché – comme on continue de le faire – que les plus grands esprits – R. Bacon, St Thomas d’Aquin, Newton, Kepler, Balzac, Goethe, Einstein, Jung… avaient soit pratiqué, soit vénéré la science des astres. Pourquoi ce parti pris de mise au ban de la plus pérenne des connaissances humaines ? Nous prîmes alors conscience de la relativité du consensus intellectuel d’une époque, vouée aux modes, muselée par ses courants de pensée; nous nous apercevions que l’enseignement officiel était un colosse aux pieds d’argile » (p. X)

« un pays, une culture sont le reflet de leur enseignement académique qui dicte ce qu’il convient de penser, le bien penser. La doxa (l’opinion), véhiculée en particulier par les médias, tout en ayant la coloration du sens commun, reste néanmoins sous l’influence de la pensée conformiste qui lui sert de référence » (p. XII-XIII)

« cette allergie aux astres qui débouche sur l’ostracisme culturel face à une contre-culture provocatrice » (p. XIII)

« Les résultats de telles recherches pourraient changer l’actuel consensus socioculturel, entraînant un changement dans les mentalités, et ce notamment au sein d’une certaine intelligentsia que J.-M. Domenach appelle les gens du demi-savoir. » (p. XVI)

« croyance illicite, donc persécutée, ses partisans faisant éventuellement office de bouc émissaire. » (p. 24)

« un certain terrorisme desséché de la pensée scientifique officielle » (p. 25)

« du fait de sa ghettoïsation, le milieu astrologique peut s’inscrire parmi les minorités culturelles » (p. 32)

« lobby scientifique face à l’astrologie » (p. 52)

« rationalisme dominant, lequel se trouve également à la source de la suppression de l’enseignement officiel de l’astrologie » (p. 88)

« C’est seulement au XVIIème siècle que ces deux sciences bifurquent. La mode est désormais à l’astronomie, sœur matérialiste de l’astrologie. » (p. 94-95)

« Et, forte du consensus socio-culturel qui la soutient tel un socle confortable, elle [la science] se permet d’opérer des évaluations [...] et des appréciations [...] » (p. 736)

« La science apparaît comme un lieu totalitaire qu’il ne faut pas remettre en question, où la compétition et le mandarinat jouent un rôle essentiel pour nombre de scientifiques. » (p. 737)

18Les « préjugés » et les « clichés » sont ainsi du côté de la « science officielle ». Les rationalistes sont « agressifs », « dogmatiques », « attardés » et sont accusés de manque de curiosité pour ne pas vouloir s’intéresser à l’astrologie et, surtout, pour ne pas lui trouver de l’intérêt : « Aujourd’hui, l’obscurantisme, l’opposition aux Lumières n’est plus du côté que l’on croit. » (p. 816).

« la raison en tant que telle n’a-t-elle pas outrepassé ses prérogatives et trahi sa vocation de sereine souveraineté pour se scléroser, tel un vieillard tyrannique ? » (p. 7)

« dogme implicite et respecté de la pensée dominante d’une société, en l’occurrence de la nôtre » (p. 11)

« rationalistes agressifs et allergiques aux astres » (p. 42)

« C’est un truisme d’affirmer que les décideurs, les hommes d’affaires sont de grands pragmatistes : ils retiennent ce qui marche, et s’encombrent peu, si les faits le commandent, des préjugés inhibants des rationalistes purs et durs. » (p. 430)

« C’est bien là la problématique de l’astrologie face à la condamnation des rationalistes purs et durs : l’inadéquation du système rationaliste. Sous cet aspect, on peut sans doute se ranger du côté d’Abellio qui traitait ces derniers d’attardés. Lorsque les représentants de cette tendance se retrouvent dans les médias, ils se muent en robots de la pensée, en mercenaires du système rationaliste. » (p. 638)

« Comme on l’a vu dans Duel sur la cinq, le scientifique se retranche derrière ses phrases clés, des phrases à consonance magique, aussi paradoxal que cela puisse paraître pour un savant : ‘L’astrologie n’est pas scientifique’… Lorsque cet argument est ainsi récurrent, il fait figure à la fois de défense, d’attaque, de bouclier, à l’instar de l’encre projetée par la seiche. Visiblement on ne veut – on ne peut – accepter l’échange, la discussion, l’argumentation. On fait appel à ce qui ressemble à un véritable credo, celui de la science officielle. Derrière cette attitude on trouve bien évidemment de l’arrogance, du mépris, une condescendance de bon aloi, mais aussi beaucoup de peur; la peur d’être déstabilisé, la peur d’être confronté à un inconnu qu’on ne pourra ni intégrer ni gérer. D’où l’attitude iconoclaste du scientifique positiviste, qui se réfugie dans la déliance (à l’opposé de la reliance), dans un splendide isolement. » (p. 729)

« refus d’expérimenter que l’on constate presque universellement dans le domaine de la science officielle » (p. 756)

L’argument relativiste

19On voit bien qu’invoquant le consensus socio-culturel et la domination, E. Teissier avance les éléments clefs de la position la plus naïvement relativiste. Remplacez les enseignants de physique par des enseignants d’astrologie, appelez l’astrologie la « science des astres » et imposez la à tous ceux qui passent par l’institution scolaire et vous verrez que la théorie de la relativité ne vaut guère mieux que l’analyse astrologique du ciel natal. Tout est affaire de mode et d’imposition purement arbitraire. Tout est relatif.

« Nous ne pouvions accepter – ni même envisager – l’idée qu’une société entière, surtout en notre époque postmoderne – donc, pensions-nous, évoluée – pouvait avoir tort, qu’elle était, elle aussi, comme toutes celles qui ont précédé, essentiellement relative. » (p. IX)

« La valeur d’une discipline n’est-elle pas relative à ceux qui la jugent; or, ceux-ci peuvent-ils juger ex nihilo, dégagés de tout a priori, de toute influence, de toute détermination socioculturelle ? » (p. XVI)

20Il suffirait donc de changer les « critères scientifiques » et de conception de ce que l’on appelle une « preuve » pour faire passer l’astrologie de l’état de connaissance opprimée à l’état de véritable science :

« chaque fois, on voulut faire rentrer l’astrologie dans le moule des critères classiques de scientificité, et celui de Procuste était chaque fois trop petit, on s’en doute. » (p. 743)

« Tout le problème [...] réside dans l’acception qu’on peut donner du mot preuve, car ce que les astrologues allégueront sous ce nom sera dénié par les scientifiques hostiles à l’astrologie. » (p. XIV)

21Par ailleurs, si E. Teissier insiste à de nombreuses reprises sur l’absence d’enseignement de l’astrologie à l’université et sur l’absence de département de recherche astrologique au CNRS, c’est bien pour défendre la thèse de la valeur relative de la science actuelle et de l’enseignement tel qu’il est pratiqué. À partir d’un tel argument, fondé sur l’idée de vérité comme pur effet d’un rapport de force, on pourrait tout aussi bien dire qu’en enseignant officiellement l’« art de lire dans les lignes de la main » et en rebaptisant la chiromancie « science de la prédiction des destins individuels » on pourrait imposer un nouvel état de la pensée scientifique, ni plus ni moins valable que le précédent ou que le suivant :

« Un fait sociologique surtout nous interpellait : le vide pédagogique de l’astrologie dans les institutions officielles en notre époque. L’intelligentsia semble ignorer en général que cette discipline fut en réalité enseignée à la Sorbonne jusqu’en 1666 et en Allemagne jusqu’en 1821. » (p. XII)

« [Nous nous demanderons] quelles pourraient être les chances de réhabilitation officielle de l’astrologie liée à une situation épistémologique évolutive » (p. 69)

« L’absence de recherches officielles – pour lesquelles il faudrait des subventions de l’Etat –, le refus de prendre en considération le paradigme astrologique, ne serait-ce que pour le réfuter, par exemple au moyen d’un département d’études au CNRS, sont là des symptômes évidents de l’attitude volontairement partiale, omniprésente dans la science officielle. » (p. 762)

22E. Teissier émet donc des commentaires astrologiques, se livre à une défense de l’astrologie qui est, pour elle, la « reine des sciences » et adopte sans discontinuité le point de vue normatif de l’astrologue plutôt que le point de vue cognitif du sociologue étudiant l’astrologie. Est-ce que, malgré tout, ce point de vue d’astrologue et ce plaidoyer pour l’astrologie s’accompagnent d’une réflexion et d’un travail de recherche sociologiques ? L’objet de notre deuxième partie est de montrer qu’il n’en est rien.

Le mauvais traitement de la sociologie

23Il n’y a, dans le texte d’E. Teissier, aucune trace de problématique sociologique un tant soit peu élaborée, de données empiriques (scientifiquement construites) ou de méthodes de recherche dignes de ce nom. L’« hypothèse » floue annoncée (« à savoir cette ambivalence sociétale où prime cependant la fascination, ambivalence qui frise parfois le paradoxe et qui fait figure de schyzophrénie (sic) collective », p. 7) n’est d’ailleurs qu’une affirmation parmi d’autres qui ne débouche sur aucun dispositif de recherche en vue d’essayer de la valider (mais telle qu’elle est formulée, on a en effet du mal à savoir ce qui pourrait être validé ou invalidé).

24En revanche, on a affaire, comme nous allons le voir, à de nombreux usages douteux des références sociologiques, à des propos clairement a-sociologiques et anti-rationalistes exprimés dans un style d’écriture pompeux et creux, ainsi qu’à des « données » anecdotiques et narcissiques (E. Teissier à la télévision, E. Teissier et la presse écrite, E. Teissier et ses démêlés avec les scientifiques, E. Teissier et les hommes de pouvoir, Le courrier des lecteurs d’E. Teissier…) suivis de commentaires le plus souvent polémiques (règlements de compte ou récits des règlements de compte avec telle ou telle personnalité de la télévision, tel ou tel scientifique, etc.) ou d’une série de citations d’auteurs rarement en rapport avec les propos qui les précèdent et avec ceux qui les suivent.

Contresens et mauvais usages

25La thèse est truffée de références sociologiques souvent affligeantes pour leurs auteurs (Durkheim, Weber, Berger et Luckmann…) et se lance parfois dans des critiques qui montrent que les auteurs critiqués n’ont pas été compris. Il faudrait évidemment des dizaines de pages pour relever chaque erreur de lecture, chaque absurdité, chaque transformation des mots et des idées des auteurs cités et expliquer pourquoi ce qui est dit ne veut rien dire étant donné ce que les auteurs commentés voulaient asserter.

26Par exemple, le sociologue allemand Max Weber est particulièrement mal traité, systématiquement détourné dans le sens où l’auteur de la thèse a choisi de le faire témoigner. Weber, présenté comme le défenseur d’un « subjectivisme compréhensif » (p. 37) est ainsi inadéquatement invoqué à propos de l’« interactionnisme » :

[À propos des gens qui sont nés le même jour et qui se rendent compte qu’ils ont des points communs] : « On a ainsi des questions du genre : ‘Au fait, que vous est-il arrivé en 1978 ? N’avez-vous pas comme moi divorcé ?’ Et l’autre de rétorquer : ‘Tiens donc, c’est intéressant. C’est bien fin 1978 que mon couple a connu la crise la plus forte et il est vrai qu’avec ma femme nous avons songé à nous séparer…’ À n’en pas douter, ce genre de similitude crée des liens, dans la mesure où l’on se retrouve peu ou prou dans l’Autre et/ou que l’on s’y projette. À travers le dialogue qui s’instaure, on a affaire à un véritable interactionnisme qui, selon Weber, est ‘une activité [...] qui se rapporte au comportement d’autrui, par rapport auquel s’oriente son déroulement’ » (p. 405-406)

27La « sociologie compréhensive » est invoquée à tort et à travers. L’auteur écrit qu’elle va mettre en œuvre « la méthode de la compréhension » (p. VII) en interprétant vaguement la « sociologie compréhensive » comme une sociologie qui donnerait raison aux acteurs (et, en l’occurrence, aux astrologues). Ne pas rompre avec l’astrologie, lui (se) donner d’emblée raison et voir en quoi tout ce qu’on peut lui reprocher est de mauvaise foi : voilà ce qu’E. Teissier comprend du projet scientifique de la sociologie compréhensive appliquée à l’astrologie. Et l’on pourrait faire les mêmes remarques à propos des références à l’« interactionnisme symbolique » dont l’auteur semble à peu près ne connaître que le nom :

« À travers ce que l’on pourrait appeler une herméneutique de l’expérience, c’est la recherche de ce sens, aussi complexe qu’il se révèle, qui sera l’objet du second volet, où nous pratiquerons une sorte d’interactionnisme symbolique (selon l’École de Chicago). Recherche du sens sous-tendu par cette Lebenswelt de l’astrologie, par le donné social, à l’aube de ces temps nouveaux. » (p. 463)

28L’on voit aussi se développer les « talents » d’argumentation critique de l’auteur dans ce commentaire de Durkheim, où l’on saisit que l’idée de traiter les faits sociaux comme des choses est « abusive, et donc difficile à admettre parce qu’inadéquate » :

« Dans Les règles de la méthode sociologique, Durkheim affirme que ‘les faits sociaux sont des choses’. Encore qu’à coup sûr il faille compter la mouvance astrologique dans les faits sociaux, cette identification, qui consiste à chosifier ainsi un phénomène qui est de l’ordre de l’esprit et du vivant, nous paraît abusive, et donc difficile à admettre parce qu’inadéquate. » (p. 278)

29Et que faire, sinon rire, face au drolatique contre-sens sur la pensée de Michel Foucault concernant l’« intellectuel spécifique ». L’auteur de la thèse n’ayant de toute évidence pas lu Michel Foucault invoque la soi-disant critique des « intellos spécifiques » (sic) par un Michel Foucault qui justement défendait (en grande ­partie contre Sartre) la figure de l’« intellectuel spécifique » contre celle d’un « intellectuel universel » : « quoique puissent en dire les ‘intellos spécifiques’, hostiles au savoir transdisciplinaire, stigmatisés par Michel Foucault » (p. 860).

Des propos a-sociologiques et parfois anti-rationalistes

30On a déjà fait remarquer que l’auteur de la thèse privilégiait le point de vue astrologique sur l’explication sociologique. Mais souvent les explications apportées sont clairement a-sociologiques et trop floues ou trop générales pour être considérées comme de véritables explications. Qu’elle évoque l’« atavisme » ou les « dispositions humaines ataviques » (p. 62), « la part d’ombre » (p. 8) de chacun d’entre nous, la « reliance astrologique intemporelle inscrite au cœur de l’humanité » (p. 62), le « réflexe de l’homme, archaïque et intemporel, universel et omniprésent, qui le porte depuis la nuit des temps à voir une admirable homothétie entre la structure de l’univers et la sienne propre d’une part, la nature qui l’entoure d’autre part » (p. 200), l’« héritage génétique » et le « ciel de naissance » (p. 243), l’« Urgrund commun à toute l’humanité » (p. 253), « la permanence et la similitude de la nature humaine, à la fois sur le plan diachronique et synchronique » (p. 483), E. Teissier explique la fascination des uns et le rejet des autres par la nature humaine, les planètes ou une vague « intuition miraculeuse ». Ainsi, commentant les résultats d’un sondage effectué par le journal Le Monde, outre sa polémique avec le journal, E. Teissier se demande face à l’information selon laquelle les femmes seraient plus intéressées que les hommes par l’astrologie : « Faut-il y voir la conséquence d’un syncrétisme ontologique qui la porte à davantage de perméabilité spontanée à tout ce qui est de l’ordre de la Nature, sans la mettre en porte-à-faux avec une intuition qu’elle ne renie pas… » (p. 280). Les exemples de la sorte sont très nombreux :

« faut-il y voir [dans la fascination pour l’astrologie] un souvenir béni de la mémoire collective, une intuition miraculeuse du fil ténu qui le rattache au cosmos et à mère Nature, comme sa sauvegarde, en somme, en ce monde où une science mécaniste et une société déshumanisée voudraient le maintenir cloué au sol ? Plus concrètement, ce clivage sociétal est-il à rapprocher de catégories socioprofessionnelles particulières, de certaines classes d’âge, de la différence de sexe, ou faut-il le chercher dans l’individu lui-même, dans sa part d’ombre, quelle que soit sa place dans la société ? » (p. 8)

« une recherche des dispositions humaines ataviques et récurrentes pour cette reliance astrologique intemporelle inscrite, semble-t-il, au cœur de l’humanité. » (p. 62)

« on pourrait parler de données immédiates de la conscience collective pour qualifier ce réflexe de l’homme, archaïque et intemporel, universel et omniprésent, qui le porte depuis la nuit des temps à voir une admirable homothétie entre la structure de l’univers et la sienne propre d’une part, la nature qui l’entoure d’autre part » (p. 200)

« En somme, on pourrait comparer l’influence astrale à un vent (cosmique) qui soufflerait dans une certaine direction, induisant des climats et des événements probables, sans préjuger de la réaction de l’homme. Celle-ci étant fonction de sa personnalité propre, elle-même héritée à la fois génétiquement et par le ciel qui l’a vu naître » (p. 243)

« On est ici au cœur d’un anthropomorphisme intemporel, immémorial, atavique, qui participe de cet Urgrund commun à tout l’humanité. » (p. 253)

31Mais c’est plus généralement toute explication un tant soit peu rationnelle qui est explicitement rejetée par l’auteur. Devant la trop grande complexité des choses, il faudrait abandonner tout espoir de parvenir à en rendre véritablement raison et laisser parler l’intuition sensible et le langage des symboles. Il est vrai que l’auteur est bien aidée dans cette voie par les auteurs qu’elle ne cesse de citer et qui s’affirment assez nettement anti-rationalistes :

« une question primordiale apparaît être la suivante : faut-il voir dans l’approche astrologique une émanation de l’Absolu qui, bien qu’éloignée des religions révélées, serait une tentative humaine pour appréhender, à travers l’ordre cosmique conçu par un Dieu créateur, la manifestation d’une transcendance ? Ou bien doit-elle être considérée comme le code explicatif et immanent d’une influence astrale purement physique, phénomène à rapprocher des sciences de la nature ? Et dans ce cas, quelle serait la source ontogénétique de cette miraculeuse adéquation universelle, le primum mobile ? La réponse à cette question ontologique ne peut qu’être individuelle, car elle se place hors du domaine de la Raison pure, dans celui de l’indémontrable. » (p. 263)

[Citation de Michel Maffesoli] « il convient de dépasser, sans nostalgie aucune, toutes les idéologies se réclamant des prémisses rationalistes (Éloge de la raison sensible, p. 44) » (p. 643)

[Citation en exergue de Michel Maffesoli] « Le rationalisme classique (en sociologie) a fait son temps… » (p. 813)

Refus de toute objectivation

32On aura compris que tout ce qui pourrait permettre d’objectiver et de saisir même partiellement la réalité censée être étudiée est rejeté par l’auteur fascinée, séduite (« Simmel étant par ailleurs – et avant tout – un philosophe de la vie, au même titre que Schopenhauer, Bergson ou Nietzsche, cela également était fait pour nous séduire [...] », p. 50) par « la vie » dans toute sa complexité; complexité que les rationalistes, les sociologues positivistes, etc., s’acharnent à vouloir réduire et abîmer. La « méthode » qui convient à un objet aussi complexe et subtil est celle qui est « sensible à l’univers mystérieux, voire insondable, de l’âme humaine ». Cette « méthode » est indistinctement désignée par les termes de « méthode phénoménologique », d’« empathie » ou de « sociologie compréhensive » :

« Du fait que l’objectivité parfaite rêvée par la sociologie positiviste se cantonne dans un idéal par définition inaccessible, du fait surtout de la nature de notre sujet, essentiellement complexe, parfois contradictoire dans ses manifestations, un sujet ayant de surcroît pour objet et pour centre un univers subtil où convergent croyance, philosophie, tradition, sacré, affect fait de peur et de fascination, une méthode quantifiante et axée sur des analyses purement rationnelles passerait à côté de la vraie nature du problème. Une autre méthode s’avère donc nécessaire, sensible au monde vécu quotidien d’une part, à l’univers mystérieux, voire insondable, de l’âme humaine d’autre part. S’impose dès lors une méthode phénoménologique qui privilégie l’empathie et ayant pour atout le mérite d’une proximité de l’objet : la méthode dictée par la sociologie wébérienne, bâtie sur la compréhension, prend alors toute sa valeur. » (p. 34-35)

33La pensée de l’auteur fonctionne à la façon de la pensée mythique, sans crainte de la contradiction. Pour elle, le « quantitatif » s’oppose au « qualitatif » comme le « carré » s’oppose au « courbe », le « simple » au « complexe » (ou au « subtil »), l’« artificiel » au « naturel », etc. Si elle n’aime pas les méthodes quantitatives, c’est à cause de leur « caractère plaqué et artificiel » (p. 57); si elle n’apprécie pas les statistiques, c’est parce qu’elle sont trop « carrées et linéaires » (p. 295), etc.

« Utilisant des matériaux aussi variés que parfois difficiles à appréhender parce qu’appartenant davantage à l’univers subtil du qualitatif qu’à celui, mesurable mais tellement moins riche, du quantitatif… » (p. 10)

« Il est néanmoins possible que certains esprits plutôt attachés aux chiffres, aux statistiques et aux faits bruts et simples (encore que l’existence de tels faits soit douteuse et carrément niée par Schutz) puissent trouver cette méthode trop libre, trop fluctuante (ondoyante, dirait Simmel… ou Montaigne !) et subjective, donc manquant de rigueur. » (p. 56)

34Mais si les statistiques sont trop grossières pour l’esprit subtil d’E. Teissier, elles peuvent aussi à l’occasion être utiles si on peut leur faire dire des choses positives sur l’astrologie. Par exemple, commentant un sondage sur l’astrologie publié dans Science et vie junior (p. 287-290), elle réagit au fait que les jeunes soient apparemment les plus intéressés par l’astrologie de la manière suivante : « on peut d’ailleurs se demander si cela ne traduit pas un lien avec le cosmos resté plus vivant – et pourquoi pas diraient les adeptes de la réincarnation, un résidu des vies antérieures ? » (p. 288). D’un seul coup d’un seul, les pauvres statistiques se transforment, tel le crapaud devenant prince charmant, en preuves irréfutables du sérieux et de la véridicité des analyses astrologiques :

« Car nonobstant nos réserves déjà annoncées plus haut, quant à la valeur des analyses quantitatives en général, il reste que des indications chiffrées sur les secteurs de populations adhérant à cette discipline – ou simplement intéressées par cette dernière à divers degrés – ne peuvent que s’avérer des plus précieuses. » (p. 81)

« il y a les statistiques qui sont favorables à l’astrologie d’une façon à la fois péremptoire et éclatante » (p. XV)

35Et l’auteur se lance parfois elle-même hardiment dans l’évaluation chiffrée, mais totalement intuitive, des faits sociaux : « je pense que ceux qui aujourd’hui en France, font profession d’astrologue et chez qui la spécialité ‘astrologie’ proprement dite constitue effectivement 90 % et plus de la pratique professionnelle, doivent être moins d’un millier. C’est plus une impression qu’un décompte minutieux, mais ce chiffre me paraît plausible. » (p. 302).

Un étrange discours de la méthode

36Le discours de la méthode chez E. Teissier est aussi précis que ses hypothèses et sa « problématique ». Tout d’abord, l’« objectivité » est selon elle un idéal parfaitement inatteignable (un paragraphe entier est consacré au thème de « L’utopie de l’objectivité », p. 28-31). Mais, comme à son habitude, peu hantée par le principe de non-contradiction, E. Teissier peut critiquer la prétention « positiviste » à l’« objectivité » et dire que les scientifiques manquent d’objectivité, ou encore affirmer qu’elle est elle-même animée par un « souci d’objectivité ». La question de la possibilité ou l’impossibilité d’une objectivité est donc beaucoup plus complexe que ce qu’un lecteur rationaliste peut modestement imaginer : son sort dépend de la phrase dans laquelle le mot « objectivité » s’insère. Et l’on comprendra que l’auteur revendique l’« objectivité » lorsqu’il s’agit pour elle de défendre l’astrologie :

« Du fait que l’objectivité parfaite rêvée par la sociologie positiviste se cantonne dans un idéal par définition inaccessible [...] » (p. 34)

« Si l’on veut faire œuvre de sociologue visant à une certaine objectivité, on ne peut donc reprocher à l’art royal des astres, d’être lui aussi, à l’instar de toute croyance, de toute idéologie ou de toute religion, peu ou prou tigrée – pour reprendre le joli titre durandien – de superstition, dans la mesure où cette dernière est omniprésente (et tellement relative au point de vue et à la culture de référence) dans la psyché humaine. » (p. 471)

« Les points que nous avons cru devoir mettre en relief sont relatifs à la fois à notre ­expérience et à notre sensibilité, donc à ce qui nous est proposé et que nous essayons de communiquer avec un souci d’objectivité. Mais qui peut prétendre à l’objectivité ? » (p. 534)

« Il est vrai que ce déchiffrage ne fut pas toujours aisé, dans la mesure où, étant impliquée nous-même, il nous fallait cependant faire preuve d’un maximum d’objectivité. » (p. 825)

37Pour E. Teissier tout est « méthode ». Par exemple, lorsqu’elle écrit : « D’où l’importance essentielle de la démarche méthodologique choisie, qui consistera à cerner les motivations et sources secrètes des attitudes et comportements sociaux. » (p. 20), on constate qu’une vague volonté de « cerner des motivations » équivaut pour elle à une « démarche méthodologique ». Lorsqu’elle écrit aussi que, dans sa thèse, « la méthode empirique paraît s’imposer » et qu’« elle sera (son) outil de référence » (p. 10), on voit que le mot « méthode », équivalent d’« outil de référence », est utilisé avec l’imprécision la plus grande : « la méthode empirique » semble s’opposer à d’autres « méthodes » (qui ne le sont pas), mais on ne sait pas de quelle méthode précisément il s’agit.

38Les termes « méthodes », « paramètres », « facteurs », « outils », etc., sont, en fait, utilisés de manière sémantiquement aléatoire, tant la fonction essentielle de ces usages lexicaux réside dans l’effet savant que l’auteur entend produire sur elle-même et sur le lecteur. Le fait que dans la première citation, E. Teissier dise que les « paramètres » dont elle parle (équivalent ici de « notions ») apparaîtront « ici où là, au hasard de cette étude », fait bien apparaître le caractère extrêmement rigoureux de la « démarche méthodologique » mise en œuvre…

« Et si les dieux me sont favorables, peut-être pourrons-nous apporter quelques modestes lumières sur l’univers astrologique d’aujourd’hui par rapport à cinq paramètres élémentaires qui, selon NISBET, caractérisent plus que tout autre la sociologie : communauté, autorité, statut, sacré, aliénation, toutes notions qui, ici où là, au hasard de cette étude, la marqueront d’une empreinte en filigrane » (p. 44)

Un grand paragraphe s’intitule « Les outils ou paramètres d’étude » (p. 60-86); « Si l’on vise l’efficacité d’une méthode, celle-ci doit impérativement s’instrumentaliser à travers des outils, ces auxiliaires de la connaissance. Ils nous permettront de prendre en compte les différentes couches de la population concernées par le phénomène astrologique » (p. 60); « Un dernier facteur sera effleuré (car trop important pour être traité en profondeur) avec les rapports de l’astrologie et du pouvoir » (p. 66); « Dans la liste des outils/miroirs de cette investigation… » (p. 83)

39En sachant tout cela, tout lecteur peut mesurer l’effet comique de la prétention toute verbaliste à la rigueur qu’affiche l’auteur de la thèse : « nous avons eu l’occasion de développer l’esprit de rigueurdont l’exigence nous habite depuis toujours. À cela s’ajoutait un souci de rationalité, de cohérence, mais cela à travers une forte curiosité intellectuelle au service d’une recherche de la vérité » (p. VIII). Visiblement, l’esprit ne parvient pas à guider les gestes.

Les « données » : anecdotes de la vie personnelle, médiatique et mondaine d’Élizabeth Teissier

40Si l’on entend par « données empiriques » des matériaux qui sont sélectionnés, recueillis et/ou produits en vue de l’interprétation la plus fondée possible de tel ou tel aspect du monde social, c’est-à-dire à des corpus de données dont les principes de constitution et de délimitation sont explicitement énoncés, on peut dire sans risque que la thèse d’E. Teissier ne contient strictement aucune donnée empirique. Si l’auteur avait une conception un tant soit peu empirique de la pratique de recherche en sociologie (rappelons qu’elle dit mettre en œuvre « la méthode empirique »), elle n’oserait par exemple pas écrire avec autant de légèreté et d’inconscience empirique qu’elle va suivre l’évolution de l’astrologie « à travers le temps et l’espace dans les sociétés les plus diverses, de la nuit des temps à nos jours » en annonçant explicitement qu’elle se livrera « à un rapide survol, aussi bien chronologique que géographique, diachronique que synchronique… » (p. 93). Mais pourquoi se donner la peine de mettre en place un véritable dispositif de recherche lorsque l’on pense que « la vitalité de l’astrologie aujourd’hui ne fait aucun doute » et que « pour preuve, il suffit d’ouvrir les yeux et les oreilles » (p. 792) ?

41De même, comment apporter une preuve de « l’intérêt de plus en plus marqué des médias pour l’astrologie » ? E. Teissier répond : « il n’y a pas une semaine où nous ne soyons pas sollicitée à participer, ici ou là, en France ou à l’étranger, à une émission de ce genre » (p. 274). En fait, E. Teissier enchaîne de manière aléatoire les anecdotes personnelles au gré de l’association de ses souvenirs : « Dans le contexte de l’être-ensemble, une autre histoire nous revient à l’esprit, où nous étions à la fois témoin et partie » (p. 412); « Une autre histoire exemplaire nous revient à l’esprit. » (p. 383), etc. Elle raconte ce qu’on lui a dit ou écrit et ce qu’elle a répondu. Ses commentaires, quand il y en a, se contentent de prolonger la polémique lorsqu’il y avait polémique (avec les journalistes, les animateurs de télévision, les scientifiques, etc.) et de souligner l’intérêt pour l’astrologie – malgré le consensus culturel en défaveur de l’astrologie et la ghéttoïsation de cette dernière – qu’illustrent certaines anecdotes. L’anecdote tirée « au hasard » (signe sans doute d’objectivité à ses yeux) fait toujours preuve :

« Nous pourrions allonger indéfiniment la liste de ces lettres qui sont autant de témoignages du puissant impact sociétal de l’astrologie aujourd’hui » (p. 345)

« Pour montrer que l’impact de l’astrologie n’a pas de frontières et s’exerce en priorité sur les jeunes intellectuels, mentionnons encore cette lettre qui nous parvint… » (p. 354)

« nous avons tenté de dresser un panel évocateur des diverses activités sociétales reflétant l’attraction des diverses couches de la société contemporaine pour l’astrologie… » (p. 462)

« Parmi les éléments qui tendraient à refléter la notion de fascination, on peut estimer que le simple fait que le président des Français ait fait appel à nous est en soi signifiant. » (p. 440)

« À travers ces quelques expériences exemplaires, choisies au hasard dans notre parcours, nous retrouverons des Leitmotive qui se répondent en contrepoint, manifestations quasi permanentes, voire endémiques du rejet socioculturel, du tabou de l’astrologie aujourd’hui. » (p. 544)

42Si elle fait également le compte rendu d’échanges de courriers avec certains lecteurs, pour « preuve » de l’ambivalence fascination/rejet vis-à-vis de l’astrologie (« C- Le courrier des lecteurs et téléspectateurs, baromètres de notre société », p. 311-386), il n’est aucunement question de constituer un corpus, ni même de faire une analyse sociologique, mais de donner à lire le courrier reçu, ainsi que les réponses envoyées (« Voici ce que nous avons répondu à ce lecteur :… », p. 319; « Voici la réponse que nous adressâmes à cette lectrice désorientée », p. 327). On n’a pas même d’évaluation précise des différents types de courriers qu’elle reçoit. Ainsi, à propos des lettres qu’elle range dans la rubrique « Les appels à l’aide », elle écrit de manière approximative : « Il s’agit certainement, quantitativement parlant, de la masse la plus importante de lettres reçues » (p. 312) ou encore que « Parmi les appels à l’aide, les lettres émanant de prisonniers ne sont pas rares » (p. 321).

43Et l’on va ainsi d’une anecdote à l’autre : E. Teissier en « face-à-face avec un astronome monolithique dans son agressivité » (p. 543), E. Teissier et Marcel ­Jullian, PDG d’Antenne 2 (p. 588-629) à propos de l’émission Astralement vôtre, E. Teissier et l’émission allemande Astrow-show entre 1981 et 1983 (p. 645 et suivantes), E. Teissier et l’émission Comme un lundi de Christophe Dechavanne du 8 janvier 1996 (p. 671-685), E. Teissier et l’émission Duel sur la cinq du 10 juin 1988 (p. 709-725), etc. Et à chaque fois, l’auteur émet des jugements péremptoires, polémique, formule des réponses agressives. Elle n’étudie donc pas les réactions à l’astrologie, elle la défend. Elle ne fait pas l’analyse des polémiques autour de l’astrologie, mais est dans la polémique, continuant dans cette thèse – comme sur les plateaux de télévision, sur les ondes radiophoniques ou dans la presse écrite – à batailler contre ceux qui considèrent que ce n’est pas une science.

16 Le lecteur aura noté au passage qu’une formation d’une durée de six mois permet d’acquérir « les f (…)

44Dans tous les cas, le narcissisme naïf est grand, bien que totalement dénié : « Bien que nous refusions dans ce travail de nous mettre en avant pour des raisons à la fois d’objectivité et d’une décence de bon aloi, on aura remarqué que nous fûmes à travers toute l’émission la seule astrologue à être prise à parti… » (p. 686). Non seulement les exemples pris par E. Teissier ne concernent qu’E. Teissier (alors même qu’elle aurait pu s’intéresser à d’autres collègues astrologues), mais les récits mettent toujours en avant la vie héroïque ou passionnante d’E. Teissier. C’est ainsi qu’elle raconte par exemple comment la rencontre de l’astrologie fut « le grand tournant de sa vie » : « Nous eûmes droit à notre nuit de Pascal – nuit boréale en réalité, car l’‘illumination’ dura quelque six mois, le temps d’apprendre les fondements cosmographiques et symboliques de l’art royal des astres16, suffisamment pour être éblouie des ‘convergences’ d’une part psychologiques, d’autre part événementielles avec notre caractère et notre vécu, ou ceux de notre entourage » (p. X). Ou encore, faisant le récit du contexte dans lequel elle a été contactée pour présenter l’émission allemande Astro-Show : « Lorsque, au tout début de 1981, à notre retour d’un voyage en Inde, nous trouvâmes trois messages consécutifs et quelque peu impatients de l’ARD (première chaîne télévisuelle allemande), nous fûmes plutôt surprise. Jusque-là en effet notre rayon d’action n’avait pas passé les limites du Rhin. » (p. 646).

45Le narcissisme rejoint l’indécence lorsque, après avoir donné à lire le courrier d’un lecteur, jeune maghrébin incarcéré aux Baumettes, elle écrit avec misérabilisme et condescendance et sans prendre conscience du ridicule : « Nous étions consciente à quel point le fait de dialoguer pouvait être important pour ce jeune homme visiblement égaré, tel un zombie, en ce bas monde. [...] Voici la teneur de notre réponse audit prisonnier : ‘Cher Eric, je ne trouve hélas le temps de répondre à votre lettre qu’au retour d’un séjour à l’étranger. Je vous envoie une analyse à titre tout à fait exceptionnel, et pour la somme purement symbolique d’un franc (vu votre situation actuelle). Votre thème me montre que votre futur florissant vous permettra de m’envoyer ce que bon vous semblera en temps venu. Sachez que vous devez ce cadeau d’une part à vos bonnes étoiles [...], d’autre part au fait que votre lettre m’a touchée, également du fait que j’ai deux filles, l’une Poisson, l’autre née en 1973, comme vous !… Je vous demande en revanche de bien vouloir en garder le secret, puisque l’ébruiter pourrait faire des jaloux [...]’ » (p. 323).

Une écriture boursouflée et creuse

46Le problème essentiel avec le style d’écriture que l’on trouve dans une thèse comme celle d’E. Teissier, réside dans le fait que l’on aura beau multiplier les « échantillons », répéter les citations en vue de prouver que l’on a affaire à une écriture jargonnante, peu rigoureuse, souvent incompréhensible, parfois proche de l’absurde, d’autres verront au contraire dans les mêmes extraits toutes les marques de la profondeur ou de l’intelligence du propos. Question d’habitude pourrait-on dire. S’il est habitué à un usage déréglé de la langue, le lecteur appréciera les acrobaties verbales ou les associations aléatoires d’idées un peu comme s’il était devant un grand poème pseudo-savant. Mais là réside exactement le problème : le sociologue n’est pas un poète. On peut apprécier les poèmes de René Char ou de Stéphane Mallarmé et ne pas accepter, en matière de sciences sociales, ceux qui s’acharnent à faire dans le creux et le vague en faisant passer le creux pour du profond et le vague pour du riche et du complexe. Devant un grand nombre de passages de cette thèse, nous pourrions émettre le jugement suivant : dans la mesure où nous croyons savoir ce que parler en sociologue veut dire, nous pouvons témoigner du fait que nous n’avons rien compris à ce qui a été dit. Mais qu’y aurait-il à comprendre lorsque rien n’a été vraiment dit ?

17 Sur les habitudes discursives et mentales voir B. Lahire, L’Invention de l’« illettrisme ». Rhétor (…)

47Que des sociologues en France aient contracté de mauvaises habitudes de parler et d’écrire, qu’ils tentent de les transmettre régulièrement à des centaines, voire à des milliers d’étudiants, cela constitue un fait social majeur. Cependant, on peut avoir acquis auprès de maîtres, prestigieux ou moins prestigieux, de telles mauvaises habitudes17, et vouloir néanmoins s’en débarrasser une fois qu’on en a pris conscience. Mais encore une fois ce que l’on peut appeler « mauvaise habitude de parler et d’écrire », à partir d’une conception un tant soit peu rationaliste de l’argumentation, est malheureusement perçue par beaucoup de ceux qui les mettent en œuvre comme un signe d’intelligence et de pensée originale et profonde. L’écriture et la parole déréglées peuvent ainsi se transmettre de génération en génération, sans que ceux qui transmettent ni ceux qui se les approprient ne sachent exactement de quoi ils parlent, dans l’obscurité de la relation enchantée de maîtres à élèves (ou disciples) où se constituent ordinairement de telles habitudes. Il suffit d’être fasciné, de trouver cela beau, profond, sensible, original, pour avoir envie de faire de même et paraître à son tour intelligent, original, sensible et profond. Le sens de tout cela peut très bien être totalement absent des mots qui s’écrivent et s’échangent et se situer exclusivement dans la relation fascinée au maître. Peu de signification discursive, beaucoup de signification sociale.

48Délire sémantique ou esbroufe verbale, plaisir des mots savants qui sonnent bien accolés les uns aux autres pour asserter des banalités sur un ton sérieux, enchaînements des citations d’auteurs aussi ésotériques les unes que les autres, la panoplie de l’écriture pseudo-savante et réellement floue est assez complète. Donnons-en quelques exemples en garantissant au lecteur que l’effet d’étrangeté n’est pas le produit d’une injuste décontextualisation :

« [...] à la recherche de cet infracassable noyau de nuit qui hante le cœur de l’homme depuis des temps immémoriaux ? » (p. 7)

[M. Maffesoli parle du « sentiment cosmique » qui « incline vers le vrai organique, le vivant, c’est-à-dire vers le naturalisme »] « Ce sentiment cosmique se trouvant de plus en plus impliqué comme trame de fond dans notre recherche, dont il constitue en quelque sorte le tissu, il allait de soi qu’il serve aussi de reliance et de sésame heuristique dans notre démarche, c’est-à-dire, dit concrètement,de fil rouge instrumental au service de notre projet de décrypter le donné social de ce que Dilthey appellerait la structure psychique que constitue l’astrologie. » (p. 49)

« Ainsi, comme lanterne magique pour nous guider à travers ces méandres heuristiques, nous utiliserons, comme accessoire à la raison objective et raisonnante la raison sensible maffésolienne ou l’intuition intellectuelle d’un R. Guenon, telle qu’elle est évoquée par F. Bonardel. » (p. 53)

« Au-delà de cette complexité qui ne doit pas être un mot refuge, nous cultivons l’espoir – l’utopie ? – qu’en fin d’analyse, ayant, même imparfaitement, décrypté les arcanes de notre problématique, nous pourrons adhérer pleinement à l’affirmation du sociologue lorsqu’il déclare que la complexité est ‘le défi à affronter, ce qui aide à le relever, et parfois même à le surmonter’ (E. Morin, Introduction à la pensée complexe) » (p. 68)

« En tout état de cause, on assiste ici à un triple trajet – ou trajectorialité, au sens durandien –, dans un va-et-vient simmélien qui s’inscrit en premier lieu entre le consultant et le système astrologique » (p. 76)

« Mais on trouve également un autre vecteur de cette trajectivité, à savoir celui entre ce même acteur social et la réelle présence (pour reprendre un expression chère à G. ­Steiner) du consulté, de l’astrologue en l’occurrence. En effet, il s’agit bien de la manifestation symbolique d’un présentéisme dépouillé de tout jugement moral, où seul intervient le laisser-être, à l’exclusion d’un aspect quelconque de contrainte, d’un devoir-être ». (p. 77)

« Ne doutons pas que c’est dans cette effervescence que se trouve la vérité sociétale. Et cette effervescence se focalise de plus en plus sur le monde des astres, nous l’avons, pensons-nous largement montré au cours de notre survol. On assiste en effet de plus en plus et dans tous les domaines du quotidien à une infiltration diffuse et effervescente de l’astral en nos sociétés postmodernes, en résonance, quelque part, à la coupure épistémologique, déjà évoquée, d’une postmodernité dont Maffesoli donne la définition suivante : ‘Sorte d’agglutination, à la fois disparate et tout à fait unie, d’éléments les plus divers’, impliquant un ‘style organique’, ce dernier se révélant ‘une bonne manière d’appréhender la raison interne d’une connaissance’ (Préface à Durkheim, Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, p. 90) » (p. 851)

« Tout au long de notre thèse, nous avons à l’instar de ce qui est la vocation et l’objectif du chercheur, tenté de déceler les prémices sous-jacents, les frémissements de ce qui est ‘en train de naître’ et qui se font sentir dans la réalité sociétale aujourd’hui. Cela en pratiquant ce que G. Durand appelle une ‘pensée concentrique’, c’est-à-dire une ‘pensée formant un système ouvert qui refuse de rester au centre mais qui va glaner ce qui se passe et se propage en périphérie à la recherche de l’humus sous-jacent’. Autrement dit, il s’agissait de suivre un processus de va-et-vient, en vases communiquants, tout en refusant de rester prisonnier d’une idée, d’aller à la rencontre de l’inconnu, de ce qui se vit dans le donné social, de ce qui émerge dans le champ expérimental du chercheur. De tout ce vécu, de cet observé, nous avons tenté de dégager la dynamique à travers une synergie de la pensée, en délaissant son contraire : la pensée unique, sous forme d’une doxa synonyme d’apparence. Nous avons ainsi pu faire état de ce maillage multiple, de ces innombrables passerelles qui s’effectuent entre échanges de savoirs, dans un désir commun de s’ouvrir à d’autres connaissances et de partager son intérêt, mais aussi à travers ces nouvelles technologies, longuement évoquées, où tout un chacun fait un pied-de-nez à cette pensée conformiste représentée par ceux qui détiennent un pseudo-savoir – un ‘demi-savoir’ selon J.-C. (sic) Domenach. Au fil de notre travail, nous avons pu mettre le doigt sur la confusion qui émerge par rapport à ces données, où sont mis à mal ceux qui croyaient détenir le savoir, cette pensée bien gardée, convenable, intellectuellement correcte, tout en montrant que son impérialisme peu à peu se désagrège – et ce en dépit d’un combat d’arrière-garde qui se voit voué à un échec à long terme. Comme nous avons montré, pensons-nous, l’inanité d’un intellectualisme desséché. ‘Le règne absolu de l’idée ne peut s’établir ni surtout se maintenir : car c’est la mort’ (in Le suicide de Durkheim cité par Maffesoli dans sa préface aux Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, p. 11). En paraphrasant K. Jaspers, on pourrait dire que ‘c’est dans la communication qu’on atteint le but de l’astrologie (la philosophie)’ (Introduction à la philosophie, p. 25), dans cet échange chaleureux (dionysiaque ?) entre esprits branchés sur des intérêts semblables, orientés en l’occurrence sur les arcanes célestes. » (p. 861)

Ce qui nuit réellement à la discipline 9« À Londres, s’il n’y a pas non plus de chaire d’astrologie à l’université, du moins peut-on obtenir un P.H.D. (doctorat) en astrologie si cette discipline est officiellement dépendante de la branche Psychologie; même biais possibles en France à condition de choisir un sujet de thèse limitrophe de la Sociologie, de la Philosophie ou de l’Histoire des religions et de se placer officiellement sous l’égide ces disciplines : on est obligé de camoufler, de tricher, de contourner les institutions qui sont manifestement en retard sur la réalité d’un consensus de plus en plus évident. » (p. 815-816). La vérité de la thèse d’E. Teissier est très clairement énoncée dans ces pages. Pour défendre la cause de l’astrologie, il faut avancer masqué : philosophie, histoire de religion ou sociologie peuvent être des entrées possibles pour l’astrologue. Mais si de telles stratégies de légitimation peuvent être imaginées, c’est que notre communauté scientifique les rend possibles. Et c’est cela qui pose fondamentalement problème au-delà du cas particulier de cette thèse. Que les choses soient claires : E. Teissier ne peut être tenue pour responsable de ce qui s’est passé à la Sorbonne et elle n’aurait pas même eu l’idée de frapper à la porte de notre discipline pour trouver un lieu de légitimation de ses propres intérêts d’astrologue, si celle-ci n’était pas le refuge d’enseignants-chercheurs dépourvus de rigueur et parfois très explicitement anti-rationalistes.

50Revenons à notre point de départ : des « collègues » (abondamment cités dans cette thèse) ont délivré un droit de soutenance à l’auteur de cette thèse, puis, avec d’autres, ont décidé de lui attribuer la mention « Très honorable ». Après lecture du compte rendu précédent, on comprend à quel point le sentiment de scandale du lecteur de la thèse est grand.

18 Lorsque l’on compte le nombre de thèses de doctorat soutenues par directeur de thèse, en France en (…)

19 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 23. 04. 01 adressé à de nombreux sociologues.

20 Et ce d’autant plus qu’on a contribué à banaliser sa présence au sein de la discipline dans des ma (…)

21 Lettre de M. Maffesoli adressée par courrier électronique le 23. 04. 01. Une autre variante se ret (…)

22 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 25. 04. 01 adressé à de nombreux sociologues.

23 On a pu lire ainsi dans la presse qu’« Elizabeth Teissier pourrait devenir le pion qu’on avance en (…)

51Évidemment, le directeur de la thèse, Michel Maffesoli, est Professeur de sociologie à l’université de Paris V et a même été promu à la première classe par le CNU, il publie régulièrement des ouvrages, préface des classiques de la sociologie, dirige une revue et fait soutenir des thèses à un rythme particulièrement élevé18, etc. Il soutient, avec l’aplomb cynique de celui qui sait pertinemment que la thèse ne sera pas lue intégralement par les étudiants ni même par les sociologues professionnels qui ont généralement d’autres tâches plus urgentes à faire, que la thèse d’E. Teissier est une thèse « sur l’astrologie » (à quelques « dérapages » près avoue-t-il19, en rajoutant de manière insultante pour tous les sociologues qui font leur travail d’évaluation des thèses sérieusement : « En toute honnêteté, lequel d’entre nous, directeur de thèse n’a pas laissé passer de tels ‘dérapages’ ? ») et non une « thèse d’astrologie ». Il peut donc utiliser l’argument du meurtre d’une école de pensée20 (« Il ne faudrait pas que cette thèse serve de prétexte à un nouveau règlement de compte contre une des diverses manières d’envisager la sociologie. »21) et dénoncer la « chasse à l’homme » qui est lancée contre lui : « Est ce que cette thèse n’est pas un simple prétexte pour marginaliser un courant sociologique, et disons le crûment, pour faire une chasse à l’homme, en la matière contre moi-même ? »22 Et c’est bien comme cela que certains collègues ont interprété les réactions négatives à cette soutenance de thèse et à l’attribution d’un titre de docteur en sociologie23. Or, il n’est bien sûr pas question de querelles d’écoles dans cette affaire, mais de rigueur scientifique (et même, plus largement, de rigueur intellectuelle) et de définition du métier de sociologue.

