Hagiographie: On ne peut comprendre la gauche si on ne comprend pas qu’elle est une religion (God is great and Chavez is his new prophet)

31 mars, 2014
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You cannot understand the Left if you do not understand that leftism is a religion. Dennis Prager
On Cesar Chavez Day, we celebrate one of America’s greatest champions for social justice. Raised into the life of a migrant farm worker, he toiled alongside men, women, and children who performed daily, backbreaking labor for meager pay and in deplorable conditions. They were exposed to dangerous pesticides and denied the most basic protections, including minimum wages, health care, and access to drinking water. Cesar Chavez devoted his life to correcting these injustices, to reminding us that every job has dignity, every life has value, and everyone — no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from — should have the chance to get ahead. After returning from naval service during World War II, Cesar Chavez fought for freedom in American agricultural fields. Alongside Dolores Huerta, he founded the United Farm Workers, and through decades of tireless organizing, even in the face of intractable opposition, he grew a movement to advance "La Causa" across the country. In 1966, he led a march that began in Delano, California, with a handful of activists and ended in Sacramento with a crowd 10,000 strong. A grape boycott eventually drew 17 million supporters nationwide, forcing growers to accept some of the first farm worker contracts in history. A generation of organizers rose to carry that legacy forward. The values Cesar Chavez lived by guide us still. As we push to fix a broken immigration system, protect the right to unionize, advance social justice for young men of color, and build ladders of opportunity for every American to climb, we recall his resilience through setbacks, his refusal to scale back his dreams. When we organize against income inequality and fight to raise the minimum wage — because no one who works full time should have to live in poverty — we draw strength from his vision and example. Throughout his lifelong struggle, Cesar Chavez never forgot who he was fighting for. "What [the growers] don’t know," he said, "is that it’s not bananas or grapes or lettuce. It’s people." Today, let us honor Cesar Chavez and those who marched with him by meeting our obligations to one another. I encourage Americans to make this a national day of service and education by speaking out, organizing, and participating in service projects to improve lives in their communities. Let us remember that when we lift each other up, when we speak with one voice, we have the power to build a better world. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2014, as Cesar Chavez Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and education programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth. Barack Obama
His face is on a U.S. postage stamp. Countless statues, murals, libraries, schools, parks and streets are named after him — he even has his own national monument. He was on the cover of Time magazine in 1969. A naval ship was named after him. The man even has his own Google Doodle and Apple ad. Yet his footprint in American history is widely unknown and that’s exactly the reason why actor-turned-director Diego Luna decided to produce a movie about his life. CNN
Sorel, for whom religion was important, drew a comparison between the Christian and the socialist revolutionary. The Christian’s life is transformed because he accepts the myth that Christ will one day return and usher in the end of time; the revolutionary socialist’s life is transformed because he accepts the myth that one day socialism will triumph, and justice for all will prevail. What mattered for Sorel, in both cases, is not the scientific truth or falsity of the myth believed in, but what believing in the myth does to the lives of those who have accepted it, and who refuse to be daunted by the repeated failure of their apocalyptic expectations. How many times have Christians in the last two thousand years been convinced that the Second Coming was at hand, only to be bitterly disappointed — yet none of these disappointments was ever enough to keep them from holding on to their great myth. So, too, Sorel argued, the myth of socialism will continue to have power, despite the various failures of socialist experiments, so long as there are revolutionaries who are unwilling to relinquish their great myth. That is why he rejected scientific socialism — if it was merely science, it lacked the power of a religion to change individual’s lives. Thus for Sorel there was “an…analogy between religion and the revolutionary Socialism which aims at the apprenticeship, preparation, and even the reconstruction of the individual — a gigantic task. Lee Harris

En cette Journée César Chavez tout récemment proclamée par Notre Grand Timonier Obama …

Lancée, comme il se doit, par ses images saintes made in Hollywood

Bienvenue au dernier saint de nos amis de la gauche américaine !

The Left’s Misplaced Concern
The Left craves power not money, and that makes it much more frightening.
Dennis Prager
National review on line
May 22, 2012

You cannot understand the Left if you do not understand that leftism is a religion. It is not God-based (some left-wing Christians’ and Jews’ claims notwithstanding), but otherwise it has every characteristic of a religion. The most blatant of those characteristics is dogma. People who believe in leftism have as many dogmas as the most fundamentalist Christian.

One of them is material equality as the preeminent moral goal. Another is the villainy of corporations. The bigger the corporation, the greater the villainy. Thus, instead of the devil, the Left has Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, the “military-industrial complex,” and the like. Meanwhile, Big Labor, Big Trial Lawyers, and — of course — Big Government are left-wing angels.

And why is that? Why, to be specific, does the Left fear big corporations but not big government?

The answer is dogma — a belief system that transcends reason. No rational person can deny that big governments have caused almost all the great evils of the last century, arguably the bloodiest in history. Who killed the 20 to 30 million Soviet citizens in the Gulag Archipelago — big government or big business? Hint: There were no private businesses in the Soviet Union. Who deliberately caused 75 million Chinese to starve to death — big government or big business? Hint: See previous hint. Did Coca-Cola kill 5 million Ukrainians? Did Big Oil slaughter a quarter of the Cambodian population? Would there have been a Holocaust without the huge Nazi state?

Whatever bad things big corporations have done is dwarfed by the monstrous crimes — the mass enslavement of people, the deprivation of the most basic human rights, not to mention the mass murder and torture and genocide — committed by big governments.

How can anyone who thinks rationally believe that big corporations rather than big governments pose the greatest threat to humanity? The answer is that it takes a mind distorted by leftist dogma. If there is another explanation, I do not know what it is.

Religious Christians and Jews also have some irrational beliefs, but their irrationality is overwhelmingly confined to theological matters; and these theological irrationalities have no deleterious impact on religious Jews’ and Christians’ ability to see the world rationally and morally. Few religious Jews or Christians believe that big corporations are in any way analogous to big government in terms of evil done. And the few who do are leftists.

That the Left demonizes Big Pharma, for instance, is an example of this dogmatism. America’s pharmaceutical companies have saved millions of lives, including millions of leftists’ lives. And I do not doubt that in order to increase profits they have not always played by the rules. But to demonize big pharmaceutical companies while lionizing big government, big labor unions, and big tort-law firms is to stand morality on its head.

There is yet another reason to fear big government far more than big corporations. ExxonMobil has no police force, no IRS, no ability to arrest you, no ability to shut you up, and certainly no ability to kill you. ExxonMobil can’t knock on your door in the middle of the night and legally take you away. Apple Computer cannot take your money away without your consent, and it runs no prisons. The government does all of these things.

Of course, the Left will respond that government also does good and that corporations and capitalists are, by their very nature, “greedy.”

To which the rational response is that, of course, government also does good. But so do the vast majority of corporations, private citizens, church groups, and myriad voluntary associations. On the other hand, only big government can do anything approaching the monstrous evils of the last century.

As for greed: Between hunger for money and hunger for power, the latter is incomparably more frightening. It is noteworthy that none of the twentieth century’s monsters — Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao — were preoccupied with material gain. They loved power much more than money.

And that is why the Left is much more frightening than the Right. It craves power.

— Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated columnist and radio talk-show host, is author of Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.

Voir aussi:

The iconic UFW

Another myth. I opened my Easter Sunday Google browser and did not find a Christian icon on the page, but instead a (badly done) romantic rendition of a youthful Cesar Chavez, apparently our age’s version of a politically correct divinity.

Yet I wondered whether the midlevel Googilites who post these politically hip images knew all that much about Chavez. I grant in this age that they saw no reason to emphasize Christianity on its most holy day. But there is, after all, Miriam Pawel’s 2010 biography of Chavez still readily accessible[10], and a new essay about him in The Atlantic[11] — both written by sympathetic authors who nonetheless are not quite the usual garden-variety hagiographers. To suggest something other than sainthood is heresy in these parts, as I have discovered since the publication of Mexifornia a decade ago.

I grew up in the cauldron of farm-labor disputes. Small farms like ours largely escaped the violence, because there were five of us kids to do the work in summer and after school, and our friends welcomed the chance to buck boxes or help out propping trees or thinning plums. Hired help was rare and a matter of a few days of hiring 20 or so locals for the fall raisin harvest. But the epic table grape fights were not far away in Parlier, Reedley, and down the 99 in Delano. I offer a few impressions, some of them politically incorrect.

First, give Chavez his due. Farmworkers today are more akin to supposedly non-skilled (actually there is a skill required to pruning and picking) labor elsewhere, with roughly the same protective regulations as the food worker or landscaper. That was not true in 1965. Conservatives will argue that the market corrected the abuse (e.g., competition for ever scarcer workers) and ensured overtime, accessible toilets, and the end to hand-held hoes; liberals will credit Chavez — or fear of Chavez.

But that said, Chavez was not quite the icon we see in the grainy videos walking the vineyards withRobert Kennedy[12]. Perhaps confrontation was inevitable, but the labor organizing around here was hardly non-violent. Secondary boycotts were illegal, but that did not stop picketers from yelling and cursing as you exited the local Safeway with a bag of Emperor grapes. There were the constant union fights with bigger family growers (the 500 acre and above sort), as often demonstrators rushed into fields to mix it up with so-called scabs. Teamsters fought the UAW. The latter often worked with the immigration service to hunt down and deport illegals. The former bused in toughs to crack heads. After-hours UFW vandalism, as in the slashed tire and chain-sawed tree mode, was common.

The politics were explicable by one common theme: Cesar Chavez disliked small farmers and labor contractors[13], and preferred agribusiness and the idea of a huge union. Otherwise, there were simply too many incongruities in an agrarian checkerboard landscape for him to handle — as if the UAW would have had to deal with an auto industry scattered among thousands of small family-owned factories.

For Chavez, the ideal was a vast, simple us/them, 24/7 fight, albeit beneath an angelic veneer of Catholic suffering. In contrast, small farmers were not rich and hardly cut-out caricatures of grasping exploitation. Too many were unapologetic Armenians, Japanese (cf. the Nisei Farmers League), Portuguese, and Mexican-Americans to guarantee the necessary white/brown binary. Many had their own histories of racism, from the Armenian genocide to the Japanese internment, and had no white guilt of the Kennedy sort. I cannot imagine a tougher adversary than a Japanese, Armenian, or Punjabi farmer, perched on his own tractor or irrigating his 60 acres — entirely self-created, entirely unapologetic about his achievement, entirely committed to the idea that no one is going to threaten his existence.

The local labor contractors were not villains, but mostly residents who employed their relatives and knew well the 40-acre and 100-acre farmers they served. When there were slow times on the farm, I picked peaches for two summers for a Selma labor contractor, whose kids I went to school with. He was hardly a sellout. The crusty, hard-bitten small farmers (“don’t bruise that fruit,” “you missed three peaches up there on that limb,” “you stopped before it was quite noon”) who monitored personally the orchards we picked looked no different from the men on ladders.