52Les véritables questions au fond que pose une telle « affaire » nous semblent être les suivantes : Comment parvenir à transformer collectivement les produits d’une histoire (académique et scientifique) mal faite (attributions abusives du titre de docteur en sociologie, recrutements universitaires peu rigoureux, revues scientifiques à faible contrôle scientifique…) ? Comment justifier, sans apparaître injuste et terroriste, l’affirmation selon laquelle Michel Maffesoli (entre autres) n’est pas sociologue et n’est pas en mesure de former les étudiants dont il dirige les travaux de recherche au métier de sociologue ? Ce sont ces questions que les sociologues doivent affronter. Sans prise de conscience collective de notre communauté scientifique, il n’y a aucune raison que ce genre de faits ne se renouvelle pas à l’avenir, avec moins de fracas, car tous les candidats n’auront pas l’honneur de la grande presse.

24 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 25. 04. 01, op. cit. Voir aussi sa réponse à l’article de Jean Bric (…)

25 M. Maffesoli a qualifié, de manière tout à fait insultante, l’« ennuyeux jargon » des sociologues (…)

26 J. Bouveresse, Le Philosophe chez les autophages, Paris, Minuit, « Critique », 1984, p. 114.

53« Mais se servir de cette thèse, pour régler des comptes, pour sonner l’hallali, ne me paraît pas sain et, en tout cas, risque de nuire à notre discipline, en général », écrit Michel Maffesoli24. Nous espérons avoir contribué ici à montrer que ce qui « nuit à notre discipline » et ce qui n’est « pas sain », c’est très précisément le genre de spectacle dont la Sorbonne a été le théâtre sous la responsabilité d’un jury en grande partie composé de sociologues. Personnage cynique25, fin stratège, maniant habilement l’art du renversement des situations, Michel Maffesoli voudrait nous faire croire que « les fautifs ne sont pas ceux qui commettent les fautes [...], mais ceux qui ont l’impudence de les dénoncer »26. Gageons que les diverses réactions saines à cette affaire malsaine puissent donner l’occasion d’une réflexion collective sur le métier de sociologue et sur les conditions d’entrée dans ce métier.

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Notes

1 Je tiens à remercier Stéphane Beaud et Christine Détrez pour la lecture des premières versions de ce texte, ainsi que Charles Soulié pour les données sur les thèses soutenues en sociologie entre 1989 et 1995 qu’il m’a communiqué.

2 Ce n’était pas la première fois que M. Maffesoli faisait soutenir une thèse en rapport avec l’astrologie. Ainsi, en 1989, S. Joubert a soutenu une thèse de doctorat intitulée Polythéisme des valeurs et sociologie : le cas de l’astrologie à l’Université de Paris V, sous sa direction. Le résumé de cette thèse manifeste un style d’écriture d’une aussi douteuse clarté que celui que l’on découvre dans la thèse d’Élizabeth Teissier : « Les figures polythéistes loin d’être les images obsolètes d’un passé primitif ou révolu, sont l’expression d’un agencement métaphorique dans lequel le face-à-face des dieux témoigne d’un éclatement des valeurs dont il s’agit de reconnaître toute la puissance heuristique. Le polythéisme des valeurs pousse la connaissance vers une épistémologie psycho-mythique qui semble aujourd’hui sensibiliser, tant les sciences exactes que les sciences humaines; en congruence avec cette mutation épistémologique émergent des indicateurs sociaux qui confirment la transformation paradigmatique à l’œuvre dans la post-modernité, telle l’astrologie dont le succès que l’on connaît tend à exacerber certaines valeurs comme la synthèse, le holisme, l’interdisciplinarité, la complexité, l’analogie, la synchronicité, etc… En toile de fond de cet engouement populaire se dessine plus ou moins nettement un certain nombre d’enjeux essentiels un peu comme si l’anodin servait à l’occasion de miroir reflétant à contre-jour les orientations que la post-modernitése donne à elle-même. » (Source : Docthese 1998/1). La thèse vient de paraître (L’homme d’aujourd’hui et les autres : fascination et rejet, Paris, Plon, 2001).

3 Directeur d’études à l’EHESS (psychologie sociale).

4 Professeur de philosophie à l’Université de Paris I.

5 Professeur de sociologie à l’Université de Montpellier III.

6 Professeur émérite à l’Université de Grenoble II, Fondateur du Centre de Recherche sur l’Imaginaire.

7 Professeur de sociologie à l’Université de Strasbourg II.

8 Un tel travail de lecture demande beaucoup de temps et porte plus que l’ombre du doute sur les lectures d’« un jour », comme celle d’Alain Touraine, qui affirme ainsi : « Je me suis présenté le premier et j’ai consacré la journée du 15 mai à sa lecture » (« De quoi Élizabeth Teissier est-elle coupable ? », Le Monde daté du 22 mai 2001).

9 C’est pour cela que nous ne pouvons pas suivre Jean Copans (« La sociologie, astrologie des sciences sociales ? », Le Monde daté du 30. 04. 01) lorsqu’il fait porter la critique sur les objets jugés trop futiles (« Les incivilités dans le 93 », « Mon portable, mon ordinateur et ma belle-fille », « L’interculturel entre la rue des Rosiers et le quartier de la Rose »).

10 Tout ce que nous mettons entre guillemets dans ce texte sont des extraits de la thèse. Les italiques sont des choix de soulignement de l’auteur de la thèse et les gras sont nos propres soulignements de lecteur.

11 M. Maffesoli, « Éloge de la connaissance ordinaire », Le Monde daté du 24 avril 2001.

12 Nous ne vérifierons pas ici la véracité des sentiments positifs à l’égard de l’astrologie que l’auteur prête à diverses personnalités.

13 Elle peut soutenir à d’autres moments que la vérité sort de la bouche du peuple, parce que – mythe du « bon peuple » oblige – celui-ci serait moins perverti par les institutions académiques, culturelles et médiatiques officielles : « Les gens simples, moins victimes d’a priori (il s’agit d’un terrain intellectuel en quelque sorte vierge) sont plus réceptifs, donc plus vrais par rapport à ce genre de constat, de reconnaissance. » (p. 483). Ou encore : « Il est certain que l’instinct populaire, très sûr parce que nourri de toute l’expérience humaine, cet ‘inconscient collectif’ cher au psychologue C. G. Jung, a depuis toujours l’intuition d’une action du ciel sur ce qui vit sur terre. » (p. XV).

14 « [...] je n’ai lu nulle part dans sa thèse que l’astrologie était scientifique », A. Touraine, « De quoi Élizabeth Teissier est-elle coupable ? », op. cit.

15 Elle écrit par ailleurs : « D’autre part, la télépathie ne s’est elle pas imposée comme discipline scientifique depuis les expériences de Rhine ? » (p. 281).

16 Le lecteur aura noté au passage qu’une formation d’une durée de six mois permet d’acquérir « les fondements cosmographiques et symboliques de l’art royal des astres ». L’effort n’est finalement pas si considérable que cela pour pouvoir « écouter la musique » des planètes.

17 Sur les habitudes discursives et mentales voir B. Lahire, L’Invention de l’« illettrisme ». Rhétorique publique, éthique et stigmates, Paris, Éditions la Découverte, Coll. « Textes à l’appui », 1999.

18 Lorsque l’on compte le nombre de thèses de doctorat soutenues par directeur de thèse, en France entre 1989 et 1995, on s’aperçoit que Michel Maffesoli arrive très largement en tête des directeurs de thèse avec 49 thèses (en 7 ans, soit en moyenne 7 thèses par an) soutenues, loin devant Louis-Vincent Thomas (33). Puis viennent Pierre Ansart (22), Jean Duvignaud (22), Pierre Fougeyrollas (19), Raymond Bourdon (17), Annie Kriegel (14), Alain Touraine (14), Jacques Lautmann (12), Robert Castel (11), Jean-Michel Berthelot (10) et Roger Establet (10).

19 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 23. 04. 01 adressé à de nombreux sociologues.

20 Et ce d’autant plus qu’on a contribué à banaliser sa présence au sein de la discipline dans des manuels universitaires « respectueux de la pluralité des écoles et des sensibilités », comme le mentionne la quatrième de couverture de l’ouvrage La Sociologie française contemporaine (sous la direction de J.-M. Berthelot, Paris, PUF, 2000); ouvrage qui comprend un chapitre, signé par Patrick Tacussel, intitulé « La sociologie interprétative. Un tournant postempiriste dans les sciences humaines en France », p. 117-125.

21 Lettre de M. Maffesoli adressée par courrier électronique le 23. 04. 01. Une autre variante se retrouve dans le texte accompagnant le courrier : « Une question de bon sens se pose, est-ce que, finalement, cette thèse non lue, n’est pas prétexte à règlement de compte contre un type de sociologie que je représente ? »

22 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 25. 04. 01 adressé à de nombreux sociologues.

23 On a pu lire ainsi dans la presse qu’« Elizabeth Teissier pourrait devenir le pion qu’on avance en surface pour régler des affaires plus souterraines, relevant des querelles de chapelle ou des jeux de pouvoir entre ‘grands’ de la sociologie » (O. Piriou, « Banalité d’Elizabeth Teissier », Le Monde daté du 30. 04. 01).

24 M. Maffesoli, courriel daté du 25. 04. 01, op. cit. Voir aussi sa réponse à l’article de Jean Bricmont et Diana Johnston (« Le monde diplomatique », août 2001) : « L’astrologie, la gauche et la science », in « Le monde diplomatique », 2 octobre 2001, p. 2.

25 M. Maffesoli a qualifié, de manière tout à fait insultante, l’« ennuyeux jargon » des sociologues d’« argot de proxénètes » dans la préface au livre de Alfred Schutz, Le Chercheur et le quotidien, Paris, Méridiens Klincksieck, 1987, p. I.

26 J. Bouveresse, Le Philosophe chez les autophages, Paris, Minuit, « Critique », 1984, p. 114.


Obama/Israël: Qu’ils mangent de la rhétorique ! (When all else fails, play tourist !)

23 mars, 2013
http://www.gannett-cdn.com/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2013/03/20/ap_mideast_palestinians_obama_54847039-16_9_r722_c720x400.jpg?0274d63eec9e89a4f151267bbcae9ff8b01f9b5dhttp://extremecentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Obama-spring-break-Israel-Dave-Granlund.jpg
Hamas leader Dr. Salah Bardawil called on Palestinian political leaders in the Authority and the factions to review the Palestinian political program to face the repercussions of the remarks made by Obama on Thursday during his visit to Jerusalem and West Bank. Bardawil described in a press statement to Quds Press the U.S. President statements calling for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as "the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue." He added that the recognition of the State of Israel means practically abolishing the right of refugees to return and tampering with the fate of the Palestinians from the 1948-occupied territories. "This shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs … This is serious and requires that the Palestinian leadership reformulates its political program to address this deception." Al Qassam
Tranquillement, sans que personne ne l’annonce, le conflit israélo-palestinien est passé d’une nécessité à un passe-temps pour les diplomates américains. Comme n’importe quel passe-temps — construction de modèles réduits d’avions ou de chandails au tricot — certains jours vous travaillez dessus, certains jours, vous ne travaillez pas. Cela dépend de votre humeur, mais qu’importe finalement si le chandail est terminé ou non. Obama a travaillé sur ce passe-temps au début de son premier mandat. Il a vite été coincé lorsqu’il a été repoussé par les deux parties, et, par conséquent, il a adopté, tout à fait rationnellement, à mon avis, une attitude de négligence bénigne. Tout cela dans l’indifférence générale. (…) Le conflit le plus déstabilisateur de la région est la guerre civile entre chiites et sunnites qui chauffe, le Liban, la Syrie, l’Irak, le Koweït, le Bahreïn et le Yémen. Alors qu’il serait une bonne chose d’ériger un Etat palestinien en paix avec Israël, la question est aujourd’hui restera-t-il un État syrien, un Etat libyen et l’État égyptien. Enfin, alors que la nécessité pour l’Amérique de forger la paix israélo-palestinienne n’a jamais été plus faible, les obstacles n’ont jamais été plus élevés : Israël a maintenant installé 300 000 imlantations en Cisjordanie et les attaques à la roquette du Hamas sur Israël depuis Gaza ont sérieusement érodé l’appétit de la majorité silencieuse israélienne de se retirer de la Cisjordanie, puisqu’une seule petit roquette fusée tirée de là-bas pourrait fermer l’aéroport international israélien de Lod. Pour toutes ces raisons, Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste. Thomas Friedman
Keeping Iran from sprinting to a single bomb now so that it can amble toward 50 bombs once Mr. Obama is out of office is not a policy worthy of any American presidency. I’d also like to hear the president tell Palestinians during his visit to Bethlehem that what really stands between them and a state isn’t Israel or its settlements. Israel dismantled its settlements in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt, and dismantled them again in Gaza in the interests of disengaging from the restive coastal strip. Most Israelis would gladly do so again for the sake of a real peace with the Palestinians. But Israelis can have no confidence in such a peace so long as Palestinians elect Hamas to power, cheer the rocketing of Israeli cities, insist on a « right of return » to Tel Aviv and Haifa, play charades at the U.N., refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, and raise their children on a diet of anti-Semitic slurs. Bret Stephens
Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif. Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient. Frédéric Encel
Bien qu’il puisse y avoir certains dans les mondes arabes et musulmans, qui prendront à cœur de sermon du président sur la coexistence et les objectifs communs, le chant des manifestants qui l’a accueilli à Ramallah aujourd’hui, dans lequel la foule réclamait des fusils lance-grenades et non plus de coopération avec les États-Unis, était peut-être une lecture plus précise de l’opinion publique. (…) Le président a peut-êrtre estimé qu’il devait faire précéder tout discours de paix par un émouvant hymne au sionisme et le droit d’Israël à se défendre contre ses ennemis, afin qu’ils se sentent suffisamment en sécurité pour accepter le compromis. Mais à une culture politique palestinienne qui cherche toujours la délégitimisation d’Israël, ceci est une invitation à la confrontation, pas l’accomodement. Tant que le nationalisme palestinien restera lié au rejet du sionisme, il sera difficile, voire impossible, pour même un leader palestinien plus fort qu’Abbas de faire la paix. Et c’est pourquoi que sans aucun doute à la frande frustration du président Obama, il continuerat à éviter comme la peste les pourparlers. Le discours de Jérusalem d’Obama sur les vertus d’une solution à deux États n’est pas plus susceptibles de produire un que celui de Bush donné en 2002 en devenant le premier président américain à approuver officiellement la création d’un Etat palestinien. A ce moment là aussi, Bush favait ormulé son appui au concept dans un contexte de sécurité israéliennes et des droits des Palestiniens (bien que Bush ait également approuvé la démocratie palestinienne, un point qu’Obama judicieusement évité puisque Abbas en est actuellement à sa neuvième année d’un mandat de quatre ans). Mais même si l’appui sincère de Bush a contribué à encourager ensuite le premier ministre Ariel Sharon à se retirer de la bande de Gaza (une erreur colossale qui s’a aggravé  la sécurité du pays et qui ne sera répète ni par Netanyahu ni par aucun autre dirigeant israélien en Cisjordanie), il n’a en rien fait bouger  les Palestiniens. malgré tout son brio rhétorique, les chances d’Obama de réussir là où Bush a échoué sont minimes. (…) L’ironie ici, c’est que la droite juve qui attaquera Obama pour son discours aura probablement aussi tort quant à son impact que la gauche qui l’encense. Tant que les Palestiniens resteront réticents à faire la paix, peu importe ce que pourront dire les israéliens ou Obama sur le sujet. Jonathan S. Tobin

Vous avez dit "vacances de Monsieur Hulot" ?

Batterie du système antimissile "Dôme de fer", Musée national, Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, tombes de Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem, Pétra …

Au lendemain de la dernière balade en Palestine du Touriste en chef et maitre es téléprompteries de la Maison Blanche …

Qui, entre les incessants gages aux panislamistes et l’abandon de ses anciens alliés aux allahakbaristes du prétendu "printemps arabe", avait passé l’essentiel de son premier mandat à multiplier les gestes d’hostilité à l’égard du gouvernement israélien …

Mais qui, détérioration de la situation syrienne et survol de territoire en cas de bombardement du programme nucléaire iranien obligent et mis à part le rappel du statut d’Etat juif d’Israël, semble néanmoins avoir obtenu des excuses israéliennes pour une évidente provocation turque …

L’éditorialiste américain Jonathan S. Tobin rappelle, après le spécialiste français du Proche-Orient Frédéric Encel il y a quelques jours, la futilité de l’entreprise …

Tant que les dirigeants palestiniens continueront à refuser la paix …

Contentions

Both Right and Left May Be Wrong About Obama’s Speech

Jonathan S. Tobin

Jewish World Review

03.21.2013

Jewish left-wingers are cheering President Obama’s Jerusalem speech in which he once again made the case for a two-state solution. Some are hoping that this will mean a renewed campaign of U.S. pressure on the Netanyahu government. With a new secretary of state in John Kerry who may well be foolish enough to believe he can succeed where so many other American peace processers have failed, perhaps they are right. But it is also possible that although Obama was eager to reiterate his ideas about the necessity of peace, the only real insights about the impact of the presidential visit may be coming from Palestinians and some of their cheerleaders.

While they will also welcome the president’s reassertion of the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own and his criticisms of Jewish settlements, it is far more probable that the part of his address today that will resonate with them is the section in which he laid out at length not only a defense of Zionism but a case for Israel’s right to self-defense and America’s ironclad guarantee of its security. Though there may be some in the Muslim and Arab worlds who will take to heart the president’s sermon on coexistence and shared goals, the chant of demonstrators that greeted him in Ramallah today, in which the crowd chanted for rocket propelled grenades, not more cooperation with the U.S., was perhaps a more accurate reading of public opinion.

Were Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, whom the president inaccurately praised as a “partner for peace,” really interested in pursuing a two-state solution, he would take up the president’s challenge and agree, as Obama insisted during their joint press conference, to a new round of peace talks without insisting on preconditions. But the odds that the embattled Abbas, who is far more worried about Hamas than he is about Israel or the U.S., will do that are slim, making any new U.S. initiative a fool’s errand.

Those who would dismiss the president’s speeches as meaningless rhetoric shouldn’t underestimate the power of words, especially from an American president, to set the tone in the region. But those who think Obama’s appeal to Israelis to force their leaders to once again take risks for peace (something that runs contrary to the verdict of the recent Israeli election) may not only be misreading the mood of the Israeli public; they are also ignoring the Palestinians.

It should first be understood that merely stating America’s desire for a renewal of the peace process without demanding anything from the parties other than that they return to the peace table does not in any way constitute pressure on Israel. To the contrary, while Israel’s new government is under no illusion about the president wanting them to change course on settlements, they heard no concrete proposals from him that they must either refuse or accede to. In Ramallah, Obama echoed Netanyahu when he pointed out that the Palestinian demand that Israel concede every main point on borders and settlements prior to the negotiations was a formula for inaction, not peace. Israel’s position remains that it is ready to talk about everything without preconditions and that is exactly what Obama endorsed. Though it is possible Obama may follow this up with pressure on Netanyahu in the coming months and years, his speech actually made it very plain that pressure for peace would have to come from the Israel public and not from an American president who has learned his lesson about the futility of trying to impose his will on the Jewish state or on a Palestinian Authority that has consistently disappointed him.

While some on the Jewish right may only be listening to the latter part of the president’s speech in which he criticized settlements, what they need to understand is that Israel’s enemies probably stopped listening after the part where he endorsed Zionism and said those who wish to erase Israel are wasting their time. It will be those words and not his call for mutual understanding that will have the most impact.

The president may have felt that he had to precede any talk about peace with a stirring paean to Zionism and the right of Israel to defend itself against its enemies in order to make them feel safe enough to compromise. But to a Palestinian political culture that still seeks Israel’s delegitimization, that is an invitation to confrontation, not accommodation. So long as Palestinian nationalism is bound up with rejection of Zionism, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for even a stronger Palestinian leader than Abbas to make peace. And that is why he will, no doubt to President Obama’s frustration, continue to avoid talks like the plague.

Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the virtues of a two-state solution is no more likely to produce one than the one George W. Bush gave in 2002 when he became the first U.S. president to officially endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. Then, too, Bush couched his support for the concept in a context of Israeli security and Palestinian rights (though Bush also endorsed Palestinian democracy, a point that Obama wisely avoided since Abbas is now serving in the ninth year of a four-year term). But while Bush’s heartfelt support helped encourage then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza (a colossal blunder that has worsened the country’s security and that neither Netanyahu nor any other Israeli leader will repeat in the West Bank), it did nothing to move the Palestinians. For all of his rhetorical brilliance, Obama’s chances of succeeding where Bush failed are minimal.

In the absence of any peace proposal that will hinge on American pressure on Israel to make concessions, nothing will come of Obama’s peace advocacy. Obama’s critics on the right, both here and in Israel, may say that his Zionist rhetoric is insincere and that the only aspects of his speeches that can be believed are those that call for Israeli concessions. But while he may not, as Aaron David Miller said, be “in love with the idea of Israel,” he gave a plausible impression of someone who is an ardent supporter of that idea this week. After this trip, it is simply not possible to claim he is Israel’s enemy, even if some of his advice to it is unwise.

The irony here is that the Jewish right that will attack Obama for his speech is probably as wrong about its impact as the left that cheers it. As long as the Palestinians remain unwilling to make peace, it doesn’t matter what the Israelis do or what Obama says about the subject.

Voir aussi:

20 Mars 2013

Obama, le faux détracteur d’Israël

Frédéric Encel, géopolitologue et professeur à l’ESG Management School, souligne que le président américain n’a jamais menacé de sanctions Benyamin Netanyahu pour sa conduite du ­dossier palestinien.

Frédéric Encel

Le Figaro

À en croire la plupart des observateurs, les relations israélo-américaines, à l’instar de celles qui prévalent entre Barack Obama et Benyamin Netanyahu depuis (et pour encore!) quatre années, seraient exécrables. Or rien n’est moins vrai.

Certes, le président américain reproche à son vis-à-vis israélien depuis leur investiture concomitante, début 2009, de ne pas faire assez d’efforts pour reprendre les pourparlers avec le président palestinien, Mahmoud Abbas, et le lui exprime ouvertement: poignées de main glaciales à chacune de leurs entrevues, critiques publiques, absence de visite en Israël jusqu’à présent, etc. Les quatre mandats successifs de Bill Clinton et George Bush junior avaient habitué les Israéliens à plus de chaleur! Mais ces pressions ne sont pas sérieuses. Car un président américain exerçant de véritables pressions les ­assortit de menaces de sanctions.

En décembre 1948, Harry Truman (pourtant pro-israélien) exhorte David Ben Gourion à replier ses troupes victorieuses du Sinaï égyptien en pleine première guerre israélo-arabe, sous peine de blocus économique. Israël ne pourrait survivre à une telle mesure, et le fondateur de l’État juif s’incline. En octobre 1956, Dwight Eisenhower menace le même premier ministre de la même sanction s’il ne se retire pas du même terri­toire, conquis lors de la campagne de Suez. Tout comme leurs alliés français et britanniques, les Israéliens sont contraints de se retirer du sol égyptien. En octobre 1991, George Bush senior menace Yitzhak Shamir de lui refuser 10 milliards de garanties bancaires nécessaires à intégrer le million d’immigrants juifs d’URSS fraîchement arrivés s’il rejette la conférence internationale de Madrid. Bien que faucon, Shamir s’y rendra finalement… Barack Obama, lui, n’a jamais menacé le nationaliste Netanyahu de sanctions, sur aucun plan.

Économiquement d’abord, même si Israël dépend nettement moins de son allié qu’autrefois, Obama aurait pu menacer de diminuer l’aide américaine annuelle de 3 milliards de dollars. Il n’en fit rien. Diplomatiquement ensuite, il aurait pu, à l’Assemblée générale comme au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, s’abstenir ou même condamner Jérusalem à l’instar de la majorité des autres capitales lors des votes concernant plusieurs affaires – la flottille turque (juin 2009), le rapport Goldstone (novembre 2009), ou encore la reconnaissance de l’État de Palestine (novembre 2012). Or les États-Unis (ainsi que leurs alliés micro-insulaires du Pacifique!) soutinrent indéfectiblement Israël durant tout le mandat d’Obama. Militairement, enfin, ce dernier aurait pu refuser la livraison à Tsahal des puissantes bombes perforantes BLU et GBU ou ralentir la coopération balistique du programme «Dôme de fer», fragilisant Israël tant face à l’Iran que vis-à-vis du Hamas et du Hezbollah. Il s’en abstint. Comme l’indiquait le président hébreu Shimon Pérès lors de sa récente visite à Paris, jamais la coopération technologique et militaire israélo-américaine n’aura au contraire atteint une telle intensité.

Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif.

Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient.

Frédéric Encel est l’auteur de l’«Atlas géopolitique d’Israël» (Autrement, 2012)

Voir également:

En Israël, Obama voyage en quête d’agrément

Libération

19 mars 2013

Le président américain entame aujourd’hui une visite de quatre jours, sans plan de paix, mais avec l’espoir de redorer son image dans la région.

Lorraine Millot Correspondante à Washington

Avant même son arrivée en Israël aujourd’hui, Barack Obama ne jure plus que par «Bibi». Dans une interview à la télévision israélienne, au grand amusement des diplomates, le président américain n’a cessé d’employer le surnom du Premier ministre de l’Etat hébreu pour assurer que sa relation avec «Bibi» est «professionnelle et formidable». Fini donc le temps des insultes, quand le président américain se voulait trop occupé pour recevoir le même Benyamin Nétanyahou de passage à l’ONU, ou lorsqu’un journaliste bien introduit à la Maison Blanche, Jeffrey Goldberg, pouvait rapporter, en janvier encore, qu’Obama considérait le dirigeant israélien comme un «lâche».

Le voyage de quatre jours que Barack Obama entame aujourd’hui en Israël, dans les Territoires palestiniens et en Jordanie, vise à remettre la relation israélo-américaine sur de meilleurs rails après toute une série de malentendus, épreuves de force et crises de nerfs.

«Touriste». Le Président n’arrive pas porteur d’une «nouvelle initiative» de paix, a prévenu d’entrée la Maison Blanche, qui s’est efforcée de réduire les attentes autant que possible à l’approche de cette visite. Le principal objectif d’Obama sera de «parler directement aux Israéliens», a souligné son conseiller Ben Rhodes. L’apogée du voyage sera un discours aux jeunes Israéliens demain, au Centre des conventions de Jérusalem, explique-t-on à Washington, dans l’espoir de faire un peu mieux apprécier Obama en Israël (il y est encore très impopulaire) et de pouvoir par la suite s’appuyer sur l’opinion publique locale pour peser sur Nétanyahou. «Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est plus une nécessité, mais seulement un hobby pour les diplomates américains», en a déduit l’éditorialiste du New York Times Thomas Friedman. «Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste», poursuivait-il dans un récent éditorial bien senti.

A défaut de présenter ses propositions de paix lors de ce voyage, Obama a prévu de multiplier les étapes symboliques : en Israël, il visitera une batterie du système antimissile «Dôme de fer», il ira au Musée national admirer les manuscrits de la mer Morte, se recueillera à Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, et aussi sur les tombes d’Yitzhak Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, le fondateur du mouvement sioniste. L’idée est d’honorer les racines historiques d’Israël pour corriger une impression malheureuse donnée par Obama qui, dans son fameux discours du Caire au monde musulman, avait semblé fonder toute la légitimité d’Israël sur l’Holocauste. La visite sur la tombe de Herzl sera pour le moins inhabituelle, comme le soulignait Martin Indyk lors d’un récent briefing au think tank Brookings. «J’espère qu’ils réussiront à la trouver», ironisait cet ancien ambassadeur américain à Tel-Aviv, avouant n’y être lui-même encore jamais allé.

Côté palestinien, Barack Obama a prévu de se rendre à la basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem – adressant ainsi un geste aux chrétiens pris dans la tourmente des printemps arabes -, et de rencontrer quelques jeunes à Ramallah, de façon plus informelle, en marge de ses entretiens avec Mahmoud Abbas et le Premier ministre, Salam Fayyad. En Jordanie enfin, Obama compte visiter le site de Pétra plutôt qu’un des camps où des centaines de milliers de réfugiés syriens affluent. S’il s’en tient à ce programme, le président américain risque effectivement de donner une allure «touristique» à ce voyage.

«Nuance». Les sujets sérieux de discussion avec les dirigeants israéliens et palestiniens ne manqueront tout de même pas, le plus pressant restant le programme nucléaire iranien. Washington et l’Etat hébreu ont des «différences de nuance» sur l’Iran, rappelle Natan Sachs, un autre expert de l’institut Brookings : «Les Israéliens mettent l’accent sur la capacité nucléaire iranienne, tandis que les Américains se focalisent sur l’arme nucléaire elle-même, ce qui fait une différence importante de calendrier.»

Au cours de son interview à la télévision israélienne enregistrée la semaine dernière, Obama a estimé que Téhéran «aurait encore besoin d’à peu près un an pour développer une arme nucléaire». Lors de son fameux discours aux Nations unies de septembre, Benyamin Nétanyahou avait annoncé que l’Iran pourrait construire sa première bombe dès le printemps ou l’été 2013. Puisque l’heure est au «redémarrage» de la relation, en public du moins, Obama et «Bibi» devraient pourtant afficher lors de cette visite une même approche : donner encore quelques mois de négociation à l’Iran, tout en le menaçant de frappes militaires s’il ne saisit pas cette dernière chance.

Voir enfin:

Mr. Obama Goes to Israel

Thomas Friedman

The New York Times

March 12, 2013

In case you haven’t heard, President Obama leaves for Israel next week. It is possible, though, that you haven’t heard because it is hard for me to recall a less-anticipated trip to Israel by an American president. But there is a message in that empty bottle: Little is expected from this trip — not only because little is possible, but because, from a narrow U.S. point of view, little is necessary. Quietly, with nobody announcing it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats. Like any hobby — building model airplanes or knitting sweaters — some days you work on it, some days you don’t. It depends on your mood, but it doesn’t usually matter when that sweater gets finished. Obama worked on this hobby early in his first term. He got stuck as both parties rebuffed him, and, therefore, he adopted, quite rationally in my view, an attitude of benign neglect. It was barely noticed.

The shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from necessity to hobby for the U.S. is driven by a number of structural changes, beginning with the end of the cold war. There was a time when it was truly feared that an Arab-Israeli war could trigger a wider superpower conflict. During the October 1973 war, President Nixon raised America’s military readiness to Defcon 3 to signal the Soviets to stay away. That is not likely to happen today, given the muted superpower conflict over the Middle East. Moreover, the discovery of massive amounts of oil and gas in the U.S., Canada and Mexico is making North America the new Saudi Arabia. So who needs the old one?

Of course, oil and gas are global commodities, and any disruption of flows from the Middle East would drive up prices. But though America still imports some oil from the Middle East, we will never again be threatened with gas lines by another Arab oil embargo sparked by anger over Palestine. For China and India, that is another matter. For them, the Middle East has gone from a hobby to a necessity. They are both hugely dependent on Middle East oil and gas. If anyone should be advancing Arab-Israeli (and Sunni-Shiite) peace diplomacy today it is the foreign ministers of India and China.

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine last week, Robin M. Mills, the head of consulting at Manaar Energy, noted that “according to preliminary figures reported this week, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer.” Mills described this as a “shift as momentous as the U.S. eclipse of Britain’s Royal Navy or the American economy’s surpassing of the British economy in the late 19th century. … The United States is set to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017.”

At the same time, while the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict emotionally resonates across the Arab-Muslim world, and solving it is necessary for regional stability, it is clearly not sufficient. The most destabilizing conflict in the region is the civil war between Shiites and Sunnis that is rocking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen. While it would be a good thing to erect a Palestinian state at peace with Israel, the issue today is will there be anymore a Syrian state, a Libyan state and an Egyptian state.

Finally, while America’s need to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace has never been lower, the obstacles have never been higher: Israel has now implanted 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have seriously eroded the appetite of the Israeli silent majority to withdraw from the West Bank, since one puny rocket alone from there could close Israel’s international airport in Lod.

For all these reasons, Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.

Good news for Israel, right? Wrong. While there may be fewer reasons for the U.S. to take risks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is still a powerful reason for Israel to do so. The status quo today may be tolerable for Israel, but it is not healthy. And more status quo means continued Israeli settlements in, and tacit annexation of, the West Bank. That’s why I think the most important thing Obama could do on his trip is to publicly and privately ask every Israeli official he meets these questions:

“Please tell me how your relentless settlement drive in the West Bank does not end up with Israel embedded there — forever ruling over 2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community? I understand why Palestinian dysfunction and the Arab awakening make you wary, but still. Shouldn’t you be constantly testing and testing whether there is a Palestinian partner for a secure peace? After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you. Everyone is focused on me and what will I do. But, as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?”

Voir enfin:

Obama’s mysterious visit

Caroline B. Glick

The Jerusalem Post

19/03/2013

In contrast to the high expectations the White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements, Obama has downplayed his visit to Israel.

Why is US President Barack Obama coming to Israel today? In 2008, then president George W. Bush came to celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, and to reject Israeli requests for assistance in destroying Iran’s nuclear installations.

In 1996, then-president Bill Clinton came to Israel to help then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s electoral campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

It is possible that Obama is coming here in order to build up pro-Israel bonafides. But why would he bother? Obama won his reelection bid with the support of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. Their support vindicated his hostility toward Israel in his first term. He has nothing to prove.

It is worth comparing Obama’s visit to Israel at the start of his second term of office, with his visit to Cairo at the outset of his first term in office.

Ahead of that trip, the new administration promised that the visit, and particularly Obama’s “Address to the Muslim World,” would serve as a starting point for a new US policy in the Middle East. And Obama lived up to expectations.

In speaking to the “Muslim World,” Obama signaled that the US now supported pan-Islamists at the expense of US allies and Arab nationalist leaders, first and foremost then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, in castigating Israel for its so-called “settlements”; channeling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by intimating that Israel exists because of the Holocaust; and failing to travel from Cairo to Jerusalem, preferring instead to visit a Nazi death camp in Germany, Obama signaled that he was downgrading US ties with the Jewish state.

In sharp contrast to the high expectations the Obama White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements and leaks, Obama and his advisers have downplayed the importance of his visit to Israel, signaling there will be no significant changes in Obama’s policies toward Israel or the wider Middle East.

For instance, in his interview with Israel television’s Channel 2 last week, on issue after issue, Obama made clear that there will be no departure from his first term’s policies. He will continue to speak firmly and do nothing to prevent Iran from developing the means to produce nuclear weapons.

He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes.

As for the Palestinians, Obama repeated his fierce opposition to Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and his insistence that Israel must get over its justified fears regarding Palestinian intentions and withdraw from Judea and Samaria, for its own good.

Given that all of these are positions he has held throughout his presidency, the mystery surrounding his decision to come to Israel only grows. He didn’t need to come to Israel to rehash policies we already know.

Much of the coverage of Obama’s trip has focused on symbolism. For instance, the administration decided to boycott Ariel University by not inviting its students to attend Obama’s speech to students from all other universities that is set to take place on Thursday in Jerusalem. In boycotting Ariel, Obama’s behavior is substantively the same as that of Britain’s Association of University Teachers. In 2005 that body voted to boycott University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. But while the AUT’s action was universally condemned, Obama’s decision to bar Israelis whose university is located in a city with 20,000 residents just because their school is located beyond the 1949 armistice lines has generated litte attention.

Then again, seeing as Obama’s snub of Ariel University is in keeping with the White House’s general war with anyone who disputes its view that Judea and Samaria are Arab lands, the lack of outrage at his outrageous behavior makes sense. It doesn’t represent a departure from his positions in his first term.

The only revealing aspect of Obama’s itinerary is his decision to on the one hand bypass Israel’s elected representatives by spurning the invitation to speak before the Knesset; and on the other hand to address a handpicked audience of university students – an audience grossly overpopulated by unelectable, radical leftists.

In the past, US presidents have spoken before audiences of Israeli leftists in order to elevate and empower the political Left against the Right. But this is the first time that a US president has spurned not only the elected Right, but elected leftist politicians as well, by failing to speak to the Knesset, while actively courting the unelectable radical Left through his talk to a university audience.

Clinton constantly embraced the Israeli Left while spurning the Right – famously refusing to meet with then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 while both leaders’ jets were parked on the same tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

Clinton’s assiduous courtship of Israel’s Left enabled him to portray himself as a true friend of Israel, even as he openly sought to undermine and overthrow the elected government of the country.

But Clinton always favored leftist politicians – Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak – over rightist politicians. He did not spurn leftist politicians in favor of even more radical unelectable leftists.

So what does Obama seek to achieve with this novel practice? Clearly he is not attempting to use the opportunity of addressing this audience to express contrition for his first term’s policies. In his interview with Channel 2, Obama spoke of the instability on Israel’s borders – but never mentioned the key role he played in overthrowing Mubarak and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, thus emptying of meaning Israel’s peace treaty with the most populous Arab state.

He never mentioned that his feckless handling of Syria’s civil war ensured that the moderate opposition forces would be eclipsed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaida, as has happened, or expressed concern that al-Qaida forces are now deployed along Syria’s border with Israel, and that there is a real and rising danger that Syria’s arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missiles, will fall into their hands. Indeed, Tuesday it was reported that the al-Qaida infiltrated opposition attacked regime forces with chemical weapons.

Obama will not use his speech before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics to express remorse over the hostility with which he treated Israel’s leader for the past four years. He will not admit that his decision to coerce Israel into suspending Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria in his first term gave the PLO justification for refusing to meet with or negotiate with the Israeli government.

So since he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and he intends to continue the same policies in his second term, why did he decide to come to Israel? And why is he addressing, and so seeking to empower the radical, unelectable Left? Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was held at the Islamist Al-Azhar Univerity. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama weakened Mubarak in three different ways. First, Al-Azhar’s faculty members regularly issue religious rulings calling for the murder of non-Muslims, prohibiting the practice of Judaism, and facilitating the victimization of women. In stating these views, Al-Azhar’s leadership has demonstrated that their world view and values are far less amenable to American strategic interests and moral values than Mubarak’s world view was. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama signaled that he would reward the anti-American Islamists at the expense of the pro-American Arab nationalists.

Second, in contempt of Mubarak’s explicit wishes, Obama insisted on inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his speech. In acting as he did, Obama signaled that under his leadership, the US was abandoning its support for Mubarak and transferring its sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, by addressing his remarks to the Muslim nation, Obama was perceived as openly rejecting Egyptian nationalism, and indeed the concept of unique national identities among the various Arab states. In so doing, Obama undercut the legitimacy of the Egyptian regime while legitimizing the pan- Islamic Muslim Brotherhood which rejects nationalism in favor of a call for the establishment of a global caliphate.

As subsequent events showed, the conditions for the Egyptian revolution that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power were prepared during Obama’s speech at al-Azhar.

It is possible that in addressing the unelected radical Left in Jerusalem, Obama seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government. But if that is the plan, then it would bespeak an extraordinary contempt and underestimation of Israeli democracy. Such a plan would not play out the same way his Egyptian speech did.

There are two possible policies Obama would want to empower Israel’s radical, unelectable Left in order to advance. First, he could be strengthening these forces to help them pressure the government to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to convince the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations and accept an Israeli peace offer.

While Obama indicated in his interview with Channel 2 that this is his goal, it is absurd to believe it. Obama knows there is no chance that the Palestinians will accept a deal from Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat both rejected Israeli peace offers made by far more radical Israeli governments than the new Netanyahu government. Moreover, the Palestinians refused to meet with Israeli negotiators while Mubarak was still in power. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Cairo, there is absolutely no way they will agree to negotiate – let alone accept a deal.

This leaves another glaring possibility. Through the radical Left, Obama may intend to foment a pressure campaign to force the government to withdraw unilaterally from all or parts of Judea and Samaria, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. If this is Obama’s actual policy goal, it would represent a complete Europeanization of US policy toward Israel. It was the EU that funded radical leftist groups that pushed for Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.

And in the past week, a number of commentators have spoken and written in favor of such a plan.

The truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel. The Obama administration has not indicated where its Israel policy is going. And Obama’s Republican opposition is in complete disarray on foreign policy and not in any position to push him to reveal his plans.

What we can say with certainty is that the administration that supports the “democratically elected” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and did so much to clear all obstacles to its election, is snubbing the democratically elected Israeli government, and indeed, Israel’s elected officials in general. Obama’s transmission of this message in the lead-up to this visit, through symbols and action alike does not bode well for Israel’s relations with the US in the coming four years.


Argentine: Attention, une dictature peut en cacher une autre (Who will even mention Argentina’s forgotten terror victims ?)

23 mars, 2013
http://lapoliticaonline.com/data/img_cont/img_imagenes/img_gr/11391.jpghttp://www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/kirchnerchavezmorales_300.jpghttp://elsolonline.com/archivos/imagenes/2013/03/pagina12_2628963-240.jpgDurant les années 1970, Horacio Verbitsky fut membre des Montoneros, une organisation péroniste pour laquelle il porta les armes. En 1976, quelques mois après le coup d’état militaire, il fut inculpé avec 6 autres Montoneros pour avoir été impliqué dans la planification et l’exécution d’un attentat contre la police fédérale faisant 21 morts parmi les agents du renseignement. La procédure judiciaire sera finalement close en 2007 en raison de la loi de prescription. Dans les années 90, à la direction de Pagina 12, il contribue à révéler plusieurs affaires de corruption et de pot de vins touchant le gouvernement ou la famille du président Carlos Menem puis apporte dans les années 2000 et 2010 un soutien appuyé à la politique menée par les gouvernements de Nestor et Cristina Kirchner. Wikipedia
Les anciens Montoneros, coupables d’attentats sanglants, d’assassinats, d’enlèvements et de tortures, grouillent à la tête de l’Etat à Buenos Aires depuis la présidence des Kirchner, et l’un d’entre eux, Carlos Bettini, est même ambassadeur en Espagne. Eduardo Luis Duhalde, secrétaire aux Droits de l’homme, Miguel Bonasso, député et conseiller présidentiel, Carlos Kunkel, porte-parole de la présidence (amnistié de ses crimes en 1984 par la loi Punto final dont les militaires ont été écartés), Rafael Bielsa, ex-ministre des Affaires étrangères qui a travaillé en exil pour Pinochet, Horacio Verbitsky, conseiller présidentiel, Anibal Fernandez, chef du cabinet présidentiel, Julio Cesar Urien, capitaine de frégate auteur de tortures dans les « prisons du peuple » et du « manuel d’instruction des milices montoneras », réhabilité par Kirchner en 2006 avec paiement rétroactif de sa solde depuis 1972, et surtout Nilda Garré, ex-ministre de la Défense de Nestor Kirchner, devenue ministre de la Sécurité (police et gendarmerie) en décembre dernier sous la présidence de Cristina de Kirchner. « Comandante Teresa » dans la guérilla des Montoneros, elle a été complice de crimes, commis notamment par son mari Juan Manuel Abal Medina et le frère de celui-ci, contre le général Aramburu en 1970 et l’ex-ministre de l’Intérieur Arturo Mor Roig en 1974 (qui avait légalisé les partis politiques et contribué au retour de la démocratie en 1973 avec l’élection de Juan Peron). Quant à Carlos Bettini, impliqué dans le meurtre du capitaine Jorge Bigliardi en 1975, donc en pleine période constitutionnelle sous la présidence d’Isabel Peron, il pourrait quitter incessamment son poste d’ambassadeur à Madrid pour devenir l’éminence grise de Cristina Kirchner, son ancienne petite amie… Jacques Thomet
Chacun sait comment la junte militaire renversa le gouvernement en 1976 et écrasa ensuite sans pitié les mouvements de subversion. Ses abus de pouvoir furent légion et, en 1983, elle quitta le pouvoir dans un pays plongé dans une hyper inflation et le chaos économique. Mais l’Argentine avait vécu une autre tragédie antérieure, et pendant quelque temps après que les militaires eurent saisi le pouvoir. Ce fut une vague de carnage et de destruction déclenchée par des bandes de guérillas s’inspirant de Castro, pour tenter de prendre le pouvoir en terrorisant la nation. Leurs actions provoquèrent le chaos à l’échelle nationale, puis le coup d’Etat militaire. Pourtant, à cause de la fin honteuse de la junte militaire, les terroristes et leurs sympathisants réussirent à réécrire l’histoire en ne relatant que les seuls crimes de leur ennemi en uniforme. D’ex-membres ou membres actuels du gouvernement Kirchner, d’autres du Congrès et d’autres travaillant dans les média furent des membres bien connus d’organisations subversives. . Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Patagonian roots aside, the president’s main interest in escalating the Falklands row may be to deflect looming domestic difficulties. The government is attempting to untangle expensive state subsidies which will hurt its blue-collar base. Analysts say inflation is more than double the official figure. The government is so desperate to massage the numbers it has prohibited economic consultancy firms publishing private inflation estimates. Compounding that unease, a constitutional ban on a third term means Fernández could soon be embroiled in a fraught effort to change the constitution so she can run again. The alternative will be to watch her authority gradually ebb. "A Peronist president without the chance of re-election becomes a lame duck. Once the Malvinas issue fades back into the background, the fight of succession will come to the fore and her monolithic power could reduce her flexibility when it comes to dealing with the Peronists," said Romer, the analyst. "Her great strength could become her greatest weakness." Tapping semi-dormant passions over the Falklands is a largely cost-free way to consolidate her base and deter would-be successors from moving too soon. Fernández has also been emboldened by the zeitgeist: South America has discovered it can, perhaps for the first time in its history, safely challenge the old colonial powers. A "pink tide" of nationalistic leftwing governments senses the region’s time has come after centuries of marginalisation. China’s rapid rise as a trading partner has further weakened European leverage. "South America doesn’t have the respect it used to have for Europe. It feels it is on top now and is flexing its new muscles," said a senior European diplomat. Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made a global splash railing against western bankers, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez did the same railing against western imperialism and the Falklands gave Fernández her own cause, said Romer. "She is using Malvinas to expand her visibility on the international arena." Lucrative fishing concessions have made the Falklands wealthy, and when in 2010 four British companies announced they were going to search for an estimated 8.3bn barrels of oil in Falkland waters, it added resource nationalism to the combustible mix of history and wounded pride. London’s blunt dismissal of Argentinian concerns over financial and environmental implications aggravated Fernández all the more. Rio Gallegos remains cold and windy but nobody expects to see a new generation of conscripts tramping aboard Falkland-bound planes. Fernández is not desperate or stupid. She is simply extracting advantage from a clump of islands her compatriots consider unfinished business. And in the process becoming, for many, Argentina’s own iron lady. The Guardian
Wrapping himself in the mantle of Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary leader of the early 19th century who led the fight for independence from the Spanish empire, Chavez led his own battle to free his country and region from what he saw as the hegemony of the neo-liberal, neo-colonalist superpower north of the Gulf of Mexico. (…) His politics, a blend of socialism, populism, authoritarianism and nationalism, became known as ‘Chavismo,’ his followers were ‘Chavistas.’ His goal was what he called the ‘Bolivarian revolution.’ In foreign policy terms, that meant a dual strategy, of ‘Latin America first’ and “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” (the enemy of course being the Yanqui imperialist.) To advance this strategy, he used Venezuela’s greatest source of wealth and power, its oil. That second rule of thumb basically explained Chavez’ forays outside the Americas: his establishment of an anti-US ‘Axis of Unity’ with Iran, his support for the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya and most recently for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Anti-Americanism drew Venezuela close to Moscow, and led him to denounce Israel – with whom Chavez broke off diplomatic relations after the 2008/9 war in Gaza – as a “genocidal state” and the “assassin arm of the United States.”(…) And it was over Cuba where Chavez’ impact was greatest. The billions of dollars of aid he gave the island, much in the form of heavily subsidized oil, may have been the difference between survival and collapse for the Communist regime. Over time a pattern developed, as oil-rich Venezuela under Chavez emerged as the leader of the poorer and more leftist countries of region: not just Cuba, but Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and some Caribbean island nations. The bloc took formal economic shape in 2004 with the creation of ALBA, the ‘Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas,’ set up to as a rival to the orthodox, free trade areas in the hemisphere. But it wasn’t just the ALBA members who didn’t want to offend Chavez: his wont to give contracts to non-US companies won him a hearing with the region’s richer countries too. By the time of his illness, however, his influence even in Latin America had waned. One reason was the decline in his physical powers. Another was the arrival of a new administration in Washington: Despite evidence that Venezuela was even abetting drugs trafficking into the US, Barack Obama struck a less confrontational note than his predecessor. For much the same reason, US relations with Brazil and Argentina have been smoother, offering Chavez less leverage. At the same time, left wing governments aligned with Venezuela have run into difficulties. And not least, the regional economic climate has changed. The appeal of ‘Chavismo’ was never greater than after the Latin American financial crises of the late 90s, culminating in Argentina’s 2001 default, seeming proof of the failure of the Western-style capitalism excoriated by Chavez. As it is, the last remotely ‘Chavista’ leader elected was Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner in 2007. The Independent
This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s "holiday home". This has been corrected. The Guardian
Rien de tout cela n’est important pour ceux qui tentent de faire de l’Argentine le prochain Venezuela. Ce qui les fâche, c’est que le père Bergoglio croyait que le marxisme (et la "théologie de la libération" qu’il avait inspirée) était antithétiques au christianisme et qu’il avait refusé de l’adopter dans les années 1970. D’où les désaccords tant avec ceux à l’intérieur de l’ordre des Jésuites de l’époque qui croyaient à la révolution qu’avec les Montoneros qui multipliaient les mutilations, enlèvements et assassinats de civils pour terroriser la population. Criminels dont un bon nombre sont toujours là aujourd’hui et n’ont toujours pas abandonné leurs rêves de révolution. Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Mr. Treviño’s site mainly went after the opposition leader for anti-Semitic remarks and his alliance with the Islamist party PAS, and even accused him of links to terrorists through the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Mr. Anwar has made anti-Semitic comments—though that’s in part to fend off domestic accusations that he’s too cozy with Zionists. He also has ties to organizations that have taken Saudi money, but the suggestion that he somehow has "ties to terrorism" is preposterous. (…) Influence-peddling has a long and sordid history in Washington, and governments that use repressive methods at home yet want to remain on friendly terms with the U.S. typically have the biggest bankrolls. It’s not unheard of for PR operators to pay less reputable journalists and think- tankers to write favorable coverage, as the Jack Abramoff case in the mid-2000s showed. The Malaysian scheme, however, is notable because it drew in respected writers such as Rachel Ehrenfeld, who has contributed to the Journal in the past and took $30,000, Claire Berlinski, who got $6,750, and Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary magazine, who was paid $5,500. Some of the articles appeared in well-known publications such as National Review and the Washington Times. Mr. Najib’s falling popularity at home suggests his days as Prime Minister could be numbered. The irony is that he was more democratic and played a more responsible role in the region than his predecessors. Even opposition figures have quietly admitted to us that he has steered Malaysia in the right direction. That should have been more than enough for a legitimate public relations operation to work with. Resorting to underhanded tactics to undermine the opposition has only backfired for Mr. Najib, at home and abroad. The WSJ

Attention: une dictature peut en cacher une autre !