In contrast, Chavez preferred the south and west Central Valley of huge corporate agribusiness. Rich and powerful, these great captains had the ability by fiat to institute labor agreements across hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Chavez’s organizing forte was at home in a Tulare, Delano, Shafter, Mendota or Tranquility, not a Reedley, Kingsburg or Selma. In those days, the former were mostly pyramidal societies of a few corporate kingpins with an underclass of agricultural laborers, the latter were mixed societies in which Mexican-Americans were already ascendant and starting to join the broader middle class of Armenians, Japanese, and Punjabis.

Chavez was to be a Walter Reuther or George Meany, a make-or-breaker who sat across from a land baron, cut a deal for his vast following, and then assumed national stature as he doled out union patronage and quid-pro-quo political endorsements. In that vision, as a 1950s labor magnate Chavez largely failed — but not because agribusiness did not cave in to him. Indeed, it saw the UFW and Chavez as the simple cost of doing business, a tolerable write-off necessary to making all the bad press, vandalism, and violence go away.

Instead, the UFW imploded by its own insider and familial favoritism, corruption, and, to be frank, lunatic paranoia. The millions of dollars Chavez deducted for pension funds often vanished. Legions of relatives (for a vestigial experience of the inner sanctum, I suggest a visit to the national shrine southeast of Bakersfield) staffed the union administration. There were daily rumors of financial malfeasance, mostly in the sense of farmworkers belatedly discovering that their union deductions did not lead to promised healthcare or pensions.

Most hagiographies ignore Chavez’s eerie alliance with the unhinged Synanon bunch. In these parts, they had opened a foothill retreat of some sort above Woodlake, not far from here. (I visited the ramshackle Badger enclave once with my mother [I suppose as her informal "security,"], who was invited as a superior court judge to be introduced to their new anti-drug program in their hopes that county officials might save millions of dollars by sentencing supposedly non-violent heroin addicts to Synanon recovery treatments. Needless to say, she smiled, met the creepy “group,” looked around the place, and we left rather quickly, and that was that.)

I don’t think that the Google headliners remember that Charles Dederich[14] (of rattlesnake-in-the-mailbox and “Don’t mess with us. You can get killed, dead” fame) was a sort of model for Chavez, who tried to introduce the wacko-bird Synanon Game to his own UFW hierarchy. No matter, deification of Chavez is now de rigeur; the young generation who idolizes him has almost no knowledge of the man, his life, or his beliefs. It is enough that Bobby Kennedy used to fly into these parts, walk for a few well-filmed hours, and fly out.

When I went to UC Santa Cruz in September of 1971, I remember as a fool picking a box of Thompson seedless grapes from our farm to take along, and soon being met by a dorm delegation of rich kids from Pacific Palisades and Palos Verdes (a favorite magnet area for Santa Cruz in those days) who ordered me not to eat my own grapes on my own campus in my own room. Soon I had about four good friends who not only enjoyed them, but enjoyed eating them in front of those who did not (to the extent I remember these student moralists, and can collate old faces with names in the annual alumni news, most are now high-ups and executives in the entertainment industry). Victor Davis Hanson

Voir encore:

The study of history demands nuanced thinking

Miriam Pawel

Austin American-Statesman
7-17-09

[Pawel is the author of the forthcoming book 'The Union of Their Dreams — Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement.']

Cesar Chavez was not a saint. He was, at times, a stubborn authoritarian bully, a fanatical control freak, a wily fighter who manufactured enemies and scapegoats, a mystical vegetarian who healed with his hands, and a union president who wanted his members to value sacrifice above higher wages.

He was also a brilliant, inspirational leader who changed thousands of lives as he built the first successful union for farmworkers, a consummate strategist singularly committed to his vision of helping the poor — a vision that even those close to him sometimes misunderstood.

That one man embodies such complexity and contradictions should be a key lesson underlying any history curriculum: Students should learn to think in shades of gray, to see heroes as real people, and to reject the dogma of black and white.

That sort of nuanced thinking appears largely absent from the debate over whether Cesar Chavez should be taught in Texas schools. Two of the six reviewers appointed to assess Texas’ social studies curriculum recently deemed Chavez an inappropriate role model whose contributions and stature have been overstated. Their critiques suggested he should be excised, not glorified. Their opponents pounced on the comments in an ongoing ideological and political dispute that clearly is far more sweeping than Chavez’s proper place in the classroom.

But the debate over Chavez and how his story is taught exemplifies the dangers of oversimplification and the absence of critical thinking.

His supporters are at fault as well as his detractors. For years, they have mythologized Chavez and fiercely fended off efforts to portray him in less than purely heroic terms. The hagiography only detracts from his very real, remarkable accomplishments. In an era when Mexican Americans were regarded as good for nothing more than the most back-breaking labor, Chavez mobilized public support and forced agribusiness to recognize the rights of farmworkers. His movement brought farmworkers dignity and self-respect, as well as better wages and working conditions. In California, he pushed through what remains today the most pro-labor law in the country, the only one granting farmworkers the right to organize and petition for union elections.

Chavez’s legacy can be seen in the work of a generation of activists and community organizers who joined the farmworker crusade during the 1960s and ’70s, a movement that transformed their lives. They, in turn, have gone on to effect change across the country, most recently playing key roles in the Obama presidential campaign.

The decline of the union Chavez founded and the ultimate failure of the United Farm Workers to achieve lasting change in the fields of California — much less expand into a national union — is part of the Chavez legacy, too. Chavez himself played a role in that precipitous decline, and students of history should not follow his example and blame the failures solely on outside forces and scapegoats.