 A l’heure où, ne reculant devant aucune démagogie, la nouvelle Evita argentine (ou Chavista – merci les valises de billets de Chavez !) est en train apparemment de nous refaire le coup des Malouines …

Et que nos médias pressés se font les courroies de transmission, plus ou moins volontaires et des deux côtés de l’Atlantique ou de la Manche (voire jusqu’en Malaisie !), des campagnes de calomnie du moment …

Qui rappellera, hormis un bien solitaire WSJ derrière l’omerta politiquement correcte actuelle, que ceux qui alimentent la pompe à calomnies contre un nouveau pape ayant le tort de penser, sans compter les Malouines ou le mariage homo, que "le marxisme comme la ‘théologie de la libération’ qu’il avait inspirée sont antithétiques au christianisme" …

Sont les mêmes qui,  outre les milliers de victimes commodément oubliées du terrorisme d’extrême-gauche, ont précipité le putsch militaire de 1976 et réécrivent aujourd’hui l’histoire au profit de l’actuel pouvoir argentin en place ?

 

LES VICTIMES OUBLIEES DU TERRORISME EN ARGENTINE

Maria Anastasia O’Grady

The WSJ

3 janvier 2011

traduction Yves/jacqus Thomet

Des milliers de personnes ont souffert du déchaînement de la gauche qui précipita le putsch militaire de 1976.

“Ceux qui contrôlent le passé contrôlent le futur, celui qui contrôle le présent contrôle le passé.”

- Parti slogan de Big Brother, “1984,” par George Orwell

La Justice ne s’installe pas facilement partout dans le monde. Mais dans l’Argentine d’aujourd’hui, il est périlleux de seulement mentionner en public les victimes du terrorisme de la gauche du pays, sans parler de les amener à se présenter eux ou leurs proches parents survivants devant une Cour [pour témoigner]. Essayez et vous serez probablement tancé par la Gauche argentine comme un ami fasciste de l’ex-régime militaire. Les [gens] du “politiquement correct” savent que ceux qui furent brutalisés par les guérillas, que Juan Peron (ex-président) désigna une fois de “jeunesse merveilleuse”, sont censés être effacés de la mémoire nationale.

L’avocate argentine Victoria Villaruel, 35 ans, défenseur des Droits de l’Homme, s’y refuse. Elle a fondé le “Centre Argentin d’Etudes Légales du Terrorisme et de ses Victimes”, avec pour objectif de lister les milliers de crimes terroristes commis entre 1969 et 1979.

Elle pense qu’apporter la lumière sur cette sombre décennie aidera à fournir un meilleur et juste futur à tous les Argentins. Chacun sait comment la junte militaire renversa le gouvernement en 1976 et écrasa ensuite sans pitié les mouvements de subversion. Ses abus de pouvoir furent légion et, en 1983, elle quitta le pouvoir dans un pays plongé dans une hyper inflation et le chaos économique.

Mais l’Argentine avait vécu une autre tragédie antérieure, et pendant quelque temps après que les militaires eurent saisi le pouvoir. Ce fut une vague de carnage et de destruction déclenchée par des bandes de guérillas s’inspirant de Castro, pour tenter de prendre le pouvoir en terrorisant la nation. Leurs actions provoquèrent le chaos à l’échelle nationale, puis le coup d’Etat militaire. Pourtant, à cause de la fin honteuse de la junte militaire, les terroristes et leurs sympathisants réussirent à réécrire l’histoire en ne relatant que les seuls crimes de leur ennemi en uniforme. D’ex-membres ou membres actuels du gouvernement Kirchner, d’autres du Congrès et d’autres travaillant dans les média furent des membres bien connus d’organisations subversives.

Lors d’une interview à Buenos Aires en novembre 2010, Mme Villaruel m’a raconté que même les politiciens de l’opposition ne parlent pas des victimes du terrorisme car cela est devenu “tabou” de le faire. L’Etat, dit-elle, les traite comme s’ils n’étaient jamais nés.”

Le résultat est qu’une génération d’Argentins a grandi sans aucune conscience de la vraie histoire de cette époque de terreur. Mme Villaruel est de l’opinion que la “Vérité et la Justice” requiert que ces victimes soient reconnues. Son livre, “Ils s’Appelaient Les Jeunes Idéalistes”, de 2009, est un pas en avant vers ce but. Dans celui-ci, elle documente avec des photographies et des coupures de presse la dévastation que ces terroristes ont infligé à leur propre peuple. “Vaincre ou mourir”, le slogan de l’Armée Révolutionnaire du Peuple (ERP), apparaît en graffiti sur un camion dans un cliché. Ce livre comprend les photos de quelques milliers de victimes : des bébés, des adolescents, des diplomates, des businessmen, des juges, des policiers.

Les uns furent enlevés et assassinés. D’autres furent tués ou mutilés simplement parce qu’ils se trouvèrent à proximité d’une bombe qui venait d’exploser. Les mineurs (d’âge) furent enrôlés dans les armées révolutionnaires. Tous furent considérés comme du simple gibier par les rebelles qui cherchaient à refaire le monde à travers la violence. Dans cette même interview de novembre 2010, Mme Villaruel décrit le travail de son centre sur le terrorisme : consultation des archives de journaux et dialogue avec les membres des familles et les témoins quand ils y sont disposés. Beaucoup d’entre eux vivent dans la peur de représailles, dit-elle.

Elle m’a appris que le Centre est parvenu à identifier par leur nom 13.074 victimes du terrorisme. Ce sont des bilans préliminaires. Mme Villaruel est tellement soucieuse de la justesse de son travail qu’elle a fait faire un audit indépendant à deux reprises. Elle espère que les décomptes définitifs seront prêts pour le milieu de cette année 2011. Il est intéressant de noter que le nombre de procès contre la junte militaire pour abus de pouvoir totalise moins de 9.000 cas. Pendant ce temps, la justification du gouvernement Kirchner pour nier l’existence des victimes de ce terrorisme de gauche consiste à les considérer comme des victimes de crimes ordinaires, leurs auteurs étant désormais exempts de poursuites de par la loi Statut des Limitations (NDLR : sorte d’amnistie).

Mais Mme Villaruel affirme démontrer que les victimes ont été des civils attaqués par des mouvements de guérilla dans leur quête sans merci pour le pouvoir. Si ce qu’elle avance se confirme, il ne s’agirait plus en l’occurrence de Statut de Limitations, en vertu de la Convention de Genève de 1949 ratifiée par l’Argentine. Dans son étude du terrorisme des années 70, elle n’a jamais “compris les raisons pour lesquelles un groupe, s’attribuant [arbitrairement] la représentation du peuple, a décidé d’assassiner son propre peuple.

Voir aussi:

Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope

Argentines who want their country to be the next Venezuela see Francis as an obstacle.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady

The WSJ

March 17, 2013

Argentines celebrated last week when one of their own was chosen as the new pope. But they also suffered a loss of sorts. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a tireless advocate of the poor and outspoken critic of corruption, will no longer be on hand locally to push back against the malfeasance of the government of President Cristina Kirchner.

Argentines not aligned with the regime hope that the arrival of Francis on the world stage at least will draw attention to this issue. Heaven knows the situation is growing dire.

One might have expected a swell of pride from Argentine officialdom when the news broke that the nation has produced a man so highly esteemed around the world. Instead the Kirchner government’s pit bulls in journalism—men such as Horacio Verbitsky, a former member of the guerrilla group known as the Montoneros and now an editor at the pro-government newspaper Pagina 12—immediately began a campaign to smear the new pontiff’s character and reputation at home and in the international news media.

The calumny is not new. Former members of terrorist groups like Mr. Verbitsky, and their modern-day fellow travelers in the Argentine government, have used the same tactics for years to try to destroy their enemies—anyone who doesn’t endorse their brand of authoritarianism. In this case they allege that as the Jesuits’ provincial superior in Argentina in the late 1970s, then-Father Bergoglio had links to the military government.

This is propaganda. Mrs. Kirchner and her friends aren’t yet living in the equivalent of a totalitarian state where there is no free press to counter their lies. That day may come soon. The government is now pressuring merchants, under threat of reprisals, not to buy advertising in newspapers. The only newspapers that aren’t on track to be financially ruined by this intimidation are those that the government controls and finances through official advertising, like Mr. Verbitsky’s Pagina 12. Argentines refer to the paper as "the official gazette" because it so reliably prints the government’s line.

Intellectually honest observers with firsthand knowledge of Argentina under military rule (1976-1983) are telling a much different story than the one pushed by Mr. Verbitsky and his ilk. One of those observers is Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week he told BBC Mundo that "there were bishops that were complicit with the dictatorship, but Bergoglio, no." As to the charge that the priest didn’t do enough to free junta prisoners, Mr. Pérez Esquivel said: "I know personally that many bishops who asked the military government for the liberation of prisoners and priests and it was not granted."

Former Judge Alicia Oliveira, who was herself fired by the military government and forced into hiding to avoid arrest, told the Argentine newspaper Perfil last week that during those dark days she knew Father Bergoglio well and that "he helped many people get out of the country." In one case, she says there was a young man on the run who happened to look like the Jesuit. "He gave him his identification card and his [clergy attire] so that he could escape."

Ms. Oliveira also told Perfil that when she was in hiding at the home of the current minister of security, Nilda Garré, the two of them "ate with Bergoglio." As Ms. Oliveira pointed out, Ms. Garré "therefore knows all that he did."

Graciela Fernández Meijide, a human-rights activist and former member of the national commission on the disappearance of persons, told the Argentine press last week that "of all the testimony I received, never did I receive any testimony that Bergoglio was connected to the dictatorship."

None of this matters to those trying to turn Argentina into the next Venezuela. What embitters them is that Father Bergoglio believed that Marxism (and the related "liberation theology") was antithetical to Christianity and refused to embrace it in the 1970s. That put him in the way of those inside the Jesuit order at the time who believed in revolution. It also put him at odds with the Montoneros, who were maiming, kidnapping and killing civilians in order to terrorize the population. Many of those criminals are still around and hold fast to their revolutionary dreams.

For them, the new pope remains a meddlesome priest. In the slums where the populist Mrs. Kirchner claims to be a champion of the poor, Francis is truly beloved because he lives the gospel. From the pulpit, with the Kirchners in the pews, he famously complained of self-absorbed politicians. He didn’t name names, but the shoe fit. Nestór Kirchner, the late president and Cristina’s husband, responded by naming him "the head of the opposition."

As Ms. Fernández Meijide observed last week, "I have the impression that what bothers the current president is that Bergoglio would not get in line, that he denounces the continuation of extreme poverty." That’s not the regime’s approved narrative.

Voir aussi:

Le pape et les "années de plomb" en Argentine

Christine Legrand

Le Monde

16.03.2013

Le rôle de Jorge Mario Bergoglio, le pape François, pendant la dictature militaire (1976-1983) fait l’objet de controverse depuis plusieurs années à Buenos Aires. A l’origine, le directeur du quotidien progouvernemental Pagina 12, Horacio Verbitsky, avait publié, en 2005, un livre polémique, El Silencio (non traduit), où il dénonce la complicité de l’Eglise catholique argentine avec les militaires.

Le journaliste accuse en particulier Jorge Bergoglio, qui était à l’époque responsable de la Compagnie de Jésus en Argentine, d’être impliqué dans l’enlèvement de deux jeunes prêtres jésuites qui travaillaient dans un bidonville, en 1976. Torturés pendant cinq mois, Orlando Yorio et Francisco Jalics avaient été remis en liberté et s’étaient exilés. Le premier est mort en 2000, le second vit en Allemagne. Dans un communiqué publié, vendredi 15 mars, sur le site Internet des jésuites en Allemagne, ce dernier déclare qu’il ne peut "prononcer sur le rôle du père Bergoglio dans ces événements". Il indique aussi avoir eu "l’occasion de discuter des événements avec le père Bergoglio qui était entre-temps devenu archevêque de Buenos Aires. Nous avons ensemble célébré une messe publique (…). Je considère l’histoire comme close", a-t-il précisé.

De son côté, le porte-parole du Vatican, le Père Federico Lombardi, a dénoncé "le caractère anticlérical de ces attaques, allant jusqu’à la calomnie et la diffamation des personnes". "La justice l’a entendu une fois et à simple titre de témoin et le père Bergoglio n’a jamais été suspecté ou accusé". "Dans l’élaboration de la demande de pardon, Mgr Bergoglio a déploré les défaillances de l’Eglise argentine face à la dictature", souligne le Vatican.

"TALENTS D’ACTEUR"

Dans un article publié au lendemain de l’élection du pape François, M. Verbitsky, qui est également directeur du Centre d’études légales et sociales, une organisation non gouvernementale de défense des droits de l’homme, a renouvelé ses attaques, qualifiant le nouveau pontife de "populiste conservateur", qui introduira "des changements cosmétiques" au Vatican, "avec ses talents d’acteur". Le même jour, M. Verbitsky publie un courrier électronique de Graciela Yorio dans lequel la sœur du prêtre décédé exprime "son angoisse et sa colère". Selon elle, il aurait "laissé sans protection" les deux prêtres, adeptes de la "théologie de la libération".

Le dictateur Jorge Rafael Videla reçoit la communion de l’évêque Octavio Derisi, en décembre 1990.

Depuis l’élection surprise d’un pape argentin, une photo montrant un prêtre de dos, donnant l’hostie à l’ancien dictateur Jorge Rafael Videla, circule sur les réseaux sociaux. Cette photo avait fait la "une" de Pagina 12, le 27 mai 2012. Aucune légende ne précisait l’identité du curé de la photo, prise en 1990, au lendemain de la sortie de prison du général Videla, gracié par l’ancien président péroniste Carlos Menem. Le photographe, travaillant pour l’AFP et le quotidien argentin Cronica, l’a identifié : l’évêque Octavio Derisi, mort en 2002.

De leur côté, deux journalistes argentins, Francesca Ambrogetti de l’agence italienne ANSA et Sergio Rubin, spécialiste des affaires religieuses du quotidien Clarin (opposition), ont publié en 2010 l’ouvrage El Jesuita (non traduit), portrait élogieux de Mgr Bergoglio. Les témoignages recueillis, en particulier d’anciennes victimes, démentent toute collaboration avec les militaires, affirmant qu’au contraire il a aidé de nombreuses victimes, dont l’avocate Alicia Oliveira. Juge au moment du coup d’Etat de 1976, elle fut persécutée par les militaires. "Il m’a sauvé la vie", dit-elle. "Il y a eu des évêques complices de la dictature militaire, mais pas Bergoglio", ajoute Adolfo Perez Esquivel, prix Nobel de la paix.

Estela de Carlotto, présidente de l’Association des mères et grands-mères de la Place de Mai, à Buenos Aires, le 15 mars. Elle reproche au pape de n’avoir jamais parlé des personnes disparues pendant la dictature argentine (1976-1983), malgré l’avénement de la démocratie dans ce pays il y a trente ans.

La présidente Cristina Kirchner a salué froidement l’élection du pape. Mais sur les réseaux sociaux, les partisans des Kirchner ont durement critiqué le choix de l’archevêque de Buenos Aires, qui entretenait des rapports tendus avec les gouvernements péronistes du président Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) et aujourd’hui celui de son épouse Cristina. Il avait coutume de centrer ses homélies sur des thèmes brûlants, des inégalités sociales jusqu’à la traite de personnes, en passant par la corruption.

Voir également:

Starting a Papacy, Amid Echoes of a ‘Dirty War’

Simon Romero and William Neuman

The New York Times

March 17, 2013

BUENOS AIRES — One Argentine priest is on trial in Tucumán Province on charges of working closely with torturers in a secret jail during the so-called Dirty War, urging prisoners to hand over information. Another priest was accused of taking a newborn from his mother, one of the many baby thefts from female prisoners who were “disappeared” into a system of clandestine prisons.

Another clergy member offered biblical justification for the military’s death flights, according to an account by one of the pilots anguished about dumping drugged prisoners out of aircraft and into the sea.

As he starts his papacy, Francis, until this month Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, faces his own entanglement with the Dirty War, which unfolded from 1976 to 1983. As the leader of Argentina’s Jesuits for part of that time, he has repeatedly had to dispute claims that he allowed the kidnapping of two priests in his order in 1976, accusations the Vatican is calling a defamation campaign.

Now his election as pope is focusing scrutiny on his role as the most prominent leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina, an institution that remains under withering criticism for its role in failing to publicly resist — and in various instances actively supporting — the military dictatorship during a period when as many as 30,000 people are thought to have been killed or disappeared.

This stance by Argentina’s church stands in contrast to the resistance against dictatorships by Catholic leaders elsewhere in Latin America at the time — notably in Chile and Brazil, two nations where far fewer people were killed. Even as the head of the Argentine Conference of Bishops from 2005 to 2011, Francis resisted issuing a formal apology for the church’s actions during the Dirty War, disappointing human rights campaigners.

“The combination of action and inaction by the church was instrumental in enabling the mass atrocities committed by the junta,” said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentine historian at the New School for Social Research in New York. “Those like Francis that remained in silence during the repression also played by default a central role,” he said. “It was this combination of endorsement and either strategic or willful indifference that created the proper conditions for the state killings.”

Francis, 76, has offered a complex description of his role during the dictatorship, a period officially called the Process of National Reorganization, in which the authorities installed a terrifying campaign against perceived opponents.

While refraining from public criticism of the dictatorship, Francis said in his autobiography that he pressed military officials behind the scenes to free the two priests from his order — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — even meeting with top military officials.

Francis also said that he hid at a Jesuit school several people persecuted by the dictatorship, and even helped one young man who resembled him to flee Argentina, via Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian border, giving him priest’s garb and his own identity documents.

The Rev. Ignacio Pérez del Viso, a Jesuit who is a longtime friend of Francis’, said that a small number of Argentine bishops spoke out against the military dictatorship. But they were clearly in the minority, he said, and others in the Argentine church, including the new pope, who was 39 at the time of the 1976 coup, adopted a far more cautious position.

“When you saw that the majority of the bishops preferred to have a dialogue with the military,” Father Pérez del Viso, 78, said, “it’s not easy to say, ‘We will do something different.’ ” He added: “Many of the bishops opted, rather than to confront the military head on, to try to intercede in private conversations for those they could save.”

“Later the bishops realized this was a mistake,” Father Pérez del Viso said. “But to see the mistake at that moment was difficult.”

Religious scholars attribute such passivity to remarkably close ideological and political links between the church and the armed forces. Some priests have even been forced to stand trial on charges of human rights abuses.

After a previous military coup in Argentina in 1930, the church forged a role as a spiritual guide for the armed forces. By the time military rule was established again in the 1970s, their operations overlapped to the point where some bishops were provided soldiers as personal servants in their palaces, and only a handful of bishops publicly condemned the dictatorship’s repression.

“Of all the national churches in Latin America, Argentina is where ties were closest between the clergy and the military,” said Kenneth P. Serbin, a historian at the University of San Diego.

This legacy presents a challenge to Francis. Last week, a judge who took part in an investigation into a clandestine prison at the Naval Mechanics School said the inquiry uncovered no evidence that Francis was involved in the kidnapping of the Jesuits. “It is totally false to say that Jorge Bergoglio handed over those priests,” the judge, Germán Castelli, was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Nación.

But doubts persist, based on the priests’ own accounts, including a 1977 report by Father Yorio to the Jesuit authorities, obtained by The New York Times, and a 1994 book by Father Jalics.

Father Yorio wrote that Francis, who was then the top Jesuit in Argentina, told them he supported their work even as he sought to undermine it, making negative reports about them to local bishops and claiming they were in the slum without his permission.

“He did nothing to defend us, and we began to question his honesty,” wrote Father Yorio, who died in 2000. Finally, without telling the two priests, Father Yorio wrote, Francis expelled them from the Jesuit order.

Three days later, hundreds of armed men descended on the slum and seized the two priests. Father Yorio was interrogated and accused of being a guerrilla. The priests were kept for five months, chained hand and foot and blindfolded, fearing they would be killed.

Finally, they were dropped off in a drugged state on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

In a statement posted on a Jesuit Web site last week, Father Jalics said he would not comment “on the role of Father Bergoglio in these events.” He said that years after the kidnapping, they celebrated a Mass together and he solemnly embraced him. “I am reconciled to the events and view them from my side as concluded,” Father Jalics wrote.

But in an interview, Father Yorio’s sister, Graciela Yorio, accused Francis of leaving the priests “totally unprotected” and making them an easy target for the military. She said that her brother and Father Jalics, whom she referred to using his name in Spanish, were in agreement about Francis’ role. “My brother was certain,” she said, “And Francisco, too, Francisco Jalics. I have no reason not to believe my brother’s word.”

Still, several prominent leftists here have defended Francis, emphasizing his openness to dialogue and austere habits. “He is questioned for not having done all he could do,” said Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a pacifist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “But he was never an ally of the dictatorship.”

Though Francis has had to respond to doubts about his own past during the Dirty War, he has faced other issues that still haunt the church. He was head of Argentina’s bishops’ conference in 2007, when the Rev. Christian von Wernich, a former police chaplain, was found guilty of complicity in the killing and torture of political prisoners.

Even after his conviction, Father von Wernich was allowed to offer Mass to fellow prison inmates. Other priests have similarly faced charges related to abuses from the dictatorship era. And still there are other priests who have not been charged with a crime, but who face serious accusations about their connection to the armed forces.

The church has tried to account on different occasions for its actions during the dictatorship. In 2000, it apologized for its “silences” that enabled rights abuses. And last November, after the future pope’s tenure as head of the bishops’ conference had ended, the church issued another statement in response to the assertion by Jorge Videla, the former head of the military junta, that Argentine bishops had in effect collaborated with the dictatorship.

The church rejected Mr. Videla’s claim, but said it would “promote a more complete study” of the Dirty War years.

Reporting was contributed by Fabián Werner, Emily Schmall and Jonathan Gilbert from Buenos Aires; Mauricio Rabuffetti from Montevideo, Uruguay; and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin.

Voir encore:

New pope’s role during Argentina’s military era disputed

Accusers draw ties between Catholic church and 70s junta, saying Jorge Bergoglio failed to shield two priests

Jonathan Watts and Uki Goni in Buenos Aires

The Guardian

15 March 2013

JorgeBergoglio

A young Jorge Mario Bergoglio pictured in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Argenpress/Rex Features

Pope Francis is known in his native Argentina as a man of austere habits, long pregnant pauses in conversation and a reticence about discussing himself. For supporters, this is proof of his humility, which was further underlined for them in his first address as pope to the masses in St Peter’s Square, where he eschewed the usual jewelled crucifix in favour of a simple wooden cross.

For critics, however – and there are many in his home country – it may have more to do with allegations that he and the Roman Catholic church were guilty of the sin of omission – and perhaps worse – during the brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Those dark years cast the longest shadow over the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the new Vicar of Christ, and continues to divide a nation.

While Argentina rang with celebratory church bells at the news of the first Latin American pope, some were seized by doubt and confusion. "I can’t believe it, I don’t know what to do, I’m in so much anguish and so enraged," wrote Graciela Yorio in an email published in the Argentine press on Thursday morning.

In 1976, her brother, Orlando Yorio, along with another Jesuit priest, Francisco Jalics, were seized by navy troops in the slums of Buenos Aires and held and tortured for five months at the ESMA camp, a navy base in the capital where 5,000 people were murdered by the military junta.

The two priests served under Bergoglio, who is accused in some quarters of abandoning them to the military after they became involved in leftist social movements.

His chief accuser is journalist Horacio Verbitsky, whose book El Silencio paints a disquieting picture of Bergoglio’s relationship with the priests who sought his protection when they felt their lives were in danger from the military because of their social work in the slums.

Verbitsky believes the then chief of the Jesuits in Argentina played a double game, aiding Yorio and Jalics while expressing concern about their activities to military officers.

But Verbitsky’s views are seen as overly simplistic by other observers of that era. "Verbitsky is not wrong, but he doesn’t understand the complexity of Bergoglio’s position back then when things were so dangerous," said Robert Cox, a British journalist and former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, the only newspaper in Argentina that reported the murders as they happened. "He can’t see how difficult it was to operate under those circumstances."

But Cox, who moved to North Carolina after death threats against his family in 1979, suggests Bergoglio could have done more. "I don’t think he gave them in," he said. "But Bergoglio didn’t protect them, he didn’t speak out."

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel peace prize for documenting the junta’s atrocities, takes a similar view. "Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship," he told the Associated Press. "Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can’t be accused of that." The vast majority of Argentinians view the dictatorship era as appalling.

Others suggest that Bergoglio was actually a hero. Francesca Ambrogetti, co-author of The Jesuit – a flattering biography of the new pope – says Bergoglio told her he met the dictator Jose Rafael Videla and Eduardo Massera, the head of the navy which was in charge of some concentration camps, to try and intercede on behalf of the priests.

She said he took great risks to save others. "I believe he did all he could at that time," she said. "It’s a complex issue that is very difficult to explain after so many years."

In a 2005 interview Bergoglio himself said he moved fast to save their lives. "That same night when I heard of the kidnappings I started to move. In one of my attempts to meet Videla I found out who the military chaplain was who gave mass to Videla and convinced that priest to call in sick and I managed to be named to replace him."

Bergoglio said that after the mass he managed to speak to Videla about the case, which would not have been an easy task at the time, given the climate of fear that reigned over these issues in Argentina then.

That era continues to polarise Argentina, where the current left-leaning government has reopened several prominent cases in the past decade. Details are murky. Few from that era can escape with entirely clear consciences. Many turned a blind eye and kept silent. Accusations of this sin of omission have been levelled at Bergoglio.

Myriam Bregman, an Argentine lawyer in the continuing trials of crimes at the ESMA death camp, says Bergoglio’s appointment to the papacy left her confused. "It gave me a feeling of amazement and impotence," said Bregman, who took Bergoglio’s declaration regarding Jalics and Yorio in 2010.

"Bergoglio refused to come [and] testify in court," she recalled, making use of Argentine legislation that permits ministers of the church to choose where to declare.

"He finally accepted to see us in an office alongside Buenos Aires cathedral sitting underneath a tapestry of the Virgin Mary. It was an intimidating experience, we were very uncomfortable intruding in a religious building."

Bregman says that Bergoglio did not provide any significant information on the two priests. "He seemed reticent, I left with a bitter taste," she said.

Estela de la Cuadra’s mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo activist group during the dictatorship to search for missing family members. She was at first astonished, then appalled when a friend texted the news that Bergoglio had been chosen as the new pope.

"It is unthinkable, horrifying given what I know about his history," she said, recalling the disappearance of her sister.

The last time they saw each other was in January 1977 when they were members of leftwing groups formed among the students at La Plata University, then one of the most radical in Argentina.

Her sister, Elena, was three months pregnant and in hiding in Buenos Aires from military snatch squads that had already seized her husband. She "disappeared" a month later and was later seen by survivors in a concentration camp run by the navy.

Desperate, the family used a connection with the global head of the Jesuit order – the "black pope", Pedro Arrupe – to lobby for her release. He put them on to Bergoglio, who provided a letter of introduction to a bishop with connections to the military dictator.

The only answer that came back, said Estela, was that her sister’s baby was now "in the hands of a good family. It was irreversible." Neither mother nor child were heard from again.

For Estela, Bergoglio did the bare minimum he had to do to keep in line with the black pope. She says the story underlines the close connections between the Catholic church and the military junta, as well as what she sees as lies and hypocrisy of a new pope who once claimed to have no knowledge of the adoptions of babies being born in concentration camps and then adopted by families close to the regime.

"I’ve testified in court that Bergoglio knew everything, that he wasn’t – despite what he says – uninvolved," said Estela, who believes the church worked with the military to gather intelligence on the families of the missing.

She is also furious that Bergoglio refused to defrock another priest, Christian von Wernich, who was jailed for life in 2007 for seven killings, 42 abductions and 34 cases of torture, in which he told victims: "God wants to know where your friends are."

She is now requesting classified documents from the episcopal and Vatican archives, which would shed more light on the issues.

That is unlikely to be approved in Rome, though it would – until Wednesday at least – have probably gone down well in the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The Argentine president is a staunch advocate of taking to court not only military officers responsible for the killing of thousands of young activists, but also civilians who may have played a role back then.

Fernández has an icy relationship with Bergoglio – who is seen as a conservative – and has studiously avoided him over the last years, moving out of the city every 25 May when Bergoglio gave his annual mass at Buenos Aires Cathedral.

As he has shown by rising through the ranks of the church Bergoglio is an extremely astute politician, who uses the sparseness of words and space to press home his considerable influence on government and legislature.

"He is a participant in Argentine politics, but in his own way – very low profile. More politicians pass through his office than either the opposition or the government would care to admit," said Washington Uranga, social science professor at the University of Buenos Aires.

"People go in search of coverage, to ask him to use his influence. In other cases, he calls on them to come, but it is always in his territory. It’s always in his office."

When Bergoglio does occasionally speak out in public, it tends to be with allusions rather than direct references to Argentina’s darkest era. When trials reopened in 2006, he suggested it was not a good idea to churn up the problems of the past, although this was seen as a comment on the rise in the number of trials.

"We are happy to reject anger and endless conflict, because we don’t believe in chaos and disorder … Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful," he said in a public sermon.

Additional reporting by Sebastián Lacunza

Voir aussi:

The sins of the Argentinian church

The Catholic church was complicit in dreadful crimes in Argentina. Now it has a chance to repent

Hugh O’Shaughnessy

The Guardian

4 January 2011

Benedict XVI gave us words of great comfort and encouragement in the message he delivered on Christmas Eve.

"God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways," the pope said. "He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us".

If these words comforted and encouraged me they will surely have done the same for leaders of the church in Argentina, among many others. To the judicious and fair-minded outsider it has been clear for years that the upper reaches of the Argentinian church contained many "lost sheep in the wilderness", men who had communed and supported the unspeakably brutal western-supported military dictatorship that seized power in that country in 1976 and battened on it for years. Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping them out of aeroplanes over the River Plate and selling off their orphan children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops and many priests. Yet even the execution of other men of the cloth did nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including representatives of the Holy See, for the criminality of their leader General Jorge Rafael Videla and his minions.

As it happens, in the week before Christmas in the city of Córdoba Videla and some of his military and police cohorts were convicted by their country’s courts of the murder of 31 people between April and October 1976, a small fraction of the killings they were responsible for. The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military. These were not to be served, as has often been the case in Argentina and neighbouring Chile, in comfy armed forces retirement homes but in common prisons. Unsurprisingly there was dancing in the city’s streets when the judge announced the sentences.

What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentinian hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church’s collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church’s complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentinian navy hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners on an island linked to senior clerics.

One would have thought that the Argentinian bishops would have seized the opportunity to call for pardon for themselves and put on sackcloth and ashes as the sentences were announced in Córdoba but that has not so far happened.

But happily Their Eminences have just been given another chance to express contrition. Next month the convicted murderer Videla will be arraigned for his part in the killing of Enrique Angelelli, bishop of the Andean diocese of La Rioja and a supporter of the cause of poorer Argentinians. He was run off the highway by a hit squad of the Videla régime and killed on 4th August 1976 shortly after Videla’s putsch.

• This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s "holiday home". This has been corrected.

Voir par ailleurs:

Is Celibacy a Sin? The NYT Has a View

Walter Russell Mead
The Americain interest
March 3, 2013

Over at the New York Times where hostility to all things Roman Catholic is a longstanding tradition, Frank Bruni has mixed a unique cocktail of one part sharp observation, two parts confusion about Christian teaching, a dash of schadenfreude and splash of scandal. It is, in other words, business as usual at the newspaper of record, where passionate disagreement verging into bitter resentment at the sexual teachings of the Catholic Church (that homosexuals can’t marry, heterosexuals can’t divorce, and that abortion is the willful destruction of innocent human life) is almost as widespread as hatred of the KKK.

(I say almost, noting Ross Douthat’s piece this morning. Maureen Dowd, however, proudly upholds the paper’s traditional foam-flecked hatred of Rome, with the difference that loathing and contempt for Catholic ideas is expressed in our more democratic era by the Catholic or ex-Catholic children of Eire rather than toffee nosed WASPs. In the old days, hatred of Rome was a bond in New York journalistic and intellectual circles between nativist Protestants and aspiring Jewish intellectuals remembering centuries of Catholic persecution. These days everybody is in on the Church-hating.)

For those looking to cast stones at the Vatican there is no shortage of ammunition at hand, and Bruni’s piece, entitled “The Wages of Celibacy,” gives us a full measure of Catholic woe: tortured, self-rejecting gay priests and maybe cardinals and archbishops, ‘elite’ rings of transsexual prostitutes, hints of Vatican blackmail, pedophilia and tragic isolation. (Dowd takes it closer to the bone in a column dripping with juicy innuendoes about the Pope Emeritus’ relationship with his private secretary.)

All these troubles, Bruni maintains, spring from priestly celibacy and homosexual repression. Bruni’s core message is that celibacy is a “trap,” a bad idea all round:

No matter what a person’s sexual orientation, the celibate culture runs the risk of stunting its development and turning sexual impulses into furtive, tortured gestures. It downplays a fundamental and maybe irresistible human connection. Is it any wonder that some priests try to make that connection nonetheless, in surreptitious, imprudent and occasionally destructive ways?

Now I’m no Roman Catholic and my father is a happily married Episcopal priest; after 61 plus years of marriage my parents have four children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and over the decades their home has been a warm and welcoming place, a visible sign of God’s love for friends, family and strangers alike. It’s not for me to advise a religious body to which I don’t belong how to manage its affairs, but if I were designing a new Church of St. Mead from the ground up, I’d have no problem with married priests.

There are good arguments against a celibate priesthood, even in the special context of Roman Catholic doctrine about the nature and function of priests. It’s not, however, clear that these arguments are as strong as Bruni and many others assume. The last time I looked, college football coaches, BBC celebrities, public school teachers and scout leaders weren’t required to be celibate, but we’ve seen high profile sexual scandals in these fields—complete with coverups. Horatio Alger was a Unitarian minister when he was fired for “unnatural familiarity” with boys, and there have been some recent high profile cases of married Jewish and Protestant religious leaders involved in inappropriate sex with young people.

Human sexuality is tricky ground; many married people have from time to time resorted to exactly the kind of “furtive, tortured gestures” that Bruni thinks characterize celibacy. Few of us live up to our own sexual ideals or standards; gay or straight, single or married, drunk or sober, large numbers of human beings look back on certain incidents with sadness and regret. Not even Maureen Dowd can believe that America’s burgeoning porn industry survives on the patronage of furtive and twisted celibates alone. Celibacy, like monogamy, is a sexual ideal. Not many people live up to either ideal fully, and many fall sadly, woefully, and even horrifically short of the standards their own consciences declare.

But ideals, even unattainable ones, are often there for a reason. The Christian ideal of celibacy wasn’t invented by the Catholic hierarchy and didn’t originate as a tool to capture and repress homosexual men. Nor was it rooted in either Jewish or Roman antiquity. Caesar Augustus passed laws to penalize bachelors, and while Rome had its Vestal Virgins, they had no male counterparts. While ancient Greek culture celebrated many forms of what we today would call pedophilia, it strongly condemned adult men who engaged in passive homosexual intercourse and placed strong social pressure on men to marry women even as they continued to accost high school age boys. The closest thing to the Christian ideal of celibacy was found among some Middle Eastern cults and mystery religions, but the voluntary castration among some devotees of these cults never really caught on among the followers of Christ (Origen excepted).

The Christian ideal of celibacy comes straight from the source: Jesus, despite repeated attempts by later writers to whomp up romances with everyone from Mary Magdalene to St. John the Divine, never married. (I’m waiting for the Maureen Dowd column on Jesus the pedophile: What can we expect from a man who hung around playgrounds saying “Suffer the little children to come unto me?” Sounds pretty suspicious and, of course, he was celibate.)

Jesus’ example got a powerful boost and some theological buttressing from the life and writings of Christianity’s greatest early leader and thinker, St. Paul. So far as we know, Paul never married in the years before his conversion; certainly, he remained single during his life as the first Christian missionary.

Neither Jesus nor Paul demanded celibacy of their followers. We know that St. Peter had a mother-in-law and St. Paul said that bishops should have no more than one wife. If Jesus ever said anything about his decision to remain unmarried, the Gospels don’t report it, and his recorded teaching on marriage is largely confined to an absolute prohibition on divorce. But Paul was more forthcoming. In his first letter to the Christian community in the Greek city of Corinth, the apostle wrote that while ideally both women and men should remain unmarried, not everybody had the ability. For those who could not, ahem, contain themselves in the single life, he wrote, there was a less demanding if perhaps less noble course. “It is better to marry than to burn.

The examples of Jesus and Paul’s celibacy have resonated since the early centuries of Christian life, but choosing the celibate life was also often mixed up with pragmatic considerations. Centuries of persecution reinforced the idea that the leaders of the Christian community, bishops and priests for whom martyrdom was in the job description, should avoid earthly entanglements. One can sympathize with their point of view. It is bad enough being fed to the lions without worrying about the hungry family you are leaving behind.

When the persecutions ended with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, Christians had a new reason to want celibate bishops and priests. The Church became one of the wealthiest institutions in the Empire, and its officials controlled great resources and had immense political power. That power only grew when the Empire fell and feudalism appeared. In an era of weak states and institutions, powerful families constantly sought to appropriate ‘common’ property; much like oligarchs pillaging state property after the fall of the Soviet Union, people sought to ‘privatize’ both church and state property when opportunities rose.

Without celibacy, clerical dynasties would surely have emerged, and lucrative offices would almost inevitably become hereditary. Even humble parish priests would try to ensure that their sons followed them in their calling and, in a period of weak institutions and little central authority, the positions and the possessions of the Church were all too likely to fall under private control. Celibacy ensured that priests had no children, or that, if they did (and there have never been many illusions in the Church about the weakness of the flesh and the powers of temptation), those children would at least be illegitimate and unable to claim a right of succession.

Even with celibacy, life in the Church got pretty corrupt. Clerics high and low struggled to make careers for their illegitimate children or their nephews (the word ‘nepotism’ comes from the Latin word for nephew); powerful families intrigued to control the more lucrative posts. But while the ban on clerical marriage didn’t necessarily make the clergy more moral, it helped assure the independence of the Church and kept its property and offices from falling completely and irrevocably into the hands of church dynasties. From this point of view the discipline of celibacy was less a means to sanctify priests than to protect the institutional integrity of the Church.

In the West today these dangers have receded, but in much of the world they remain real. Many African and Asian believers remain very poor, and priests would face overwhelming temptations to, for example, ensure that their own kids received whatever educational opportunities were on offer. A wealthy and well connected archbishop in a non-democratic developing country would have powerful reasons to make sure his kids were plugged into the power system—and also have powerful reasons to keep his mouth shut about corruption and the abuses of human rights. Moral heroes might stand up against the pressure, but not every archbishop is going to be that kind of person. A perennial problem for Rome is that it must legislate for Catholics throughout the world; a system that allowed priests to marry in rich countries but demanded celibacy of priests from poor countries would not go over well.

Even so, there are real questions about requiring celibacy of all clergy. The priesthood is a less economically and socially attractive profession today, but in past centuries (and still in many poor countries) choosing a career in the Church was the only avenue for kids without wealthy parents to get a good education or a job that didn’t involve digging ditches. A hunger for education, a desire to see the wider world, and the hope of a brilliant career are not the same things as a religious vocation, much less a divine call to the single life, but the Church insisted on a package deal. Some young people honored the bargain, many found it beyond their power or were cynics from the start.

More recently, many women faced a similar choice. For poor girls in much of Europe and North America, entry into a religious order was their only way into professional life and their only chance for a college education. As Bruni and others note, the celibate priesthood also provided an honorable exit for another group: young homosexual men. If you told your mother that you weren’t getting married because you liked guys, you got one reaction. If you said God was calling you to the priesthood, you got something else. This doesn’t require conscious hypocrisy; sexual identity and spiritual yearning are both complicated things, and young people in the throes of adolescence jump to lots of conclusions.

It seems pretty clear that many people in religious orders and the priesthood didn’t have a true calling to the celibate life, and one reason that tens of thousands of people left the orders and the priesthood after Vatican II was that in a changing world they had other options. Young Catholic women, whatever their sexual orientation, and young Catholic gay men now have more choices, and the Church seems to be finding that while there are fewer young people entering orders and the priesthood, those who come are better suited to the calling.

I don’t know that it’s fair to blame all the resulting problems on either the Church or on celibacy. One can say that it was less than fair of the Church to offer education and careers to the poor, to women and to homosexuals with such difficult conditions attached—but then nobody else was offering them anything at all. Surely some of the blame has to fall on societies and cultures that consigned whole swathes of their population to ignorance and oppression, leaving the Church to deal with the results as best it could. Within the framework of its doctrinal structures and its institutional requirements, the Church opened a door of opportunity for people who the rest of the world rejected. Surely even the Rhadamanthine judges at the New York Times can give it a few points for trying?

But many critics of the Church, and, unless I am misreading him, Bruni is one of these, don’t just think that the Church has misused the discipline of celibacy. They want to say that celibacy doesn’t even make sense as a religious ideal. One doesn’t want to judge a person’s entire world view on the basis of a single newspaper column, but Bruni seems to make the argument that celibacy is an unnatural state that involves a crippling loss of human connection. As Auden once put it: “Envy warps the virgin as she dries.”

The critique is not new; the belief that the Catholic view of celibacy leads either to futile isolation or to sexual deviance and depravity or both was one of the core arguments that the Reformers made against the Church. Lurid ‘confessions’ of nuns allegedly seduced by priests and darker rumors were widely disseminated during and after the wars of religion. As late as the 1830s a Protestant mob in Boston burned an Ursuline convent after reports of wicked goings on got into the press.

In Victorian times Protestants frequently contrasted what they saw as the healthy, masculine and extroverted nature of the Protestant clergy and its spirituality and the ‘diseased’, ‘feminine’ and introverted qualities they claimed to see among Catholics. Homophobia and anti-Catholicism ran together in 19th century England, and the Protestant cult of ‘muscular Christianity’ claiming that Jesus was an extroverted jock rather than a sensitive momma’s boy was particularly popular among the headmasters of boys’ boarding schools. In the minds of people like Charles Kingsley, tutor of the Prince of Wales, chaplain to Queen Victoria and the man whose attack prompted Cardinal Newman to write his great autobiography, suspiciously celibate Catholic priests with their crafty ways, lace gowns and aversion to marriage were exactly the sort of person one kept away from the vulnerable young.

Today the attack on celibacy, at least in elite circles, cannot base itself on overt homophobia any longer, although it was not all that long ago that the New York Times led the charge against gays and their wicked agenda. Where the Victorians attacked the celibate priesthood because they believed it sheltered homosexual men and gave them social position and power they could never otherwise have, our contemporaries attack priestly celibacy because it warps homosexual men, steeping them in self-hatred, twisting their desires, and forcing the natural healthy channel of their sexuality into at best sordid and furtive affairs and at worst leading otherwise normal gay men into the horrors of pedophilia.

Charles Kingsley would have interpreted the current avalanche of stories about pedophile priests and the rumors of gay sex rings in the Vatican as clear proof that Catholicism was rotten to the core and that a hierarchical culture resting on priestly celibacy was a big part of the problem. That is not as far from the Bruni position as either Kingsley or Bruni would like, but where Kingsley saw celibacy as tailor-made cover for insidious homosexuals and sexual predators, Bruni sees it as an instrument of homophobia and sexual repression.

From my wretchedly Anglican standpoint, I can only say that the problem seems less about celibacy as a sexual ideal than about the attempt, intrinsic to Catholicism, to embody the ideal Kingdom of God in a human institution. Priests, nuns, bishops and monks are not going to be perfect. They are going to abuse their power; they are going to misread the will of God even on those occasions when they summon up the fortitude to try to follow it. Catholics believe that even so the purposes of God are being worked out through the visible Church on earth, and that the institution, however weighed down with crooked bankers, bent priests, conniving bishops and hypocritical pedophiles really is the primary channel of grace into this fallen world, and the place par excellence where God’s perfect love meets human failure.

That Catholic approach to the institutionalization of the ineffable has led to great triumphs of the human spirit and nourished extraordinary saints down through the ages, but there is a darker side too. The attempt to bond a high and difficult sexual ideal to the routine business of running a global institution is bound to create some big problems; I wish the next pope every success in managing this great institution in tumultuous times, but I don’t have a lot of advice to offer.

There is a final point to make. It’s striking that Bruni’s discussion of celibacy omits any possible benefits that might flow from this way of life. Proponents of celibacy have often spoken of a closer union with God as both the motive and the consequence of their choice. Pastor Rick Warren tells the story of the bride who insisted that as she came down the aisle to meet her future husband the choir sing the old hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” For millions of Catholic and Orthodox monks, priests and nuns down through the centuries, that was a choice that they consciously made. They felt called to sacrifice earthly ties to deepen their relationship with God and to focus exclusively on serving him rather than tending families on earth.

Bruni doesn’t even think this idea is worth discussing; as far as I can tell, there are no ‘brides of Christ’ in his world view, only delusional and embittered old maids.  The argument boils down to this: since human beings can’t be satisfied or fulfilled by relationships with God, celibacy has no point. It subtracts but it does not add. The celibate priest or nun is running away from normal human life and running toward… nothing.

Bruni is of course entitled to his opinion, and it’s one that many great scholars and philosophers have held. God either doesn’t exist or is so much in the background of things that he might as well not be there at all. Satisfaction is to be sought in the here and now; this life on earth offers all we need and in any case is all we have. Forget all this talk of mystical unions with Christ, forget the ecstasies of the saints, the Beatific Vision, the dream of fulfilling your life by picking up your cross and following Christ as closely as you can. Find an age-appropriate spouse of whatever gender works for you, and lead the rich and satisfying life of an upper middle class professional who enjoys the newspaper of record, and try not to think about old age, death, or anything else that suggests that the natural order is either incomplete or flawed.

This is a perfectly coherent point of view, but it is not very rational to suggest it to the Catholic Church. Bruni’s argument against celibacy is predicated on the disappearance of God; he is giving the Church advice on how to organize its affairs in the absence of Christ.

If Bruni is right, we shouldn’t just get rid of priestly celibacy. We should get rid of priests. We should turn our churches into art museums. Perhaps a few should stay open for the old people and the poor people and the semi-literate immigrants still bitterly clinging to their missals and their rosaries, but the Catholic Church is of value only insofar as it adds texture and color to the wonderful pageant of civilized modern life.