Chavez, an avid reader of history, preserved an extraordinary record of his own movement: For years, he ordered that all documents, tapes and pictures be sent to the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit, the nation’s preeminent labor archive. Chavez told people he wanted the history of his movement to be saved and studied — warts and all.

Those lessons should be taught in classrooms everywhere. – See more at: http://hnn.us/article/107517#sthash.NSesFPOF.dpuf

Voir encore:

Amid Chants of ‘¡Huelga!,’ an Embodiment of Hope
Hero Worship Abounds in ‘Cesar Chavez’

A. O. Scott

The NYT

MARCH 27, 2014

“Cesar Chavez,” directed by Diego Luna, is a well-cast, well-intentioned movie that falls into the trap that often awaits film biographies of brave and widely admired individuals. The movie is so intent on reminding viewers of its subject’s heroism that it struggles to make him an interesting, three-dimensional person, and it tells his story as a series of dramatic bullet points, punctuated by black-and-white footage, some real, some simulated, of historical events.

In spite of these shortcomings, Mr. Luna’s reconstruction of the emergence of the United Farm Workers organization in the 1960s unfolds with unusual urgency and timeliness. After a rushed beginning — in which we see Chavez (Michael Peña) arguing in a Los Angeles office and moving his family to Delano, a central California town, before we fully grasp his motives — we settle in for a long, sometimes violent struggle between the workers and the growers. Attempted strikes are met with intimidation and brutality, from the local sheriff and hired goons, and Chavez and his allies (notably Dolores Huerta, played by Rosario Dawson) come up with new tactics, including a public fast, a march from Delano to Sacramento and a consumer boycott of grapes.

As is customary in movies like this, we see the toll that the hero’s commitment takes on his family life. His wife, Helen (America Ferrera), is a steadfast ally, but there is tension between Chavez and his oldest son, Fernando (the only one of the couple’s eight children with more than an incidental presence on screen). Fernando (Eli Vargas) endures racist bullying at school and suffers from his father’s frequent absences. Their scenes together are more functional than heartfelt, fulfilling the requirement of allowing the audience a glimpse at the private life of a public figure.

We also venture into the household of one of Chavez’s main antagonists, a landowner named Bogdonovich, played with sly, dry understatement by John Malkovich. He is determined to break the incipient union, and the fight between the two men and their organizations becomes a national political issue. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (Jack Holmes) takes the side of the workers, while the interests of the growers are publicly defended by Ronald Reagan, shown in an archival video clip describing the grape boycott as immoral, and Richard Nixon. Parts of “Cesar Chavez” are as rousing as an old folk song, with chants of “¡Huelga!” and “¡Sí, se puede!” ringing through the theater. Although it ends, as such works usually do, on a note of triumph, the film, whose screenplay is by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton, does not present history as a closed book. Movies about men and women who fought for social change — “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is a recent example — treat them less as the radicals they were than as embodiments of hope, reconciliation and consensus.

Though Cesar Chavez, who died in 1993, has been honored and celebrated, the problems he addressed have hardly faded away. The rights of immigrants and the wages and working conditions of those who pick, process and transport food are still live and contentious political issues.

And if you read between the lines of Mr. Luna’s earnest, clumsy film, you find not just a history lesson but an argument. The success of the farm workers depended on the strength of labor unions, both in the United States and overseas, and the existence of political parties able to draw on that power. What the film struggles to depict, committed as it is to the conventions of hagiography, is the long and complex work of organizing people to defend their own interests. You are invited to admire what Cesar Chavez did, but it may be more vital to understand how he did it.

“Cesar Chavez” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Strong language and scenes of bloody class struggle.

Voir encore:

The Madness of Cesar Chavez
A new biography of the icon shows that saints should be judged guilty until proved innocent.
Caitlin Flanagan
The Atlantic
Jun 13 2011,

Once a year, in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California, something spectacular happens. It lasts only a couple of weeks, and it’s hard to catch, because the timing depends on so many variables. But if you’re patient, and if you check the weather reports from Fresno and Tulare counties obsessively during the late winter and early spring, and if you are also willing, on very little notice, to drop everything and make the unglamorous drive up (or down) to that part of the state, you will see something unforgettable. During a couple of otherworldly weeks, the tens of thousands of fruit trees planted there burst into blossom, and your eye can see nothing, on either side of those rutted farm roads, but clouds of pink and white and yellow. Harvest time is months away, the brutal summer heat is still unimaginable, and in those cool, deserted orchards, you find only the buzzing of bees, the perfumed air, and the endless canopy of color.

I have spent the past year thinking a lot about the San Joaquin Valley, because I have been trying to come to terms with the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, whose United Farm Workers movement—born in a hard little valley town called Delano—played a large role in my California childhood. I spent the year trying, with increasing frustration, to square my vision of him, and of his movement, with one writer’s thorough and unflinching reassessment of them. Beginning five years ago, with a series of shocking articles in the Los Angeles Times, and culminating now in one of the most important recent books on California history, Miriam Pawel has undertaken a thankless task: telling a complicated and in many ways shattering truth. That her book has been so quietly received is not owing to a waning interest in the remarkable man at its center. Streets and schools and libraries are still being named for Chavez in California; his long-ago rallying cry of “Sí, se puede” remains so evocative of ideas about justice and the collective power of the downtrodden that Barack Obama adopted it for his presidential campaign. No, the silence greeting the first book to come to terms with Chavez’s legacy arises from the human tendency to be stubborn and romantic and (if the case requires it) willfully ignorant in defending the heroes we’ve chosen for ourselves. That silence also attests to the way Chavez touched those of us who had any involvement with him, because the full legacy has to include his singular and almost mystical way of eliciting not just fealty but a kind of awe. Something cultlike always clung to the Chavez operation, and so while I was pained to learn in Pawel’s book of Chavez’s enthrallment with an actual cult—with all the attendant paranoia and madness—that development makes sense.