A lot of modern and progressive thinking people think this way in America and beyond; it’s a safe bet that the new pope, whoever he is, won’t agree.

Voir aussi:

LE CASTRISTE HUGO CHAVEZ A FINANCE SECRETEMENT LA CAMPAGNE EN 2007 DE LA PRESIDENTE ARGENTINE AVEC 6 MILLIONS $

Auteur jacquesthomet

25 septembre 2008

Un document tendant à le prouver a été présenté jeudi par l’homme d’affaires américano-vénézuélien Guido Antonini Wilson, cité comme témoin à Miami dans le procès sur le transfert illégal de 800.000 dollars du Venezuela vers l’Argentine.

Guido Antonini Wilson avait été intercepté le 4 août 2007 par la douane argentine en provenance de Caracas, avec une mallette contenant 800.000 dollars.

Selon l’accusation, il s’agissait d’argent destiné à la campagne présidentielle de la candidate Cristina Kirchner, qui a ensuite remporté les élections en octobre 2007. Mme Kirchner a nié avoir reçu des fonds provenant du Venezuela.

Guido Antonini Wilson est un témoin clé dans ce procès de trois Vénézuéliens et un Uruguayen –Moises Maionica, Franklin Duran, Carlos Kauffmann, Rodolfo Edgardo Wanseele Paciello– que les Etats-Unis soupçonnent d’avoir agi en tant qu’agents du Venezuela à Miami. Ils sont accusés d’avoir fait pression sur M. Antonini Wilson, qui avait introduit des fonds non déclarés en Argentine en août 2007, pour cacher la provenance et la destination de cet argent. Antonini Wilson a présenté un document, que lui avait remis Franklin Durán, dans lequel ce dernier détaillait les points importants concernant le supposé transfert de fonds.

« D’où vient l’argent: PDVSA (la compagnie pétrolière publique du Venezuela). A qui est-il destiné: à la campagne (de Cristina Kirchner) (…) deux mallettes (…) 6 millions de dollars… », indique notamment le document.

L’homme d’affaires américano-vénézuelien a affirmé avoir rencontré dans un hôtel le vice-président pour l’Argentine de PDVSA, Diego Uzcategui, peu de temps après avoir été appréhendé. « L’argent venait de PDVSA, ce n’était pas le mien », a-t-il expliqué. « J’ai demandé (à M. Uzcategui) pourquoi il m’avait placé dans une telle situation, et il m’a répondu: +où est le reste de l’argent ?+ Je lui ai dit: +De quoi est-ce que tu me parles ?+ Et il m’a dit: +Il y avait une autre valise avec 4,2 millions+ », avait-t-il raconté devant la cour.

M. Antonini Wilson a aussi révélé mercredi s’être entretenu à deux reprises au téléphone avec le chef des renseignements du Venezuela, Henry Rangel Silva, qui tentait de le convaincre d’occulter le scandale.

Voir enfin:

Malaysia’s U.S. Propaganda

Kuala Lumpur paid American conservative journalists to smear an opposition leader.

The WSJ

March 8, 2013

A general election is expected next month in the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia, and that usually means political shenanigans—abuse of national security laws, media manipulation and character assassination. After the last election in 2008, when the ruling coalition barely held on to power, public anger at such practices prompted Prime Minister Najib Razak to redraft laws and reform the electoral system. However, new revelations that his government paid American journalists to attack opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim raise questions whether those changes went far enough.

In January, conservative American blogger Joshua Treviño belatedly registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, revealing that from 2008-2011 he was paid $389,724.70, as well as a free trip to Malaysia, to provide "public relations and media consultancy" services to the Malaysian government.

These consisted of writing for a website called Malaysia Matters, now defunct, as well as channeling $130,950 to other conservative writers who wrote pro-government pieces for other newspapers and websites. When questioned in 2011 by the Politico website about whether Malaysian interests funded his activities, Mr. Treviño flatly denied it: "I was never on any ‘Malaysian entity’s payroll,’ and I resent your assumption that I was."

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

The campaign was more targeted than the Malaysian ruling coalition’s domestic attacks on Mr. Anwar. Mr. Treviño’s site mainly went after the opposition leader for anti-Semitic remarks and his alliance with the Islamist party PAS, and even accused him of links to terrorists through the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Mr. Anwar has made anti-Semitic comments—though that’s in part to fend off domestic accusations that he’s too cozy with Zionists. He also has ties to organizations that have taken Saudi money, but the suggestion that he somehow has "ties to terrorism" is preposterous.

The site also defended an outrageous charge of sodomy brought against Mr. Anwar from 2008- 2012, and it criticized the U.S. State Department and The Wall Street Journal for taking Mr. Anwar’s side. These postings were clearly aimed at sowing doubt among other would-be Anwar defenders in the U.S., especially on the right of the U.S. political spectrum.

Mr. Treviño paid other writers who know almost nothing about Malaysia but mimicked his propaganda. The New Ledger, edited by Ben Domenech, was even more vociferous, calling Mr. Anwar a "vile anti-Semite and cowardly woman-abuser." One posting was entitled, "Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist money flowing to Anwar Ibrahim." According to Mr. Treviño’s filing, he paid Mr. Domenech $36,000 for "opinion writing." Three contributors of anti-Anwar items to the New Ledger—Rachel Motte, Christopher Badeaux and Brad Jackson—were paid $9,500, $11,000 and $24,700 respectively.

Mr. Treviño was initially paid by public relations multinational APCO Worldwide, which had a longstanding contract with the Malaysian government. APCO’s Kuala Lumpur representative through 2010, Paul Stadlen, now works in Prime Minister Najib’s office. David All, who at the time ran his own PR firm and collaborated on Malaysia Matters, also provided cash.

But from 2009-11, the Malaysian money came through Fact-Based Communications, which under the leadership of journalist John Defterios produced programs on client countries for CNN, CNBC and the BBC. After this was revealed in 2011, the three networks dropped all FBC programs, and Atlantic Media Company President Justin Smith resigned from its board.

Influence-peddling has a long and sordid history in Washington, and governments that use repressive methods at home yet want to remain on friendly terms with the U.S. typically have the biggest bankrolls. It’s not unheard of for PR operators to pay less reputable journalists and think- tankers to write favorable coverage, as the Jack Abramoff case in the mid-2000s showed.

The Malaysian scheme, however, is notable because it drew in respected writers such as Rachel Ehrenfeld, who has contributed to the Journal in the past and took $30,000, Claire Berlinski, who got $6,750, and Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary magazine, who was paid $5,500. Some of the articles appeared in well-known publications such as National Review and the Washington Times.

Mr. Najib’s falling popularity at home suggests his days as Prime Minister could be numbered. The irony is that he was more democratic and played a more responsible role in the region than his predecessors. Even opposition figures have quietly admitted to us that he has steered Malaysia in the right direction. That should have been more than enough for a legitimate public relations operation to work with. Resorting to underhanded tactics to undermine the opposition has only backfired for Mr. Najib, at home and abroad.


Juifs utiles: Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ? (Dissolve your own people: US Jewish philosopher comes up with the ultimate solution to all world problems)

20 mars, 2013
http://www.endru.de/joom/images/stories/politik/Wir-sind-das-Volk.gifL’antisémitisme religieux dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous si vous restez juif. L’antisémitisme politique dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous. L’antisémitisme racial dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre. Raul Hilberg
J’apprends que le gouvernement estime que le peuple a "trahi la confiance du régime" et "devra travailler dur pour regagner la confiance des autorités". Dans ce cas, ne serait-il pas plus simple pour le gouvernement de dissoudre le peuple et d’en élire un autre ? Bertold Brecht
Que signifie le peuple juif ? Existe-t-il ? Peut-on parler du peuple juif comme on parle du peuple français ? Ou comme on parle du peuple basque ? La seule réponse valable me paraît celle-ci : si l’on parle du « peuple juif », on emploie la notion de peuple en un sens qui ne vaut que dans ce seul cas. Raymond Aron (cité par Shlomo Sand)
Si l’on a pu affirmer, un jour, que la patrie constitue l’ultime recours de l’impie, on pourrait, aujourd’hui, dire que la Shoah est devenue l’ultime recours des démagogues prosionistes! Shlomo Sand
La conclusion, proprement perverse, de son livre est d’attribuer au peuple palestinien ce qui a été dénié aux juifs, à savoir qu’ils sont – eux, les Palestiniens – les vrais descendants génétiques des Hébreux originaires ! Cet épilogue est le révélateur de la finalité du livre. On y trouve le principe mythologique de l’inversion dont le peuple juif est la victime coutumière : les juifs deviennent des non-juifs et les Palestiniens les juifs génétiques. On peut, dès lors, en déduire qui est l’occupant légitime du pays. En ne déconstruisant pas radicalement la notion d’héritage génétique, en en faisant, au contraire, bénéficier le peuple palestinien, Sand révèle tout l’impensé qui obscurément pourrit ce qu’il tient pour être une entreprise libératrice. Il montre que la méthode substitutive qu’il emploie est tout simplement mystificatrice, et ce d’autant plus qu’elle voudrait être au service de l’entente entre les ennemis. Eric Marty
On a parlé de multiples fois des habits neufs de l’antisémitisme: non seulement celui-ci s’est fait faire des habits neufs, mais il a toute une garde-robe, qui va du prêt-à-porter bas de gamme, au charme hypocrite et discret de la haute couture, qu’affectionnent les diplomates de haut vol. Guy Millière
Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system. Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable. The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the "code duello," which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor. Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit. But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest. A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons. Eliot Cohen
President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act. Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Ehud Barak
Réalisé sur un échantillon de 7.500 européens, la question était parmi une liste de 15 nations (dont les Etats-Unis, l’Irak, l’Iran, l’Afghanistan et la Corée du Nord) de "dire si le pays présente ou non une menace pour la paix dans le monde". Quelque 59% des sondés ont désigné Israël. Selon El Pais, les Néerlandais, les Autrichiens et les Luxembourgeois sondés sont ceux qui ont le plus placé Israël en tête des menaces. Les Français ont au contraire été les moins enclins à désigner l’Etat hébreu. L’Irak (52%) n’arrive qu’en cinquième position dans cette enquête d’opinion. Derrière Israël (59%), trois pays occupent la deuxième place, à égalité (53%): il s’agit des Etats-Unis, de l’Iran et de la Corée du Nord. Viennent ensuite l’Afghanistan (50%), le Pakistan (48%), la Syrie (37%), la Libye et l’Arabie saoudite (toutes deux à 36%). Le Nouvel Observateur (2003)
L’idée même d’un Etat juif est non-démocratique. Joseph Levine

 Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ?

A l’heure où l’évidence du problème juif comme source unique de tous les maux du monde s’impose peu à peu à l’ensemble de l’opinion éclairée mondiale …

Pendant que son principal porte-parole de la Maison Blanche s’est enfin décidé en ce moment même à en informer, entre deux visites touristiques, le dernier petit peuple de la planète à empêcher le monde de tourner …

Et que, sur nos télévisions, nos petites mains (noires elles aussi comme il se doit) nous font ânnoner notre leçon (co-lon, co-lo-nie, co-lo-ni-ser, co-lo-ni-sa-tion, o-ccu-pa-tion, o-ccu-pé, on répète après moi – pas moins de treize fois en, quoi, 2 minutes 30 !) sans lamais mentionner une seule fois en face le refus de négocier ou même de reconnaitre l’existence d’Israël …

Comment ne pas voir, proposée de surcroit par un philosophe juif de New York, la géniale simplicité de la solution ultime à la paix mondiale ?

Qui, surprise, redécouvre avec la caution morale supplémentaire du sommet de la réflexion philosophique et de la judéité proclamée de son auteur, la même mesure radicale que l’antisémitisme racial de grand-papa ….

A savoir la bonne vieille (dis)Solution finale !

On Questioning the Jewish State

Joseph Levine

The NYT

March 9, 2013

I was raised in a religious Jewish environment, and though we were not strongly Zionist, I always took it to be self-evident that “Israel has a right to exist.” Now anyone who has debated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have encountered this phrase often. Defenders of Israeli policies routinely accuse Israel’s critics of denying her right to exist, while the critics (outside of a small group on the left, where I now find myself) bend over backward to insist that, despite their criticisms, of course they affirm it. The general mainstream consensus seems to be that to deny Israel’s right to exist is a clear indication of anti-Semitism (a charge Jews like myself are not immune to), and therefore not an option for people of conscience.

Over the years I came to question this consensus and to see that the general fealty to it has seriously constrained open debate on the issue, one of vital importance not just to the people directly involved — Israelis and Palestinians — but to the conduct of our own foreign policy and, more important, to the safety of the world at large. My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism. The first step in questioning the principle, however, is to figure out what it means.

One problem with talking about this question calmly and rationally is that the phrase “right to exist” sounds awfully close to “right to life,” so denying Israel its right to exist sounds awfully close to permitting the extermination of its people. In light of the history of Jewish persecution, and the fact that Israel was created immediately after and largely as a consequence of the Holocaust, it isn’t surprising that the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” should have this emotional impact. But as even those who insist on the principle will admit, they aren’t claiming merely the impermissibility of exterminating Israelis. So what is this “right” that many uphold as so basic that to question it reflects anti-Semitism and yet is one that I claim ought to be questioned?

The key to the interpretation is found in the crucial four words that are often tacked on to the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” — namely, “… as a Jewish state.” As I understand it, the principle that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state has three parts: first, that Jews, as a collective, constitute a people in the sense that they possess a right to self-determination; second, that a people’s right to self-determination entails the right to erect a state of their own, a state that is their particular people’s state; and finally, that for the Jewish people the geographical area of the former Mandatory Palestine, their ancestral homeland, is the proper place for them to exercise this right to self-determination.

The claim then is that anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is guilty of anti-Semitism because they are refusing to grant Jews the same rights as other peoples possess. If indeed this were true, if Jews were being singled out in the way many allege, I would agree that it manifests anti-Jewish bias. But the charge that denying Jews a right to a Jewish state amounts to treating the Jewish people differently from other peoples cannot be sustained.

To begin, since the principle has three parts, it follows that it can be challenged in (at least) three different ways: either deny that Jews constitute “a people” in the relevant sense, deny that the right to self-determination really involves what advocates of the principle claim it does, or deny that Jews have the requisite claim on the geographical area in question.

In fact, I think there is a basis to challenge all three, but for present purposes I will focus on the question of whether a people’s right to self-determination entails their right to a state of their own, and set aside whether Jews count as a people and whether Jews have a claim on that particular land. I do so partly for reasons of space, but mainly because these questions have largely (though not completely) lost their importance.

The fact is that today millions of Jews live in Israel and, ancestral homeland or not, this is their home now. As for whether Jews constitute a people, this is a vexed question given the lack of consensus in general about what it takes for any particular group of people to count as “a people.” The notion of “a people” can be interpreted in different ways, with different consequences for the rights that they possess. My point is that even if we grant Jews their peoplehood and their right to live in that land, there is still no consequent right to a Jewish state.

However, I do think that it’s worth noting the historical irony in insisting that it is anti-Semitic to deny that Jews constitute a people. The 18th and 19th centuries were the period of Jewish “emancipation” in Western Europe, when the ghetto walls were torn down and Jews were granted the full rights of citizenship in the states within which they resided. The anti-Semitic forces in those days, those opposing emancipation, were associated not with denying Jewish peoplehood but with emphatically insisting on it! The idea was that since Jews constituted a nation of their own, they could not be loyal citizens of any European state. The liberals who strongly opposed anti-Semitism insisted that Jews could both practice their religion and uphold their cultural traditions while maintaining full citizenship in the various nation-states in which they resided.

But, as I said, let’s grant that Jews are a people. Well, if they are, and if with the status of a people comes the right to self-determination, why wouldn’t they have a right to live under a Jewish state in their homeland? The simple answer is because many non-Jews (rightfully) live there too. But this needs unpacking.

First, it’s important to note, as mentioned above, that the term “a people” can be used in different ways, and sometimes they get confused. In particular, there is a distinction to be made between a people in the ethnic sense and a people in the civic sense. Though there is no general consensus on this, a group counts as a people in the ethnic sense by virtue of common language, common culture, common history and attachment to a common territory. One can easily see why Jews, scattered across the globe, speaking many different languages and defined largely by religion, present a difficult case. But, as I said above, for my purposes it doesn’t really matter, and I will just assume the Jewish people qualify.

The other sense is the civic one, which applies to a people by virtue of their common citizenship in a nation-state or, alternatively, by virtue of their common residence within relatively defined geographic borders. So whereas there is both an ethnic and a civic sense to be made of the term “French people,” the term “Jewish people” has only an ethnic sense. This can easily be seen by noting that the Jewish people is not the same group as the Israeli people. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish Palestinians, while the vast majority of the Jewish people are not citizens of Israel and do not live within any particular geographic area. “Israeli people,” on the other hand, has only a civic sense. (Of course often the term “Israelis” is used as if it applies only to Jewish Israelis, but this is part of the problem. More on this below.)

So, when we consider whether or not a people has a right to a state of their own, are we speaking of a people in the ethnic sense or the civic one? I contend that insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense.

After all, what is it for a people to have a state “of their own”? Here’s a rough characterization: the formal institutions and legal framework of the state serves to express, encourage and favor that people’s identity. The distinctive position of that people would be manifested in a number of ways, from the largely symbolic to the more substantive: for example, it would be reflected in the name of the state, the nature of its flag and other symbols, its national holidays, its education system, its immigration rules, the extent to which membership in the people in question is a factor in official planning, how resources are distributed, etc. If the people being favored in this way are just the state’s citizens, it is not a problem. (Of course those who are supercosmopolitan, denying any legitimacy to the borders of nation-states, will disagree. But they aren’t a party to this debate.)

But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall. Of course Jews have a right to self-determination in this sense as well — this is what emancipation was all about. But so do non-Jewish peoples living in the same state.

Any state that “belongs” to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group.

If the institutions of a state favor one ethnic group among its citizenry in this way, then only the members of that group will feel themselves fully a part of the life of the state. True equality, therefore, is only realizable in a state that is based on civic peoplehood. As formulated by both Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli activists on this issue, a truly democratic state that fully respects the self-determination rights of everyone under its sovereignty must be a “state of all its citizens.”

This fundamental point exposes the fallacy behind the common analogy, drawn by defenders of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, between Israel’s right to be Jewish and France’s right to be French. The appropriate analogy would instead be between France’s right to be French (in the civic sense) and Israel’s right to be Israeli.

I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic. But the harm doesn’t stop with the inherently undemocratic character of the state. For if an ethnic national state is established in a territory that contains a significant number of non-members of that ethnic group, it will inevitably face resistance from the land’s other inhabitants. This will force the ethnic nation controlling the state to resort to further undemocratic means to maintain their hegemony. Three strategies to deal with resistance are common: expulsion, occupation and institutional marginalization. Interestingly, all three strategies have been employed by the Zionist movement: expulsion in 1948 (and, to a lesser extent, in 1967), occupation of the territories conquered in 1967 and institution of a complex web of laws that prevent Israel’s Palestinian citizens from mounting an internal challenge to the Jewish character of the state. (The recent outrage in Israel over a proposed exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the governing coalition, for example, failed to note that no Arab political party has ever been invited to join the government.) In other words, the wrong of ethnic hegemony within the state leads to the further wrong of repression against the Other within its midst.

There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. I want to emphasize that there’s nothing anti-Semitic in pointing this out, and it’s time the question was discussed openly on its merits, without the charge of anti-Semitism hovering in the background.

Joseph Levine is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he teaches and writes on philosophy of mind, metaphysics and political philosophy. He is the author of “Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness.”

Voir aussi:

Choose Your Side: The New York Times or Judaism

Edward Alexander

The NYT

March 18, 2013

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” – 1 Kings 18:21

American Jewry is often said to be divided between those who judge Judaism by the principles of the New York Times and those who judge the New York Times by the principles of Judaism. The former group was elated by Professor Joseph Levine’s recent clarion call “Questioning the Jewish State” (NY Times of March 9), which advocated the expulsion of Israel from the family of nations. The latter group was dismayed and nauseated, and confirmed in its view that expecting ordinary decency from “progressive” Jewish professors is like trying to warm yourself by the light of the moon. The former, composed in large part of what Gershom Scholem called “clever Jews” who fear nothing in this world (and maybe the next as well) so much as being called “reactionary,” agreed with Levine’s insistence that he not be labelled antisemitic just because he singled out Israel, among all the nations of the world, as deserving of dissolution; the latter thought the real question is whether Levine should be called a moral nonentity because he has made himself an accessory before the fact to the genocide dreamt of (and already inspiring murderous action) by Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah, Erdogan, Hamas, and numerous other “Islamist” eschatologists. (I’ve heard some ill-tempered members of this second group say that they looked forward to a Times discussion of whether Levine himself has an inalienable “right to exist.”)

Those Jews who judge the New York Times by the standards of Judaism believe that the creation of the state of Israel was one of the few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame, one of the greatest affirmations of the will to live ever made by a martyred people, and the most hopeful sign for humanity since the dove returned with the olive branch to Noah. They tend also to cling to Orwell’s view that some ideas–like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness–are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.

Those who judge Judaism by the standards of the New York Times boast of not having “danced in the streets when Ben-Gurion declared that the Jews, like other peoples, had a state of their own.” They believe (as does a majority of today’s Germans too) that Israel is the chief obstacle to world peace, a diversion from such compelling goals as gay marriage and unlimited access to abortion, and indeed the principal cause of most of the world’s evils with the (possible) exception of global warming.

Professor Levine’s polemic draws on sources both ancient and modern. It harkens back–albeit in the clumsy and verbose manner of somebody who “unpacks” rather than articulates ideas–to the earliest known ancient, non-Jewish document that mentions Israel by name. It is found on a monument from 1215 BCE (possessed by the British Museum) in which King Merneptah, the Egyptian forerunner of Chmielnicki, Hitler, Nasser, and Ahmadinejad, declares that “Israel is extinguished, its seed is no more.”

Levine, to be sure, is a philosopher, and not–on the surface, at least–a political agitator and propagandist, although he identifies himself (who could have guessed?) as a man of the left. Up to a point, Levine has some respectable predecessors among fellow-philosophers. In 1932, for example, Julien Benda, French philosopher (and novelist) addressed the “European nation” as follows: “Intellectuals of all countries, you must be the ones to tell your nations that they are always in the wrong by the single fact that they are nations…Plotinus blushed at having a body. You should blush at having a nation.” But whereas Benda called for philosophers of ALL nations to blush, Levine believes in blushing only by Jews for the Jewish nation. Although the imperfections he imputes to Israel because it calls itself “Jewish” manifest themselves–a hundred fold–in scores of members of the United Nations, he demands the dissolution only of the Jewish nation–not the 22 Arab nations or the numerous Christian ones or the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Like all Israel dissolutionists–one-state solution advocates, no-state solution advocates, and (this from the tone-deaf George Steiner) “final solution” advocates–he insists that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic. Perhaps the Times will soon invite him to cast his philosophic eye over a country called the United Kingdom, widely reputed to be democratic, and yet possessed of an official Protestant church, a Protestant monarch, a Protestant educational system (and all this in a once-Catholic country).

Levine has also attached himself, not unwittingly, to what Raul Hilberg called the last version of that ever-shortening sentence which expressed Europe’s anti-Jewish policies over the centuries. “The missionaries of Christianity,” wrote Hilberg, “had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: you have no right to live.” Levine admits to a slight uneasiness about the resemblance between his challenging Israel’s “right to exist” and the Nazis’ disputing the Jews’ “right to live.” But confidence in his own infallibility carries him quickly over this abyss, as if it were just an unfortunate coincidence of diction and phrasing. In fact, of course, it makes him complicit in what Hannah Arendt famously defined as the crime against humanity, “an attack upon human diversity as such, that is, upon a characteristic of the ‘human status’ without which the very words ‘mankind’ or ‘humanity’ would be devoid of meaning.”

Hannah Arendt’s colleague (and critic) Saul Bellow put the matter more tersely in “To Jerusalem and Back” (1976): “The subject of all this talk is, ultimately, survival–the survival of the decent society, created in Israel within a few decades….The Jews, because they are Jews, have never been able to take the right to live as a natural right.”

Edward Alexander’s most recent book is THE STATE OF THE JEWS: A Critical Appraisal (Transaction Publishers).

Voir également:

With Obama’s Israel Visit, an Opportunity

Forming a ‘strategic triangle’ to ensure Middle East security.

Ehud Barak

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

President Obama’s visit to Israel comes at a decisive juncture for the Middle East and offers the opportunity for new strategic thinking. Over the past two years, a geopolitical earthquake has shattered a generations-old regional order. What is replacing that order are unstable, transformational regimes or, even worse, failed states.

These dramatic changes offer some important lessons. For instance: Be modest when it comes to predictions. Who predicted the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere? Who could have predicted them?

Another lesson: It is unwise to rely on "the world" to act when a man-made disaster is unfolding. Consider Syria. President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act.

Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf.

The major challenges in the Middle East today are failed or failing states armed with thousands of rockets and missiles, the presence of global terror groups such as al Qaeda, and, of course, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

In the face of these serious challenges, I see an opportunity for the United States, moderate Arab regimes and Israel to tackle these challenges together.

First, these countries should build a Regional Security Framework that will focus on fighting terror, protecting border security and maintaining a missile defense.

Second, Israel, backed by the U.S. and moderate Arab regimes, should launch a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians. A two-state arrangement is the only viable solution. While its absence is not the fountainhead of all regional troubles, its achievement would help secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. The status quo offers only a slippery slope toward a binational state that would endanger Israel’s future.

If a final-status agreement for a two-state solution is not feasible at this time—and I suspect it is not—Israel and the Palestinians should try to reach interim agreements. Start with security and borders, for example. But if interim agreements also prove impossible to achieve, unilateral steps that move both Israelis and Palestinians closer to their legitimate goals in a final peace agreement should be taken. Such steps might include an Israeli decision to build solely within the widely accepted settlement blocks, or programs that would reduce Palestinian dependence on the Israeli economy.

Third, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, which is the paramount challenge facing Israel, the region and the world today, must be eliminated. An Iranian regime with hegemonic ambitions and armed with nuclear weapons would spell the end of any conceivable nonproliferation regime.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later Egypt would soon follow suit. The danger of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terror groups would increase exponentially. Iran’s Gulf neighbors would be intimidated and Iran’s terror proxies would be emboldened—operating under the umbrella of a nuclear Iran—to spread death and destruction throughout the world.

Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons now is no simple task, and it is not without significant risks. But dealing with a nuclear Iran a few years down the road will be far more complicated, much more costly, and it could produce horrific consequences.

Diplomats are still working to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. Tough sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. As a long-time observer of Iranian machinations, though, I do not believe that diplomacy and sanctions alone will lead to a moment of truth when the ayatollahs will decide to give up their nuclear program. Thus all options, including the military one, must remain squarely on the table. And when we say that all options are on the table, we must truly be prepared to use them.

The strategic triangle of a Regional Security Framework, a reinvigorated peace process with the Palestinians, and an effective halt of the Iranian nuclear program is the most effective approach to deal with the dynamic challenges on our horizon.

But this strategic triangle will not emerge on its own. It demands U.S. leadership, and it demands an even stronger U.S.-Israel alliance. President Obama’s visit to Israel could not be more timely because it offers an opportunity to kick-start an effort to accomplish just that.

Mr. Barak was Israel’s minister of defense from 2007 until this week.

Voir enfin:

American Withdrawal and Global Disorder

As Obama ends U.S. security guarantees, nuclear weapons and violence will spread.

Eliot Cohen

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

Since the days of the Monroe Doctrine, American foreign policy has rested on a global system of explicit or implicit commitments to use military power to guarantee the interests of the U.S. and its allies. The current administration has chosen to reduce, limit or underfund those commitments, and the results—which we may begin to see before President Obama’s term ends—will be dangerous.

Some of America’s commitments are enshrined in treaties, such as Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says of NATO’s 28 member countries that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all." Other commitments are less formal. The U.S. has no defense treaty with Israel, but repeated presidential declarations, including those Mr. Obama will make during his trip this week, amount to nearly the same thing.

Some commitments are moral and humanitarian, such as the "responsibility to protect" that led American decision makers racked with guilt over the Rwanda massacres of 1994 to intervene in the Yugoslav civil war in 1998. All amount to a web of obligations that have been central to the American role in the world since World War II.

Over the past four years, the U.S. has scaled down its presence, ambitions and promises overseas. Mr. Obama has announced the end of the early-21st-century wars, though in truth the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are merely shifting to new, not necessarily less-vicious phases. He has refrained from issuing unambiguous threats to hostile states, such as Iran, that engage in bellicose behavior toward the U.S., and he has let his staff speak of "leading from behind" as a desirable approach to foreign policy.

He has reduced the U.S. military budget and is willing to cut more. His preferred use of force when dealing with terrorism is a protracted campaign of assassination by drone strike—which he says has succeeded fabulously, yet which curiously requires indefinite expansion.

In Mr. Obama’s second term the limits of such withdrawal from conventional military commitments abroad will be tested. In East Asia, an assertive China has bullied the Philippines (with which the U.S. has a 61-year-old defense pact) over the Spratly islands, and China has pressed its claims on Japan (a 53-year-old defense pact) over the Senkaku Islands.

At stake are territorial waters and mineral resources—symbols of China’s drive for hegemony and an outburst of national egotism. Yet when Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister of an understandably anxious Japan, traveled to Washington in February, he didn’t get the unambiguous White House backing of Japan’s sovereignty that an ally of long standing deserves and needs.

In Europe, an oil-rich Russia is rebuilding its conventional arsenal while modernizing (as have China and Pakistan) its nuclear arsenal. Russia has been menacing its East European neighbors, including those, like Poland, that have offered to host elements of a NATO missile-defense system to protect Europe.

In 2012, Russia’s then-chief of general staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, declared: "A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens." This would be the same Russia that has attempted to dismember its neighbor Georgia and now has a docile Russophile billionaire, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, to supplant the balky, independence-minded government loyal to President Mikhail Saakashvili.

In the Persian Gulf, American policy was laid down by Jimmy Carter in his 1980 State of the Union address with what became the Carter Doctrine: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." America’s Gulf allies may not have treaties to rely upon—but they do have decades of promises and the evidence of two wars that the U.S. would stand by them.

Today they wait for the long-promised (by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush) nuclear disarmament of a revolutionary Iranian government that has been relentless in its efforts to intimidate and subvert Iran’s neighbors. They may wait in vain.

Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system.

Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable.

The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the "code duello," which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor.

Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit.

But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest.

A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons.

Not a pleasant thought.

Mr. Cohen directs the Strategic Studies program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


Irak/10e: Attention, un mensonge peut en cacher un autre ! (When everyone agreed about Iraq)

17 mars, 2013

La paix, bien sûr, mais la démocratie et la liberté ne sont-elles pas aussi des valeurs précieuses pour les chrétiens? Florence Taubman
If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal. President Clinton (February 1998)
[La mission des forces armées américaines et britanniques est d']attaquer les programmes d’armement nucléaires, chimiques et biologiques de l’Irak et sa capacité militaire à menacer ses voisins (…) On ne peut laisser Saddam Hussein menacer ses voisins ou le monde avec des armements nucléaires, des gaz toxiques, ou des armes biologiques. » (…) Il y a six semaines, Saddam Hussein avait annoncé qu’il ne coopérerait plus avec l’Unscom [la commission chargée du désarmement en Irak (…). D’autres pays [que l’Irak possèdent des armements de destruction massive et des missiles balistiques. Avec Saddam, il y a une différence majeure : il les a utilisés. Pas une fois, mais de manière répétée (…). Confronté au dernier acte de défiance de Saddam, fin octobre, nous avons mené une intense campagne diplomatique contre l’Irak, appuyée par une imposante force militaire dans la région (…). J’avais alors décidé d’annuler l’attaque de nos avions (…) parce que Saddam avait accepté nos exigences. J’avais conclu que la meilleure chose à faire était de donner à Saddam une dernière chance (…).  Les inspecteurs en désarmement de l’ONU ont testé la volonté de coopération irakienne (…). Hier soir, le chef de l’Unscom, Richard Butler, a rendu son rapport au secrétaire général de l’ONU [Kofi Annan. Les conclusions sont brutales, claires et profondément inquiétantes. Dans quatre domaines sur cinq, l’Irak n’a pas coopéré. En fait, il a même imposé de nouvelles restrictions au travail des inspecteurs (…). Nous devions agir et agir immédiatement (…).  J’espère que Saddam va maintenant finalement coopérer avec les inspecteurs et respecter les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité. Mais nous devons nous préparer à ce qu’il ne le fasse pas et nous devons faire face au danger très réel qu’il représente. Nous allons donc poursuivre une stratégie à long terme pour contenir l’Irak et ses armes de destruction massive et travailler jusqu’au jour où l’Irak aura un gouvernement digne de sa population (…). La dure réalité est qu’aussi longtemps que Saddam reste au pouvoir il menace le bien-être de sa population, la paix de la région et la sécurité du monde. La meilleure façon de mettre un terme définitif à cette menace est la constitution d’un nouveau gouvernement, un gouvernement prêt à vivre en paix avec ses voisins, un gouvernement qui respecte les droits de sa population. Bill Clinton (16.12.98)
Dans l’immédiat, notre attention doit se porter en priorité sur les domaines biologique et chimique. C’est là que nos présomptions vis-à-vis de l’Iraq sont les plus significatives : sur le chimique, nous avons des indices d’une capacité de production de VX et d’ypérite ; sur le biologique, nos indices portent sur la détention possible de stocks significatifs de bacille du charbon et de toxine botulique, et une éventuelle capacité de production.  Dominique De Villepin
Il est maintenant clair que les assurances données par Chirac ont joué un rôle crucial, persuadant Saddam Hussein de ne pas offrir les concessions qui auraient pu éviter une guerre et le changement de régime. Selon l’ex-vice président Tareq Aziz, s’exprimant depuis sa cellule devant des enquêteurs américains et irakiens, Saddam était convaincu que les Français, et dans une moindre mesure, les Russes allaient sauver son régime à la dernière minute. Amir Taheri
Comme l’exemple d’usage chimique contre les populations kurdes de 1987-1988 en avait apporté la preuve, ces armes avaient aussi un usage interne. Thérèse Delpech
Les inspecteurs n’ont jamais pu vérifier ce qu’il était advenu de 3,9 tonnes de VX (…) dont la production entre 1988 et 1990 a été reconnue par l’Irak. Bagdad a déclaré que les destructions avaient eu lieu en 1990 mais n’en a pas fourni de preuves. En février 2003 (…) un document a été fourni [par Bagdad] à l’Unmovic pour tenter d’expliquer le devenir d’environ 63 % du VX manquant. Auparavant, les Irakiens prétendaient ne pas détenir un tel document. » Idem pour l’anthrax, dont l’Irak affirmait avoir détruit le stock en 1991. Mais, « en mars 2003, l’Unmovic concluait qu’il existait toujours, très probablement, 10 000 litres d’anthrax non détruits par l’Irak... Comme pour le VX, l’Irak a fourni à l’ONU, en février 2003, un document sur ce sujet qui ne pouvait permettre de conclure quelles quantités avaient été détruites … Thérèse Delpech
Je pense que c’est à cause de l’unanimité, tout le monde était contre la guerre, les gens étaient contents de lire dans les journaux combien la guerre était mauvaise, comme le président français l’avait prédit. (…) Dans la phase du Saddamgrad Patrice Claude et Rémy Ourdan du Monde ont inventé des atrocités, produit des témoignages en phase avec ce qu’ils ne pouvaient voir. (…) Sur les fedayyin de Saddam, les gardes les plus brutaux du dictateur, ses SS, Ourdain a dit que les fedayyin n’ont pas combattu parce qu’ils étaient effrayés de la façon dont les GI’s tuaient tout le monde, dont un grand nombre de civils. Alain Hertoghe
Even when viewed through a post-war lens, documentary evidence of messages are consistent with the Iraqi Survey Group’s conclusion that Saddam was at least keeping a WMD program primed for a quick re-start the moment the UN Security Council lifted sanctions. Iraqi Perpectives Project (March 2006)
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a de facto link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.  Iraqi Perspectives Project (Saddam and Terrorism, Nov. 2007, released Mar. 2008)
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 « good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm » in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting « Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria. » It is not clear from available evidence where all of these non-Iraqi volunteers who were « sacrificing for the cause » went to ply their newfound skills. Before the summer of 2002, most volunteers went home upon the completion of training. But these camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the « Heroes Attack. » This training event was designed in part to prepare regional Fedayeen Saddam commands to « obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province.  » Study (Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia)
The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible, and that they have changed their tactic. Captured Iraqi document  (« Letter from Russian Official to Presidential Secretary Concerning American Intentions in Iraq », March 25, 2003)
Est-ce que les peuples du Moyen-Orient sont hors d’atteinte de la liberté? Est-ce que des millions d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants sont condamnés par leur histoire et leur culture au despotisme? Sont-ils les seuls à ne pouvoir jamais connaître la liberté ou même à ne pas avoir le choix? Bush (2003)
La raison pour laquelle je continue de dire qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak, Saddam et Al-Qaida est parce qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak et Al-Qaida. (…) Cette administration n’a jamais dit que les attentats du 11/9 ont été orchestrés entre Saddam et Al Qaeda. Nous avons dit qu’il y avait de nombreux contacts entre Saddam Hussein et Al Qaeda. George W. Bush (Washington Post, 2004)
Avec notre aide, les peuples du Moyen-Orient s’avancent maintenant pour réclamer leur liberté. De Kaboul à Bagdad et à Beyrouth, il y a des hommes et des femmes courageux qui risquent leur vie chaque jour pour les mêmes libertés que nous apprécions. Et elles ont une question pour nous : Avons-nous le courage de faire  au Moyen-Orient ce que nos pères et grands-pères ont accompli en Europe et en Asie ? En prenant position avec les chefs et les réformateurs démocratiques, en donnant notre voix aux espoirs des hommes et des femmes décents, nous leur offrons une voix hors du radicalisme. Et nous enrôlons la force la plus puissante pour la paix et la modération au Moyen-Orient : le désir de millions d’être libres. (…) En ce tout début de siècle, l’Amérique rêve au jour où les peuples du Moyen-Orient quitteront le désert du despotisme pour les jardins fertiles de la liberté – et reprendront leur place légitime dans un monde de paix et de prospérité. Nous rêvons au jour où les nations de cette région reconnaitront que leur plus grande ressource n’est pas le pétrole de leur sous-sol – mais le talent et la créativité de leurs populations. Nous rêvons au jour où les mères et les pères de tout le Moyen-Orient verront un avenir d’espoir et d’opportunités pour leurs enfants. Et quand ce beau jour viendra, les nuages de la guerre seront balayés, l’appel du radicalisme diminuera… et nous laisserons à nos enfants un monde meilleur et plus sûr. Bush (11/9/2006)  
Le projet de révolution démocratique mondiale peut faire sourire. Mais ce n’est pas totalement sans raison que les néoconservateurs, qui l’ont inspiré, se targuent d’avoir contribué, sous le deuxième mandat de M. Reagan, à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe. Ils souhaitent aujourd’hui mettre un terme à «l’exception moyen-orientale» : à la fois par intérêt et par idéalisme, l’Administration américaine veut rompre avec des décennies d’accommodement avec les dictatures de la région au nom de la stabilité (condition nécessaire, notamment, à l’accès régulier à un pétrole bon marché). Il s’agirait en effet de gagner la «quatrième guerre mondiale», comme a été gagnée la «troisième», c’est-à-dire la guerre froide. Le pari est évidemment difficile. Pour des raisons tactiques, les États-Unis doivent aujourd’hui ménager des régimes autoritaires tels que l’Arabie saoudite, dont ils ont besoin pour la lutte antiterroriste. (…) De ce fait, Paul Wolfowitz n’a pas tort de suggérer que le combat engagé par les États-Unis durera plus longtemps que la guerre froide et sera plus dur que la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Mais, si le résultat est incertain, le mouvement lui est bien engagé. Les révolutions pacifiques en Géorgie et en Ukraine ont été appuyées discrètement par des organisations publiques et privées américaines. Certes, ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler le «printemps arabe» repose aussi sur des dynamiques locales et a bien sûr bénéficié d’événements imprévus tels que la mort de Yasser Arafat ou l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri. Mais la pression américaine a joué un rôle non négligeable. En mai 2004, choisissant de «se couper les cheveux avant que les Américains ne les tondent» – selon les termes d’un diplomate, les dirigeants de la Ligue arabe se sont engagés à étendre les pratiques démocratiques, à élargir la participation des citoyens à la vie publique et à renforcer la société civile. Même le président Assad semble aux abois lorsqu’il dit publiquement qu’il «n’est pas Saddam Hussein» et qu’il «veut négocier»… (…). La question géopolitique centrale de notre temps reste donc bien celle qui avait été au coeur de l’affrontement franco-américain de 2002-2003 : faut-il préférer la stabilité au risque de l’injustice, ou la démocratisation au risque du chaos ? Optimiste et risqué, le pari américain n’en reste pas moins éthiquement défendable et met du coup l’Europe, qui se veut une «puissance morale» (si l’on en croit le président de la Commission, M. Barroso), en porte-à-faux. L’Union européenne s’est révélée être une force capable de promouvoir simultanément la stabilité et la démocratisation, mais seulement dans son environnement immédiat. Pour le reste, elle n’a pas de stratégie alternative, le «processus de Barcelone» ayant eu du point de vue politique des résultats plus que mitigés. Il lui reste donc à choisir entre approuver, s’opposer ou accompagner le combat américain. Bruno Tertrais (mars 2005)
By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction. Wired magazine (2010)
It’s more than a little ironic that, with its newest document dump from the Iraq campaign, WikiLeaks may have just bolstered one of the Bush administration’s most controversial claims about the Iraq war: that Iran supplied many of the Iraq insurgency’s deadliest weapons and worked hand-in-glove with some of its most lethal militias. The documents indicate that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq war, as its elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported deadly weapons like the shape-charged Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and U.S. troops. A report from 2006 claims “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons from Iran were smuggled into Iraq. (It’s one of many, many documents recounting WMD efforts in Iraq.) Others indicate that Iran flooded Iraq with guns and rockets, including the Misagh-1 surface-to-air missile, .50 caliber rifles, rockets and much more. As the New York Times observes, Iranian agents plotted to kidnap U.S. troops from out of their Humvees — something that occurred in Karbala in 2007, leaving five U.S. troops dead. (It’s still not totally clear if the Iranians were responsible.) Wired
A partir de la Guerre Froide, cette région est devenue stratégique de par ses ressources nécessaires au premier consommateur mondial d’énergie, mais aussi de par la rivalité idéologique entre l’URSS et les Etats-Unis. Cette époque fut dominée par la pensée de Kissinger qui prôna en conformité avec la « Realpolitik », l’immobilisme politique des régimes arabes comme option nécessaire à la consolidation de l’influence américaine. En échange d’une approbation de la diplomatie américaine, les régimes se voyaient soutenus. Les limites de cette politique ont commencé à se faire sentir lorsque les Etats-Unis en 1979 ont continué à appuyer le Shah d’Iran, ignorant alors qu’une population était en train de se soulever, donnant naissance à l’islamisme politique. Dans les années 80, le président Reagan introduisit une vision opposée au réalisme, attenant à une vision idéaliste d’une mission américaine d’exporter les justes valeurs au reste du monde. C’est dans son discours de Juin 1982 que Reagan parla « d’une croisade pour la liberté qui engagera la foi et le courage de la prochaine génération». Le président Bush père et Clinton reprirent une vision plus « réaliste » dans un nouveau contexte de sortie de Guerre Froide. Malgré « le nouvel ordre mondial » prôné par Bush père, son action n’alla pas jusqu’à Bagdad et préféra laisser un régime connu en place. Le 11 Septembre 2001 a révélé les limites de l’immobilisme politique des pays arabes, lorsque certains régimes soutenus n’ont pu s’opposer aux islamistes radicaux. Les néo-conservateurs qui participaient alors au gouvernement de G.W Bush, décidèrent de passer à l’action et de bousculer l’ordre établi dans la région, afin de pérenniser leur accès aux ressources énergétiques, mais aussi probablement pour d’autres raisons. Notamment selon G. Ayache « pour montrer (leur) force par rapport à la Chine dont le statut international ne cesse de croître et dont les besoins énergétiques sont appelés à concurrencer ceux des Etats-Unis(…), et dans l’objectif proclamé de lutte contre le terrorisme.» Les néo-conservateurs se sont dès le début prononcés pour la redistribution des cartes politiques dans cette région, donc un changement de régimes. Le nouveau président américain voulut se poser dans la lignée des présidents qui ont marqué l’histoire. Lors de son discours du 11 Septembre 2006, il s’est adressé en ces termes au peuple américain : « Ayez la patience de faire ce que nos pères et nos grands-pères ont fait pour l’Europe et pour l’Asie.» En fait, le vieux projet de Reagan d’exportation de la démocratie fut remis au goût du jour à travers l’annonce du projet de Grand Moyen-Orient en Novembre 2003 qui prôna la nécessité d’une démocratisation sans limites. Les néo-conservateurs qui avaient participé au deuxième mandat de Reagan revendiquèrent leur apport à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe dans les années 80 et 90. Il était donc temps selon eux de mettre fin à la situation stagnante au Moyen-Orient. La théorie des dominos était censée s’appliquer à la région en partant de l’Irak, même si elle pouvait mettre un certain temps à se réaliser selon les dynamiques locales. Alia Al Jiboury
Depuis la chute de la dictature de Ben Ali en Tunisie, les dictateurs et autres despotes arabes tremblent devant le vent de liberté, transformé en tempête. Les peuples arabes, compressés depuis des décennies, rêvent de liberté et de démocratie. Ils finissent, à tour de rôle, par réaliser le projet de George W. Bush, qu’ils avaient tant dénoncé. Mediarabe.info (février 2011)
Though the Iraq War later became a favorite Democratic club for bashing George W. Bush, Republicans and Democrats alike had long understood that Saddam was a deadly menace who had to be forcibly eradicated. In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, making Saddam’s removal from power a matter of US policy. "If the history of the last six years has taught us anything," Kerry had said two years earlier, "it is that Saddam Hussein does not understand diplomacy, he only understands power." But bipartisan harmony was an early casualty of the war. Once it became clear that Saddam didn’t have the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that were a major justification for the invasion, unity gave way to recrimination. It didn’t matter that virtually everyone – Republicans and Democrats, CIA analysts and the UN Security Council, even Saddam’s own military officers – had been sure the WMD would be found. Nor did it matter that Saddam had previously used WMD to exterminate thousands of men, women, and children. The temptation to spin an intelligence failure as a deliberate "lie" was politically irresistible. When the relatively quick toppling of Saddam was followed by a long and bloody insurgency, opposition to the war intensified. For many it became an intractable article of faith that victory was not an option. The war to remove Saddam was not merely "Bush’s folly," but – as Senate majority leader Harry Reid called it in 2007 — "the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country." But then came Bush’s "surge," and the course of the war shifted dramatically for the better. By the time Bush left office, the insurgency was crippled, violence was down 90 percent, and Iraqis were being governed by politicians they had voted for. It was far from perfect, but "something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq," reported Newsweek in early 2010. On its cover the magazine proclaimed: "Victory at Last." And so it might have been, if America’s new commander-in-chief hadn’t been so insistent on pulling the plug. In October 2011, President Obama – overriding his military commanders, who had recommended keeping 18,000 troops on the ground – announced that all remaining US servicemen would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Politically, it was a popular decision; most Americans were understandably weary of Iraq. But abandoning Iraqis and their frail, fledgling democracy was reckless. (…) The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him. It struck a shaft of fear into other dictators, leading Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi, for example, to relinquish his WMD. It let Iraqis find out how much better their lives could be under democratic self-government. Like all wars, even wars of liberation, it took an awful toll. The status quo ante was worse. Jeff Jacoby
Iraq, I suggested, would wind up “at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world, and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving.” I’ll stand by my worst-case scenario there. Unlike the emerging “reforms” in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria, politics in Iraq has remained flawed but, by the standards of the grimly Islamist Arab Spring, broadly secular. So I like the way a lot of the trees fell. But I missed the forest. (…) Granted that most of the Arab world, from Tangiers to Alexandria, is considerably less “multicultural” than it was in mid century, the remorseless extinction of Iraq’s Christian community this last decade is appalling — and, given that it happened on America’s watch, utterly shameful. Like the bland acknowledgement deep in a State Department “International Religious Freedom Report” that the last church in Afghanistan was burned to the ground in 2010, it testifies to the superpower’s impotence, not “internationally” but in client states entirely bankrolled by us. Foreigners see this more clearly than Americans. As Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, said on a visit to Washington in 2004, “The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America’s credibility and will to prevail.” Just so. If you live in Tikrit or Fallujah, the Iraq War was about Iraq. If you live anywhere else on the planet, the Iraq War was about America, and the unceasing drumbeat of “quagmire” and “exit strategy” communicated to the world an emptiness at the heart of American power — like the toppled statue of Saddam that proved to be hollow. On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, mobs trashed U.S. embassies across the region with impunity. A rather more motivated crowd showed up in Benghazi, killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and correctly calculated they would face no retribution. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, these guys have reached their own judgment about American “credibility” and “will” — as have more potent forces yet biding their time, from Moscow to Beijing. (…) Nevertheless, in the grim two-thirds-of-a-century roll call of America’s un-won wars, Iraq today is less un-won than Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan, and that is not nothing. The war dead of America and its few real allies died in an honorable cause. But armies don’t wage wars, nations do. And, back on the home front, a vast percentage of fair-weather hawks who decided that it was all too complicated, or a bit of a downer, or Bush lied, or where’s the remote, revealed America as profoundly unserious. A senator who votes for war and then decides he’d rather it had never started is also engaging in “alternative history” — albeit of the kind in which Pam Ewing steps into the shower at Southfork and writes off the previous season of Dallas as a bad dream. In non-alternative history, in the only reality there is, once you’ve started a war, you have two choices: to win it or to lose it. Withdrawing one’s “support” for a war you’re already in advertises nothing more than a kind of geopolitical ADHD. Mark Steyn

Attention, un mensonge peut en cacher un autre !