In the face of Pawel’s book, I felt compelled to visit the places where Chavez lived and worked, although it’s hard to tempt anyone to join you on a road trip to somewhere as bereft of tourist attractions as the San Joaquin Valley. But one night in late February, I got a break: someone who’d just driven down from Fresno told me that the trees were almost in bloom, and that was all I needed. I took my 13-year-old son, Conor, out of school for a couple of days so we could drive up the 99 and have a look. I was thinking of some things I wanted to show him, and some I wanted to see for myself. It would be “experiential learning”; it would be a sentimental journey. At times it would be a covert operation.

One Saturday night, when I was 9 or 10 years old, my parents left the dishes in the sink and dashed out the driveway for their weekend treat: movie night. But not half an hour later—just enough time for the round trip from our house in the Berkeley Hills to the United Artists theater down on Shattuck—they were right back home again, my mother hanging up her coat with a sigh, and my father slamming himself angrily into a chair in front of The Bob Newhart Show.

What happened?

“Strike,” he said bitterly.

One of the absolute rules of our household, so essential to our identity that it was never even explained in words, was that a picket line didn’t mean “maybe.” A picket line meant “closed.” This rule wasn’t a point of honor or a means of forging solidarity with the common man, someone my father hoped to encounter only in literature. It came from a way of understanding the world, from the fierce belief that the world was divided between workers and owners. The latter group was always, always trying to exploit the former, which—however improbably, given my professor father’s position in life—was who we were.

In the history of human enterprise, there can have been no more benevolent employer than the University of California in the 1960s and ’70s, yet to hear my father and his English-department pals talk about the place, you would have thought they were working at the Triangle shirtwaist factory. Not buying a movie ticket if the ushers were striking meant that if the shit really came down, and the regents tried to make full professors teach Middlemarch seminars over summer vacation, the ushers would be there for you. As a child, I burned brightly with the justice of these concepts, and while other children were watching Speed Racer or learning Chinese jump rope, I spent a lot of my free time working for the United Farm Workers.

Everything about the UFW and its struggle was right-sized for a girl: it involved fruits and vegetables, it concerned the most elementary concepts of right and wrong, it was something you could do with your mom, and most of your organizing could be conducted just outside the grocery store, which meant you could always duck inside for a Tootsie Pop. The cement apron outside a grocery store, where one is often accosted—in a manner both winsome and bullying—by teams of Brownies pressing their cookies on you, was once my barricade and my bully pulpit.

Of course, it had all started with Mom. Somewhere along the way, she had met Cesar Chavez, or at least attended a rally where he had spoken, and that was it. Like almost everyone else who ever encountered him, she was spellbound. “This wonderful, wonderful man,” she would call him, and off we went to collect clothes for the farmworkers’ children, and to sell red-and-black UFW buttons and collect signatures. It was our thing: we loved each other, we loved doing little projects, we had oceans of free time (has anyone in the history of the world had more free time than mid-century housewives and their children?), and we were both constitutionally suited to causes that required grudge-holding and troublemaking and making things better for people in need. Most of all, though, we loved Cesar.

In those heady, early days of the United Farm Workers, in the time of the great five-year grape strike that started in 1965, no reporter, not even the most ironic among them, failed to remark upon, if not come under, Chavez’s sway. “The Messianic quality about him,” observed John Gregory Dunne in his brilliant 1967 book, Delano, “is suggested by his voice, which is mesmerizing—soft, perfectly modulated, pleasantly accented.” Peter Matthiessen’s book-length profile of Chavez, which consumed two issues of The New Yorker in the summer of 1969, reported: “He is the least boastful man I have ever met.” Yet within this self-conscious and mannered presentation of inarticulate deference was an ability to shape both a romantic vision and a strategic plan. Never since then has so great a gift been used for so small a cause. In six months, he took a distinctly regional movement and blasted it into national, and then international, fame.

The ranchers underestimated Chavez,” a stunned local observer of the historic Delano grape strike told Dunne; “they thought he was just another dumb Mex.” Such a sentiment fueled opinions of Chavez, not just among the valley’s grape growers—hardworking men, none of them rich by any means—but among many of his most powerful admirers, although they spoke in very different terms. Chavez’s followers—among them mainline Protestants, socially conscious Jews, Berkeley kids, white radicals who were increasingly rootless as the civil-rights movement transformed into the black-power movement—saw him as a profoundly good man. But they also understood him as a kind of idiot savant, a noble peasant who had risen from the agony of stoop labor and was mysteriously instilled with the principles and tactics of union organizing. In fact he’d been a passionate and tireless student of labor relations for a decade before founding the UFW, handpicked to organize Mexican Americans for the Community Service Organization, a local outfit under the auspices of no less a personage than Saul Alinsky, who knew Chavez well and would advise him during the grape strike. From Alinsky, and from Fred Ross, the CSO founder, Chavez learned the essential tactic of organizing: the person-by-person, block-by-block building of a coalition, no matter how long it took, sitting with one worker at a time, hour after hour, until the tide of solidarity is so high, no employer can defeat it.