Bill Clinton, le Congrès, Madeleine Albright, l’inspecteur nucléaire Richard Butler, Gore, Hillary Clinton, Kerry, Edward Kennedy, John Edwards, Tom Daschle, Biden, Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd, Jay Rockefeller, 72% de l’opinion publique …

Y avait-il, aux Etats-Unis mêmes sans parler de notre Villepin national et des services secrets allemands, quelqu’un qui ne croyait pas en mars 2003 à l’existence (confirmée d’ailleurs depuis par Wikileaks) d’ADM en Irak ?

Retour, à la veille du 10e anniversaire du lancement de l’Opération Liberté pour l’Irak  et avec  le professeur du United States Naval War College  Stephen F. Knott, sur le mythe devenu depuis vérité d’évangile (et motivation d’ailleurs, pour le contrer, de tant de blogs dont celui-ci) des prétendus "mensonges" de l’Administration Bush sur les raisons de la guerre  …

Qui, avec tous ses risques, apporta le premier régime élu démocratiquement, Israël mis à part, du Moyen-Orient …

Et sans lequel il n’y aurait probablement pas eu, aussi mitigé soit son bilan, de "printemps arabe"

When Everyone Agreed About Iraq

For years before the war, a bipartisan consensus thought Saddam possessed WMD.

Stephen F. Knott

WSJ

March 15, 2013

At 5:34 a.m. on March 20, 2003, American, British and other allied forces invaded Iraq. One of the most divisive conflicts in the nation’s history would soon be labeled " Bush’s War."

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime became official U.S. policy in 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act—a bill passed 360-38 by the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate. The law called for training and equipping Iraqi dissidents to overthrow Saddam and suggested that the United Nations establish a war-crimes tribunal for the dictator and his lieutenants.

The legislation was partly the result of frustration over the undeclared and relatively unheralded "No-Fly Zone War" that had been waged since 1991. Saddam’s military repeatedly fired on U.S. and allied aircraft that were attempting to prevent his regime from destroying Iraqi opposition forces in northern and southern Iraq.

According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton, in 1997 a key member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet (thought by most observers to have been Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) asked Gen. Shelton whether he could arrange for a U.S. aircraft to fly slowly and low enough that it would be shot down, thereby paving the way for an American effort to topple Saddam. Kenneth Pollack, a member of Mr. Clinton’s National Security Council staff, would later write in 2002 that it was a question of "not whether but when" the U.S. would invade Iraq. He wrote that the threat presented by Saddam was "no less pressing than those we faced in 1941."

Radicalized by the events of 9/11, George W. Bush gradually concluded that a regime that had used chemical weapons against its own people and poison gas against Iran, invaded Iran and Kuwait, harbored some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, made lucrative payments to the families of suicide bombers, fired on American aircraft almost daily, and defied years of U.N. resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction was a problem. The former chief U.N. weapons inspector, an Australian named Richard Butler, testified in July 2002 that "it is essential to recognize that the claim made by Saddam’s representatives, that Iraq has no WMD, is false."

In the U.S., there was a bipartisan consensus that Saddam possessed and continued to develop WMD. Former Vice President Al Gore noted in September 2002 that Saddam had "stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton observed that Saddam hoped to increase his supply of chemical and biological weapons and to "develop nuclear weapons." Then-Sen. John Kerry claimed that "a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his [Saddam's] hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

Even those opposed to using force against Iraq acknowledged that, as then-Sen. Edward Kennedy put it, "we have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing" WMD. When it came time to vote on the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, 81 Democrats in the House voted yes, joined by 29 Democrats in the Senate, including the party’s 2004 standard bearers, John Kerry and John Edwards, plus Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Joe Biden, Mrs. Clinton, and Sens. Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller. The latter, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that Saddam would "likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."

Support for the war extended far beyond Capitol Hill. In March 2003, a Pew Research Center poll indicated that 72% of the American public supported President Bush’s decision to use force.

If Mr. Bush "lied," as the common accusation has it, then so did many prominent Democrats—and so did the French, whose foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, claimed in February 2003 that "regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of [Iraq's] capacity to produce VX and yperite [mustard gas]; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin." Germany’s intelligence chief August Hanning noted in March 2002 that "it is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years."

According to interrogations conducted after the invasion, Saddam’s own generals believed that he had WMD and expected him to use these weapons as the invasion force neared Baghdad.

The war in Iraq was authorized by a bipartisan congressional coalition, supported by prominent media voices and backed by the public. Yet on its 10th anniversary Americans will be told of the Bush administration’s duplicity in leading us into the conflict. Many members of the bipartisan coalition that committed the U.S. to invade Iraq 10 years ago have long since washed their hands of their share of responsibility.

We owe it to history—and, more important, to all those who died—to recognize that this wasn’t Bush’s war, it was America’s war.

Mr. Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College, is the author of "Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics" (University Press of Kansas, 2012).

Voir aussi:

WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results

Noah Shachtman

Wired

10.23.10

By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base.

Three months later, in northern Iraq, U.S. scouts went to

look in on a “chemical weapons” complex. “One of the bunkers has been tampered with,” they write. “The integrity of the seal [around the complex] appears intact, but it seems someone is interesting in trying to get into the bunkers.”

Meanwhile, the second battle of Fallujah was raging in Anbar province. In the southeastern corner of the city, American forces came across a “house with a chemical lab … substances found are similar to ones (in lesser quantities located a previous chemical lab.” The following day, there’s a call in another part of the city for explosive experts to dispose of a “chemical cache.”

Nearly three years later, American troops were still finding WMD in the region. An armored Buffalo vehicle unearthed a cache of artillery shells “that was covered by sacks and leaves under an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint. “The 155mm rounds are filled with an unknown liquid, and several of which are leaking a black tar-like substance.” Initial tests were inconclusive. But later, “the rounds tested positive for mustard.”

In WikiLeaks’ massive trove of nearly 392,000 Iraq war logs are hundreds of references to chemical and biological weapons. Most of those are intelligence reports or initial suspicions of WMD that don’t pan out. In July 2004, for example, U.S. forces come across a Baghdad building with gas masks, gas filters, and containers with “unknown contents” inside. Later investigation revealed those contents to be vitamins.

But even late in the war, WMDs were still being unearthed. In the summer of 2008, according to one WikiLeaked report, American troops found at least 10 rounds that tested positive for chemical agents. “These rounds were most likely left over from the [Saddam]-era regime. Based on location, these rounds may be an AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] cache. However, the rounds were all total disrepair and did not appear to have been moved for a long time.”

A small group — mostly of the political right — has long maintained that there was more evidence of a major and modern WMD program than the American people were led to believe. A few Congressmen and Senators gravitated to the idea, but it was largely dismissed as conspiratorial hooey.

The WMD diehards will likely find some comfort in these newly-WikiLeaked documents. Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.

But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms. As Spencer noted earlier, a January 2006 war log claims that “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons were smuggled in from Iran.

That same month, then “chemical weapons specialists” were apprehended in Balad. These “foreigners” were there specifically “to support the chemical weapons operations.” The following month, an intelligence report refers to a “chemical weapons expert” that “provided assistance with the gas weapons.” What happened to that specialist, the WikiLeaked document doesn’t say.

Voir également:

Chemical Weapons, Iranian Agents and Massive Death Tolls Exposed in WikiLeaks’ Iraq Docs

Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman

Wired

10.22.10

As the insurgency raged in Iraq, U.S. troops struggling to fight a shadowy enemy killed civilians, witnessed their Iraqi partners abuse detainees and labored to reduce Iran’s influence over the fighting.

None of these phenomena are unfamiliar to observers of the Iraq war. But this afternoon, the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks released a trove of nearly 392,000 U.S. military reports from Iraq that bring a new depth and detail to the horrors of one of America’s most controversial wars ever. We’re still digging through the just-released documents, but here’s a quick overview of what they contain.

(Our sister blog Threat Level looks at how Friday’s document dump could affect Bradley Manning, who’s already charged in other WikiLeaks releases.)

It Was Iran’s War, Too

No one would accuse WikiLeaks of being pro-war. Not when the transparency group titled its single most famous leak “Collateral Murder.” Not when its founder, Julian Assange, said that its trove of reports from the Afghan conflict suggested evidence for thousands of American “war crimes.”

So it’s more than a little ironic that, with its newest document dump from the Iraq campaign, WikiLeaks may have just bolstered one of the Bush administration’s most controversial claims about the Iraq war: that Iran supplied many of the Iraq insurgency’s deadliest weapons and worked hand-in-glove with some of its most lethal militias.

The documents indicate that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq war, as its elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported deadly weapons like the shape-charged Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and U.S. troops.

A report from 2006 claims “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons from Iran were smuggled into Iraq. (It’s one of many, many documents recounting WMD efforts in Iraq.) Others indicate that Iran flooded Iraq with guns and rockets, including the Misagh-1 surface-to-air missile, .50 caliber rifles, rockets and much more.

As the New York Times observes, Iranian agents plotted to kidnap U.S. troops from out of their Humvees — something that occurred in Karbala in 2007, leaving five U.S. troops dead. (It’s still not totally clear if the Iranians were responsible.)

High Civilian Death Tolls

Over 66,000 deaths classified as “civilians” are listed in the documents, which span the years between 2004 and 2009. According to an initial assessment by the Iraq Body Count, an organization that tallies reports of civilian casualties, that’s 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians than the United States has previously acknowledged.

“This data should never have been withheld from the public,” Iraq Body Count told the Guardian.

In one incident highlighted by The New York Times, Marines who couldn’t get a car carrying an Iraqi family to stop at a Fallujah checkpoint after warning them with a flare opened fire on the car, killing a woman and wounding her husband and two children. Confusion at checkpoints was a common feature of the Iraq war, placing U.S. troops who didn’t speak Arabic in a murky situation of judging who posed a threat to them.

Iraqi Detainee Abuse

The United States spent billions to train and equip Iraqi security forces, a mission that continues to this day. But while under U.S. tutelage, Iraqi soldiers and police abused detainees in their custody. And even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib detainee-abuse scandal, U.S. troops sometimes tolerated accounts of Iraqi abuse, writing “no investigation is necessary” in one case.

That wasn’t uniformly the case: In a 2005 report, U.S. troops discovered “a hand cranked generator with wire clamps” at an Iraqi police station in Baghdad where a detainee claimed to have been brutalized. The report says the Americans took the generator as evidence and reported the incident to a two-star general — but it doesn’t specify if the general was American or Iraqi.

As expected, the Pentagon denounced WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the nearly 400,000 documents. “We deplore Wikileaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies,” e-mails Geoff Morrell, spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, Wikileaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us. The only responsible course of action for Wikileaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their websites as soon as possible.”

WikiLeaks appears to have learned from the criticism of its last document dump, however. According to the Guardian, which has pored through the documents under a press blackout for weeks, WikiLeaks didn’t release all the information in an Iraq-deaths database, in order to protect the identities of Iraqis who worked with the United States — a correction for something that it didn’t sufficiently do when releasing U.S. military documents from Afghanistan this summer.

We’re still digging through the documents. We’ll bring you more soon. And in comments, tell us what you’re seeing — and what you’re interested in learning more about.

Voir encore:

WikiLeaks docs prove Saddam had WMD, threats remain

Seth Mandel

Weekly blitz

October 28, 2010

WikiLeaks’ latest publication of Iraq war documents contains a lot of information that most reasonable people would prefer remained unknown, such as the names of Iraqi informants who will now be hunted for helping the U.S.

And although the anti-war left welcomed the release of the documents, they would probably cringe at one of the most significant finds of this latest crop of reports: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

"By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Wired magazine’s Danger Room reports. "But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction."

That is, there definitively were weapons of mass destruction and elements of a WMD program in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq when U.S.-led coalition troops entered the country to depose Hussein.

Predictably, the liberal media did their best to either ignore the story–like the New York Times and Washington Post did–or spin it. It’s not an easy choice to make, since ignoring the story makes you look out of the loop and hurts your reputation as an informative publication, yet spinning the story means actively attempting to confuse and mislead your readers. CBS News chose the latter.

"WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: No Evidence of Massive WMD Caches" read the headline on CBS News’ online. Here is the story’s opening paragraph:

"The nearly 400,000 Iraq war log documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday were full of evidence of abuses, civilian deaths and the chaos of war, but clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction–the Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq–appears to be missing."

There are two falsehoods in that sentence, demonstrating the difficulty in trying to spin a clear fact. The Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq was much broader than WMD–in fact, it was similar to the litany of reasons the Clinton administration signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which specifically called for regime change in Iraq as the official policy of the United States government (Iraq had repeatedly violated international law, Iraq had failed to comply with the obligations that ended the Gulf War, Iraq had circumvented U.N. resolutions, etc.).

"If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow," President Clinton said in February 1998. "Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal."

The second falsehood was the phrase "appears to be missing." In August 2004, American soldiers seized a toxic "blister agent," a chemical weapon used since the First World War, Wired reported. In Anbar province, they discovered a chemical lab and a "chemical cache." Three years later, U.S. military found buried WMD, and even as recent as 2008 found chemical munitions.

This isn’t the first time Iraq war documents shattered a media myth about Saddam’s regime. In 2008, a Pentagon study of Iraqi documents, as well as audio and video recordings, revealed connections between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Called the Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP), the report–based on more than 600,000 captured original documents and thousands of hours of audio and video recordings–proved conclusively that Saddam had worked with terrorist organizations that were plotting attacks on American targets around the world.

One way to identify a media narrative in deep trouble is the naked attempt to draw conclusions for the reader instead of just presenting the story. The CBS report on the leaked WMD documents is a case in point of the reporter telling the reader what they ought to think, knowing full well that otherwise the facts of the case would likely lead the reader to the opposite conclusion.

"At this point," CBS reporter Dan Farber desperately pleads, "history will still record that the Bush administration went into Iraq under an erroneous threat assessment that Saddam Hussein was manufacturing and hoarding weapons of mass destruction."

That’s as close as the liberal mainstream media will get to admitting they were wrong. It’s their version of a confession. The myth that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was WMD-free has met its demise.

And these weapons couldn’t simply be the lost scraps of Saddam’s attempts to destroy the stockpile, as Ed Morrissey points out.

"Had Saddam Hussein wanted those weapons destroyed, no lower-ranking military officer would have dared defy him by keeping them hidden," he writes. "It would have taken dozens of officers to conspire to move and hide those weapons, as well as a like number of enlisted men, any and all of whom could have been a spy for the Hussein clique."

But now that we’ve answered the question of whether there were actual weapons of mass destruction in Iraq–there were and are–we may have a more significant question to answer: Who has possession of these weapons now?

"But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms," Wired reports. In 2006, for example, "neuroparalytic" chemical weapons were brought in from Iran.

"That same month, then ‘chemical weapons specialists’ were apprehended in Balad," the Wired report continues. "These ‘foreigners’ were there specifically ‘to support the chemical weapons operations.’ The following month, an intelligence report refers to a ‘chemical weapons expert’ that ‘provided assistance with the gas weapons.’ What happened to that specialist, the WikiLeaked document doesn’t say."

Seth Mandel is the Washington DC based correspondent of Weekly Blitz.

Voir encore:

President Clinton explains Iraq strike

CNN/TIME and Congressional Quarterly

December 16, 1998

CLINTON: Good evening.

Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors called UNSCOM. They are highly professional experts from dozens of countries. Their job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq’s capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.

The inspectors undertook this mission first 7.5 years ago at the end of the Gulf War when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.

The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors. On occasion, we’ve had to threaten military force, and Saddam has backed down.

Faced with Saddam’s latest act of defiance in late October, we built intensive diplomatic pressure on Iraq backed by overwhelming military force in the region. The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam’s actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.

Eight Arab nations — Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman — warned that Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of defying the UN.

When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors.

I decided then to call off the attack with our airplanes already in the air because Saddam had given in to our demands. I concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.

I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq’s own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.

Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq’s cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM’s chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-General Annan.

The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.

In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to cooperate. Indeed, it actually has placed new restrictions on the inspectors. Here are some of the particulars.

Iraq repeatedly blocked UNSCOM from inspecting suspect sites. For example, it shut off access to the headquarters of its ruling party and said it will deny access to the party’s other offices, even though UN resolutions make no exception for them and UNSCOM has inspected them in the past.

Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM’s ability to obtain necessary evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM’s effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.

It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from videotaping a site and photocopying documents and prevented Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM’s questions.

Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied out the building, removing not just documents but even the furniture and the equipment.

Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents requested by the inspectors. Indeed, we know that Iraq ordered the destruction of weapons-related documents in anticipation of an UNSCOM inspection.

So Iraq has abused its final chance.

As the UNSCOM reports concludes, and again I quote, "Iraq’s conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament.

"In light of this experience, and in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that the commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by the Security Council with respect to Iraq’s prohibited weapons program."

In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.

Saddam’s deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.

This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.

And so we had to act and act now.

Let me explain why.

First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.

Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community — led by the United States — has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday — make no mistake — he will use it again as he has in the past.

Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.

That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team — including the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of state and the national security adviser — I have ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.

They are designed to degrade Saddam’s capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors.

At the same time, we are delivering a powerful message to Saddam. If you act recklessly, you will pay a heavy price. We acted today because, in the judgment of my military advisers, a swift response would provide the most surprise and the least opportunity for Saddam to prepare.

If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler’s report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons.

Also, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend. For us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be profoundly offensive to the Muslim world and, therefore, would damage our relations with Arab countries and the progress we have made in the Middle East.

That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving Iraq’s a month’s head start to prepare for potential action against it.

Finally, our allies, including Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, concurred that now is the time to strike. I hope Saddam will come into cooperation with the inspection system now and comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. But we have to be prepared that he will not, and we must deal with the very real danger he poses.

So we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction and work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people.

First, we must be prepared to use force again if Saddam takes threatening actions, such as trying to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems, threatening his neighbors, challenging allied aircraft over Iraq or moving against his own Kurdish citizens.

The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.

Second, so long as Iraq remains out of compliance, we will work with the international community to maintain and enforce economic sanctions. Sanctions have cost Saddam more than $120 billion — resources that would have been used to rebuild his military. The sanctions system allows Iraq to sell oil for food, for medicine, for other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

We have no quarrel with them. But without the sanctions, we would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks, resulting in a greater threat to Iraq’s neighbors and less food for its people.

The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government — a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.

The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm’s way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq’s military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.

Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi civilians in harm’s way in a cynical bid to sway international opinion.

We must be prepared for these realities. At the same time, Saddam should have absolutely no doubt if he lashes out at his neighbors, we will respond forcefully.

Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

Because we’re acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

Let me close by addressing one other issue. Saddam Hussein and the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious debate currently before the House of Representatives would distract Americans or weaken our resolve to face him down.

But once more, the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America’s vital interests, we will do so.

In the century we’re leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we’ll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.

Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital mission and their families. And may God bless America.

COMPLEMENT (18.03.13):

Ten Years Ago, an Honorable War Began With Wide Support

Now the U.S. has bailed out of Iraq leaving behind little trace. And a strongman is in charge.

Fouad Ajami

The WSJ

March 18, 2013

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds.

America’s previous venture into Iraq, a dozen years earlier, had been a lightning strike: The Iraqi dictator was evicted from Kuwait and then spared. Saddam Hussein’s military machine was all rust and decay by 2003, but he swaggered and let the world believe that he had in his possession a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab redeemer, as he had styled himself, lacked the guile that might have saved him. A great military expedition was being readied against him in London and Washington, but he gambled to the bitter end that George W. Bush would not pull the trigger.

On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament.

Those unburdened by knowledge of the ways of that region would come to insist that there had been no operational links between the Iraqi despot and al Qaeda. These newborn critics would insist on a distinction between secular terrorism and religious terrorism, but it was a distinction without a difference.

The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of 2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its own—and many of its former supporters claimed that this wasn’t what they had signed up for. Yet the "architects" of the war could not pull the plug on it. They soldiered on, offering a new aim: the reform and freedom of Iraq, and the example of a decent Iraq in the "heart of the Arab world."

President Bush, seen in this image from television, addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House, on March 19, 2003. Bush said U.S. forces launched a strike against targets of military opportunity in Iraq, describing the action as the opening salvo in an operation to disarm Iraq and to free its people.

There were very few takers for the new rationale. In the oddest of twists, American liberalism now mocked the very idea that liberty could put down roots in an Arab- Muslim setting.

Nor were there takers, among those watching from lands around Iraq, for the idea of freedom midwifed by American power. To Iraq’s east lay the Iranian despotism, eager to thwart and frustrate the American project. To the west in Syria there was the Baath dictatorship of the House of Assad. And beyond there was the Sunni Arab order of power, where America was despised for giving power to Shiites. For a millennium, the Shiite Arabs had not governed, and yet now they ruled in Baghdad, a city that had been the seat of the Islamic caliphate.

A stoical George W. Bush held the line amid American disaffection and amid the resistance of a region invested in the failure of the Iraq campaign. He doubled down with the troop "surge" and remained true to the proposition that liberty could stick on Arab soil.

There is no way of writing a convincing alternative history of the region without this war. That kind of effort is inherently speculative, subject to whim and preference. Perhaps we could have let Saddam be, could have tolerated the misery he inflicted on his people, convinced ourselves that the sanctions imposed on his regime were sufficient to keep him quarantined. But a different history played out. It delivered the Iraqis from a tyranny that they would have never been able to overthrow on their own.

The American disappointment with Iraq helped propel Barack Obama to power. There were strategic gains that the war had secured in Iraq, but Mr. Obama had no interest in them. Iraq was the "war of choice" that had to be brought to a "responsible close," he said. The focus instead would be on that "war of necessity" in Afghanistan.

A skilled politician, Mr. Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant to be turned down—a residual American force that could hardly defend itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraq’s rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the U.S. The choice was made easy for them, the Iranian supreme leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.

Heading for the exits, Mr. Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." The praise came even as Mr. Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.

Two weeks ago, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, issued his final report, called "Learning from Iraq." The report was methodical and detailed, interspersed with the testimonies of American and Iraqi officials. One testimony, by an Iraqi technocrat, the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, offered a compelling image: "With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you can’t find one building or project built by the U.S. government. You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you can’t point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States."

It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safekeep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover Press, 2012).

COMPLEMENT (20.03.13):

On balance, was the Iraq war worth it?

Jeff Jacoby

The Boston Globe

March 20, 2013

TEN YEARS AGO this week, the United States led an invasion of Iraq with the explicit purpose of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The preceding months had been filled with vehement protests against the impending war, expressed in editorials, in advertisements, and in rallies so vast that some of them made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. With so many people against the invasion, who supported it?

Well, if you were like the great majority of Americans – you did. In February and March 2003, Newsweek’s polls showed 70 percent of the public in favor of military action against Iraq; Gallup and Pew Research Center surveys showed the same thing. Congress had authorized the invasion a few months earlier with strong bipartisan majorities; among the many Democrats voting for the war were Senators John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him.

Though the Iraq War later became a favorite Democratic club for bashing George W. Bush, Republicans and Democrats alike had long understood that Saddam was a deadly menace who had to be forcibly eradicated. In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, making Saddam’s removal from power a matter of US policy. "If the history of the last six years has taught us anything," Kerry had said two years earlier, "it is that Saddam Hussein does not understand diplomacy, he only understands power."

But bipartisan harmony was an early casualty of the war. Once it became clear that Saddam didn’t have the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that were a major justification for the invasion, unity gave way to recrimination. It didn’t matter that virtually everyone – Republicans and Democrats, CIA analysts and the UN Security Council, even Saddam’s own military officers – had been sure the WMD would be found. Nor did it matter that Saddam had previously used WMD to exterminate thousands of men, women, and children. The temptation to spin an intelligence failure as a deliberate "lie" was politically irresistible.

When the relatively quick toppling of Saddam was followed by a long and bloody insurgency, opposition to the war intensified. For many it became an intractable article of faith that victory was not an option. The war to remove Saddam was not merely "Bush’s folly," but – as Senate majority leader Harry Reid called it in 2007 — "the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country."

But then came Bush’s "surge," and the course of the war shifted dramatically for the better.

By the time President Bush left office, Iraq had been transformed from a "republic of fear" into a relatively peaceful constitutional democracy.

By the time Bush left office, the insurgency was crippled, violence was down 90 percent, and Iraqis were being governed by politicians they had voted for. It was far from perfect, but "something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq," reported Newsweek in early 2010. On its cover the magazine proclaimed: "Victory at Last."

And so it might have been, if America’s new commander-in-chief hadn’t been so insistent on pulling the plug.

In October 2011, President Obama – overriding his military commanders, who had recommended keeping 18,000 troops on the ground – announced that all remaining US servicemen would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Politically, it was a popular decision; most Americans were understandably weary of Iraq. But abandoning Iraqis and their frail, fledgling democracy was reckless.

"It freed Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to be more of a Shiite sectarian than he could have been with the US looking over his shoulder," military historian Max Boot observed this week. And with Maliki moving against his Sunni opponents, some of them "are making common cause once again with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, [which] has recovered from its near-death experience" during the surge. It is cold comfort that so many urgently warned of just such an outcome in 2011.

So was the Iraq war worth it? On that, Americans are a long way from a consensus. It is never clear in the immediate aftermath of any war what history’s judgment will be. Two decades ago, the 1991 Gulf War was regarded as a triumph. In retrospect, the decision to leave Saddam in power – and to let him murderously crush an uprising we had encouraged – looks like a tragic blunder.

But this much we do know: The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him. It struck a shaft of fear into other dictators, leading Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi, for example, to relinquish his WMD. It let Iraqis find out how much better their lives could be under democratic self-government. Like all wars, even wars of liberation, it took an awful toll. The status quo ante was worse.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe. His website is http://www.JeffJacoby.com).

COMPLEMENT (22.03.13):

Geopolitical ADHD

Mark Steyn

National Review online

March 22, 2013

Ten years ago, along with three-quarters of the American people, including the men just appointed as President Obama’s secretaries of state and defense, I supported the invasion of Iraq. A decade on, unlike most of the American people, including John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, I’ll stand by that original judgment.

None of us can say what would have happened had Saddam Hussein remained in power. He might now be engaged in a nuclear-arms race with Iran. One or other of his even more psychotic sons, the late Uday or Qusay, could be in power. The Arab Spring might have come to Iraq, and surely even more bloodily than in Syria.

But these are speculations best left to the authors of “alternative histories.” In the real world, how did things turn out?

Three weeks after Operation Shock and Awe began, the early-bird naysayers were already warning of massive humanitarian devastation and civil war. Neither happened. Overcompensating somewhat for all the doom-mongering, I wrote in Britain’s Daily Telegraph that “a year from now Basra will have a lower crime rate than most London boroughs.” Close enough. Major General Andy Salmon, the British commander in southern Iraq, eventually declared of Basra that “on a per capita basis, if you look at the violence statistics, it is less dangerous than Manchester.”

Ten years ago, expert opinion was that Iraq was a phony-baloney entity imposed on the map by distant colonial powers. Joe Biden, you’ll recall, advocated dividing the country into three separate states, which for the Democrats held out the enticing prospect of having three separate quagmires to blame on Bush, but for the Iraqis had little appeal. “As long as you respect its inherently confederal nature,” I argued, “it’ll work fine.” As for the supposedly secessionist Kurds, “they’ll settle for being Scotland or Quebec.” And so it turned out. The Times of London, last week: “Ten Years after Saddam, Iraqi Kurds Have Never Had It So Good.” In Kurdistan as in Quebec, there is a pervasive unsavory tribal cronyism, but on the other hand, unlike Quebec City, Erbil is booming.

What of the rest of the country? Iraq, I suggested, would wind up “at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world, and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving.” I’ll stand by my worst-case scenario there. Unlike the emerging “reforms” in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria, politics in Iraq has remained flawed but, by the standards of the grimly Islamist Arab Spring, broadly secular.

So I like the way a lot of the trees fell. But I missed the forest.

On the previous Western liberation of Mesopotamia, when General Maude took Baghdad from the Turks in 1917, British troops found a very different city from the Saddamite squat of 2003: In a lively, jostling, cosmopolitan metropolis, 40 percent of the population was Jewish. I wasn’t so deluded as to think the Jews would be back, but I hoped something of Baghdad’s lost vigor might return. Granted that most of the Arab world, from Tangiers to Alexandria, is considerably less “multicultural” than it was in mid century, the remorseless extinction of Iraq’s Christian community this last decade is appalling — and, given that it happened on America’s watch, utterly shameful. Like the bland acknowledgement deep in a State Department “International Religious Freedom Report” that the last church in Afghanistan was burned to the ground in 2010, it testifies to the superpower’s impotence, not “internationally” but in client states entirely bankrolled by us.

Foreigners see this more clearly than Americans. As Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, said on a visit to Washington in 2004, “The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America’s credibility and will to prevail.” Just so. If you live in Tikrit or Fallujah, the Iraq War was about Iraq. If you live anywhere else on the planet, the Iraq War was about America, and the unceasing drumbeat of “quagmire” and “exit strategy” communicated to the world an emptiness at the heart of American power — like the toppled statue of Saddam that proved to be hollow. On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, mobs trashed U.S. embassies across the region with impunity. A rather more motivated crowd showed up in Benghazi, killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and correctly calculated they would face no retribution. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, these guys have reached their own judgment about American “credibility” and “will” — as have more potent forces yet biding their time, from Moscow to Beijing.

A few weeks after the fall of Saddam, on little more than a whim, I rented a beat-up Nissan at Amman Airport and, without telling the car-hire bloke, drove east across the Iraqi border and into the Sunni Triangle. I could not easily make the same journey today: Western journalists now require the permission of the central government to enter Anbar Province. But for a brief period in the spring of 2003 we were the “strong horse” and even a dainty little media gelding such as myself was accorded a measure of respect by the natives. At a rest area on the highway between Rutba and Ramadi, I fell into conversation with one of the locals. Having had to veer onto the median every few miles to dodge bomb craters, I asked him whether he bore any resentments toward his liberators. “Americans only in the sky,” he told me, grinning a big toothless grin as, bang on cue, a U.S. chopper rumbled up from over the horizon and passed high above our heads. “No problem.”

“Americans only in the sky” is an even better slogan in the Obama era of drone-alone warfare. In Iraq, there were a lot of boots on the ground, but when it came to non-military leverage (cultural, economic) Americans were content to remain “only in the sky.” And down on the ground other players filled the vacuum, some reasonably benign (the Chinese in the oil fields), others less so (the Iranians in everything else).

And so a genuinely reformed Middle East remains, like the speculative scenarios outlined at the top, in the realm of “alternative history.” Nevertheless, in the grim two-thirds-of-a-century roll call of America’s un-won wars, Iraq today is less un-won than Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan, and that is not nothing. The war dead of America and its few real allies died in an honorable cause. But armies don’t wage wars, nations do. And, back on the home front, a vast percentage of fair-weather hawks who decided that it was all too complicated, or a bit of a downer, or Bush lied, or where’s the remote, revealed America as profoundly unserious. A senator who votes for war and then decides he’d rather it had never started is also engaging in “alternative history” — albeit of the kind in which Pam Ewing steps into the shower at Southfork and writes off the previous season of Dallas as a bad dream. In non-alternative history, in the only reality there is, once you’ve started a war, you have two choices: to win it or to lose it. Withdrawing one’s “support” for a war you’re already in advertises nothing more than a kind of geopolitical ADHD.

Shortly after Gulf War One, when the world’s superpower assembled a mighty coalition to fight half-a-war to an inconclusive halt at the gates of Baghdad, Washington declined to get mixed up in the disintegrating Balkans. Colin Powell offered the following rationale: “We do deserts. We don’t do mountains.” Across a decade in Iraq, America told the world we don’t really do deserts, either.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.


Impostures littéraires: Les Indiens aussi ! (Ethnic transvestism: From Long Lance to Grey Owl, Iron Eyes Cody to Little Tree, Nasdijj to Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren – what does it tell us that we are so easily deceived?)

16 mars, 2013
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Iron Eyes Cody ad (1971)
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http://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/warren-harvadflaw.jpeg?w=275&h=240Etrange destinée, étrange préférence que celle de l’ethnographe, sinon de l’anthropologue, qui s’intéresse aux hommes des antipodes plutôt qu’à ses compatriotes, aux superstitions et aux mœurs les plus déconcertantes plutôt qu’aux siennes, comme si je ne sais quelle pudeur ou prudence l’en dissuadait au départ. Si je n’étais pas convaincu que les lumières de la psychanalyse sont fort douteuses, je me demanderais quel ressentiment se trouve sublimé dans cette fascination du lointain, étant bien entendu que refoulement et sublimation, loin d’entraîner de ma part quelque condamnation ou condescendance, me paraissent dans la plupart des cas authentiquement créateurs. (…) Peut-être cette sympathie fondamentale, indispensable pour le sérieux même du travail de l’ethnographe, celui-ci n’a-t-il aucun mal à l’acquérir. Il souffre plutôt d’un défaut symétrique de l’hostilité vulgaire que je relevais il y a un instant. Dès le début, Hérodote n’est pas avare d’éloges pour les Scythes, ni Tacite pour les Germains, dont il oppose complaisamment les vertus à la corruption impériale. Quoique évoque du Chiapas, Las Casas me semble plus occupé à défendre les Indiens qu’à les convertir. Il compare leur civilisation avec celle de l’antiquité gréco-latine et lui donne l’avantage. Les idoles, selon lui, résultent de l’obligation de recourir à des symboles communs à tous les fidèles. Quant aux sacrifices humains, explique-t-il, il ne convient pas de s’y opposer par la force, car ils témoignent de la grande et sincère piété des Mexicains qui, dans l’ignorance où ils se trouvent de la crucifixion du Sauveur, sont bien obligés de lui inventer un équivalent qui n’en soit pas indigne. Je ne pense pas que l’esprit missionnaire explique entièrement un parti-pris de compréhension, que rien ne rebute. La croyance au bon sauvage est peut-être congénitale de l’ethnologie. (…) Nous avons eu les oreilles rebattues de la sagesse des Chinois, inventant la poudre sans s’en servir que pour les feux d’artifice. Certes. Mais, d’une part l’Occident a connu lui aussi la poudre sans longtemps l’employer pour la guerre. Au IXe siècle, le Livre des Feux, de Marcus Graecus en contient déjà la formule ; il faudra attendre plusieurs centaines d’années pour son utilisation militaire, très exactement jusqu’à l’invention de la bombarde, qui permet d’en exploiter la puissance de déflagration. Quant aux Chinois, dès qu’ils ont connu les canons, ils en ont été acheteurs très empressés, avant qu’ils n’en fabriquent eux-mêmes, d’abord avec l’aide d’ingénieurs européens. Dans l’Afrique contemporaine, seule la pauvreté ralentit le remplacement du pilon par les appareils ménagers fabriqués à Saint-Étienne ou à Milan. Mais la misère n’interdit pas l’invasion des récipients en plastique au détriment des poteries et des vanneries traditionnelles. Les plus élégantes des coquettes Foulbé se vêtent de cotonnades imprimées venues des Pays-Bas ou du Japon. Le même phénomène se produit d’ailleurs de façon encore plus accélérée dans la civilisation scientifique et industrielle, béate d’admiration devant toute mécanique nouvelle et ordinateur à clignotants. (…) Je déplore autant qu’un autre la disparition progressive d’un tel capital d’art, de finesse, d’harmonie. Mais je suis tout aussi impuissant contre les avantages du béton et de l’électricité. Je ne me sens d’ailleurs pas le courage d’expliquer leur privilège à ceux qui en manquent. (…) Les indigènes ne se résignent pas à demeurer objets d’études et de musées, parfois habitants de réserves où l’on s’ingénie à les protéger du progrès. Étudiants, boursiers, ouvriers transplantés, ils n’ajoutent guère foi à l’éloquence des tentateurs, car ils en savent peu qui abandonnent leur civilisation pour cet état sauvage qu’ils louent avec effusion. Ils n’ignorent pas que ces savants sont venus les étudier avec sympathie, compréhension, admiration, qu’ils ont partagé leur vie. Mais la rancune leur suggère que leurs hôtes passagers étaient là d’abord pour écrire une thèse, pour conquérir un diplôme, puisqu’ils sont retournés enseigner à leurs élèves les coutumes étranges, « primitives », qu’ils avaient observées, et qu’ils ont retrouvé là-bas du même coup auto, téléphone, chauffage central, réfrigérateur, les mille commodités que la technique traîne après soi. Dès lors, comment ne pas être exaspéré d’entendre ces bons apôtres vanter les conditions de félicité rustique, d’équilibre et de sagesse simple que garantit l’analphabétisme ? Éveillées à des ambitions neuves, les générations qui étudient et qui naguère étaient étudiées, n’écoutent pas sans sarcasme ces discours flatteurs où ils croient reconnaître l’accent attendri des riches, quand ils expliquent aux pauvres que l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur, – encore moins, sans doute, ne le font les ressources de la civilisation industrielle. À d’autres. Roger Caillois (1974)
If the individual wishes, he can add touches to his clothes to make them a costume, expressing whatever he feels at the moment. With the magic deftness of state sorcery, a headband can produce an Indian, a black hat a cowboy badman. Charles Reich (The Greening of America, 1970)
Mythologies or national stories are about a nation’s origins and history. They enable citizens to think of themselves as part of a community, defining who belongs and who does not belong to the nation. The story of the land as shared and developed by enterprising settlers is manifestly a racial story. Sherene H. Razack (Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society)
Depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, les ethnologues nous ont accoutumés à voir dans l’Indien un être rivé à sa communauté fermée au reste du monde. En privilégiant la vision d’informateurs censés préserver la tradition ancestrale, ils excluaient de leur champ d’observation tout ce qui faisaient des Indiens des êtres pareils à nous – c’est-à-dire inauthentiques, avides de changements et d’innovations. La vulgarisation … a fait le reste (…) l’Indien est devenu le dépositaire d’un savoir millénaire miraculeusement préservé; il entretiendrait avec la nature des relations d’une harmonie parfaite; figé hors du temps et de l’Histoire, il échapperait aux mélanges et aux contaminations qui seraient notre sort … Serge Guzinski
D’après Denys Delâge, historien de l’université Laval, les Amérindiens n’étaient pas plus écologiques que nos ancêtres paysans. Les pigeons sauvages étaient pour les Amérindiens ce qu’étaient les poules ou les vaches pour les Canadiens, c’est-à-dire des animaux domestiques. Les tourtes faisaient «partie de l’ordinaire», de leur vie de tous les jours. Les tuer était donc l’équivalent pour le colon de voir un Amérindien abattre une de ses vaches. L’habitant de la Nouvelle-France, tout comme ses descendants vivant dans les campagnes québécoises jusqu’au milieu du XXe siècle, possédait aussi ses propres habitudes écologistes. Selon Delâge, les habitants comprenaient bien qu’il ne fallait pas exterminer tous ses animaux durant une même année, au risque de mourir de faim l’année suivante. Pas question non plus de gaspiller les restes: tout était récupéré. On salait, on congelait ou on mettait en conserve les surplus. Les restes de table servaient de nourriture aux chiens et aux chats, on n’utilisait ni emballage de plastique ni produit chimique. Les vêtements étaient faits de fibres naturelles, de lin et de laine, et lorsqu’ils étaient trop usés, ils étaient recyclés en tapis et en courtepointes. Le bois servait à construire, à chauffer et à récolter de l’eau d’érable. Aucun habitant n’aurait songé à couper à blanc le petit bois si utile près de chez lui. Presque aucun déchet ne venait donc polluer l’environnement de ces habitants. Même le contenu des «bécosses» était parfois utilisé comme engrais. Lequel vivait alors le plus en harmonie avec la nature: le Blanc ou l’Indien? En fait, chacun adaptait son style de vie à ses besoins et ses croyances. Ce style de vie était marqué dans les deux cas par l’autosubsistance, où il fallait gérer habilement ses ressources pour survivre. Les choses ont changé lors du passage à une économie de marché. Pour les cultivateurs, c’est à ce moment que l’agriculture à grande échelle s’est imposée et qu’ils ont commencé à détruire la nature avec la machinerie, la surexploitation des sols et l’utilisation d’engrais chimiques. Pour les Amérindiens, c’est surtout lorsqu’ils ont été intégrés dans un réseau d’échanges international par l’intermédiaire de la traite des fourrures qu’ils ont adopté des gestes jugés aujourd’hui dangereux pour l’environnement. Par exemple, le castor était disparu de plusieurs régions du Québec aussitôt qu’au XVIIe siècle. Le Jésuite Paul Le Jeune, dans la Relation de 1635, s’inquiétait déjà de la surexploitation du castor. Il relate de quelle façon les Montagnais les tuaient tous dans leurs cabanes, alors qu’il leur conseille d’y laisser au moins quelques petits afin qu’ils se reproduisent. Cette surchasse est extrêmement contradictoire avec la vision du monde des Amérindiens évoquée plus haut.  (…) Charles A. Bishop par exemple, un historien américain, croit plutôt que malgré le respect voué à la nature, il n’y avait rien dans les croyances des Amérindiens qui les empêchait de tuer beaucoup d’animaux, à condition que leurs restes soient bien traités et que la traite rapporte quelque chose de bénéfique. C’était bien le cas, puisque un grand nombre d’objets utiles étaient échangés contre des fourrures. Il s’agit peut-être là d’une piste d’explication de l’apparente absence de scrupules des Amérindiens à chasser le castor presque jusqu’à l’extinction complète de l’espèce. (…) Bien que la plupart d’entre eux tuait d’abord les animaux pour survivre, ils considéraient aussi que ces animaux se donnaient et venaient s’offrir à eux. «Cela aurait paru mesquin de ne pas prendre tous les animaux offerts: on pouvait, on devait même, en certains occasions, tuer au-delà des besoins», affirme-t-il. Des sacrifices étaient également réalisés, particulièrement de chiens. Le Père de Charlevoix écrivait dans son Journal historique en 1721 comment les chiens étaient parfois immolés ou suspendus vivants à un arbre par les pattes de derrière jusqu’à la mort lorsque les Amérindiens devaient franchir des rapides ou des passages dangereux. Des pratiques qui auraient fait frémir les défenseurs des droits des animaux d’aujourd’hui… Plusieurs autres gestes pouvaient aussi avoir des conséquences assez graves pour l’environnement. Le père Louis Nicolas racontait dans son Histoire naturelle des Indes qu’il avait vu des Amérindiens couper des arbres entiers pour ramasser les noix ou accéder aux nids d’oiseaux. Les autochtones allumaient également des feux pour toutes sortes de raisons. On fertilisait les terres avec des feux, on régénérait les forêts de pins et d’épinettes ou encore on facilitait le transport. Mais les Amérindiens perdaient parfois le contrôle de ces incendies et en plus de la pollution qu’ils provoquaient, ils détruisaient d’autres plantes et animaux qui n’étaient pas utilisés par la suite. Le grand respect des Amérindiens envers la nature répondait donc surtout à des croyances religieuses. On est bien loin des grands principes écologistes du XXe siècle! Pourquoi cette image de l’Amérindien écologiste existe-t-elle aujourd’hui si elle ne correspond pas à la réalité passée? Selon l’anthropologue américain Shepard Krech III, ce sont les Blancs qui ont créé ce mythe durant les années 1960, parce qu’ils avaient de nouvelles préoccupations pour l’environnement. Krech croit que les Amérindiens n’ont jamais été écologistes, mais qu’ils ont peu à peu adhéré à ce stéréotype et qu’ils l’utilisent maintenant eux-mêmes pour revendiquer de meilleures conditions d’existence. Et s’ils n’ont pas véritablement fait de dommages malgré des comportements parfois nuisibles pour la nature, c’est tout simplement parce qu’ils n’étaient pas assez nombreux et qu’ils n’exploitaient pas les ressources dans le but de faire des profits. Sylvie LeBel
Archie se crée un monde imaginaire très tôt dans son enfance malheureuse. Abandonné de ses parents, il est élevé par deux tantes sévères qui sont déterminées à ne pas laisser leur neveu suivre les traces de son vaurien de père. Il se réfugie dans la lecture et dans un univers peuplé d’images romantiques des Indiens d’Amérique du Nord. Quand il arrive au Canada en 1906, Belaney se dirige vers le lac Témiskaming, une contrée sauvage à la frontière du Québec et de l’Ontario. C’est là qu’il entreprend de créer son propre mythe familial lui donnant des origines apaches du Sud-Ouest américain. Il épouse une Ojibwa du nom d’Angèle et commence à s’approprier des bribes de langue et de culture pour tisser sa propre histoire. Il se teint les cheveux en noir, assombrit sa peau avec du henné et passe des heures devant un miroir à s’exercer au stoïcisme « indien ». Il quitte Angèle et se présente dans son nouveau personnage à Gertrude Bernard, une jeune iroquoise. Archie aime et respecte Gertrude, qu’il appelle Anahareo, mais il ne pourra jamais lui révéler la vérité sur ses véritables origines. (…) Pour assurer sa subsistance, Archie s’essaie à l’écriture. Dans son premier article, destiné à la revue anglaise Country Life, il se présente comme un « écrivain indien » et, pour la première fois, signe « Grey Owl ». Il se lance avec acharnement dans un manuscrit qui paraîtra en 1931 sous le titre de La Dernière Frontière (Men of the Last Frontier). Le livre de Grey Owl relate l’histoire de sa famille inventée, mais révèle aussi son merveilleux talent de conteur et, après sa « conversion » sous l’influence d’Anahareo, sa propension à la conservation et à la défense des castors alors menacés d’extinction. Grey Owl parsème délibérément son style d’imperfections orthographiques et grammaticales qu’il insiste pour que ses éditeurs respectent. Le livre connaît un grand succès, et l’auteur devient l’enfant chéri de la presse canadienne. (…) En 1936, Grey Owl fait un retour triomphant en Angleterre sous le nom de Hiawatha, un personnage que, enfant, il avait imaginé. Partout, il fait salle comble et répète le même message : « La nature ne nous appartient pas, nous lui appartenons." Sa peur d’être découvert croît avec son succès. Au moins un journaliste, Ed Bunyan du Nugget de North Bay, sait que Grey Owl est un imposteur, mais opte de ne pas ébruiter la chose. Les autochtones que rencontre Grey Owl savent généralement qu’il n’est pas des leurs, mais ils apprécient la valeur de son discours. Alors que des anthropologues comme Marius Barbeau rabaissent le mode de vie des autochtones, Grey Owl le célèbre. Toujours en Grande-Bretagne, son succès atteint un summum en 1937 lorsqu’il rencontre le roi et la reine. Il effectue ensuite une frénétique tournée de conférences au Canada et aux États-Unis, mais sa santé, rendue fragile par l’alcool et l’épuisement, il meurt le 7 avril 1938. Dès que le Nugget apprend sa mort, il publie enfin l’article, vieux de trois ans, qui cite Angèle affirmant que Grey Owl est « un blanc pure race ». Les journaux du monde entier s’empare de l’histoire, mais hésitent à condamner Grey Owl. Anahareo réagit avec incrédulité, mais avoue avoir eu l’affreux sentiment d’avoir été mariée pendant toutes ces années à un fantôme. Certes, la vie de Grey Owl relève de la fiction. Elle aura souillé ses relations personnelles, mais sa compassion pour la nature, les animaux sauvages et le mode de vie des autochtones l’auront racheté. À travers sa supercherie complexe, Grey Owl aura réussi à sensibiliser les Canadiens à des questions qu’ils estiment aujourd’hui essentielles à leur bien-être. Encyclopédie canadienne
Quand il ne fut plus possible de douter que l’homme enseveli en Saskatchewan sous le nom de Grey Owl était bel et bien né Belaney en Angleterre, je compris mieux quel extraordinaire excentrique venait de nous quitter, d’une espèce comme seule l’Angleterre sait en produire. Lovat Dickson
Naturellement, la valeur de son œuvre n’est pas compromise pour autant. Tout ce qu’il a accompli en tant qu’écrivain et défenseur de la nature lui survivra. The Ottawa Citizen
Set the blood quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indians, let intermarriage proceed as it [has] and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. Ward Churchill
At some point after I was hired by them, I . . . provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it and I have been open about it. Elizabeth Warren
Beaucoup de signataires de ce document de soutien n’approuvaient pas le mariage civil entre personnes de même sexe. D’autres n’avaient pas d’idée arrêtée sur la question. Ceci dit, depuis que le Massachusetts (nord-est) et d’autre Etats ont fait du mariage civil entre personnes de même sexe une réalité, (les signataires), comme beaucoup d’Américains, ont réexaminé les faits et leur position et ont conclu qu’il n’y a pas de raison légitime ou basée sur des faits pour refuser aux couples homosexuels la même reconnaissance légale qu’aux couples hétérosexuels. Lettre de personnalités républicaines (dont Clint Eastwood) à la Cour suprême
Adolescent and adult readers have warmed to the uplifting story of how this well-known writer of westerns — author of "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" and "Cry Geronimo" and friend of Clint Eastwood — came to know the wisdom of his Cherokee ancestors. In the wake of the success of "Dances With Wolves," there is even talk of a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, "The Education of Little Tree" is a hoax. The carefully constructed mask of Forrest Carter — Cherokee cowboy, self-taught writer and spokesman for Native Americans — was simply the last fantasy of a man who reinvented himself again and again in the 30 years that preceded his death in 1979. His real name was Asa (Ace) Earl Carter. (…) Between 1946 and 1973, the Alabama native carved out a violent career in Southern politics as a Ku Klux Klan terrorist, right-wing radio announcer, home-grown American fascist and anti-Semite, rabble-rousing demagogue and secret author of the famous 1963 speech by Gov. George Wallace of Alabama: "Segregation now . . . Segregation tomorrow . . . Segregation forever." He even organized a paramilitary unit of about 100 men that he called the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. (…) But anyone who transformed himself into a new-age wise man for the greening of America while taking the name of "Forrest" Carter couldn’t have been entirely humorless. Mr. Carter, after all, took his new name from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the tobacco-chewing ex-mule skinner, slave trader and Civil War general who founded the original Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee in 1866. Can this be the same man who wrote "The Education of Little Tree" with its saccharine environmentalism and patronizing descriptions of imaginary Cherokee grandparents? ("They gave themselves . . . to nature, not trying to subdue it, or pervert it, but to live with it. And so they loved the thought, and loving it grew to be it, so that they could not think as the white man.") (…) In his lifetime, Forrest Carter was able to move from Klan rabble-rouser to speech writer for George Wallace’s white backlash to successful author and screenwriter by finding a voice in harmony with a changing America. In Asa Carter’s first book, the rebel outlaw Josey Wales seeks common ground with the Commanche chief, Ten Bears, in a soliloquy that Clint Eastwood repeats in his film. "What ye and me cares about has been butchered . . . raped," Wales tells Ten Bears. "It’s been done by them lyin’, double-tongued snakes that run guv-mints. Guv-mints lie . . . promise . . . back-stab . . . eat in youre lodge and rape youre women and kill when ye sleep on their promises." Even the gentle Little Tree, Mr. Carter’s newly popular hero, learned to despise all representatives of organized society — teachers, politicians, religious leaders — as "powerful monsters who had no regard for how folks had to live and get by." From Tom Mix to Gary Cooper, the task of the traditional western hero was to replace the savage world of the desperado with the civilized community governed by the rule of law. Americans might feel a loss at the end of the frontier, but the word "outlaw" was seldom a compliment. All that changed in the 1960’s. American moviegoers flocked to see Clint Eastwood in "A Fistful of Dollars," his grimy spaghetti western, and by the 1980’s, Rambo was king of the box office. Asa Carter’s celebration of sadomasochistic violence and thinly veiled vigilantism in his westerns of the 1960’s and 70’s had become a powerful theme of American popular culture. In the last three years of his life, with his books on "The Education of Little Tree" and "Cry Geronimo," Mr. Carter changed course. But there are threads that stretch from Asa Carter’s racist pamphlets to his new-age novels of the Native American: We live unto ourselves. We trust no one outside the circle of blood kin and closest comrades. We have no responsibilities outside that closed circle. Government and all its agencies are corrupt. Politics is a lie. What does it tell us that we are so easily deceived? Dan T. Carter

Attention: un bon sauvage peut en cacher un autre !