Chavez, like all the great ’60s figures, was a man of immense personal style. For a hundred reasons—some cynical, some not—he and Robert Kennedy were drawn to each other. The Kennedy name had immense appeal to the workers Chavez was trying to cultivate; countless Mexican households displayed photographs of JFK, whose assassination they understood as a Catholic martyrdom rather than an act of political gun violence. In turn, Chavez’s cause offered Robert Kennedy a chance to stand with oppressed workers in a way that would not immediately inflame his family’s core constituency, among them working-class Irish Americans who felt no enchantment with the civil-rights causes that RFK increasingly embraced. The Hispanic situation was different. At the time of the grape strike, Mexican American immigration was not on anyone’s political radar. The overwhelming majority of California’s population was white, and the idea that Mexican workers would compete for anyone’s good job was unheard-of. The San Joaquin Valley farms—and the worker exploitation they had historically engendered—were associated more closely with the mistreatment of white Okies during the Great Depression than with the plight of any immigrant population.

Kennedy—his mind, like Chavez’s, always on the political promise of a great photograph—flew up to Delano in March 1968, when Chavez broke his 25-day fast, which he had undertaken not as a hunger strike, but as penance for some incidents of UFW violence. In a Mass held outside the union gas station where Chavez had fasted, the two were photographed, sitting next to Chavez’s wife and his mantilla-wearing mother, taking Communion together (“Senator, this is probably the most ridiculous request I ever made in my life,” said a desperate cameraman who’d missed the shot; “but would you mind giving him a piece of bread?”). Three months later, RFK was shot in Los Angeles, and a second hagiographic photograph was taken of the leader with a Mexican American. A young busboy named Juan Romero cradled the dying senator in his arms, his white kitchen jacket and dark, pleading eyes lending the picture an urgency at once tragic and political: The Third of May recast in a hotel kitchen. The United Farm Workers began to seem like Kennedy’s great unfinished business. The family firm might have preferred that grieving for Bobby take the form of reconsidering Teddy’s political possibilities, but in fact much of it was channeled, instead, into boycotting grapes.

That historic grape boycott eventually ended with a rousing success: three-year union contracts binding the Delano growers and the farmworkers. After that, the movement drifted out of my life and consciousness, as it did—I now realize—for millions of other people. I remember clearly the night my mother remarked (in a guarded way) to my father that the union had now switched its boycott from grapes to … lettuce. “Lettuce?” he squawked, and then burst out in mean laughter. I got the joke. What was Chavez going to do now, boycott each of California’s agricultural products, one at a time for five years each? We’d be way into the 21st century by the time they got around to zucchini. And besides, things were changing—in the world, in Berkeley, and (in particular, I thought) at the Flanagans’. Things that had appeared revolutionary and appealing in the ’60s were becoming weird or ugly in the ’70s. People began turning inward. My father, stalwart Vietnam War protester and tear-gasee, turned his concern to writing an endless historical novel about 18th-century Ireland. My mother stopped worrying so much about the liberation of other people and cut herself into the deal: she left her card table outside the Berkeley Co-op and went back to work. I too found other pursuits. Sitting in my room with the cat and listening over and over to Carly Simon’s No Secrets album—while staring with Talmudic concentration at its braless cover picture—was at least as absorbing as shaking the Huelga can and fretting about Mexican children’s vaccination schedules had once been. Everyone sort of moved on.

I didn’t really give any thought to the UFW again until the night of my mother’s death. At the end of that terrible day, when my sister and I returned from the hospital to our parents’ house, we looked through the papers on my mother’s kitchen desk, and there among the envelopes from the many, many charities she supported (she sent each an immediate albeit very small check) was one bearing a logo I hadn’t seen in years: the familiar black-and-red Huelga eagle. I smiled and took it home with me. I wrote a letter to the UFW, telling about my mom and enclosing a check, and suddenly I was back.

Re-upping with the 21st-century United Farm Workers was fantastic. The scope of my efforts was so much larger than before (they encouraged me to e-blast their regular updates to everyone in my address book, which of course I did) and the work so, so much less arduous—no sitting around in parking lots haranguing people about grapes. I never got off my keister. Plus, every time a new UFW e-mail arrived—the logo blinking, in a very new-millennium way, “Donate now!”—and I saw the pictures of farmworkers doing stoop labor in the fields, and the stirring photographs of Cesar Chavez, I felt close to my lost mother and connected to her: here I am, Mom, still doing our bit for the union.

And then one morning a few years later, I stepped out onto the front porch in my bathrobe, picked up the Los Angeles Times, and saw a headline: “Farmworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots.” It was the first article in a four-part series by a Times reporter named Miriam Pawel, and from the opening paragraph, I was horrified.

I learned that while the UFW brand still carried a lot of weight in people’s minds—enough to have built a pension plan of $100 million in assets but with only a few thousand retirees who qualified—the union had very few contracts with California growers, the organization was rife with Chavez nepotism, and the many UFW-funded business ventures even included an apartment complex in California built with non-union labor. I took this news personally. I felt ashamed that I had forwarded so many e-mails to so many friends, all in the service, somehow, of keeping my mother’s memory and good works alive, and all to the ultimate benefit—as it turned out—not of the workers in the fields (whose lives were in some ways worse than they had been in the ’60s), but rather of a large, shadowy, and now morally questionable organization. But at least, I told myself, none of this has in any way impugned Cesar himself: he’d been dead more than a decade before the series was published. His own legacy was unblighted.

Or so it seemed, until my editor sent me a copy of The Union of Their Dreams, Pawel’s exhaustively researched, by turns sympathetic and deeply shocking, investigation of Chavez and his movement, and in particular of eight of the people who worked most closely with him. Through her in-depth interviews with these figures—among them a prominent attorney who led the UFW legal department, a minister who was one of Chavez’s closest advisers, and a young farmworker who had dedicated his life to the cause—Pawel describes the reality of the movement, not just during the well-studied and victorious period that made it famous, but during its long, painful transformation to what it is today. Her story of one man and his movement is a story of how the ’60s became the ’70s.