Faux Pied Noir métis (Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance alias Sylvester Clark Longle), faux Indien anglais (Archibald Belaney dit Grey Owl – Chouette Grise en français, né la même année que le célèbre dhimmi Lawrence d’Arabie : La dernière frontière, Un homme et des bêtes, Sajo et ses castors, Récits de la cabane abandonnée, Ambassadeur des bêtes, L’arbre), faux Indien pleurant sicilien (Iron Eyes Cody alias Espera DeCortile), faux indien ancien suprémaciste et plume de George Wallace et Clint Eastwood (Little tree, alias Forrest Carter et Asa Earl Carter), faux Navajo gay (Nasdijj), fausse petite indienne noire adoptive des quartiers pauvres de Los Angeles (Margaret Seltzer alias Margaret B. Jones), faux universitaire Cherokee qui avait comparé les victimes du 11/9 à des "petits Eichmann" (Ward Churchill), sans parler de Richard Penn Smith (alisas Davy Crockett),  Opal Mehta (plagiaire originaire d’Inde), Laura Albert (fausse transexuelle) ou Herman Rosenblat (faux rescapé des camps nazis) ou la blondissime Elizabeth Warren

A l’heure où, sondages ventriloques obligent et malgré son malencontreux soutien de Romney l’une des dernières images de la virilité occidentale comprise,  les Républicains aux Etats-Unis comme l’UMP en France voire le nouveau pape au Vatican, se voient sommés de revoir leur copie et de se plier au nouveau diktat médiatique du mariage obligatoire pour tous c’est-à-dire en fait pour le dernier bon sauvage en date de notre postmodernité …

Retour, dans notre série des impostures littéraires et outre leur esclavagisme ou leurs vélléités de nettoyeurs ethniques, sur cette longue tradition américaine de travestis ethniques revendiquant une plus ou moins prétendue indianité ….

Qui, comme le rappelait dans le NYT l’historien Dan T. Carter, en dit si long sur l’incommensurable appétit de notre âge pour toute cause dument étiquetée victimaire

The Transformation of a Klansman

Dan T. Carter

The New York Times

October 04, 1991

"Surprising best sellers often provide publishing’s sweetest stories," began a story that appeared in USA Today on Tuesday about the nonfiction paperback hit of the summer, "The Education of Little Tree."

First published in 1976 by Delacorte Press and reprinted in 1986 by the University of New Mexico Press, the late Forrest Carter’s gentle memoir of his Native American childhood has remained in first or second place on The New York Times paperback best-seller list for 14 weeks.

Adolescent and adult readers have warmed to the uplifting story of how this well-known writer of westerns — author of "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" and "Cry Geronimo" and friend of Clint Eastwood — came to know the wisdom of his Cherokee ancestors. In the wake of the success of "Dances With Wolves," there is even talk of a Hollywood film.

Unfortunately, "The Education of Little Tree" is a hoax. The carefully constructed mask of Forrest Carter — Cherokee cowboy, self-taught writer and spokesman for Native Americans — was simply the last fantasy of a man who reinvented himself again and again in the 30 years that preceded his death in 1979.

His real name was Asa (Ace) Earl Carter. We share a common Southern heritage and he may be a distant relation of mine. Between 1946 and 1973, the Alabama native carved out a violent career in Southern politics as a Ku Klux Klan terrorist, right-wing radio announcer, home-grown American fascist and anti-Semite, rabble-rousing demagogue and secret author of the famous 1963 speech by Gov. George Wallace of Alabama: "Segregation now . . . Segregation tomorrow . . . Segregation forever."

He even organized a paramilitary unit of about 100 men that he called the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. Among its acts, these white-sheeted sociopaths assaulted Nat (King) Cole during a concert in Birmingham in 1956. In 1957, the group, without Mr. Carter present, castrated a black man they chose at random in a Birmingham suburb as a warning to "uppity" Alabama blacks.

His agent and publishers have described Mr. Carter as a self-taught writer. Indeed he was. For almost 30 years he honed his skills by spewing out racist and anti-Semitic pamphlets. In 1970 he wrote that all N.A.A.C.P. presidents "have been Jews . . . the same gang who financed the Russian Communist Revolution with millions out of New York City."

The same year, in a disquisition on the prospect of black policemen, he wrote: "SOON, you can expect your wife or daughter to be pulled over to the side of the road by one of these Ubangi or Watusi tribesman wearing the badge of Anglo-Saxon law enforcement and toting a gun . . . but [ he will be ] as uncivilized as the day his kind were found eating their kin in the jungle."

Those who knew the gun-toting Ace Carter never found him very amusing, certainly not the two fellow Klansmen who were critically wounded by Mr. Carter in a 1957 shootout over Klan finances. Though Mr. Carter was indicted for assault with intent to murder, the Jefferson County district attorney, influenced by the highly charged racial climate in Alabama, ultimately decided to drop the charges.

But anyone who transformed himself into a new-age wise man for the greening of America while taking the name of "Forrest" Carter couldn’t have been entirely humorless. Mr. Carter, after all, took his new name from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the tobacco-chewing ex-mule skinner, slave trader and Civil War general who founded the original Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee in 1866.

Can this be the same man who wrote "The Education of Little Tree" with its saccharine environmentalism and patronizing descriptions of imaginary Cherokee grandparents? ("They gave themselves . . . to nature, not trying to subdue it, or pervert it, but to live with it. And so they loved the thought, and loving it grew to be it, so that they could not think as the white man.")

One explanation is suggested by the Calhoun County High School yearbook for 1943. The senior class prophet predicted he would return to Calhoun County as a "famous movie star." When he died in Abilene, Tex., of heart failure at the age of 53, he was on his way to California with a screenplay for his second Josey Wales book. Handsome, energetic, ambitious, always the actor, his classmates had known that Asa Carter would do whatever he had to to escape the sleepy little Alabama town of Oxford.

In his lifetime, Forrest Carter was able to move from Klan rabble-rouser to speech writer for George Wallace’s white backlash to successful author and screenwriter by finding a voice in harmony with a changing America.

In Asa Carter’s first book, the rebel outlaw Josey Wales seeks common ground with the Commanche chief, Ten Bears, in a soliloquy that Clint Eastwood repeats in his film. "What ye and me cares about has been butchered . . . raped," Wales tells Ten Bears. "It’s been done by them lyin’, double-tongued snakes that run guv-mints. Guv-mints lie . . . promise . . . back-stab . . . eat in youre lodge and rape youre women and kill when ye sleep on their promises."

Even the gentle Little Tree, Mr. Carter’s newly popular hero, learned to despise all representatives of organized society — teachers, politicians, religious leaders — as "powerful monsters who had no regard for how folks had to live and get by."

From Tom Mix to Gary Cooper, the task of the traditional western hero was to replace the savage world of the desperado with the civilized community governed by the rule of law. Americans might feel a loss at the end of the frontier, but the word "outlaw" was seldom a compliment.

All that changed in the 1960’s. American moviegoers flocked to see Clint Eastwood in "A Fistful of Dollars," his grimy spaghetti western, and by the 1980’s, Rambo was king of the box office. Asa Carter’s celebration of sadomasochistic violence and thinly veiled vigilantism in his westerns of the 1960’s and 70’s had become a powerful theme of American popular culture.

In the last three years of his life, with his books on "The Education of Little Tree" and "Cry Geronimo," Mr. Carter changed course. But there are threads that stretch from Asa Carter’s racist pamphlets to his new-age novels of the Native American: We live unto ourselves. We trust no one outside the circle of blood kin and closest comrades. We have no responsibilities outside that closed circle. Government and all its agencies are corrupt. Politics is a lie.

What does it tell us that we are so easily deceived?

Dan T. Carter, professor of history at Emory University, is working on a biography of George Wallace.

Voir aussi:

The education of Little Fraud

How did a racist speechwriter for George Wallace turn into a "Cherokee" sage and author of a revered multicultural text? The weird tale of Asa ("Forrest") Carter.

Allen Barra

Time

Dec 20, 2001

Twenty-three years ago this past June 7, Forrest Carter was laid to rest in the Carter family plot at D’Armanville Cemetery near Anniston, Ala. A short time later, family members yanked out the old headstone and put in a new one inscribed with the words “Asa Earl Carter, Sept. 4 1925-June 7 1979.”

Forrest must have been spinning in his grave. For the last few years of his life, he tried hard to kill off Asa. And if he had stayed off television, he might have pulled it off.

Forrest Carter was the bestselling author of “The Education of Little Tree: A True Story,” a literary phenomenon that was published 25 years ago this fall and is credited by many as the book that touched off the boom in what is still referred to in publishing as “Native American Lit.” Carter also wrote another famous book, “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales,” whose eponymous ex-Confederate superhero was played by Clint Eastwood in the most influential western since “The Searchers.”

But “Forrest Carter’s” most memorable creation was himself. “Forrest Carter,” revered author of the beloved “Little Tree,” was actually Asa Carter — virulent segregationist, former Klansman, speechwriter for George Wallace and professional racist. In both incarnations, Carter is the focus of new interest. Diane McWhorter’s critically acclaimed history of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, Ala., “Carry Me Home,” has revealed more about the role of “Ace” as a warrior for white supremacy, while the 25th anniversary publication of Forrest’s “The Education Of Little Tree” — minus the “True Story” subtitle — continues to exalt him as a pillar of New Age wisdom and a multicultural hero.

For a man with just three slim volumes published in his own lifetime, Forrest Carter made a significant impact on American culture. (A fourth book, “Cry Geronimo,” published posthumously, has influenced two screen depictions of the Apache chief.) “The Education of Little Tree,” about an orphan boy named Forrest who learns about life from his sage Cherokee grandparents, has never been out of print since it was first published in 1976 to rave reviews in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. According to an editor at the now-defunct Delacorte Press, the book sold more than a million copies in hard and soft covers before the University of New Mexico Press picked it up in 1985. Since then, it has become the biggest seller in the publisher’s history and one of the great publishing successes for any university press, selling more than 1,440,000 copies in paperback and at least 56,000 more in cloth.

The sales for “Little Tree” don’t begin to tell the story of the book’s influence. Schoolchildren have been so moved by it that they have formed Little Tree fan clubs. For years there were rumors in Hollywood that Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, and even Stephen Spielberg were interested in filming “Little Tree”; many think “Little Tree” helped shape the depiction of Indians in Costner’s “Dances With Wolves.” In 1991, 15 years after its publication and 12 years after Carter’s death, “Little Tree” won the coveted Abby Award and climbed onto the New York Times’ bestseller list.

Even though “Little Tree” was publicly exposed as fraudulent the very year of its publication, most readers simply refused to believe the evidence. This despite the fact that the Asa/Forrest Carter scandal was known far and wide, at least in academia: The distinguished African-American literary critic Henry Louis Gates wrote a widely discussed piece about it, for example. (In one of the many peculiar twists of the Asa-Forrest saga, some teachers acknowledge the controversy and include it in their lesson plans.) But while some know about the book’s peculiar history, years after the exposé many, perhaps most, new readers and fans who discover the book through the well-received movie version for young adults don’t even know there’s a controversy. That “The Education of Little Tree” was written by the same man who immortalized George Wallace by writing his racist manifesto, the famous “Segregation forever!” speech, is an inconvenient fact that hundreds of thousands of people seem willing to ignore.

Leading the way in the ignoring department is the University of New Mexico Press, which is apparently not about to do anything that might kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Incredibly, UNM’s handsome new 25th anniversary edition (with a cover painting by the Oklahoma Cherokee artist Murv Jacob) makes no mention of Asa Carter or the controversies that have surrounded the book over the years — an omission that Diane McWhorter equates to “publishing a book of Hitler’s paintings without mentioning the word ‘Nazi.’” The specious “biography” that appeared on the book’s back cover in the original UNM edition, which moistly gushed that “Forrest Carter, whose Indian name is Little Tree, was known as ‘Storyteller in Council’ to the Cherokee Nations … His Indian friends always shared a part of his earnings from his writing,” is gone, as is the subtitle “A True Story.” Only the words “Young Adult Fiction” in small print on the corner of the back cover hint at the book’s stormy history. The introduction (which has remained unchanged since the first UNM edition in 1985) by Rennard Strickland, a professor of law at the University of Oregon, blandly tells us that Forrest Carter “wrote a number of important books,” and that “‘Little Tree’ speaks to the human spirit and reaches the very depth of the human soul.”

The University of New Mexico Press declined to comment about its nonacknowledgment of “Little Tree’s” unseemly provenance, referring a reporter to Rennard Strickland. Strickland said he was not consulted by the University of New Mexico about updating his introduction and that his purpose in writing the introduction was to “tell readers what they’d find in this book. I wasn’t doing a history of the controversy.” He added, “I have given my last interview on the subject.”

One of the remarkable things about Forrest Carter’s self-reinvention is how few reminders of his Asa existence still remain. Indeed, aside from a couple of slim pieces of physical evidence, it might be difficult to prove now that Asa and Forrest Carter were the same man.

A few years ago, Buddy Barnett, a childhood friend of Carter’s, produced a first edition of “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales” with an inscription in Carter’s handwriting that reads “Forrest (Asa) Carter.” Veteran Alabama journalist Wayne Greenhaw, who first broke the story of the Asa-Forrest Carter connection, had the handwriting in Barnett’s copy of “Wales” checked against the sample in Asa Earl Carter’s own biography, submitted when he ran for governor in 1970. They matched. In the biography, Carter said that he was born in Oxford, Ala., on Sept. 4, 1925. He claimed his parents, who were dairy farmers, had Cherokee blood in their background, which is either true or a “damn lie,” depending on which family member you speak to. Carter’s brother Doug insists that the family had no Cherokee ancestors, but Barnett claims that “Asa’s mother’s people were Cherokee, and Asa was proud of that fact.”

Some family members recall that while growing up in the Appalachian hills of north Alabama, young Asa Carter pestered older family members for details about Confederate ancestors on both sides of the family. One rode with Morgan’s Raiders, another was a guerrilla fighter with Col. Mosby, the legendary “Grey Ghost.” Maybe Carter had heard family stories of Cherokee ancestors, or maybe he heard stories about the Cherokee when growing up near Chocoloco Creek. Both “Wales” and “Little Tree” feature Cherokee Indians who were Confederate officers. In “Little Tree” the boy makes one of them into his own ancestor: “Granma and Granpa spoke of his Pa in his last years. He was an old warrior. He had joined the Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, to fight the faraway, faceless monster of “the guv’mint” that threatened his people and his cabin.” In “Little Tree” Carter brings together the two strains of his ancestry — one real and one, it would appear, assumed — to account for the famed “Rebel Yell”: “Exultation … brought the rebel Indian yell rumbling from his chest and out of his throat, screaming, savage.”

Carter graduated from high school in 1942, joined the Navy and became, like his future boss George Wallace, a boxing champ. He told friends he turned down the Army because he wanted to fight the Japanese rather than the Germans, his “racial kin.” After the war, Carter married Thelma India Walker, a high school sweetheart, moved to Colorado, and attended the state university. After graduating, he returned to Alabama and established a career as a full-time racist.

Around Birmingham, you can still find copies of the Southerner, a monthly magazine devoted to white supremacy, which Carter helped found. Collectors of civil-rights era memorabilia have copies of his radio broadcasts and pamphlets from his 1970 campaign for governor. In one of these, he warned white Alabamians about the prospect of black policemen: “Soon, you can expect your wife or daughter to be pulled over to the side of the road by one of these Ubangi or Watusi tribesmen wearing the badge of Anglo-Saxon law enforcement and toting a gun… but (he’ll be) as uncivilized as the day his kind were found eating their kin in a jungle.”

After getting fired from a radio station for criticizing National Brotherhood Week, Carter formed a group called the White Citizens Council, an organization that espoused the same fundamental views as the KKK. Carter’s association didn’t last; he couldn’t stomach the idea of making a common cause with anti-integrationist Jews, even to segregate blacks.

Instead, he helped create a new and even more virulent organization, the original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, whose members wore Confederate gray robes instead of white. In Carter’s view, the old KKK had become too soft and compromised. Various acts of violence were associated with the new Kluxers, the most famous being the assault on Nat “King” Cole at a concert in Birmingham in 1957. Less well known but far uglier was the 1957 abduction of a black handyman named Edward Aaron who had offended members of Carter’s group with inflammatory talk of forced integration. The abductors, never identified, sliced off Aaron’s scrotum and poured turpentine on his wounds. According to his childhood pal Buddy Barnett, Carter — who openly advocated violence in his speeches and articles — was appalled by the coldbloodedness of the attack. But Don Carter, who wrote a biography of George Wallace, took a darker view, saying, “[Carter] had a long history of violence, in fact, it’s not an exaggeration to call him something of a … psychopath.”

By 1958, disillusioned with the new Klan’s leadership, whom he called “a bunch of trash,” he quit the group. With few prospects and four kids to feed in Anniston, Asa Carter took an ill-advised turn into politics, running for state lieutenant governor. He finished fifth in a five-man field.

Alabama’s most powerful moderate in the second half of the decade was George Wallace. In 1958, stunned over his loss in the governor’s race to Klan-backed John Patterson, Wallace famously swore to an aide that he’d never be “outsegged” again. (Or, as some of Wallace’s less flattering biographers have phrased it, “outniggered.”) The solution was the talented but unstable Asa Carter, whom Wallace’s aides thought they could keep, as one of them now admits, “under wraps.”

Till the day he died, George Wallace denied that he ever knew Asa Carter. He may have been telling the truth. “Ace,” as he was called by the staff, was paid off indirectly by Wallace cronies, and the only record that he ever wrote for Wallace was the word of former Wallace campaign officials such as finance manager Seymore Trammell. “He lived out of back offices in Wallace’s headquarters,” says Wayne Greenhaw. “He’d see his wife and kids on weekends and be a family man. During the weekdays he’d hole up in his room with his typewriter, a quart of whiskey, a dozen packs of Pall Malls and a gun.” Adds a former campaign official: “A revolver, an Old West type of gun.”

From this back room, Asa Carter wrote the most famous racist rhetoric of the civil rights era, words that would reach and be remembered by more people than anything published by Forrest Carter. From the steps of the Alabama state capitol building, on Inauguration Day, 1963, Wallace delivered the speech that, for sheer grandiloquence, rivals Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.” “In the name of the greatest people that ever tread the earth,” thundered Wallace, “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny. And I say: Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace’s national reputation was made.

When Wallace ran his wife, Lurleen, for governor in his place, there was talk of making Carter her press secretary, but cooler heads among Wallace’s advisors suggested that this might be too high-profile for a man with Carter’s past. He was kept on for a while as a speechwriter until Lurleen Wallace died of cancer. By 1968 Wallace was ready to run for president and had to clean up his rhetoric. All ties to “Ace” were cut. Deserted and, he felt, betrayed, Carter ran against Wallace for the governor’s seat in 1970. In his TV commercials, Carter looked large, thick-set and barrel-chested, with dark, thick, Russian-like hair and eyebrows. He looked like George Wallace’s bigger, meaner brother. Positioned in front of a Confederate flag, he railed against “race-mixing,” Communists in Hollywood and anything else he could tie to the “guv’mint” in Washington. He finished last.

Wales was born out of the ashes of Asa Carter’s political defeat, just as, in Carter’s novel, Wales rises from the ruins of the old Confederacy. In 1973 Carter and his wife, Thelma, sold their Alabama home and moved to Florida where Carter could get away from his political debacle. Within a year, a new Carter emerged, slimmer, darker (all that Florida sun) and with a new name: Forrest. The name was chosen in homage to Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, the infamous Confederate cavalry general and a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. And, like Wales, Forrest Carter went to Texas to begin a new life — one that was to definitively disprove F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that there are no second acts in American life.

From writing racist speeches, Carter turned to writing genre fiction. In 1973 Eleanor Friede at Delacorte Press accepted his first novel, “Gone to Texas,” for publication. Carter was now spending time around Abilene, visiting his sons (whom he referred to, for reasons that remain unclear, as his nephews) and making new friends. He told them that he was from Florida, that he had Cherokee family in north Alabama and that he was an official “story teller” and “oral historian” for the Cherokee nation. He dressed in jeans and string ties and affected a folksy speech pattern. He performed what he called Cherokee songs and dances for his friends. To the surprise of his friends and family, and probably Carter himself, “Gone to Texas” was published and, thanks to Friede’s clout, even got reviewed in publications that ignored westerns. It sold well, pleasing the vast readership of Louis L’Amour, but also impressing a handful of readers beyond the western audience that an intense new sensibility was at work in the tired and predictable genre. Carter was delighted to promote his book with personal appearances. An Austin bookseller recalls that “He was such a great storyteller that people who heard him, people who didn’t buy westerns, bought his books.”

What kind of people have bought Forrest Carter’s books? Certainly the Wales novels appealed to the readers of pulp westerns and action-adventure novels. But Carter also seemed to make fans of thousands who wanted something more from their pulp — and the story he told shared important themes with his lone wolf, white-supremacist past. The character of Wales is a superhero-like conflation of several Confederate guerrilla fighters of the Civil War and post-Civil War era, particularly Jesse James and Cole Younger. Wales is a child of the mountains, and “he preferred the mountains to remain wild, free, unfettered by law and the irritating hypocrisy of organized society.” Wales is white, but “His kinship . . . was closer to the Cherokee than to his social brothers of the flatland.” Like thousands of ex-Confederates, he hangs a “G.T.T.” sign on his door — “Gone to Texas” — and flees through Indian country, pursued, long after it would seem necessary, by federal soldiers and marshals. Before the novel ends, the Goya-esque landscape is cluttered with corpses, almost in anticipation of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.”

In contrast to the Wales stories, “The Education of Little Tree” is a sweet, sad idyll, a pastiche of pop Zen and New Age homilies crossed with a dash of down-home red-in-tooth-and-claw Darwinism. On the surface “Little Tree” is a story of peace and tolerance; at its heart it shares much with the bloody Wales books. Carter’s philosophy of implacable nature is displayed in a passage where Little Tree is saddened when a hawk tears a harmless quail to pieces. “Don’t feel sad, Little Tree. It is the Way. Tal-con caught the slow and so the slow will raise no children who are also slow … and so Tal-con lives by the Way. He helps the quail.” And so, in nature’s harmony, the dominant species rules. Man upsets the harmony by empowering the weak. Government corrupts nature by helping the weak.

In addition to wisdom from Granpa and Granma, Little Tree learns life lessons from a kindly Jewish peddler, “Mr. Wine.” Mr. Wine, anticipating Milton Friedman by half a century, says, “If you was loose with your money, then you would get loose with your time, loose with your thinking and practically anything else. If a whole people got loose, then politicians seen they could get control. They would take over loose people and before long you had a dictator. Mr. Wine said no thinking people ever had a dictator.” Fascists, of course, do not regard their leaders as dictators but as expressions of their own will.

Perhaps no two books by the same author have ever had so few readers in common. But scratch the surface of “Little Tree’s” Native American worldview and you’ll find a Confederate-minded noble savage. In fact, the Cherokees in both “Little Tree” and the Wales’ books are honorary Confederates, fighting the evils of what both Little Tree and Wales call “guv’mint.”

Sometime in late 1973 Bob Daley, a producer for Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions in California, received a book with a note for Eastwood. “The letter spoke of Clint’s ‘kind eyes,’” says Daley. “I thought, ‘Who in the world thinks that Clint Eastwood has ‘kind eyes’? I was curious.” Daley didn’t read westerns, but he gave “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales” a try. Intrigued, he talked Clint into giving it a try; the next day Eastwood told Daley to buy it for Malpaso. Carter’s cut was $25,000 for screen rights — not bad for a first-time author writing in a pulp genre — with an additional $10,000 if the film was made.

A short time later Carter called to say he’d be in the area and wanted to stop by. “Fine,” said Daley, “where will you be? Los Angeles? He said, ‘No, I’ll be in Dallas.’ I just looked at the phone, wondering what kind of character we’d gotten involved with.” Daley had no idea. When Carter arrived, he was staggeringly drunk and proceeded to piss all over the office carpet. Daley had an assistant hustle him to a hotel.

The next day, sober, he made his way back to Daley’s office. “He no sooner got there,” Daley recalls, “than he said, ‘Well, it was fine meetin’ ye, but I reckin’ I’d better be gittin’ ta home.’ It took me a moment to realize that he was talking like Wales. I thought, ‘This is worse than I thought.’ I talked him into staying another night to have dinner with some of my people from the production office. Again, he showed up drunk, and he pulled a knife and held it to the throat of one of our secretaries. He later said it was all a joke.”

The film’s first director, Philip Kaufman, was not impressed by “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales.” “‘Fascist’ is an overworked word,” says Kaufman from his California home, “but the first time I looked at that book that’s what I thought: ‘This was written by a crude fascist.’ It was nutty. The man’s hatred of government was insane. I felt that that element in the script needed to be severely toned down. But Clint didn’t, and it was his movie.” Eastwood eventually fired Kaufman and went on to direct himself.

Then, the same year as the release of “Josey Wales” came the publication of “Little Tree,” and Carter was on the verge of superstardom. But Carter’s gift for promotion became his undoing. In 1975 Carter appeared on the Barbara Walters show, doing pre-publicity for the Eastwood film “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and Carter’s upcoming books, “Little Tree” and his second western, “The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales.” He smiled, winked and squinted under the brim of his black cowboy hat, but moments after his appearance NBC was bombarded by calls from area code 205. A handful of his old cronies in Alabama had made him. Forrest Carter’s days were numbered.

The mask was crumbling, and 1976 brought with it a double blow from which Carter never recovered. First, his distant cousin Dan Carter, a historian and future biographer of George Wallace, wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times blowing the whistle on the identity of the new literary lion from Texas. Shortly after, Carter’s nemesis, Alabama journalist Wayne Greenhaw, wrote a piece — also for the New York Times — digging even deeper into his sordid past. But neither story would have any effect on book sales; indeed, at first, it seemed as if the stories would have no effect on Carter’s career at all. Delacorte Press’s Eleanor Friede publicly denied any connection between Ace and Forrest; for Carter’s new friends in Texas, many of whom weren’t disposed to give the New York Times much credence anyway, that was good enough.

For two years, Forrest Carter hung on in Texas, playing the local celebrity and trying to let Asa Carter fade back into the past. In 1978, in Dallas, he appeared at the Wellesley Book and Author Patron Party, sitting on a distinguished panel including historians Lon Tinkle, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey and, incredibly, Barbara Tuchman. He played the folksy noble savage to the hilt, winning over both the panel and the audience. Tuchman laughed out loud when Carter embraced her and called her “a good ol’ Jew girl.”

I met Forrest Carter shortly after that at the Houston airport, working on a profile for the Houston Post. He was lean and sunburned and had a bushy mustache; he reminded me of an old photo of Wyatt Earp. Wearing a broad Stetson, he looked like a figure in a Remington painting in sunglasses. As a student in Birmingham I had watched him on TV when he ran for governor, but I wouldn’t have recognized him as Asa if he had been pointed out to me.

I knew him only as the author of “The Education Of Little Tree,” a book that I had regarded as inconsequential when I first read it, and of “Gone to Texas,” which seemed a brutal but above-average genre piece. I vaguely remembered having seen something in the New York Times about Asa Carter’s having gone off somewhere and started a new life for himself, but I never connected the bellowing hatemonger on TV with the grizzled-looking urban cowboy who mumbled as if he was the character in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” who spoke in “authentic frontier gibberish.” We talked about his second Wales novel and about his recently finished book on Geronimo. I asked him if Clint Eastwood would be involved in the rumored next movie about Wales. He looked at me warily from under his hat, puffed on a cigarette and said, “I think Clint’s had all he can take ‘a me.” He offered that “Robert Duvall kinda looks more like my Josey” and would make a “good ‘un.”

I told Carter that I thought his Wales novels were an attempt to win back the values on a mythical level that the Confederacy had lost on the battlefield. Carter squinted at me, smiled and said, “The values of a civilization never die so long as they’re kept alive in legend.”

I never got a chance to write my story. Shortly afterward, Forrest Carter was dead. Exactly how and why has never been made clear. Friends said that he had been drinking; rumors of Asa were starting to reach Abilene. One Texas friend said Carter aged 10 years between 1976 and 1978, largely because of his fear of the trickle-down from Dan Carter’s piece. Though it took a year and a half for Carter’s Op-Ed to have an effect, Carter began to feel the heat. A canceled speaking gig at a university here, a call from a local paper wanting to discuss the controversy there. By the summer of ’78, said a friend, “Forrest was a mess. None of us understood at the time, but after the tragedy we could see in retrospect he was turning into a nervous wreck.”

One night in June, Carter stopped off to visit one of his sons in Potosi, just south of Abilene. Perhaps two hours later, an ambulance arrived to pick up Forrest Carter’s body. The death certificate listed “aspiration of food and clotted blood” as probable cause. It also mentioned a “history of fights.” A story circulated that Carter had gotten into a drunken fight with his son and choked on his own vomit; one of the ambulance drivers said the scenario fit. An old friend from Birmingham conjectured that a fight between father and son broke out over the treatment of Carter’s wife, whom he apparently deserted in Florida. Thelma Carter later resurfaced in Alabama, and has gone into seclusion, refusing to discuss her years with Asa.

Most of Forrest Carter’s friends received a triple shock the next day when they picked up the papers. First was the news of his violent death. Added to that was the fact that many did not know he really was, or was suspected of being, the notorious Asa Carter. Finally, most had never heard Carter talk of having a son.

The question of whether the “The Education of Little Tree” represented a conscious attempt by Forrest Carter to rehabilitate himself can never be answered. In the essay mentioned above, Henry Louis Gates argued, as others have, that the sordid past of the author is irrelevant to the book’s message and theme, which is one of tolerance and acceptance. The problem is that when one scratches the surface of the idyllic world of “Little Tree” one finds a philosophy as harsh and unforgiving as the one Josie Wales lives, a world where even the mention of “guv’mint” inspires hatred, paranoia and fear. One might even question whether “Little Tree” is really the plea for racial tolerance that its supporters have always maintained. American Indian activist Vine Deloria Jr. long ago noted that white American men who would bristle at the suggestion that they had African or Asian blood are often quick to claim Indian ancestry so long as the connection is on the mother’s side (as Carter said his was) and Cherokee (also as Carter claimed). Why? Perhaps out of guilt at the deposal of the Cherokee from the eastern states, but more likely because it seems the safest connection to the “real” America, the one experienced by noble savages before the corrupting influences of civilization — of “guv’mint.” Like Asa Carter, many American males see a spiritual kinship between their ancestors, the savage Celts and Anglo-Saxons, and the American Indian, and to be born with Indian blood somehow better justifies being born with a chip on one’s shoulder than being born white.

There appears to be no simple answer to who Carter was, or exactly what his books are about, but for some the solution is to simply deny the apparent contradiction between the legacy of Asa and Forrest. Indeed, some continue to deny that they were even the same man. Eleanor Friede, who manages the Carter literary estate, no longer goes that far, but insisted to the New York Times after Carter’s death that “There was nothing anti-black or anti-Jewish about the man I knew.” (Friede, who is Jewish, says she is retired and declined, through a representative, to be interviewed for this story). To Buddy Barnett, his childhood friend, “Forrest wasn’t no bigot, just somebody who wanted to see right done to Indians.”

However his books should be interpreted, as works of the imagination they pale before the most remarkable creation of Asa Carter’s strange, short literary life: that half-breed ancestor of Confederate soldiers and Cherokee warriors named Forrest Carter.

 Voir également:

Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance: The Glorious Impersonator.

Donald B. Smith.

Red Deer, AB: Red Deer Press (Distributed by Raincoast Books), 1999.

400 pp., pbk., $19.95.

ISBN 0-88995-197-7.

Review by A.D. Gregor.

****

excerpt:

He was one of the most famous North American Indians of his day.

Newspapers and magazines hungered for stories about him but kept their research to a minimum. Reporters reveled in his many achievements: athlete, war hero, journalist, biographer, full-blooded Indian chief, public lecturer, Indian rights advocate, actor pilot. The story went that he had once trained with the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe; he had once sparred with none other than Jack Dempsey. An American president had granted him a special appointment to West Point; a grateful French nation had awarded him the Croix de Guerre for exceptional military valor. Born a Blood Indian in a teepee in the Sweetgrass Hills near the Canadian-American border, Long Lance had risen in celebrity through intellect, charm, courage and tremendous will. He was, one reporter claimed, one hundred percent American.

Written by a history professor at the University of Calgary, Long Lance is a carefully researched and well-illustrated study, presented in a fashion that would very much appeal to any adolescent reader (and to any adult reader, for that matter). It is a remarkable story that bears some interesting resemblance to the more familiar Grey Owl legend. Long Lance was an American black born in 1890 in North Carolina, who through the next four decades, until his suicide in 1932, assumed the persona of a full-blood Aboriginal (Canadian or American, as the story evolved). Despite reckless lies and ever-changing personal histories, he was able to fool most of the people most of the time, rising to international prominence as the spokesman of the aboriginal peoples. That he was not entirely able to fool all the people all the time lends the edge of a mystery novel to the story, as time and again he narrowly evades eventual and inevitable disclosure. But while the invented identity held, Long Lance attained wealth and fame, as a writer, editor, speaker, socialite, and even movie star.

In part the fraud began as an attempt to elude the foreordained fate that his birth had allotted him; but as he entered the aboriginal culture and history, he turned his talents and prominence to becoming a champion of their cause. Indeed, the theme of his story is balanced between the poles of celebrity (actively seeking fame and material rewards), and service to his adopted culture. He shamelessly used his fabricated persona for personal advancement: entry to educational institutions (including West Point, though this was not taken up) and to high-paying jobs. At the same time, the prominence he thereby acquired was put to important social use in bringing the plight of the aboriginal population to a public that might not otherwise have paid attention.

Long Lance’s story involved a number of settings and institutions in both Canada and the United States ranging from black communities in the American south to Indian Reservations in Canada, and from an American military academy to the Canadian army. It involved as well a significant cast of players: from Indian Commissioners, to newspaper proprietors. In all of these settings and with all of these people, the author provides careful detail and interpretation. The reader is moved along by a story of adventure and intrigue; but is in the process acquiring some very valuable insights into aspects of our history and culture. As self-styled (and self-invented) champion of he aboriginal cause, Long Lance wanted to "tell their story." This he did for his own generation; but his life and influence have faded over the intervening decades. In tracing Long Lance’s remarkable life, Donald Smith has allowed that important story to be re-told to a new generation.

Highly Recommended.

Alexander D. Gregor is a professor of educational history in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

Voir encore:

La grande supercherie de Grey Owl

L’Encyclopédie canadienne

Si les héros ne sont pas parfaits, Archie Belaney, alias Grey Owl, l’est moins que la plupart. En effet, alors qu’il était le plus célèbre des Canadiens de son époque, ses œuvres, pourtant bonnes et considérables, reposaient, à la base, sur un mensonge.

Archie se crée un monde imaginaire très tôt dans son enfance malheureuse. Abandonné de ses parents, il est élevé par deux tantes sévères qui sont déterminées à ne pas laisser leur neveu suivre les traces de son vaurien de père. Il se réfugie dans la lecture et dans un univers peuplé d’images romantiques des Indiens d’Amérique du Nord.

Quand il arrive au Canada en 1906, Belaney se dirige vers le lac Témiskaming, une contrée sauvage à la frontière du Québec et de l’Ontario. C’est là qu’il entreprend de créer son propre mythe familial lui donnant des origines apaches du Sud-Ouest américain. Il épouse une Ojibwa du nom d’Angèle et commence à s’approprier des bribes de langue et de culture pour tisser sa propre histoire.

Il se teint les cheveux en noir, assombrit sa peau avec du henné et passe des heures devant un miroir à s’exercer au stoïcisme « indien ». Il quitte Angèle et se présente dans son nouveau personnage à Gertrude Bernard, une jeune iroquoise. Archie aime et respecte Gertrude, qu’il appelle Anahareo, mais il ne pourra jamais lui révéler la vérité sur ses véritables origines.

Anahareo travaille à ses côtés, mais déteste la souffrance que les pièges d’Archie font subir aux animaux. Un jour où il attrape et tue une mère castor, il entend les cris de ses petits et s’apprête à leur donner le même sort, Anahareo le supplie de les épargner et, étonnement, il y consent. Au fil de l’hiver et de l’été 1929, les deux castors font sa conquête. Ils réveillent en lui « la tendresse qui dort dans le cœur de l’être humain », dira-t-il. Dès lors, tuer ces bêtes lui apparaît monstrueux et il ne pourra plus le faire.

Pour assurer sa subsistance, Archie s’essaie à l’écriture. Dans son premier article, destiné à la revue anglaise Country Life, il se présente comme un « écrivain indien » et, pour la première fois, signe « Grey Owl ». Il se lance avec acharnement dans un manuscrit qui paraîtra en 1931 sous le titre de La Dernière Frontière (Men of the Last Frontier).

Le livre de Grey Owl relate l’histoire de sa famille inventée, mais révèle aussi son merveilleux talent de conteur et, après sa « conversion » sous l’influence d’Anahareo, sa propension à la conservation et à la défense des castors alors menacés d’extinction. Grey Owl parsème délibérément son style d’imperfections orthographiques et grammaticales qu’il insiste pour que ses éditeurs respectent. Le livre connaît un grand succès, et l’auteur devient l’enfant chéri de la presse canadienne. À sa lecture, le commissaire des parcs James Harkin décide d’inviter Grey Owl à assurer « l’intendance des animaux du parc » au parc national du Mont-Riding, au Manitoba, puis au parc national de Prince-Albert, en Saskatchewan.

En 1936, Grey Owl fait un retour triomphant en Angleterre sous le nom de Hiawatha, un personnage que, enfant, il avait imaginé. Partout, il fait salle comble et répète le même message : « La nature ne nous appartient pas, nous lui appartenons. »

Sa peur d’être découvert croît avec son succès. Au moins un journaliste, Ed Bunyan du Nugget de North Bay, sait que Grey Owl est un imposteur, mais opte de ne pas ébruiter la chose. Les autochtones que rencontre Grey Owl savent généralement qu’il n’est pas des leurs, mais ils apprécient la valeur de son discours. Alors que des anthropologues comme Marius Barbeau rabaissent le mode de vie des autochtones, Grey Owl le célèbre.

Toujours en Grande-Bretagne, son succès atteint un summum en 1937 lorsqu’il rencontre le roi et la reine. Il effectue ensuite une frénétique tournée de conférences au Canada et aux États-Unis, mais sa santé, rendue fragile par l’alcool et l’épuisement, il meurt le 7 avril 1938.

Dès que le Nugget apprend sa mort, il publie enfin l’article, vieux de trois ans, qui cite Angèle affirmant que Grey Owl est « un blanc pure race ». Les journaux du monde entier s’empare de l’histoire, mais hésitent à condamner Grey Owl. Anahareo réagit avec incrédulité, mais avoue avoir eu l’affreux sentiment d’avoir été mariée pendant toutes ces années à un fantôme.

Certes, la vie de Grey Owl relève de la fiction. Elle aura souillé ses relations personnelles, mais sa compassion pour la nature, les animaux sauvages et le mode de vie des autochtones l’auront racheté. À travers sa supercherie complexe, Grey Owl aura réussi à sensibiliser les Canadiens à des questions qu’ils estiment aujourd’hui essentielles à leur bien-être.

James H. Marsh est rédacteur en chef de L’Encyclopédie canadienne.

L’Encyclopédie canadienne Copyright © 2013 Fondation Historica du Canada

Voir encore:

Grey Owl

Un moment de notre histoire…

RESOURCES PÉDAGOGIQUES

Alias " Grey Owl ", il a persuadé le monde entier qu’il appartenait aux Premières Nations, et est devenu l’un des personnages canadiens les plus célèbres. D’origine anglaise, la véritable identité de Grey Owl a été mise à jour peu après sa mort et, dans le tollé général qui suivit cette découverte, on en vint à ignorer complètement sa lutte pour la protection de la nature. Mais la génération suivante a reconnu en Grey Owl un ardent défenseur de notre patrimoine naturel, et le message écologique qui se dégage de ses textes est encore actuel aujourd’hui. Sans sa détermination et sa passion, le Canada aurait bien pu perdre des grands pans de sa beauté naturelle. Grey Owl a sensibilisé un pays entier à la protection de la flore et de la faune.

Issu d’un milieu riche, Archibald Belaney est né en 1888, à Hastings, en Angleterre. Fasciné par les Autochtones de l’Amérique du Nord, il avait une connaissance impressionnante des groupes linguistiques autochtones et de leurs tribus. À l’âge de 17 ans, il quitta l’Angleterre pour le Canada, dans l’intention d’y faire de la trappe.

Au lac Temagami, en Ontario, ses amis Ojibwa le surnommèrent " petit hibou ", soulignant ses talents d’observation et sa soif de tout connaître sur le mode de vie des Amérindiens. En 1915, il entra dans les forces canadiennes et subit, en France, des blessures qui allaient le tourmenter toute sa vie. À son retour au Canada, Archie prit l’identité de son alter ego, Grey Owl, le fils d’un Écossais et d’une Apache.

En 1925, il épousait selon la coutume autochtone une iroquoise appelée Anahareo. Ensemble, ils s’établirent comme gardes forestiers et commencèrent à trapper le castor. Mais la vie de trappeur était cruelle et répugnait à Anahareo. Elle persuada Grey Owl de construire des colonies de castors plutôt que de les trapper pour le commerce. Converti à l’écologie, il se fit le défenseur de la nature et des animaux dans ses articles et ses livres.

En 1931, Grey Owl devint le " gardien des animaux " du parc national du mont Riding, au Manitoba. Des milliers de personnes ont pu apprécier sa passion pour la faune dans le premier film qu’il prépara pour le Service des parcs nationaux. Dans la même année, on écrivit des critiques dithyrambiques à la sortie de son premier ouvrage, The Men of the Last Frontier. Il publia plus tard Pilgrims of the Wild, ainsi qu’un livre pour enfants, intitulé Sajo and Her Beaver People.

Sa renommée était telle qu’il entreprit un voyage en Angleterre, en 1936, pour donner des conférences. On s’arrachait ses livres lorsqu’il publia son quatrième ouvrage, Tales of an Empty Cabin. Sa tournée anglaise connut un grand succès, mais elle l’épuisa et ébranla son mariage ainsi que sa santé mentale. En 1936, Grey Owl quitta Anahareo et se remaria. Il tomba malade après une série de conférences en Angleterre, au Canada et aux États-Unis. On l’hospitalisa sur-le-champ, mais il mourut trois jours plus tard, le 13 avril 1938.

Bibliographie:

Anahareo. Devil in Deerskin: My Life with Grey Owl. Toronto : New Press, 1972.

Dickson, Lovat. "Half-Breed: The Story of Grey Owl." London : Peter Davies, 1939.

Dickson, Lovat "The Green Leaf: A Memorial to Grey Owl." London : Lovat Dickson Limited, 1938.

Owl, Grey "Tales of an Empty Cabin." Toronto : Key Porter Books, 1998.

Ruffo, Armand Garnet. "Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney." Regina : Coteau Books, 1997.

Smith, Donald. "From the Land of Shadows: The Making of Grey Owl." Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1990.

"The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia.[en ligne]" " Grey Owl " McClelland & Stewart, 1997.

Voir de plus:

Iron Eyes Cody

Snopes

Claim: The actor known as Iron Eyes Cody was a true-born Native Indian.

Status: False.

Origins: Although no one could say exactly when we humans first began to have concerns about the effects our activities have on our environment, most of us baby boomers could pinpoint 1970-71 as the Iron Eyes Cody timespan during which we first became aware of the « ecology movement, » as the era when concern for what humans were doing to the world they lived in ran at a fever pitch. Protecting the planet’s resources by calling upon each person to pitch in and do whatever he or she could do to limit the abuse was seen as the right and proper focus of the times. High schools offered classes in ecology. Public school students painted posters decrying pollution. And television ads worked to remind everyone that the problem was real, here, and now.

Three events which occurred during the year between March 1970 and March 1971 helped bring the concept of « ecology » into millions of homes and made it a catchword of the era. One was the first annual Earth Day, observed on 21 March 1970. The second was Look magazine’s promotion of the ecology flag in its 21 April 1970 edition, a symbol that was soon to become as prominent a part of American culture as the ubiquitous peace sign. The third — and perhaps the most effective and unforgettable — was the television debut of Keep America Beautiful’s landmark « People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It » public service ad on the second Earth Day in March 1971.