To understand Chavez, you have to understand that he was grafting together two life philosophies that were, at best, an idiosyncratic pairing. One was grounded in union-organizing techniques that go back to the Wobblies; the other emanated directly from the mystical Roman Catholicism that flourishes in Mexico and Central America and that Chavez ardently followed. He didn’t conduct “hunger strikes”; he fasted penitentially. He didn’t lead “protest marches”; he organized peregrinations in which his followers—some crawling on their knees—arrayed themselves behind the crucifix and effigies of the Virgin of Guadalupe. His desire was not to lift workers into the middle class, but to bind them to one another in the decency of sacrificial poverty. He envisioned the little patch of dirt in Delano—the “Forty Acres” that the UFW had acquired in 1966 and that is now a National Historic Landmark—as a place where workers could build shrines, pray, and rest in the shade of the saplings they had tended together while singing. Like most ’60s radicals—of whatever stripe—he vastly overestimated the appeal of hard times and simple living; he was not the only Californian of the time to promote the idea of a Poor People’s Union, but as everyone from the Symbionese Liberation Army to the Black Panthers would discover, nobody actually wants to be poor. With this Christ-like and infinitely suffering approach to some worldly matters, Chavez also practiced the take-no-prisoners, balls-out tactics of a Chicago organizer. One of his strategies during the lettuce strike was causing deportations: he would alert the immigration authorities to the presence of undocumented (and therefore scab) workers and get them sent back to Mexico. As the ’70s wore on, all of this—the fevered Catholicism and the brutal union tactics—coalesced into a gospel with fewer and fewer believers. He moved his central command from the Forty Acres, where he was in constant contact with workers and their families—and thus with the realities and needs of their lives—and took up residence in a weird new headquarters.

Located in the remote foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains, the compound Chavez would call La Paz centered on a moldering and abandoned tuberculosis hospital and its equally ravaged outbuildings. In the best tradition of charismatic leaders left alone with their handpicked top command, he became unhinged. This little-known turn of events provides the compelling final third of Pawel’s book. She describes how Chavez, the master spellbinder, himself fell under the spell of a sinister cult leader, Charles Dederich, the founder of Synanon, which began as a tough-love drug-treatment program and became—in Pawel’s gentle locution—“an alternative lifestyle community.” Chavez visited Dederich’s compound in the Sierras (where women routinely had their heads shaved as a sign of obedience) and was impressed. Pawel writes:

Chavez envied Synanon’s efficient operation. The cars all ran, the campus was immaculate, the organization never struggled for money.

He was also taken with a Synanon practice called “The Game,” in which people were put in the center of a small arena and accused of disloyalty and incompetence while a crowd watched their humiliation. Chavez brought the Game back to La Paz and began to use it on his followers, among them some of the UFW’s most dedicated volunteers. In a vast purge, he exiled or fired many of them, leaving wounds that remain tender to this day. He began to hold the actual farmworkers in contempt: “Every time we look at them,” he said during a tape-recorded meeting at La Paz, “they want more money. Like pigs, you know. Here we’re slaving, and we’re starving and the goddamn workers don’t give a shit about anything.”

Chavez seemed to have gone around the bend. He decided to start a new religious order. He flew to Manila during martial law in 1977 and was officially hosted by Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime he praised, to the horror and loud indignation of human-rights advocates around the world.

By the time of Chavez’s death, the powerful tide of union contracts for California farmworkers, which the grape strike had seemed to augur, had slowed to the merest trickle. As a young man, Chavez had set out to secure decent wages and working conditions for California’s migrant workers; anyone taking a car trip through the “Salad Bowl of the World” can see that for the most part, these workers have neither.

For decades, Chavez has been almost an abstraction, a collection of gestures and images (the halting speech, the plaid shirt, the eagerness to perform penance for the smallest transgressions) suggesting more an icon than a human being. Here in California, Chavez has reached civic sainthood. Indeed, you can trace a good many of the giants among the state’s shifting pantheon by looking at the history of one of my former elementary schools. When Berkeley became the first city in the United States to integrate its school system without a court order, my white friends and I were bused to an institution in the heart of the black ghetto called Columbus School. In the fullness of time, its name was changed to Rosa Parks School; the irony of busing white kids to a school named for Rosa Parks never seemed fully unintentional to me. Now this school has a strong YouTube presence for the videos of its Cesar Chavez Day play, an annual event in which bilingual first-graders dressed as Mexican farmworkers carry Sí, Se Puede signs and sing “De Colores.” The implication is that just as Columbus and Parks made their mark on America, so did Chavez make his lasting mark on California.

In fact, no one could be more irrelevant to the California of today, and particularly to its poor, Hispanic immigrant population, than Chavez. He linked improvement of workers’ lives to a limitation on the bottomless labor pool, but today, low-wage, marginalized, and exploited workers from Mexico and Central America number not in the tens of thousands, as in the ’60s, but in the millions. Globalization is the epitome of capitalism, and nowhere is it more alive than in California. When I was a child in the ’60s, professional-class families did not have a variety of Hispanic workers—maids, nannies, gardeners—toiling in and around their households. Most faculty wives in Berkeley had a once-a-week “cleaning lady,” but those women were blacks, not Latinas. A few of the posher families had gardeners, but those men were Japanese, and they were employed for their expertise in cultivating California plants, not for their willingness to “mow, blow, and go.”