In that enduring minute-long TV spot, viewers watched an Indian paddle his canoe up a polluted and flotsam-filled river, stream past belching smokestacks, come ashore at a litter-strewn river bank, and walk to the edge of a highway, where the occupant of a passing automobile thoughtlessly tossed a bag of trash out the car window to burst open at the astonished visitor’s feet. When the camera moved upwards for a close-up, a single tear was seen rolling down the Indian’s face as the narrator dramatically intoned: « People start pollution; people can stop it. »

That « crying Indian, » as he would later sometimes be referred to, was Iron Eyes Cody, an actor who throughout his life claimed to be of Cherokee/Cree extraction. Yet his asserted ancestry was just as artificial as the tear that rolled down his cheek in that television spot — the tear was glycerine, and the « Indian » a second-generation Italian-American.

(The spurious use of Native Americans to promote « save the Earth » messages was not limited to this one instance. A moving exposition on the sanctity of the land and the need for careful stewardship of it is still widely quoted as the bona fide words of Chief Seattle. Though the chief was real, the speech was not — the words came not from the chief’s own lips in 1854 but flowed from the pen of a screenwriter in 1971.)

Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera DeCorti on 3 April 1904 in the small town of Kaplan, Louisiana. He was the son of Francesca Salpietra and Antonio DeCorti, she an immigrant from Sicily who had arrived in the USA in 1902, and he another immigrant who had arrived in America not long before her. Theirs was an arranged marriage, and the couple had four children, with Espera (or Oscar, as he was called) their second eldest. In 1909, when Espera was five years old, Antonio DeCorti abandoned his wife and children and headed for Texas. Francesca married again, this time to a man named Alton Abshire, with whom she bore five more children.

As teenagers the three DeCorti boys joined their father in Texas. He had since altered his name from Antonio DeCorti to Tony Corti, and the boys apparently followed suit as far as their surname was concerned. In 1924, following their father’s death, the boys moved to Hollywood, changed « Corti » to « Cody, » and began working in the motion picture industry. It was about this time Iron Eyes began presenting himself to the world as an Indian. Iron Eyes’ two brothers, Joseph William and Frank Henry, found work as extras but soon drifted into other lines of work. Iron Eyes went on to achieve a full career as an actor, appearing in well over a hundred movies and dozens of television shows across the span of several decades.

Although Iron Eyes was not born an Indian, he lived his adult years as one. He pledged his life to Native American causes, married an Indian woman (Bertha Parker), adopted two Indian boys (Robert and Arthur), and seldom left home without his beaded moccasins, buckskin jacket and braided wig. His was not a short-lived masquerade nor one that was donned and doffed whenever expedient — he maintained his fiction throughout his life and steadfastly denied rumors that he was not an Indian, even after his half-sister surfaced to tell the story in 1996 and to provide pointers to the whereabouts of his birth certificate and other family documents.

Cody died on 5 January 1999 at the age of 94.

Iron Eyes Cody wasn’t history’s only faux Indian. Others also falsely claimed this mantle:

* Long Lance, the 1928 thrilling first-person account of Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, was the work of Sylvester Long, an African-American who conned the literary world into believing he was a Cherokee, and then a Cree. While the ruse lasted, Buffalo Child Long Lance was a hit on the lecture circuit and one of the darlings of New York society. His spree ended when the truth about his background was exposed in 1930, and he killed himself with a shot to the head in 1931.

* Grey Owl, a noted Canadian naturalist and author, lived as an Indian and claimed to be half-Apache. Only after his death in 1939 did the world discover he was really an Englishman born Archibald Belaney.

* One of the most popular books on Indian life is Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree, the story of a boyhood spent with Cherokee grandparents. This « autobiography » was yet another fake, penned by Asa Carter, a white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan member.

Even if Iron Eyes was not a true-born Native American, he certainly did a lot of good on behalf of the Native American community, and they generally accepted him as one of them without caring about his true ancestry. In 1995, Hollywood’s Native American community honored Iron Eyes for his longstanding contribution to Native American causes. Although he was no Indian, they pointed out, his charitable deeds were more important than his non-Indian heritage.

Barbara « going native » Mikkelson

Additional information:

People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It « People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It » public service ad

(Keep America Beautiful)

Last updated: 9 August 2007

Aleiss, Angela. « Native Son. »

The Times-Picayune. 26 May 1996 (p. D1).

Cody, Iron Eyes. Iron Eyes: My Life As a Hollywood Indian.

New York: Everest House, 1982. ISBN 0-89696-111-7.

Russell, Ron. « Make-Believe Indian. »

New Times Los Angeles. 8 April 1999.

Schmitz, Neil. « The Other Man. »

The Buffalo News. 8 October 1995 (Magazine, p. 12).

Waldman, Amy. « Iron Eyes Cody, 94, an Actor and Tearful Anti-Littering Icon. »

The New York Times. 5 January 1999 (p. A15).

The Boston Globe. « Iron Eyes Cody: Actor Known for Anti-Littering Ad. »

5 January 1999 (p. A13)

Voir encore:

Navahoax

Did a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists by passing himself off as Native American?

Matthew Fleischer

LA Weekly

Jan 23 2006

January 3, 2012

“So achingly honest it takes your breath away.”

—Miami Heraldon The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping

In June of 1999 a writer calling himself Nasdijj emerged from obscurity to publish an ode to his adopted son in Esquire. “My son is dead,” he began. “I didn’t say my adopted son is dead. He was my son. My son was a Navajo. He lived six years. They were the best six years of my life.”

The boy’s name was Tommy Nothing Fancy, and Nasdijj wrote that he and his wife adopted Tommy as an infant and raised him in their home on the Navajo reservation. At first, Tommy seemed like a healthy baby, albeit one who consistently cried throughout the night. “The doctor at the Indian Health Service said it was nothing. Probably gas.”

But it wasn’t gas. Tommy suffered from a severe case of fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. Though Tommy looked normal, his crying continued and as he grew older he began to suffer massive seizures. “I thought I could see him getting duller with every seizure. He knew he was slowly dying.”

Nasdijj knew too, and he tried to give his son as full a life as time would allow. Fishing was Tommy’s favorite thing to do and they went often — sometimes at the expense of his medical care. “For my son hospitals were analogous to torture. Tommy Nothing Fancy wanted to die with his dad and his dog while fishing.”

Nasdijj’s wife wanted Tommy in the hospital receiving modern medical treatment. “She was a modern Indian. .?.?. She begged. She pleaded. She screamed. She pounded the walls. But the hospitals and doctors never made it better.”

Though the conflict tore his marriage apart, Nasdijj continued to take his son fishing and, true to his last wish, Tommy died of a seizure while on an expedition.

“I was catching brown trout,” Nasdijj wrote. “I was thinking about cooking them for dinner over our campfire when Tommy Nothing Fancy fell. All that shaking. It was as if a bolt of lightning surged uncontrolled through the damaged brain of my son. It wasn’t fair. He was just a little boy who liked to fish. .?.?. I was holding him when he died. .?.?. The fish escaped.”

The Esquire piece, as successful as it was heartbreaking, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and helped establish Nasdijj as a prominent new voice in the world of nonfiction. “Esquire’s Cinderella story,” as Salon’s Sean Elder called it, “arrived over the transom, addressed to no one in particular. ‘The cover letter was this screed about how Esquire had never published the work of an American-Indian writer and never would because it’s such a racist publication,’ recalls editor in chief David Granger. ‘And under it was .?.?. one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’d ever read.’ By the time the piece was published in the June issue, the writer (who lives on an Indian reservation) had a book contract.”

The contract was for a full-length memoir, The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000 to great acclaim. It was followed by two more memoirs, The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping(Ballantine, 2003), and Geronimo’s Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me (Ballantine, 2004). As if losing a son was not enough, the memoirs portray a lifetime of suffering.

Nasdijj was born on the Navajo reservation in a hogan in 1950, he claims, the son of an abusive white cowboy “who broke, bred, and bootlegged horses” and a Navajo mother. “My mother,” he writes, “was a hopeless drunk. I would use the word ‘alcoholic’ but it’s too polite. It’s a white people word. .?.?. There is nothing polite about cleaning up your mother in her vomit and dragging her unconscious carcass back to the migrant housing trailer you lived in.”

Nasdijj says his father would sometimes pimp his mother to other migrant workers for “five bucks” and that she died of alcoholism when he was 7. Though their time together was short and turbulent, Nasdijj says his mother instilled in him the Navajo traditions that now inform his work.

His father, he says, was a sexual predator who raped him the night his mother died. Because his father was white, Nasdijj says he was treated like an “outcast bastard” on the reservation. Like Tommy Nothing Fancy, Nasdijj claims to have fetal alcohol syndrome and to have been raised, with his brother, in migrant camps all over the country.

Nasdijj knows how to pull heartstrings. Both The Blood and The Boy revolve around the lives and deaths of his adopted Navajo sons. “Death, to the Navajo, is like the cold wind that blows across the mesa from the north,” Nasdijj writes in The Blood. “We do not speak of it.” But Nasdijj does speak of it. In fact, he speaks of it almost exclusively. Death and suffering are his staples.

“My son comes back to me when I least expect to see his ghostly vision,” he writes. “He lives in my bones and scars.”

But Nasdijj hasn’t built his career purely through the tragic and sensational nature of his stories. His style is an artful blending of poetry and prose, and his work has met with nearly universal critical praise. The Blood “reminds us that brave and engaging writers lurk in the most forgotten corners of society,” wrote Ted Conover in The New York Times Book Review. Rick Bass called it “mesmerizing, apocalyptic, achingly beautiful and redemptive .?.?. a powerful American classic,” while Howard Frank Mosher said it was “the best memoir I have read about family love, particularly a father’s love for his son, since A River Runs Through It.”The Blood was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and winner of the Salon Book Award.

The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping was published to more glowing reviews — “vivid and immediate, crackling with anger, humor, and love” (The Washington Post) and “riveting .?.?. lyrical .?.?. a ragged wail of a song, an ancient song, where we learn what it is to truly be a parent and love a child” (USA Today).

Shortly after The Blood came out, Nasdijj writes, he moved back to the Navajo reservation, where word of his book and his compassion spread. One day while fishing, a Navajo man and his 10-year-old son approached him. The man took Nasdijj aside and explained that he, his wife and their son, Awee, had AIDS. “They were not terrific parents,” Nasdijj wrote, “but they wanted this child to have a chance at life.” Nasdijj was that chance. For the next two years Nasdijj cared for Awee until his death from AIDS-related illness.

The Boy won a 2004 PEN/Beyond Margins Award and helped solidify Nasdijj’s place as one of the most celebrated multicultural writers in American literature. But as his successes and literary credentials grew in number, so did his skeptics — particularly from within the Native American community. Sherman Alexie first heard of Nasdijj in 1999 after his former editor sent him a galley proof of The Blood for comment. At the time, Alexie, who is Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, was one of the hottest authors in America and was widely considered the most prominent voice in Native American literature. His novel Indian Killerwas a New York Times Notable Book, and his cinematic feature Smoke Signals was the previous year’s Sundance darling, nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and winner of the Audience Award. Alexie’s seal of approval would have provided The Blood with a virtual rubber stamp of Native authenticity. But it took Alexie only a few pages before he realized he couldn’t vouch for the work. It wasn’t just that similar writing style and cadence that bothered Alexie.

“The whole time I was reading I was thinking, this doesn’t just sound like me, this is me,” he says.

Alexie was born hydrocephalic, a life-threatening condition characterized by water on the brain. At the age of 6 months he underwent brain surgery that saved his life but left him, much like Tommy Nothing Fancy, prone to chronic seizures throughout his childhood. Instead of identifying with Nasdijj’s story, however, Alexie became suspicious.

“At first I was flattered, but as I kept reading I noticed he was borrowing from other Native writers too. I thought, this can’t be real.”

Indeed, Nasdijj’s stories also bear uncanny resemblance to the works of N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko and especially Michael Dorris, whose memoir The Broken Cord depicts his struggle to care for his adopted FAS-stricken Native Alaskan children. Although there was never more than ?a similar phrase here and there, Alexie was convinced that the work was fabricated. He ?wasn’t alone.

Shortly after his review of The Bloodcame out in The New York Times Book Review, Ted Conover received an Internet greeting card from Nasdijj chastising him for his piece. Conover, an award-winning journalist whose 2003 book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was taken aback. Not only is it highly unusual for an author to attack a reviewer, but it is especially unusual when the review in question was overwhelmingly positive — Conover’s flattering words would grace the paperback cover.

Conover’s main critique was that Nasdijj was “stingy with self-revelation.” He questioned certain inconsistencies in the author’s background, noting that Nasdijj sometimes said his mother was “with the Navajo,” sometimes she was “Navajo, or so she claimed,” and other times she was just “Navajo.” Conover never accused Nasdijj of lying, he merely suggested that the writer be more forthcoming. Nasdijj, however, rejected this suggestion and sent the angry letter, which Conover characterizes as a sprawling diatribe.

“The whole thing was just really bizarre,” Conover says.

Conover sent a copy of the card to Anton Mueller, Nasdijj’s editor at Houghton Mifflin and an acquaintance. “I wondered if he might shed a little light on this,” he says. Mueller, however, never responded, and the incident left Conover wondering whether he should have been more thorough in investigating Nasdijj before writing his review. It didn’t take him long to find an answer. Several weeks later, Conover was contacted by an expert in fetal alcohol syndrome who had read his review. She informed him that while she sympathized with the plight of Nasdijj and his son, the symptoms described in The Blood are not actually those of FAS.

Says Conover, “I immediately thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve been duped.’?”

This work is a memoir and represents, to the best of my ability and my memory, an accurate reporting of facts and events as I know them and as they have been told to me. I have attempted to protect the privacy of people through the editorial decision to frequently change names, appearances, and locations, as these are not relevant to the focus of the work or the issues the work strives to deal with.

No, these are not the words of James Frey, author of the exaggerated A Million Little Pieces, but of Nasdijj in the author’s note for The Blood. But why? Was this just standard legalese or was Houghton Mifflin concerned about the veracity of this book? Had Sherman Alexie actually gotten through to them? Is the “author’s note” a cynical attempt to protect a piece of fiction passed off as memoir?

Anton Mueller, editor of The Blood, says no. “Nasdijj’s life is hazy and complex, and we both felt it would be a good idea.”

Indeed, getting to the bottom of Nasdijj’s story is no easy task. He alleges a nomadic existence that is virtually free of specific names or places, rendering it difficult to substantiate his claims. A Google search brings up first and foremost his blog — http://www.nasdijj.typepad.com. (Shortly after Nasdijj was contacted for this story, his blog was taken offline.) A sampling of his almost daily blogs over several months suggests that one (and perhaps only one) thing is clear: Nasdijj is a very angry man. If in the books his passion and fierceness are modulated and concentrated, his blog posts are full of rants and denunciations. Targets include the American health care system, government treatment of Indians, middle-class values and, especially, the publishing industry.

He has recently made a routine of calling ReganBooks über-publisher Judith Regan a “cunt,” a designation that in Nasdijj’s estimation she shares with Gina Centrello of Random House, among countless others. “Like the naked Jew who covers his penis before he turns the shower on, there is no fucking hope for you,” he admonishes them.

Non-metaphorical Jews alike are not immune from Nasdijj’s wrath. “Jews [in publishing] would sell the gas chamber shower heads if they thought it might make a buck.” In his acceptance speech for the prestigious PEN/Beyond Margins Award, an edited version of which was delivered in absentia, he took the opportunity to call New York literary agent Binky Urban a “white bitch.” (It’s available online at http://www.literaryrevolution.com/mr-nasdijj-62804.html.)

Nasdijj’s blog is typical of a recent shift in his work. Though his first book was thoughtful, even tender, as his career has progressed Nasdijj has increasingly taken the role of an artist whose willingness to push boundaries often borders on disturbing. His most recent book, Geronimo’s Bones, brought Nasdijj’s tales of suffering to startling heights, or lows depending on your perspective. Surrealistic accounts of forcible incest by his father read less like rape and more like lukewarm trysts. “His lips to mine. His tongue in my mouth. His words: ‘Nasdijj, please, please love me.’ .?.?. He was a lousy lover with his tongue in my mouth. The same tongue that had just been inside my bowels.”

Though incestuous rape may be difficult to trump, perhaps even more disturbing is Nasdijj’s tendency to sexualize teenage boys. A recent post on his Web site featured a nude photograph of the open anus and testicles of a supposedly cancer-ridden teenager. Nasdijj claims this was done in an effort to humanize the disease, but such pictures are often posted alongside graphic accounts of adolescent sexuality. Indeed, they are sometimes posted alongside naked sadomasochistic pictures of Nasdijj himself.

But Nasdijj’s explicit Web site isn’t the only curiosity a Google search of his name reveals — it also brings up a rather caustic reader review of The Boyand the Dog Are Sleeping on BookBrowse (www.bookbrowse.com). “I find this book full of the author’s misinformation regarding his family,” it begins. “I take exception with his opinion of his ‘Anglo father’ and his ‘Navajo mother.’ I happen to be related to this author and his family is tracable [sic] back through the American Revolution on his father’s side and to Holland on his mother’s side. I resent the fact that he seems to be ashamed of his notable ancestors (i.e., Cyrus McCormick, a great grandfather that pioneered nerve block dentistry, couragous mem [sic] that lost their lives at Valley Forge). This kind of dribble [sic] should have been investigated prior to printing or should have been labeled as purely fiction.”

While such a review could easily be dismissed on its own, a Yahoo search of the name attached to it offers up a comprehensive genealogical site. And when the reviewer’s name is searched in conjunction with the name of Nasdijj’s daughter, Kree, one name comes up: Timothy Patrick Barrus.

Barrus, the site says, was born in 1950 (the same year as Nasdijj), is married to Tina Giovanni (also the name of Nasdijj’s wife), and has a daughter named Kree. The site then charts his family lineage back several generations to the 1700s, and, indeed, as the review states, to the McCormick family.

Evidence compiled from other searches seems to corroborate the site.

Just like Nasdijj, Tina Giovanni also hosts a blog — http://www.autism911.blogspot.com. (It also was taken offline in the past week but has returned minus its archives.) A post from Giovanni in July 2005 shows a picture of Nasdijj’s daughter, Kree, and Kree’s husband, Steve, both of whom, Giovanni says, are teachers in La Paz, Bolivia. A follow-up Internet search reveals the December 13, 2004, meeting minutes of the American Educational Association of La Paz, announcing the hiring of Kree Barrus and Steve Poole as teachers at the American Cooperative School in La Paz. (A photograph of Steve Poole on the American Cooperative School’s Web site confirms that he is the same Steve pictured in Giovanni’s blog.) As for Giovanni, a records search reveals her legal name to be Tina Giovanni Barrus, with addresses in and around Taos, New Mexico. This obviously begs the question — who exactly is Timothy Patrick Barrus?

Yet another Google search, this time for Tim Barrus, brings up the heading “Sadomasochistic Literature” and the following: “Some of the best pornographic fiction to come out of the leatherman tradition is by Tim Barrus whose Mineshaft (1984) describes the sexual exploits of the infamous New York S/M palace of the same name.” The site is GLBTQ: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and queer culture. The section in which Barrus’ name appears is titled “Gay Male Writers Since the 70’s.”

Could the heart-wrenching Navajo memoirist actually have been the gay leather novelist in a previous life?

The streets of downtown Lansing, Michigan, are crowded on a Friday night, but not with people — with squirrels. They congregate in the middle of Washington Street, staring with incredulity as a lone car approaches. Despite an impending collision, they don’t bother to move out of the way, apparently shocked to see anyone out at this time of night. The oncoming car doesn’t slow down and crushes one of them into the red brick street. No one is around to notice. It wasn’t always like this.

In the 1950s and ’60s, when Tim Barrus was growing up here, Lansing was a prosperous middle-class community. Washington Street wasn’t a site of squirrel manslaughter, but the heart of a thriving theater district. Oldsmobile, Fisher Auto Parts and General Motors all had factories nearby.

No cowboy, Maynard Barrus worked as a shift foreman at the Lansing Board of Water and Light. In 1948 he married Barrus’ mother, Jean Anne Steginga, a local Lansing girl of Scandinavian descent. Two years later, Timothy Patrick was born.

Tim Barrus was raised with his younger sister, Suzanne, in a modest three-bedroom home off of Aurelius Road close to the Michigan State University campus. His mother was in fact around throughout his childhood and is still alive today. He has no younger brother.

Barrus attended Eastern High School in Lansing, where he was far from a slayer of suburban values. He was a member of the student council, the forensics team, the forum club as well as a homeroom officer. He was also an actor, playing several minor roles in the 1968 class production of Molière’s The Physician in Spite of Himself.

“He was a good, good actor — very passionate,” says one former castmate of Barrus’ who wishes not to be named. “He was able to completely absorb himself into the mind of a character in a way that most people are never able to.”

“He was a thinker — very pensive,” the castmate continues. “But he was a warm person, very friendly.”

Beneath his generally pleasant veneer, however, a simmering temper would occasionally boil over.

“You didn’t know what you were going to say to the guy to make him angry,” recalls Rosemary Taylor, who was also in the cast alongside Barrus, “so you were extremely careful with him because you wanted to stay in his orbit. He was one of those guys that was a little ahead of his time.”

Barrus graduated from high school in 1969 and a year later married Jan Abbott, a local girl from neighboring Okemos. According to a source close to the family, the couple took in foster children to make ends meet. In 1971 Barrus and his wife moved to Largo, Florida, where his sister, Suzanne, lived with her husband, Steve Cheetham. Barrus attended community college while Abbott worked at Winn-Dixie to support him, according to Cheetham. Although Barrus wasn’t publishing his work at the time, he wrote constantly. “He wrote most of his life in one way or another,” says Cheetham by phone from Lansing. “He’s a storyteller. You never knew if he was telling you something true, or part of his imagination or what.” In 1973 the couple moved again before finally winding up back in Lansing. Cheetham never saw Barrus again.

In 1974, Barrus’ only daughter, Kree, was born and, according to sources, the couple also adopted a mildly autistic boy around this time. The boy could have inspired Tommy Nothing Fancy, although several discrepancies exist between his story and Tommy’s.

Nasdijj claims that he adopted Tommy as an infant and that he died at age 6. A Kree Barrus resumé posted online, however, indicates that as a girl she helped care for a mildly autistic 7-year-old. Likewise, an article written by Barrus in 1996 asserts that he adopted his son at age 4 and that he was alive and well as of the ’90s, having survived adolescence and grown “almost as big as I am.”

Cheetham, who was still married to Barrus’ sister at the time, tells a slightly different story. According to him, Barrus and his wife did indeed adopt an autistic boy, but that the boy’s “emotional problems” proved too much for the couple to handle. After less than a year they were forced to give the boy up, and to Cheetham’s best recollection he returned to being a ward of the state.

Address records indicate that the young family lived in an apartment on Cooper Avenue near downtown Lansing until 1975. It is unclear where they moved immediately after that. At some point, Barrus and his wife divorced, and he moved to San Francisco where he began to write — primarily for the gay leather magazine Drummer. Barrus was widely praised for coining the term “leather lit,” and for being one of the founders of the newly formed genre.

In 1984 he moved to Key West and, according to his friend Bill Bowers, took residence with his partner Adolfo. (Barrus would later deny being gay.) There he published his first book, The Mineshaft, a sloppy attempt at erotica, but one that nonetheless garnered him some attention. He soon became a regular contributor to The Weekly News, the local gay newspaper, writing fictional stories reminiscent of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

It was in Key West where Barrus met Bowers, a local artist and photographer, and the two began work on a number of projects together.

“He was a crazy queen. He did things other people just didn’t do,” says Bowers fondly of Barrus. “He was really a master of publicity.”

Bowers remembers collaborating with Barrus on an erotic-photo exhibit called Sadomasochism: True Confessions. After the opening night of the show drew lukewarm interest, Barrus assumed the fake name John Hammond and wrote an open letter to The Weekly News attacking the exhibit.

“Sadomasochism is a disease,” the letter read, “and gay men who are into that scene are wrong.” He then had Bowers write a response to their mythical antagonist Hammond, inviting him to “take a Valium, take a douche,” and published it in The Weekly News. “The next time Mr. Hammond wants to show his ignorance he should do some heavy research before he rejects his very own brothers.” The ensuing controversy rallied the gay community around the artists and propelled the exhibit to a successful run.

“He would do anything to shock people,” said Bowers. “It works every time if you want a reaction, be it good or bad. Bad is good too, sometimes better.”

Not all of Barrus’ acquaintances found his antics quite so charming, however. Lars Eighner grew quite tired of his routine. “If you look up dilettante in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Tim Barrus,” says Eighner.

Best known for his 1993 book Travels With Lizbeth(which The Blood would partially parrot), Eighner first became acquainted with Barrus around 1984, after he received a random letter from Barrus expressing his most frequent theme — “publishers are scum.” Eighner was just breaking into writing at the time and found Barrus’ angry candor instructive. The two soon began a three-way correspondence with another gay writer, T.R. Witomski, which lasted for several years.

Though he never met Barrus in person, Eighner came to know him quite well through his letters and phone conversations. Barrus would routinely harangue Eighner with long soliloquies about the evils of publishing. “There was always some great injustice that had been done him — he had been slighted by everyone, betrayed; there was treachery everywhere.” Eighner is quick to point out that he didn’t think Barrus was crazy — just irrationally angry.

“He didn’t think windmills were monsters, he just hated windmills.”

According to Eighner, Barrus and the established gay writer John Preston had a one-sided literary rivalry — and Barrus was the perennial loser. While Barrus’ books were well reviewed in the gay press (The Advocate called his 1987 book Anywhere, Anywhere “a rewarding encounter with compelling characters”), he was never able to achieve the mainstream success that Preston, Witomski and eventually Eighner were able to. This made him, according to Eighner, “insanely jealous.”

That Barrus might have adopted a Native American persona to facilitate his career strikes Eighner as completely in character. Similar behavior was routine when Eighner knew him. Barrus’ third book, Anywhere, Anywhere, is supposedly a novelized account of his service in the Vietnam War, which, Eighner says, “some serious publications thought was really a memoir of a gay soldier.” The book is a love story between wheelchair-bound Chris and his commanding officer in Vietnam, Boss. The pair fell in love fighting alongside each other, and upon their return to America they used their feelings for each other to battle the physical and emotional scars inflicted on them by the war. Anywhere, Anywhere was praised in the gay press for revealing the previously untold gay experience in Vietnam. “Of course Barrus had never been near Vietnam or military service,” says Eighner. (When asked if his brother-in-law served in Vietnam, Cheetham replies, “Absolutely not.”)

In a 1994 article he wrote for the Lambda Book Report, however, Barrus claims to be a Vietnam vet, or so it seems: “I knew lots of gay men in Vietnam. Not that I had sex with them. No one was telling ?their story.”

Barrus, a natural mimic, would routinely take stories that had happened to Preston or Witomski, and tell them as if they had happened to him. Eventually, word got back to the other two that this was going on and they both fell out with him. “As you may have guessed, Barrus doesn’t wear well,” said Eighner. “Whether it’s the first or 15th time you catch someone telling your anecdotes as if they were his own, eventually, almost everyone has a limit.”

Witomski took special umbrage, and in a 1992 article published in The Advocate shortly before his death, he labeled Barrus one of “five gay writers we could do without.” Other writers followed suit in their condemnation, and Barrus’ delusions of censure became reality. In 1993, with his bridges burning in gay publishing, Barrus met and married his current wife, Tina Giovanni, in San Francisco and disappeared. Eighner never heard from him again. And neither did the Internet until 1996, when something (and someone) curious emerged. In an article now available only through the archives of an obscure Australian company called Infant Massage Australia, a kinder, gentler Barrus appeared in a service article on how to be a loving father. Though the piece is trite and filled with gooey, ’90s parenting clichés (“It takes a real man to nurture”), it appears to be his first experimentation with the caring father persona.

Sometime between then and the Esquire article that launched his career, Nasdijj was born.

Peering out from behind a pair of silver-framed glasses, Irvin Morris sits at his office desk thumbing thoughtfully through a weathered copy of The Blood. A quiet man with sad, dark eyes and a closely trimmed head of raven black hair, Morris is focused as he reads, occasionally sighing in dismay when something he sees disturbs him. A giant fake plant hovers over him, draping plastic leaves onto a sizable portion of his cluttered desk. He looks up briefly from the text ?in time to catch me eyeing the plant strangely. “I don’t know where ?that thing came from,” he says with a smile, “but I really should do something about it.” But first thing’s first — another possible impostor needs ?to be dealt with.

Morris has suspected for years that Nasdijj is not who he says he is. A full-blooded Navajo and a professor of literature and Navajo studies at Dine College in Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation, Morris is among the world’s foremost authorities on Navajo culture. Shortly after The Blood was published, he saw Nasdijj’s name listed on the national index of Native writers. Under the author’s bio, it said Nasdijj claimed his name meant “to become again” in Navajo Athabaskan. This came as news to Morris, who is fluent in Athabaskan. “There is no word ‘Nasdijj’ in the Navajo language,” he explains. “It’s gibberish.”

Not long thereafter, Morris got a call from Sherman Alexie asking if he would take a look at The Blood. After reading the book, Morris felt certain Nasdijj was not Navajo. “He seems to know some facts aboutthe culture, but he has no sensibility of it.”

“Every Navajo he meets seems to live in a hogan,” Morris jokes. “No one has really lived in hogans since HUD housing started being built on the reservation in the ’60s. Only people who are extremely traditional live in hogans.” Traditional people who would not make the kind of cultural errors that Nasdijj depicts them making. Navajo Rose, for instance.

Navajo Rose is a character in The Bloodwho, Nasdijj writes, lives in a hogan near his on the reservation. Navajo Rose is illiterate and, though Nasdijj says she graduated from high school, she somehow has never seen the inside of a library.

“You have to be really traditional to have never even seen inside a library,” says Morris.

Nasdijj takes it upon himself to teach Navajo Rose how to read and drives her off the reservation to “White People Town” to see her first library. “She was impressed with all the books,” Nasdijj writes.

Morris bristles at the condescending tone. “We do have libraries here.”

But the error that really made Morris crazy was a culinary one. To thank Nasdijj for his lessons, Navajo Rose routinely brings him Navajo tacos made of mutton. “Now that’s just disgusting,” says Morris of the tacos, which are traditionally made with beef. “We love our mutton but no one would use it in a Navajo taco; the spices just don’t mix.” (Indeed, in my experience on the reservation, the suggestion of a Navajo taco with mutton induces a nearly universal crinkling of noses in distaste.)

While a non-Navajo may see these gaffes as minor, Morris asserts they add up to a character that doesn’t exist. Like a rabbi eating pork or a Hindu beating his cow, they are culturally incriminating, and the book is littered with them, he says. Nasdijj writes that when he was a boy, his mother used to have religious sings for him to familiarize him with his culture. “That’s a communal activity,” Morris says. “To have a sing by yourself is highly aberrant behavior. Like holding a church service for yourself.”

Most startling and offensive to Morris is Nasdijj’s depiction of Navajo clanship, which plays a vital role in tribal identity. In Geronimo’s Bones, Nasdijj claims his mother was a member of the Water Flowing clan; no such clan exists, however. “There’s a Water Flowing Together clan,” explains Morris, “but the difference isn’t insignificant. If I was going to claim my mother’s clanship, I would at least make sure to get the name right.”

Nasdijj also writes that because his father was white and without a clan, Nasdijj had no clan and was therefore treated as an “outcast bastard” by other Navajo. This, says Morris, is misrepresentative in that it wrongly portrays the Navajo clan structure as an authoritarian caste system. It is also factually incorrect. “Our lineage is passed on through our mother. If his mother had a clan, he has a clan.”

Immediately after reading the book, Morris contacted the Native author registry and asked them to take Nasdijj’s name off the list. Without specific information about Nasdijj’s true identity, however, the registry refused, and Morris let the subject drop.

“I have always been bothered by the false claim to the Dine identity by Nasdijj,” Morris says, “but if I spent my time tracking down every white writer pretending to be Navajo, I’d have no time left to do anything else.”

Indeed, in the long history of Indian appropriation by whites, the Navajo have become the primary target. Of particular ire to the Navajo is mystery writer Tony Hillerman. For the past several decades Hillerman has written detective stories from the perspective of his Navajo protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Though not actually claiming Navajo ancestry, Hillerman infuses healthy doses of Navajo spirituality into the story through his characters — sometimes accurately, sometimes not. Hillerman’s appropriation is well-known and disliked across tribal lines and was the subject of parody in Sherman Alexie’s book Indian Killer.But despite the criticism from Alexie and other Native writers, Hillerman’s success has sparked imitators. So much so that Morris claims the existence of at least 14 white authors living in nearby Gallup, New Mexico, writing Navajo murder mysteries.

Of course, white appropriation of Native identity far predates Tony Hillerman. Arguably the most infamous Indian appropriator is rabid segregationist and Ku Klux Klansman Asa Earl Carter, the former speechwriter for George Wallace who penned the notorious “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” speech. After Wallace’s failed presidential bid and the collapse of segregation in the South, Carter assumed the identity of a Cherokee orphan and began publishing memoirs under the name Forrest Carter, allegedly in honor of KKK founder Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. His 1976 book Education of Little Treewas a critically acclaimed best-seller, and despite being outed as fraudulent decades ago, it is, remarkably, still in print.

Though Carter’s is perhaps the most unusual case of Indian impersonation, there are many others, most of whom romanticize Native spirituality and culture, even though they often misrepresent the culture to suit their spiritual or literary aims. What’s interesting about Nasdijj is that, on the surface, anyway, he doesn’t. The Nasdijj persona lacks the spiritual ambitions that Indian appropriators have historically tried to capitalize on. He mentions Navajo spirituality as if only to prove he is familiar with its conventions. Instead, his preoccupation is the social world: the world of men and especially boys.

His Indians are often both spiritually and monetarily poor, sometimes gay, and have AIDS and FAS; mainly they are powerless and sometimes homeless little boys. There are no parents in their lives, other than the author, and an absence of embracing and strengthening culture. He uses these impoverished characters, including his own persona, as a springboard to attack the dominant white culture, which has, apparently, spurned him. In the pantheon of self-appointed Native spokesmen, this puts him more in the company of contemporary gadfly Ward Churchill, who uses his dubious heritage as a soapbox for an airing of his political ideology and personal grievances.

The question that remains is how these frauds are perpetrated in such abundance. A writer, seemingly white in appearance and lacking anything resembling a verifiable personal history, turns in a manuscript filled with sage-like wisdom from an ancient and secretive people and no one bothers to check the facts? Houghton Mifflin’s Anton Mueller, presumably speaking for the publishing industry at large, has an answer: “As you know, we don’t fact-check books.”

There is a Chinese proverb: How is it that a toad this large comes to stand in front of me?

James Dowaliby can tell you. A former vice president of Paramount International Television Group, he decided to pick up a copy of The Boy after reading a review and noting it was about fatherhood, a topic Dowaliby considers too rare in publishing. A single father himself, Dowaliby was astonished by what he read: “I’d never seen a book that so articulated a father’s love for his son.” Dowaliby knew immediately that this was a film he wanted to make, and after securing the rights to the book from Nasdijj he was able to bring FilmFour (the filmmaking arm of Channel 4 in the U.K.) into the project. By the end of 2004, a feature-length adaptation of The Boy was greenlighted for development.

After securing the film rights to The Boyand the Dog Are Sleeping and negotiating the deal with FilmFour, in early 2004 Dowaliby was finally ready to get down to the business of making a movie with Nasdijj. What Dowaliby didn’t know at the time was the controversy that nearly derailed his new partner’s burgeoning career four years earlier.

When he received his galley copy of The Blood and determined the book was fraudulent, Sherman Alexie not only refused to blurb the book but openly accused Nasdijj of both manufacturing his identity and plagiarism at a private lunch with Nasdijj’s editor, Anton Mueller. Alexie says he begged Mueller to reconsider releasing the book.

“I said, you’re going to pay for this later — this is not real,” Alexie says.

According to Alexie, however, Mueller was unmoved by their conversation. “Basically his attitude was that it’s a great book and the art is more important than the truth.”

“I know I may sound like Tipper Gore here,” says Alexie, “but we have to hold our art to higher standards.”

Mueller acknowledges he spoke with Alexie but says that he found the allegation of plagiarism to be an “odd claim” and unjustified. Regarding Nasdijj’s supposed Native heritage, he says, “I think even Nasdijj would tell you his own biography or parentage is something he has never been entirely sure of.”

After his unsuccessful meeting with Mueller, Alexie sent a letter to Houghton Mifflin, asserting that the author was a fake who had borrowed heavily from several Native writers, including himself. But his accusations were dismissed, and the publication went forward. “And every time I bring it up, I’m ignored,” says Alexie.

Alexie’s allegations did have some apparent effect, though. After The Blood came out, Nasdijj’s then-agent, Heather Schroeder, dropped him and Houghton Mifflin declined to publish his next book. Mueller credits Nasdijj’s erratic behavior as the reason: “To be honest, Nasdijj is simply not the most stable person in the world. It showed up in the editing process. His instability wore me down. Sending inappropriate e-mails to people like Ted Conover. His blog. I couldn’t deal with it.”

Did this unstable behavior lead him to suspect the veracity of Nasdijj’s story? “Well, I didn’t publish a second book with him, so that indicates something. But I would say that it was mainly because of his instability.” Yet Mueller still regards Nasdijj as “one of the most, if not the most talented writer I have ever worked with.”

Nasdijj found a new agent, Andrew Stuart, and eventually secured a multibook deal with Ballantine. The Boy was published with the specter of The Blood hanging over the proceedings.

By the time Dowaliby began trying to make a film version of The Boy, he was stuck with a giant toad standing in the road in front of him. Following a few weeks of discussions, FilmFour and Dowaliby agreed to solicit a prominent British screenwriter, who had previously scripted a film about Navajo code talkers, to adapt the book. The writer had spent significant time on the Navajo Nation researching his film and had acquired a great deal of knowledge and respect for the Navajo culture. Immediately after reading The Boy, however, he called Dowaliby with his concerns.

The writer pointed out several inconsistencies in Nasdijj’s story that he found suspicious, particularly Nasdijj’s mischaracterization of Navajo clanship. “What did I know about clanship?” says Dowaliby. “I had taken Nasdijj for his word.”

For both creative and liability purposes, Dowaliby was already fact-checking the book and he promised the writer he would look into the matter further. Dowaliby then began the almost daily routine of trying to draw honest information from Nasdijj about his past. He had little success. Dowaliby needed specifics; Nasdijj gave him none.

“He just kept recycling the same story about sheep camps and migrant work,” Dowaliby says.

The producer intensified his background check of Nasdijj and found out about the Alexie incident. His doubts grew, and Nasdijj’s responses to his queries only raised more questions. As the deadline for hiring the writer neared, Dowaliby concluded that Nasdijj was either unable or unwilling to confirm the details necessary to back up the truth of his story. He briefly considered simply billing the project as “inspired by true events” or the weaker “based on the book by Nasdijj” and not offering it as true in any fashion. “But admitting it was fiction would have ruined the emotional truth — the core of the book.”

Dowaliby refused to go forward with the film until he got answers. Nasdijj refused to speak with him, claiming that he had moved back to the Navajo reservation. Dowaliby did, however, get a response from Nasdijj’s wife, Tina. Though Dowaliby will not repeat what they discussed in confidence, he admits that she came clean about a number of things. Shortly thereafter it became apparent to him “that this wasn’t just a fraud against the intellectual community, but against the entire Navajo Nation, and that Nasdijj needed to apologize.”

Dowaliby then contacted FilmFour and told them the project needed to be dropped. “People like Nasdijj,” he says, “can’t exist without some sort of complicity.”

What can you do when the truth isn’t enough?

For as long as white writers have been impersonating Indians, Indians have been exposing them as frauds. Yet despite remarkable investigative successes in uncovering the truth, their efforts have been largely ignored.

“For some reason people lose their sense of discernment when it comes to Indians,” says activist and Indian Country Today columnist Suzan Shown-Harjo.

Harjo, who is Muscogee Creek and Cheyenne, has had her own battles outing those she believes to be Native American impostors. She challenged University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who gained notoriety last year when he referred to the victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns,” and who claims to be of Cherokee and Creek descent. Though he has no specialized training in the field, he rose through the university ranks to become chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, largely on the basis of his claimed heritage. Yet as Harjo and other journalists have pointed out, he is not an enrolled member of any federally recognized tribe. Likewise, genealogical research carried out by the Rocky Mountain News and several Native journalists could find no trace of Indian blood in Churchill’s family. Despite the insistence of both the Cherokee and Creek nations that Churchill is not one of them, Churchill maintains his position as a professor of ethnic studies and is frequently paid to lecture on Native and political issues around the country. In response to those who question his identity, he simply denies everything and calls his accusers “blood police.”

“Indian identity has nothing to do with blood quantum,” counters Harjo. “You hear that from the phony baloneys trying to attach themselves to some 1,000th particle of Indian blood.”

For Harjo and many Native Americans, the issue of identity extends well beyond the existential or racial question of “Who am I?” It is a legal issue of citizenship. As sovereign entities, tribes have laws that govern who is and isn’t Native. “Someone who’s Italian doesn’t have to look a certain way or be a certain way,” Harjo explains. “They are Italian by virtue of being an Italian citizen. The same is true in Indian country.

“If I go to Italy and say, ‘I think the world of you people. I speak a little Italian, I love spaghetti, so I’m going to be voting in your next election. Give me preference as an Italian citizen as opposed to noncitizens. Give me a job. Give me grant money. And maybe I’m going to carry on your diplomatic relations with other nations,’ people would lock me up. But that’s what happens. The people that step into our world don’t do so in a respectful way. They rush right in and say ‘I’m your leader, I’m the articulator of your culture.’?”

But given the response of many, including prominent publishers and Oprah Winfrey, to the James Frey affair — that his message of redemption is true and so who cares about literal untruths — is it possible that Tim Barrus is using the Nasdijj persona as a vehicle for social justice? After all, AIDS and FAS on the reservation have been themes of his for more than six years. Though his methods are misguided, could his intentions be genuine, and if so, what is the problem with that?

“It’s crazy,” says Harjo, “that’s the problem with it. Why can’t you be who you are, a non-Native person, supporting the same things Indians care about? Why do you have to be one of us to support us? That’s a little loopy, isn’t it? So you have to stand back and say why is that person lying about that? And the answer is because people like that don’t do it for altruistic reasons. It’s about profit. They think pretending to be Indian will help them sell more books.”

And provided the complicity of a publisher, they may be right. On many issues, preachy whites simply lack the political and cultural cachet of someone perceived to be Native American.

“My stepfather once told me, if you want anyone in the world to like you, just tell them that you’re Indian,” says Sherman Alexie. “For some reason we are elevated simply because of our race. I’m so popular I could start a cult. I could have 45 German women living with me tomorrow.”

Indeed, the world has had an Indian fetish since the days of P.T. Barnum. Certain steps have been taken to protect cultural integrity — the Native American Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, for instance, makes it a federal crime for anyone not enrolled in or associated with a federally recognized tribe to sell their art as “Indian.” Yet literature, strangely enough, is not covered under the Arts and Crafts Act, leaving it vulnerable to exploitation.

“The backbone of multicultural literature,” says Alexie, “is the empathy of its audience — their curiosity for the condition of a group other than themselves. Nasdijj is taking advantage of that empathy.”

If Nasdijj is not Native American, he’s not only misinforming his audience, he’s making it harder for genuine work to come forward. The PEN/Beyond Margins Award is given annually to a Native American writer to help spread “racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.” When Nasdijj accepted the award in 2004, he accepted money and prestige specifically earmarked to help Native Americans share their story.

“The last act of colonialism is for the dominant culture to completely supplant the Native one,” says Alexie. “Nasdijj is disappearing people. With every book he writes he makes Indians disappear.”

In the end it is, ironically, Nasdijj who sums up appropriation most eloquently. In an essay on Louis L’Amour titled “The Saddest Book I Ever Read,” Nasdijj writes, “The accumulated weight of fictions (like L’Amour’s), when added up, form a place that never was and a time that never happened. Fictions like this are murderous. They pass off illusion as fact, stereotype as portraiture. .?.?. Counterfeit comes to be seen as the genuine article. It kills people. It kills culture. It kills even the shadow of truth.”

Epilogue: When I approached Nasdijj last week, via e-mail after many attempts to find a working phone number, I received a quick reply from someone called Mike Willis, who identified himself as Nasdijj’s assistant. He told me that Nasdijj was high in the Sierra Madres of Mexico without access to phones or the Internet. He offered no sense of when Nasdijj might return, adding that it was “quite sad” that the author couldn’t “defend himself.” When asked for a phone number for either himself or Tina Giovanni, Willis did not reply. Shortly thereafter, Nasdijj’s Web site was taken offline and all mention of his daughter Kree Barrus was removed from the archives of Giovanni’s blog. The next day, that blog was also shut down and queries sent to Nasdijj’s e-mail address went unanswered. But on Monday, the following post appeared on Nasdijj’s blog: “For those seeking Refuge consult the Hyena. Follow those directions to the Old Hotel. To find N, take the stairs to the roof. Bring your medication. The view is magnificent. And safe. You know who you are. Do not answer questions. Sealed. They do not care about you. You know that. Do not be fooled. Someone will. You will connect. Follow the Hyena’s path. Mike.”

Voir aussi:

When the Story Stolen Is Your Own

Sherman Alexie

Time

Jan. 29, 2006

In 1999 a Native American writer, born fragile and poor on a destitute Indian reservation, published an essay, "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams," in Esquire. It earned a National Magazine Award nomination and was later expanded into a memoir of the same title that became a finalist for a PEN/Martha Albrand Award. That rez-to-riches tale of courage and redemption sounds like a Horatio Alger story, doesn’t it? It should be a movie. Or at least an episode of A&E’s Biography. Of course, I’m biased, because, well, it’s my story. Kind of.

I did not write "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams." But raised fragile and poor on the destitute Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State, I published a story, This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona, in Esquire in 1993. My story, which features an autobiographical character named Thomas Builds-the-Fire who suffers a brain injury at birth and experiences visionary seizures into his adulthood, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the basis for the film Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award at Sundance in 1998.

Nasdijj, the one-name author of The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams, claimed to be the son of a Navajo mother and a white father. His memoir features a child named Tommy Nothing Fancy who suffers from and dies of a seizure disorder. Quite the coincidence, don’t you think?

Of course, after reading Nasdijj’s essay and book, I suspected that he was a literary thief and a liar. As a Native American writer and multiculturalist, I worried that Nasdijj was a talented and angry white man who was writing as a Native American in order to mock multicultural literature. I imagined that he would eventually reveal himself as a hoaxer and shout, "You see, people, there is nothing real or authentic about multicultural literature. Anybody can write it."

Angry, competitive, saddened, self-righteous and more than a little jealous that this guy was stealing some of my autobiographical thunder, I approached Nasdijj’s publishers and told them his book not only was borderline plagiarism but also failed to mention specific tribal members, clans, ceremonies and locations, all of which are vital to the concept of Indian identity. They took me seriously, but they didn’t believe me.

And how do I feel now that the author of an investigative story in L.A. Weekly believes that Nasdijj is a fraud and actually a white writer named Timothy Barrus? Vindicated? Well, sure. I dream of leaving "I told you so" messages on many voice mails, although unlike James Frey’s publisher, who initially supported his lies and moral evasions about his exaggerated memoir, A Million Little Pieces, Nasdijj’s publisher dropped him because of personality conflicts even before the L.A. Weekly story came out. Of course, Frey has sold millions of books and will probably sell a few million more. Nasdijj hasn’t sold millions of books, and he will probably fade into obscurity. In response to the L.A. Weekly story, Nasdijj posted a rambling statement on his blog saying that people should pay attention to "real scandals" like poverty.

So why should we be concerned about his lies? His lies matter because he has cynically co-opted as a literary style the very real suffering endured by generations of very real Indians because of very real injustices caused by very real American aggression that destroyed very real tribes. He isn’t the first to do it. In 1991 the American Booksellers Association gave its book-of-the-year award to Forrest Carter’s Cherokee-themed memoir, The Education of Little Tree, despite the documented fact that Carter was really Asa Carter, a rabid segregationist and the author of George Wallace’s infamous war cry, "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"

I can only hope that Nasdijj’s readers will look to Oprah for inspiration. After initially defending the essential truth of Frey’s memoir, a selection for her book club, Oprah changed her mind, admitted that she had been duped, invited Frey back onto her show and called him a liar. When was the last time a public figure like Oprah admitted to being wrong? When was the last time a powerful person like Oprah issued a genuine public apology? I think all the people who profited from Nasdijj’s fraud should take heed of that lesson and issue public apologies to Native Americans in general and to Navajo in particular. And I hope we won’t be waiting for that apology as long as the rivers flow, the grasses grow and the winds blow.

– Sherman Alexie, a member of the Spokane tribe, is the author of 17 books, including Ten Little Indians, his latest

Voir également:

Shadows of Doubt

Rocky Mountain News

Front page

June 06, 2005

Investigation confirms Ward Churchill is, indeed, a fraud.

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fabricated historical facts, published the work of others as his own and repeatedly made false claims about two federal Indian laws, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.

The two-month News investigation, carried out at the same time Churchill and his work are being carefully examined by the university, also unearthed fresh genealogical information that casts new doubts on the professor’s long-held assertion that he is of American Indian ancestry.

The findings come as Churchill is, essentially, on trial — in the court of public opinion and in the halls of academia. Prickly debates swirl around him on the standards of academic integrity, the limits of free speech and the responsibilities of scholarly writers.

A faculty committee is working behind closed doors, conducting a detailed and time-consuming examination of four allegations — fabrication, plagiarism, mischaracterization of federal Indian laws and misrepresentation of his ancestry.

The stakes are high.

For Churchill, it’s a process that ultimately could cost him his job. For Colorado’s flagship university, it’s a process that could bear heavily on its integrity and reputation.

Churchill has maintained a confident public posture — portraying himself as a renegade who isn’t afraid to challenge commonly held beliefs, defiantly scoffing at the allegations he faces, characterizing his scholarly standards as typical and casting himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

"This may be all new and unique to you," he told the News, "and in my personal experience it is to me, too. (But) it’s happened about 20 times over the last decade to people who challenge orthodoxy. And they play the script out pretty much the same. And you all are just in lock step."

Churchill has framed the CU investigation not as a look at the rigor and accuracy of his scholarship, but as a right-wing crusade and an attack on academic freedom and free speech.

While it is likely to be months before the university’s faculty committee finishes its probe of Churchill’s scholarship and ancestry, the News found serious problems in all four of the major areas the panel is examining:

• He accused the U.S. Army of deliberately spreading smallpox among the Mandan Indians of the Upper Missouri River Valley in 1837 — but there’s no basis for the assertion in the sources he cited. In fact, in some instances the books he cited — and their authors — directly contradict his assertions.

• He published an essay in 1992 that largely copies the work of a Canadian professor. But the piece is credited to his own research organization, the Institute for Natural Progress. Churchill published that essay — with some minor changes and subtle altering of words — even though the writer, Fay G. Cohen, had withdrawn permission for him to use it.

He also published portions of an essay in a 1993 book that closely resemble a piece that appeared the year before under the byline of Rebecca L. Robbins. However, the News could not determine what occurred. Churchill said he initially wrote the piece and allowed Robbins to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return numerous messages left by the News.

The News also could not determine who actually wrote an essay published under the name of Churchill’s former wife, Marie Anne Jaimes, who also goes by Annette Jaimes. A paragraph from that essay also was published in a Churchill essay.

• He mischaracterized an important federal Indian law in repeated writings in the past two decades, saying that the General Allotment Act of 1887 established a "blood quantum" standard that allowed tribes to admit members only if they had at least "half" native blood. Churchill has accused the government of imposing what he called "a formal eugenics code" as part of a thinly veiled effort to define Indians out of existence. The News found that the law — while a legislative low point in Indian history that resulted in many tribes losing their lands — does not contain any requirements for Indian bloodlines.

In addition, the News found, Churchill similarly mischaracterized a more recent piece of legislation, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

• He has repeatedly claimed to have American Indian ancestry, but an extensive examination of genealogical records that traced branches of both sides of Churchill’s family to pre-Revolutionary War times turned up no solid evidence of a single Indian ancestor. In addition, the News found that DNA tests taken last year by two brothers prove that the father of Joshua Tyner — Joshua Tyner is the ancestor Churchill most often has cited for his Indian lineage — was not Indian.

During its investigation, the News also unearthed other evidence of possible research misconduct by Churchill that has not been taken to the faculty committee.

In one instance, the News discovered an obscure 1972 pamphlet written by activists in Canada that Churchill later began claiming as his own work.

And in at least three other cases, the News revealed Friday, he published works by others without their permission. Churchill credited authors Robert T. Coulter, Rudolph C. Ryser and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, but didn’t notify them that he was publishing their articles.

Catalyst of controversy

Although he had been an ethnic studies professor at CU for more than a decade, it wasn’t until January that Churchill’s name — already well-known in some circles — exploded onto the general public’s consciousness.

That’s when a college newspaper reporter in upstate New York rediscovered an essay that Churchill wrote on Sept. 11, 2001, a now-infamous piece in which he referred to those who died in the terrorist attacks as "little Eichmanns" — a reference to a ranking Nazi who helped carry out the Holocaust.

Within days, talk-radio and cable-television hosts made Churchill a daily staple. Gov. Bill Owens and other political leaders called for his job, and the university’s board of regents demanded a careful examination of his work.

Churchill stepped down from his position as head of the ethnic studies department but kept his faculty position.

That examination cleared Churchill of wrongdoing for the "little Eichmanns" comment and other controversial writings and public pronouncements, concluding that they were free speech, protected by the First Amendment.

But the initial review raised specific questions about his scholarship and his assertion of Indian ethnicity, and concluded that they were serious enough to refer to the standing committee on research misconduct.

That committee is now under the gun as CU administrators try — again — to extract the state’s flagship school from a public relations disaster.

First, it was a football recruiting scandal, one that ultimately saw the resignations of President Betsy Hoffman, Boulder campus Chancellor Richard Byyny and Athletic Director Dick Tharp.

Now, it is Churchill.

In a wide-ranging interview in his office in the basement of the Ketchum classroom building on the Boulder campus, Churchill addressed all the issues investigated by the committee. He ended the interview, however, without addressing other issues raised in the News investigation, agreeing to look at written questions left by reporters. He later declined to answer them.

Churchill stands by work

In his defense, Churchill told the News he didn’t commit plagiarism, academic fraud or research misconduct.

For example, he said he never claimed to write the essay that mirrors Cohen’s, and that if there was wrongdoing involved, it was committed by someone else.

As for the instances of alleged misuse of other authors’ material, including the essay linked to Robbins, the professor said he was the original author.

He said the controversy over that particular piece of writing might have merit but that it doesn’t amount to plagiarism.

"I’m free to make disposition of my ideas and my material any way I see fit," he said. "That’s my understanding of the situation, and I’ve basically confirmed that, OK? If there’s an issue around that, then there’s an issue around that.

"I’m perfectly happy to deal with the issue, OK? We start by calling the issue, whatever it might be, by its right name. You don’t call it something else because it resonates."

He said he would not discuss his ancestry.

And on the smallpox allegation and the General Allotment Act controversy in particular, Churchill said he could make "slam dunk" cases on both.

But he did not back that up with evidence.

When he was pushed for sources on the smallpox epidemic, for example, he cited the names of books that not only don’t support his allegation but, in fact, undermine it: Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn and R.G. Robertson’s Rotting Face: Smallpox and the American Indian. Both authors have told the News that Churchill has mischaracterized their work.

Churchill also insisted that he was being held to a different standard than other authors.

"You’re sitting here in full knowledge that what you’re sort of trying to winnow out of me in terms of a defense is not particularly required, in most instances," he said. "I’ve provided more citations to support what I said than Evan Connell and a couple of other people that have come up."

Genocide common theme

Churchill’s voluminous writings — which span more than 100 books, essays, chapters and articles, some citing more than 200 endnotes — are at the heart of his professional being.

And they roil with the same theme: The white man, and later the U.S. government, carrying out a centuries-long war of genocide against the indigenous people who populated the North American continent before the 1492 arrival of Columbus.

There is little argument among historians that the treatment of American Indians in this country’s formative years was horrendous.

Stolen land. Broken treaties. Deadly attacks. Decimation of various populations by disease and hardship, if not by gunfire.

And that is exactly why some of Churchill’s claims have so perplexed some of his critics.

"The history is bad enough," said Russell Thornton, a professor at UCLA. "It doesn’t need to be embellished."

For Thornton, Churchill is more than a passing curiosity.

Thornton is a member of the Cherokee Nation. He wrote the book, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, which Churchill has repeatedly cited as the basis for his allegations about the U.S. Army and smallpox.

But a careful examination of Thornton’s book — and other source material cited by Churchill — reveals nothing to support his accusation that the U.S. Army shipped blankets from a St. Louis smallpox infirmary to Fort Clark, located in present-day North Dakota, in 1837.

The goal, Churchill charged, was to infect the Mandan tribe with smallpox as part of its larger campaign of genocide against American Indians.

Although there is no dispute that a smallpox epidemic ravaged the tribes of the Upper Missouri River Valley in 1837, Churchill takes a view not shared by the scholars he cites, pinning its origins on the Army.

Sources contradict story

In at least seven published works in the past 13 years, Churchill has told essentially the same story, with new details and characters emerging over time. In three of the works, he attributes the core of the story to Thornton. In two others, he cites the UCLA professor’s book for parts of the story.

But neither Thornton’s book nor the others cited by Churchill support his assertion.

In fact, each contradicts it, attributing the arrival of the disease to infected passengers on a steamboat, the St. Peters, which was operated by the American Fur Co.

Churchill mentions the boat in some versions of his story but has argued that it was used by the Army to ship the infested blankets. However, the authors of the original works, and others who have written about the smallpox, dismissed Churchill’s allegations involving the Army.

Lesley Wischmann, a Wyoming writer and author of the book Frontier Diplomats: The Life and Times of Alexander Culbertson and Natoyist-siksina, put it bluntly:

"The Army was not involved in the 1837 smallpox epidemic," she said. "It was totally the responsibility of the American Fur Co."

Wischmann, who has written extensively on historical topics, studied journals of fur traders and other historical documents while preparing the biography of Culbertson. Many of them dealt with the smallpox epidemic.

And Wischmann doubts that the trading company spread smallpox to the Indians on purpose.

"It just doesn’t make sense to me," she said. "You know, the American Fur Co., you can blame them for a lot of things — but it just doesn’t make sense to me they would willingly and knowingly try to kill off their trading partners. Because that’s where they made their money."

Thornton, who said that Churchill mischaracterized his work on several other occasions, said he had "never heard" of allegations that the Army was to blame.

He said his book is based on the "standard stuff" available on the subject, including journals from traders and trappers who were there. Placing the blame on an infected steamboat passenger is a standard interpretation, he said.

"If there is new information, why didn’t he cite it?" Thornton asked.

Churchill responded that he attributed to Thornton only the "demographics" of the epidemic — estimates of the numbers of various tribe members who died. When told that one of his books, Since Predator Came, attributed the entire story to Thornton, Churchill said that either his footnote was misread, or it was "incomplete."

Says writing is his

The smallpox allegation is only one of the areas where the News discovered problems with Churchill’s work.

Churchill has claimed the writings of others as his own — more than once, the News found.

The CU investigation includes plagiarism charges that center on two versions of largely the same essay. The first was written by the Harvard-educated Canadian professor, Cohen, and then edited by Churchill. The second appeared in a 1992 book of essays compiled by Churchill’s then- wife, Jaimes.

Churchill told the News he rewrote Cohen’s work and added the work of others at Jaimes’ request.

Churchill stands accused of stealing Cohen’s work and words for his version.

Two experts who reviewed the essays at the request of the News reached the same conclusion, with one calling it a "textbook example" of plagiarism.

Cohen is a tenured professor at one of Canada’s top universities, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her essay focused on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin.

Dalhousie attorneys have alleged that after Cohen denied Churchill permission to print it in the book he was working on, it was taken anyway and credited to his own research organization.

Both experts who read Cohen’s original piece and the Churchill-prepared version that appeared in the book said it constituted plagiarism.

"It’s plainly a clever rip-off," said Peter Hoffer, a legal historian who helped write the national standards on plagiarism for the American Historical Association.

Churchill’s version appeared in the 1992 book The State of Native America under the credit line of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization that Churchill has said he co-founded 10 years earlier. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill is credited with taking the "lead role in preparing" the essay for publication.

But he denied to the News that he had done anything wrong, contending only that he edited it on behalf of Jaimes.

"I had a role in that, and it was to take what was handed to me by the authors, specifically by Jaimes, which may or may not mean she was the lead author, I don’t know," he said.

He likened his role to that of a "rewrite man" at a newspaper — an editor who molds several different reporters’ work into a coherent piece.

That version of the essay appeared under the banner of the Institute for Natural Progress, which he said he co-founded with well-known Indian activist Winona LaDuke.

But LaDuke told the News that the institute was "mostly just an idea."

Whether Churchill published the essay under his own name or that of his own institute, the responsibility lies with him, said Stuart Green, director of the Pugh Institute for Justice at Louisiana State University.

"It doesn’t matter . . . who published it," Green said. "If it was substantially written by another scholar and she’s not attributed, that’s clearly plagiarism."

In comparing the two essays, the News found that in addition to similarity in structure and wording throughout the two pieces, the version Churchill prepared repeats a mistake found in Cohen’s original essay, cites the wrong title and misspells Cohen’s name in an endnote reference to the original, and subtly twists the overall message.

As for an essay published under the name of former Arizona State University professor Rebecca Robbins, a paragraph of which Churchill later published under his own name, the News could not determine who actually wrote it.

The case is muddled. Churchill said he wrote the Robbins essay and allowed her to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return repeated messages left at her Montana home. And Jaimes has told the News that Churchill did not write the essay and that she saw an early draft written by Robbins, who was her doctoral thesis adviser.

Churchill also said he wrote the essay originally published under Jaimes’ name — a paragraph of which he later published under his own name.

Jaimes has denied that to the News, calling her former husband a "liar."

Churchill said that anyone who compared his work to the Jaimes piece would conclude they were written by the same person.

"You tell me who’s writing this," Churchill said. "We don’t need to get into forensics to do it. Anybody that’s competent in textual analysis in any way at all can pick this up."

Churchill was asked why he would let others publish his work as their own.

"Why not?" he answered.

‘Blood quantum’ theory

The News found that Churchill’s treatment of the 1887 General Allotment Act, also known as the Dawes Act, is fraught with problems.

The act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, called for tribal holdings to be divided into allotments for distribution to Indian families, who would then become farmers, like white homesteaders.

Dawes and his backers saw themselves as humanitarians, according to historians, thinking they were helping to blend Indians into the American melting pot.

In practice, much of the land distributed to Indians — and some that was supposed to have remained with the tribes — was quickly snapped up by white farmers and speculators.

But Churchill has said repeatedly that the Dawes Act contains an even more sinister provision.

"The act also imposed for the first time a formal eugenics code — dubbed ‘blood quantum’ — by which American Indian identity would be federally defined on racial grounds rather than by native nations themselves on the basis of group membership/citizenship," Churchill wrote in a 1993 essay.

Eugenics code is the term used to describe the laws adopted by the Nazis to preserve the purity of the Aryan race. Comparisons between the U.S. and Nazi Germany have been a staple of Churchill’s writings and speeches.

Churchill charged that America’s racial code was designed to eliminate Indians, just as the Germans worked to eliminate Jews. Through intermarriage, future generations of Indians would have progressively less Indian blood, until the tribes disappeared, he wrote.

The theory had one problem: The plain wording of the Dawes Act contains no such provision, either directly or by reference to other portions of the law.

"You won’t find anything," said Carole Goldberg, a UCLA law professor and an expert on federal Indian law. Tribes decide who is a member, she said.

Churchill makes reference to a blood-quantum provision of federal law at least 18 times, beginning in the mid-1980s, but never cites language in the law to back up the allegation.

In 1994, he charged that the blood code also appears in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, a measure designed to outlaw bogus Indian art.

A key sponsor of the law was Colorado’s former U.S. congressman and senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

That law, which is posted on the U.S. Interior Department Web site, says only that tribes determine who is an Indian.

"He’s been pretty much discredited," Campbell said.

Churchill has used the blood-quantum theory to bash tribal governments. Because none of them recognize him as an Indian, it is illegal for him to market his paintings as Indian art. And because some tribes use blood quantum to define membership, Churchill derides them for rolling over for the federal government.

Churchill acknowledged that the phrase blood quantum doesn’t appear in the Dawes Act, but he said the law — and subsequent legislation — clearly required Indians to prove themselves in the eyes of the federal government. The blood-quantum requirement, he said, was "self-evident."

He also said that he did nothing wrong. Asked why he didn’t spell out what is and isn’t in the law in his writings, Churchill replied:

"Because I didn’t write an essay on it. I wrote a paragraph in passing in a broader narrative."

Tracking down ancestry

Churchill’s scholarship isn’t the only part of his life that has generated controversy.

At the core of the questions surrounding Churchill is this: Is he who he says he is?

He has repeatedly said that his mother and grandmother passed on to him the often-told story that there was Indian blood in the family. He’s believed it since he was 10, he has said.

In speeches Churchill has given this year, he has introduced himself this way: "I bring you greetings from the Elders of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee, my mother’s people."

At times, he has suggested that he is 3/16ths Indian. That would be the equivalent of three of his 16 great-great grandparents having been 100 percent American Indian.

But from all indications in an extensive genealogical study by the News, there is no evidence of a single Indian ancestor in Churchill’s long family history in America.

Churchill isn’t the only member of his family who heard the same story.

Many of his wide array of relatives have been searching for more than 100 years, through records that go back before the Revolutionary War, seeking the elusive link that would confirm the family legend of Indian parentage somewhere along the line.

So far, they haven’t found that link.

Churchill points to an associate membership given to him 11 years ago by Oklahoma’s Keetoowah band of Cherokee, but the tribe has since said the membership was honorary and that Churchill didn’t show any proof of Indian ancestors.

Pressed on the question by the News, Churchill said his ancestry is a "slam-dunk made case" and that he would not discuss it further.

As the process of examining Churchill’s work and his ancestry continues, the professor presses on.

He walks the campus in his trademark blue jeans and wraparound sunglasses. He works at the computer in his basement office, where two walls are lined with books and videotapes. He lectures students — his most recent class, "Topical Issues/Native North America," ended May 26.

He waits to see whether a student-voted teaching award, withheld while the investigation is ongoing, will be bestowed upon him.

And he spars with reporters and detractors alike, arguing that he did nothing wrong, saying that his practices are standard in the academic world.

All the while, the faculty committee works on.

It will answer the main questions before it: Did Churchill commit research misconduct and academic fraud, and did he misrepresent his heritage to gain a wider audience for his work?

If it finds that he did, it can recommend discipline — up to firing.

Only then will the university answer the bigger question that has been looming ever since Churchill’s name burst onto the scene a little more than four months ago:

What is Churchill’s future at the University of Colorado?

Churchill’s history

• Early years: Born in 1947 to Jack and Maralyn Churchill in central Illinois. Raised by mother and stepfather in Elmwood, near Peoria. Graduated from high school in 1965, drafted into Army, served nearly a year in Vietnam in 1967.

• Academic years: Earned bachelor’s degree in 1974 and a master’s degree in communications theory in 1975 from Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill. First teaching job in 1975 was as an art instructor at Black Hills State College in Spearfish, S.D.

• Indian involvement: Developed a lasting relationship with American Indian Movement leader Russell Means around the time of the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee. Became his aide and speechwriter. Has engaged in long-running feud with national AIM leader Vernon Bellecourt; Suzan Shown Harjo, former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians; and others.

• Ethnicity claims: On 1978 CU application, checked box for "American Indian." Two years later, his resume noted he was "Creek/Cherokee." Bellecourt approached CU, questioning Churchill’s claim, in 1986 and again in 1994. CU declined to pursue in 1994. "Given the fact that equal opportunity is the law of the land and that positions in the public sector are to be awarded to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and based only on their ability to do the job, the university does not believe that any attempt to remove Mr. Churchill because of his ethnicity or race would be appropriate," former CU-Boulder Chancellor James Corbridge wrote. "Further, it has always been university policy that a person’s race or ethnicity is self-proving."

Churchill has said he is at least 1/16th Cherokee; also has said he’s Creek. Named an associate member of the Tahlequah, Okla.-based Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in 1994. Tribe has said membership was honorary.

• CU: Hired in 1978 as an administrative assistant in the American Indian Equal Opportunities Program, which counseled Indian students. Over the next 10 years, he also lectured on Indian topics.

• Tenure: Appointed associate professor in 1991 in the communications department. Received tenure in 1991 in same department after sociology and political science departments rejected him. Memo to communications faculty said that by adding Churchill, the department would be "making our contribution to increasing the cultural diversity on campus (Ward is native American)." CU skipped the traditional six-year period of writing, teaching and reviews by outside scholars at three and six years. Former Dean of Arts and Sciences Charles Middleton pushed for tenure, fearing Churchill would accept offer at California State University at Northridge. But no offer was made by Northridge because he lacked a doctorate and his writings contained more advocacy than scholarship, said George Wayne, a former Northridge official. Appointed full professor and his tenure transferred to ethnic studies department in 1997.

• Criticism: Work first came under attack by small academic journals and some American Indians in the early 1990s. Peter Spear, dean of arts and sciences from 1996 to 2001, says he doesn’t recall allegations. In 1996, University of New Mexico law professor John LaVelle published an essay accusing Churchill of misrepresenting portions of federal Indian law.

• Accolades: Named chairman of ethnic studies department in 2002. Resigned in January 2005 in wake of Sept. 11 essay controversy. Received raise to $92,000 in 2004. "We are pleased to recognize your outstanding contribution to scholarship and teaching in the area of Native American Studies," Arts and Sciences Dean Todd Gleeson wrote. Ranked above-average on annual reviews. Won campus award for social science writing in 1992. Students voted him winner of Boulder Faculty Assembly teaching award in 1994.

Glossary

• Plagiarism: Presenting another author’s work as your own. The American Historical Association says it’s not limited to using someone else’s words verbatim, but also includes using ideas, sources or notes "disguised in newly crafted sentences." It also includes citing the plagiarized source in a footnote, then extensively copying from that source without further credit, and suggesting that you reviewed original documents and sources when you simply read about them in someone else’s work.

• Scholarship: The rigorous methods scholars use to find, analyze, interpret and share information in a trustworthy way to add to a body of knowledge.

• Endnote: Similar to a footnote, but appears at the end of a piece of scholarly writing to show the sources the author used or suggests reading for further inquiry.Source: American Historical Association, Wikipedia, Southhampton Institute Handbook

Standards of professional conduct

• "Although historians disagree with each other about many things, they do know what they trust and respect in each other’s work. All historians believe in honoring the integrity of the historical record. They do not fabricate evidence. Forgery and fraud violate the most basic foundations on which historians construct their interpretations of the past. An undetected counterfeit undermines not just the historical arguments of the forger, but all subsequent scholarship that relies on the forger’s work. Those who invent, alter, remove, or destroy evidence make it difficult for any serious historian ever wholly to trust their work again."Source: American Historical Association’S Statement On Standards Of Professional Conduct

Charlie Brennan, Kevin Flynn, Laura Frank, Berny Morson and Kevin Vaughan wrote this article for the Rocky Mountain News.

Confirmed, Ward Churchill is a Fraud, Part 4

Kevin Flynn / Rocky Mountain News

Front Page magazine

June 10, 2005

The case of the faux Indian.

The following is the fifth installment of a multi-article investigation launched by the Rocky Mountain News. This installment, written by reporter Kevin Flynn, focuses on allegations of Churchill’s misrepresentation of his Indian heritage. Click here to see an overview of the newspaper’s findings. Click here to see part one (dealing with the charge of fraud). Click here to see part two (the charge of plagiarism). Click here to see part three (Churchill’s mischaracterization of the Dawes Act). — The Editors.

The Charge of Misrepresentation

By Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News

Eleven-year-old Joshua Tyner was hiding in a tree near his family’s backwoods Georgia home when marauding Indians shot him and he fell dead to the ground.

That’s how the old family legend goes.

So much for old family legends.

Searching for a link: Ken Tyner, 64, of San Diego, is a distant relative of Ward Churchill. Tyner underwent DNA testing last year and found that his ancestor Richard Tyner, who is Churchill’s fifth-great-grandfather, wasn’t Indian. Churchill’s belief in the Tyner family legend of Indian heritage is at the core of his disputed identity as an Indian.

Joshua Tyner didn’t die in that bloody raid sometime around 1778, although the Indians scalped his mother and kidnapped his two teenage sisters.

In fact, Joshua Tyner lived a long and fruitful life and produced many descendants – including University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whose disputed claims of Indian ancestry are tied to yet another family legend:

The one that says Joshua Tyner was part Cherokee.

However, an extensive genealogical search by the Rocky Mountain News identified 142 direct forebears of Churchill and turned up no evidence of a single Indian ancestor among them – including Joshua.

The News also located two male descendants of Richard Tyner – Joshua Tyner’s father – who underwent DNA tests last year. The tests showed that the Tyner line goes back to northern European ancestry with no hint of male Indian blood.

For more than a century, descendants of Richard Tyner’s Georgia brood have conducted a fruitless search for proof of their rumored Indian roots, spurred on by a tantalizing story that Joshua Tyner may have spent the last years of his life living among Indians in Illinois, practicing herbal medicine.

In the 1890s, one of them pursued a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, demanding to be included in the formal allotment of land to Indians – and was rejected as a non-Indian.

In 1936, Illinois historian Nannie Gray Parks wrote to the National Archives seeking Revolutionary War pension information on Joshua Tyner, asserting the legend that he was the son of a Cherokee – a story Churchill has repeated.

Churchill has said he was 10 when his mother and grandmother passed on to him the family lore of Indian ancestry. Dan Debo, his younger half brother, backs that up.

"We were told when we were kids by our mom and grandma that we had Indian blood in us," Debo, who lives in California, wrote to the News.

Today, many of the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-generation Tyner descendants believe the legend and continue to search for the elusive Indian link. Others simply ignore it.

Churchill, though, has fashioned his life and career around it.

That decision lies at the heart of an investigation by CU, which has charged its standing committee on research misconduct with ruling whether Churchill’s claim of Indian heritage has been a ruse by the professor to bolster his credibility as an Indian scholar.

Churchill has said that he is either 1/16th or 3/16ths Cherokee from his mother’s side, while also claiming Creek Indian heritage on his father’s side. But he has battled complaints for years – mostly from within the American Indian activist community – that he isn’t Indian at all.

In 1993, when a campus news article challenged Churchill on his ancestry claims, he responded by naming several people and implying that they proved his roots.

But the News has determined that the people he named either were not Indians or were not his relatives.

Churchill also told the article’s author that Joshua’s father was a Cherokee named Tushali.

Records on Tushali – whose name was spelled by whites as Tsali, Toochalee and other variants – show that he was a Cherokee brave who was executed about 1838, ostensibly for killing U.S. soldiers who were removing his family from their home as part of a forced Indian exodus that came to be called the Trail of Tears.

That’s the same year Joshua died at age 71.

Moreover, Tushali didn’t live in the same part of the country as Joshua’s family. Tushali lived near the North Carolina-Tennessee border, not in eastern North Carolina, where Joshua is believed to have been born in 1767.

Churchill’s claim also is undermined by written records showing Richard Tyner was in fact Joshua’s father.

Joshua is listed as a son in Richard Tyner’s 1824 will. Joshua referred to Richard Tyner’s farm as the home of "my father," and noted Richard’s death in his family bible, calling him "my father."

Churchill reported last month to the CU committee that he meets three of the four criteria for determining whether he is Indian.

Those three criteria are self-identification as an Indian, acceptance within the Indian community, and tribal affiliation – none of which require proof of Indian parentage.

The one test he didn’t cite: naming an actual Indian ancestor.

Churchill now declines to discuss his ancestry at all.

"What’s to address?" he said. "No, I’m not going to spend the rest of my life talking about my ancestry. That’s a slam-dunk made case."

Tracing family lore

It might not be that easy.

The News’ genealogical research was conducted both in-house and in concert with several outside researchers.

Jim Paine, 51, of Hartsel, who heads several Internet database companies, maintains an anti-Churchill site at http://www.pirateballerina.com.

He worked with Bill Cullen, 35, a New Jersey police officer who plans to become a professional genealogist.

Jack Ott, 65, of Lakewood, a retired telecom planner, engineer and amateur genealogist, maintains an online Churchill tree at home.comcast.net/~jackott2/ahnentafel1.htm.

The investigation relied on census reports, colonial-era deeds, wills, veterans’ records, draft registrations, marriage licenses, several Indian censuses, applications for Indian inclusion in a settlement of treaty violations, and state records such as lists of entrants in giveaways of former Indian lands.

The analysis also tapped into extensive research already conducted by genealogists in other branches of the family, none of whom were aware that Churchill was one of their relatives.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: William Cullen Tyner, one of the Tyner men who share a common ancestor with Ward Churchill — namely, Richard Tyner, a homesteader in Georgia in the late 1700s.

While the News found a large clan of Tyners among the Cherokee, they aren’t related to the Joshua Tyner branch from which Churchill descends.

Dennis Ward, 65, a military career guidance specialist at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., and a registered Cherokee who is descended from the Indian Tyners, has tried for years to find any connection to Churchill’s Tyners.

"I have never seen any real documentation as it pertains to Joshua Tyner having Indian blood," said Ward, one of the most active Tyner family researchers.

Ward, described by one Tyner genealogist as the most knowledgeable in the family, also had never heard of a link between Tushali and the Tyners.

On the other hand, the News’ examination found plenty of evidence that Joshua – who became an Indian fighter in Georgia after the raid that killed his mother – was white, as was the rest of his family.

The legend that he went off during the last few years of his life to live as an Indian has been in the family for more than a century, although the first known mention came decades after his death.

There is no evidence to support it, just the odd circumstance that his wife of 45 years, who died in 1842, four years after Joshua, is buried alone in Wilson Cemetery in Cambria, Ill.

The legend is that Joshua was buried in an Indian-style mound by the Big Muddy River in Blairsville, Ill. In 1930, a state highway crew building a new bridge there unearthed a suspected Indian burial site. But the remains were never identified. They were reburied in an unmarked grave that is lost to history.

A local Illinois history book written in 1876, within folks’ living memory of Joshua Tyner, referred to him and other pioneers as pure white with no Indian blood.

So where does the story originate?

"We’re not really sure, to be candid with you," said Ken Tyner, 64, a retired Army sergeant living in San Diego who is a sixth-generation descendant of Richard Tyner. "Everybody’s always speculated about having Indian blood, but I don’t know where it comes from."

Ken is descended from Joshua’s younger brother, Noah, and is Churchill’s fifth cousin once removed – a relationship he knew nothing about until contacted by the News.

Ken Tyner and his half brother underwent DNA testing last year as part of their own genealogical research, learning that Richard Tyner was of northern European descent, not Indian.

Some descendants believe Richard’s first wife – the woman killed and scalped during the Indian raid – might have been Indian herself. Still others pin their supposed heritage on Richard’s second wife, Agnes "Sookie" Dougherty, although the News found evidence that she, too, was white.

In any case, Churchill is descended from Richard and Richard’s first wife, variously called Eliza Jane, Elizabeth and Abigail on family trees, through their son Joshua.

Even if Joshua’s mother was a full-blooded Cherokee, something for which there is no supporting evidence, Churchill, as her fifth- great-grandson, would have only a tiny fraction – 1/128th – of Indian blood, not close to the 1/16th or 3/16ths he claims.

Impact on credibility

Despite the mounting evidence that Churchill isn’t Indian, academic experts differ on whether it would constitute misconduct for him to pass as one.

If Churchill’s work is authoritative, it shouldn’t lose its credibility if it is revealed that he isn’t an Indian, said ethics expert Kenneth Pimple at Indiana University.

"To some people, I have no doubt, Churchill’s work would still be considered highly valuable," Pimple said. "To others, it might be fatally tainted by such a revelation.

"But should such a revelation have any impact on the assessment of his work? If his writings have any authority of their own, it should not."

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Thomas Tyner, shown with wife Martha Kirk Tyner.

But Churchill gains credibility by claiming Indian status, countered scholar Russell Thornton, an enrolled Cherokee and a UCLA professor whose work Churchill is accused of misrepresenting.

"I don’t think the type of people who are his audience would give him near that much attention if he were not seen as an Indian," he said.

There’s still another way to look at the question, according to Pimple, and that’s what Churchill truly believes about his background, regardless of the objective truth of it.

"If Churchill’s mother told him that he had Native American ancestry, it is reasonable for him to believe this to be true," Pimple said. "Even if further research should show that his mother had been wrong, it would be difficult to make a case that Churchill intended to fool anyone by claiming Native American ancestry."

Belief in the Tyner Indian legends is widespread among the descendants. The News found true believers in Illinois, California, Florida and Georgia.

"All the family believes, earnestly, they are descended from Indians," said Charla Schroeder Murphy of the Williamson County, Ill., Historical Society.

"I don’t believe Mr. Churchill was trying to pass himself off as something he’s not, but something that generations of Tyners have embraced and believed."

CU, however, could have cause for action if it found the legends are untrue and that Churchill knew it, Pimple said.

"I should think that in general, intentionally lying about one’s credentials, which in this case might reasonably include ancestry, would be considered academic misconduct," Pimple said. "The key is demonstrating, by an appropriate standard of evidence, intent to deceive."

Putting claims to the test

In his response to CU’s investigation, Churchill said he qualifies as an Indian under three of the four methods his attorney said are commonly used for determining Indian heritage.

• One, Churchill calls himself an Indian, although experts say such self-identification is the least meaningful. CU, however, said in 1994, in response to a complaint about Churchill’s claimed ethnicity, that it recognizes self-identification.

• The second test is whether a person is regarded within the greater Indian community as a member, although this acceptance doesn’t need to be based on demonstrated Indian bloodlines, either. Churchill’s acceptance primarily comes from a confederation of Indian rights activists who support his writings and teachings. One of them is noted Indian activist Russell Means.

"Ward is my brother," Means has said. "Ward has followed the ways of indigenous people worldwide."

• The third test is whether someone is enrolled in a tribe. Churchill says that his May 1994 associate membership in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma fulfills this requirement. But as the Keetoowah noted during a war of words with Churchill last month, the associate membership was not an actual tribal enrollment, but more of an honorary membership "because he could not prove any Cherokee ancestry."

"Mr. Churchill was never enrolled as a member," the Keetoowah said, making a distinction between tribal enrollment and the associate status that didn’t require proof of Indian ancestry.

The tribe voted a month after granting Churchill’s associate membership to stop giving them out, and said it erased all of the existing ones.

Churchill said the tribe is free to revoke his 1994 associate membership, but not to deny giving it.

"What it does not have a right to do is falsify history at its own convenience," he said.

Churchill obtained his Keetoowah membership shortly after being involved in a run-in with a rival faction of the American Indian Movement led by Vernon Bellecourt, who accused Churchill of masquerading as an Indian.

• The final method for determining Indian heritage is to identify an Indian ancestor – the only method Churchill didn’t use in his 50-page report to the university’s investigating committee, according to a description of the confidential response by Churchill’s attorney, David Lane.

For Churchill’s claims of 1/16th or 3/16ths Cherokee blood to be true, between one and three of his 16 great- great-grandparents would have to be full-blooded Indians, or six of his 32 third-great-grandparents and so on.

If it all came from his mother, as he has sometimes said, she would have to be nearly half Indian herself.

But all of Churchill’s 16 great- great-grandparents are known. Not a single one was a full-blooded Indian, nor is there evidence any were part Indian. All but two are listed as white on census records from the 19th century. For those two, who could not be located on a census, their children were listed as white.

‘I met my father one time’

Churchill has said he derives Creek Indian heritage from his father, the late Jack Churchill.

But in a 1993 interview with the CU student who wrote the campus newspaper article questioning his heritage, Churchill said he knew nothing about his father’s ancestry.

His father and mother divorced when Churchill was an infant. Jack Churchill became a high school teacher in Petersburg, Ill., dying in 1989 at the age of 65.

"I met my father one time," Churchill told then-CU student Jodi Rave. "I didn’t ask him too many family questions or other questions, and I really never tried to pursue it, or never really pursued him, because it seemed kind of bad for him."

Yet the next year, when he was up for associate membership with the Keetoowah, Churchill told the tribe that his father had Creek Indian heritage. The Creek Indians inhabited the area that became the southeast U.S., bordering Cherokee lands. They frequently warred with the Cherokee.

"I was asked if I wanted to try to document my father’s side of things," Churchill said in a July 1994 statement published in an Indian newspaper after the Keetoowah meeting, "because he was at least as much Indian as mom. But he’s dead now. I never knew him, and I don’t know my relatives on that side. So I just let it go."

The News’ genealogical search, however, found that his father’s ancestors came not from Creek Indian territory, but from New England, Virginia, Tennessee, Iowa, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and England.

Great-great-grandmother Jane McNeeley, for instance, told an 1880 census taker in Illinois that her father was born in Scotland and her mother in Ireland. She was born in Canada.

McNeeley’s husband, Nicholas Gorsuch, came from parents born in Maryland, census records state, and the family hailed from England.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Brothers Felix and Jesse Tyner .

The Churchills themselves go back to 1600s Connecticut.

His father’s father, also named Ward Churchill, is listed as white in the 1920 census, His draft card listed him as "Caucasian." He and his wife, Ethel Janes, were restaurant keepers in Rushville, Ill., where he later served several terms as city clerk.

In the 1930 census, they were still in Rushville, as was their 5-year-old son, Jack Churchill, who became Ward’s father 17 years later. Jack is listed as white.

Churchill, in his 1993 interview with Rave, also was mistaken about the record for Joshua Tyner.

Churchill moved Joshua up at least one generation, misplaced him in Indian lands and said that Joshua was moved from Tennessee in the mid-1830s, implying that he was part of the forced removal of Cherokees along the Trail of Tears.

"Now on my mother’s side, their people coming up north, well, they got moved, they didn’t just come north out of southern Tennessee," he told Rave. "Beginning about 1835, to around 1845, that’s when they shifted."

That’s not what the record shows.

Tracking down family roots

Joshua and his brother, Noah, married sisters Winifred and Priscilla Teasley. Together they left Georgia between 1800 and the fall of 1801, according to family historians, moving to Tennessee’s northern border with Kentucky – not the Cherokee lands of southern Tennessee as Churchill said. The area where Joshua and Noah went had been settled by whites 20 years earlier.

Contrary to what Churchill told Rave, Joshua wasn’t moved out of Tennessee in the 1830s, but left with his family about 1816 and is recorded as being one of the first white settlers in what soon would become Franklin County, Ill.

By the mid-1830s, when the government forced Cherokees, half Cherokees and white spouses of Indians from Georgia, Joshua was actually at the end of his pioneer life in Illinois.

Facts surrounding the infamous U.S. Indian Removal Act of 1830 give more indication that the Georgia Tyners were not part-Indian.

Descendants of Richard Tyner and both his wives remained in northeast Georgia rather than being rounded up and sent to Oklahoma.

Joshua Tyner was 71 when he died near Blairsville, Ill., on the day after Christmas in 1838, leaving behind his wife and numerous children who went on to have families of their own in the area.

One of those descendants, Maralyn Allen, married Jack Churchill and gave birth to their son, Ward, in 1947.

Analyzing the DNA

While some family speculation has centered on Joshua’s mother – the unfortunate woman scalped by Indians – the scant history on her indicates she was white.

The most prevalent version of the legend is that Joshua’s mother was kidnapped as a girl by Cherokees in South Carolina and forced to marry a Cherokee chief. She bore him a son, said to be Joshua, and when he was 3, the girl’s father tracked them down and rescued them.

This account is improbable. Joshua’s mother was not a girl at the time he was born; she had at least three older children and had been married in North Carolina to Richard Tyner.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Felix Tyner, shown with wife Cora.

But could she have been Cherokee, as some think?

That’s unlikely, too. A baby born to a Cherokee mother and white father in late 1700s Georgia would have been raised as Indian, according to Indian scholar John Finger, a retired University of Tennessee historian. All of the Tyner children, including Joshua, were raised as white.

Last year’s DNA testing on Richard Tyner’s male descendants is silent on whether Joshua’s mother was or wasn’t Indian. That would require a different test.

The DNA test on a male descendant can only trace the male’s Y chromosome to one of the 18 major groupings of human ethnicity, according to Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA, the organization that did the Tyner testing.

DNA mutations can mar efforts to link male lines, cautioned Ranajit Chakraborty, professor and director of the Center for Genome Information at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.

But the male Tyner DNA test matched northern European markers, Ken Tyner said.

Even if Churchill tested his own DNA, it couldn’t show Indian heritage from the Tyners. That’s because there are four female ancestors in the line of seven people from Joshua to Churchill.

To find out if Joshua’s mother was part Indian, Greenspan said, the mitochondrial DNA of a direct female descendant must be tested.

Ken Tyner said that is a dead end for now.

"I know of no direct female descendants," he said.

With the DNA trail to Richard Tyner showing that he was white, turning to the paper trail indicates much the same.

Richard Tyner was a slave owner. While some Cherokees owned slaves as time went on, that would have been rare in the late 1700s.

"It would be unusual for Cherokees to hold slaves that early," historian Finger said.

There is also evidence that the legend of Richard Tyner’s second wife being part Cherokee is untrue. Old Georgia records list several of "Sookie" Dougherty’s offspring as white. Richard Tyner Jr. is listed with his father as an entrant in the 1807 Georgia Land Lottery. That giveaway of land that the state acquired from Creek Indians was restricted to free white males or their widows.

Marriage records from the early 1800s show the Tyner sons and daughters listed in the pages of "whites" rather than "coloreds."

And in another lottery in 1827 to parcel out former Cherokee lands – also restricted to whites – three Tyner descendants were eligible.

While these are strong indications that there was no Indian blood in the Tyner family, it is not clear and final proof.

But of all the records that make a racial distinction, not a single one says Indian.

Considering ‘cultural’ facts

What complicates the written record is the "cultural" fact that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there were instances of mixed- blood Indians passing for white.

Finger, the Tennessee historian, said it is possible that backwoods whites who had children with Indian women could pass them off as white.

"In a frontier area, there may be more acceptance of a person of mixed blood being perceived as white," he said.

Still, none of the documentation that Joshua Tyner left indicates that he considered himself part Indian.

Joshua identified himself as white to census takers in both the 1820 and 1830 Illinois censuses. He later wrote an account of fighting Indians in Georgia as part of the Revolutionary War army.

On Sept. 3, 1832, shortly after his 65th birthday, Joshua applied for a federal pension based on his military service. In court testimony, Joshua said he was a private and enlisted as a spy, "ranging the frontier against the hostile Indians."

Joshua received his pension, $71.66 annually.

In an 1876 history of Williamson County, Ill. – which was formed from the part of Franklin County that Joshua Tyner homesteaded – author Milo Erwin minced no words in his praise for the area’s pioneers, Joshua included, who he said settled on the Eight Mile Prairie in 1816.

They were all pure-blooded white men, Erwin avowed. "They were poor, but of unmixed blood. There were no half-breeds, neither of Indians nor other obnoxious races."

Voir enfin:

Fauxcahontas and the melting pot

Mark Steyn

2012-05-04

Have you dated a composite woman? They’re America’s hottest new demographic. As with all the really cool stuff, Barack Obama was doing it years before the rest of us. In "Dreams from My Father," the world’s all-time most-unread bestseller, he spills the inside dope on his composite white girlfriend:

"When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough…"

But being yourself is never going to be enough in the new composite America. Last week, in an election campaign ad, Barack revealed his latest composite girlfriend – "Julia." She’s worse than the old New York girlfriend. She can’t even be herself. In fact, she can’t be anything without massive assistance from Barack every step of the way, from his "Head Start" program at age 3 through to his Social Security benefits at the age of 67. Everything good in her life she owes to him. When she writes her memoir, it will be thanks to a subvention from the Federal Publishing Assistance Program for Chronically Dependent Women but you’ll love it: Sweet Dreams From My Sugar Daddy. She’s what the lawyers would call "non composite mentis." She’s not competent to do a single thing for herself – and, from Barack’s point of view, that’s exactly what he’s looking for in a woman, if only for a one-night stand on a Tuesday in early November.

POLITICAL CARTOONS:

90 cartoons by Nate Beeler, Cagle Cartoons and by Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun

Then there’s "Elizabeth," a 62-year-old Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts. Like Barack’s white girlfriend, she couldn’t be black. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. But she could be a composite – a white woman and an Indian woman, all mixed up in one! Not Indian in the sense of Ashton Kutcher putting on brownface makeup and a fake-Indian accent in his amusing new commercial for the hip lo-fat snack Popchips. But Indian in the sense of checking the "Are you Native American?" box on the Association of American Law Schools form, which Elizabeth Warren did for much of her adult life. According to her, she’s part Cherokee and part Delaware. Not in the Joe Biden sense, I hasten to add, but Delaware in the sense of the Indian tribe named in honor of the home state of Big F—kin’ Chief Dances With Plugs.

How does she know she’s a Cherokee maiden? Well, she cites her grandfather’s "high cheekbones," and says the Indian stuff is part of her family "lore." Which was evidently good enough for Harvard Lore School when they were looking to rack up a few affirmative-action credits. The former Obama Special Advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel now says that "I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am," and certainly not for personal career advancement or anything like that. Like everyone else, she was shocked, shocked to discover that, as The Boston Herald reported, "Harvard Law School officials listed Warren as Native American in the ’90s, when the school was under fierce fire for their faculty’s lack of diversity."

So did the University of Texas, and the University of Pennsylvania. With the impertinent jackanapes of the press querying the bona fides of Harvard Lore School’s first Native American female professor, the Warren campaign got to work and eventually turned up a great-great-great-grandmother designated as Cherokee in the online transcription of a marriage application of 1894.

Hallelujah! In the old racist America, we had quadroons and octoroons. But in the new post-racial America, we have – hang on, let me get out my calculator – duoettrigintaroons! Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when men would be judged not on the color of their skin but on the content of their great-great-great-grandmother’s wedding license application. And now it’s here! You can read all about it in Elizabeth Warren’s memoir of her struggles to come to terms with her racial identity, Dreams From My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother.

Alas, the actual original marriage license does not list Great-Great-Great-Gran’ma as Cherokee, but let’s cut Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Crockagawea Warren some slack here. She couldn’t be black. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. But she could be 1/32nd Cherokee, and maybe get invited to a luncheon with others of her kind – "people who are like I am," 31/32nds white – and they can all sit around celebrating their diversity together. She is a testament to America’s melting pot, composite pot, composting pot, whatever.

Just in case you’re having difficulty keeping up with all these Composite-Americans, George Zimmerman, the son of a Peruvian mestiza, is the embodiment of endemic white racism and the reincarnation of Bull Connor, but Elizabeth Warren, the great-great-great-granddaughter of someone who might possibly have been listed as Cherokee on an application for a marriage license, is a heartwarming testimony to how minorities are shattering the glass ceiling in Harvard Yard. George Zimmerman, redneck; Elizabeth Warren, redskin. Under the Third Reich’s Nuremberg Laws, Ms. Warren would have been classified as Aryan and Mr. Zimmerman as non-Aryan. Now it’s the other way round. Progress!

Coincidentally, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission last week issued an "Enforcement Guidance" limiting the rights of employers to take into account the criminal convictions and arrest records of job applicants because of the "disparate impact" the consideration of such matters might have on minorities. That’s great news, isn’t it? So Harvard Law School can’t ask Elizabeth Warren if she’s ever held up a liquor store because, if they did, the faculty might be even less Cherokee than it is.

My colleague Jonah Goldberg wrote the other day about Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican Brain," and other scientific chaps who argue that conservatives suffer from a genetic cognitive impairment that causes us to favor small government. In other words, we’re born stupid. So, thanks to gene sequencing, we now know why conservatives aren’t as smart as, say, Pete Stark, the nigh-on-half-a-century Democrat congressman who believes that Solyndra, which is based in his district, is an automobile manufacturer: "I wish I had a big enough expense allowance to get one of those new ‘S’s’ that Solyndra’s going to make down there, the electric car," he told The San Francisco Chronicle this week. "My 10-year-old is after me. He no longer wants a Porsche. He wants Dad to have an ‘S’ sedan." Pete sounds so out of it, you have to wonder if maybe he’s 1/32nd Republican on his great-great-great-grandmother’s side.

But, if conservatives are simply born that way, shouldn’t they be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission?

Aw, don’t waste your time. Elizabeth Warren will be ahead of you checking the "right-wing madman" box on the grounds that she gets her high cheekbones and minimal facial hair from Genghis Khan. And "Julia" will be saying she was born conservative but thanks to Obama’s new Headcase Start program was able to get ideological reassignment surgery. And Barack’s imaginary girlfriend will be telling him that she’d be left if she could, but she’s right so she can’t, but she’d love to be left. So he left her.

Good thing the smart guys are running the joint.


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