Growing up here when I did meant believing your state was the most blessed place in the world. We were certain—both those who lived in the Republican, Beach Boys paradises of Southern California and those who lived in the liberal enclaves of Berkeley and Santa Monica—that our state would always be able to take care of its citizens. The working class would be transformed (by dint of the aerospace industry and the sunny climate) into the most comfortable middle class in the world, with backyard swimming pools and self-starting barbecue grills for everyone. The poor would be taken care of, too, whether that meant boycotting grapes, or opening libraries until every rough neighborhood had books (and Reading Lady volunteers) for everyone.

But all of that is gone now.

The state is broken, bankrupt, mean. The schools are a misery, and the once-famous parks are so crowded on weekends that you might as well not go, unless you arrive at first light to stake your claim. The vision of civic improvement has given way to self-service and consumer indulgence. Where the mighty Berkeley Co-op once stood on Shattuck and Cedar—where I once rattled the can for Chavez, as shoppers (each one a part owner) went in to buy no-frills, honestly purveyed, and often unappealing food—is now a specialty market of the Whole Foods variety, with an endless olive bar and a hundred cheeses.

When I took my boy up the state to visit Cesar’s old haunts, we drove into the Tehachapi Mountains to see the compound at La Paz, now home to the controversial National Farm Workers Service Center, which sits on a war chest of millions of dollars. The place was largely deserted and very spooky. In Delano, the famous Forty Acres, site of the cooperative gas station and of Chavez’s 25-day fast, was bleak and unvisited. We found a crust of old snow on Chavez’s grave in Keene, and a cold wind in Delano. We spent the night in Fresno, and my hopes even for the Blossom Trail were low. But we followed the 99 down to Fowler, tacked east toward Sanger, and then, without warning, there we were.

“Stop the car,” Conor said, and although I am usually loath to walk a farmer’s land without permission, we had to step out into that cloud of pale color. We found ourselves in an Arthur Rackham illustration: the boughs bending over our heads were heavy with white blossoms, the ground was covered in moss that was in places deep green and in others brown, like worn velvet. I kept turning back to make sure the car was still in sight, but then I gave up my last hesitation and we pushed deeper and deeper into the orchard, until all we could see were the trees. At 65 degrees, the air felt chilly enough for a couple of Californians to keep their sweaters on. In harvest season, the temperature will climb to over 100 degrees many days, and the rubbed velvet of the spring will have given way to a choking dust. Almost none of the workers breathing it will have a union contract, few will be here legally, and the deals they strike with growers will hinge on only one factor: how many other desperate people need work. California agriculture has always had a dark side. But—whether you’re eating a ripe piece of fruit in your kitchen or standing in a fairy-tale field of blossoms on a cool spring morning—forgetting about all of that is so blessedly easy. Chavez shunned nothing more fervently than the easy way; and nothing makes me feel further away from the passions and certainty of my youth than my eagerness, now, to take it.
Caitlin Flanagan’s book Girl Land will be published in January 2012.

Voir enfin:

Why the ‘Cesar Chavez’ biopic matters now
Cindy Y. Rodriguez
CNN
March 28, 2014

New York (CNN) — Cesar Chavez is something of a national icon.

His face is on a U.S. postage stamp. Countless statues, murals, libraries, schools, parks and streets are named after him — he even has his own national monument. He was on the cover of Time magazine in 1969. A naval ship was named after him. The man even has his own Google Doodle and Apple ad.

Yet his footprint in American history is widely unknown and that’s exactly the reason why actor-turned-director Diego Luna decided to produce a movie about his life.

"I was really surprised that there wasn’t already a film out about Chavez’s life, so that’s why I spent the past four years making this and hope the country will join me in celebrating his life and work," Diego Luna said during Tuesday’s screening of "Cesar Chavez: An American Hero" in New York. The movie opens nationwide on Friday.

After seeing farm workers harvesting the country’s food unable to afford feeding their own families — let alone the deplorable working conditions they faced — Chavez decided to act.

He and Dolores Huerta co-founded what’s now known as the United Farm Workers. They became the first to successfully organize farm workers while being completely committed to nonviolence.

Without Chavez, California’s farm workers wouldn’t have fair wages, lunch breaks and access to toilets or clean water in the fields. Not to mention public awareness about the dangers of pesticides to farm workers and helping outlaw the short-handled hoe. Despite widespread knowledge of its dangers, this tool damaged farm workers’ backs.

His civil rights activism has been compared to that of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Difficult conditions in America’s fields

But as the film successfully highlights Chavez’s accomplishments, viewers will also be confronted with an uncomfortable truth about who picks their food and under what conditions.

Unfortunately, Chavez’s successes don’t cross state lines.

States such as New York, where farm workers face long hours without any overtime pay or a day of rest, are of concern for human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

The Kennedys have been supporters of the UFW since Sen. Robert Kennedy broke bread with Chavez during the last day of his fast against violence in 1968.

"New York is 37 years behind California. Farm workers here can be fired if they tried collective bargaining," Kennedy said after the "Cesar Chavez" screening. "We need a Cesar Chavez."

California is still the only state where farm workers have the right to organize.

Kennedy is urging the passing of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would give farm workers the right to one day of rest each week, time-and-a-half pay for work past an eight-hour day, as well as unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance.

It’s not just New York. Farm workers across the country face hardship. In Michigan’s blueberry fields, there’s a great deal of child labor, Rodriguez said.

"Because they’re paid by piece-rate, it puts a lot of stress on all family members to chip in. Plus, families work under one Social Security number because about 80% of the farm worker population is undocumented," Rodriguez added.

That’s why the UFW and major grower associations worked closely with the Senate’s immigration reform bill to include special provisions that would give farm workers legal status if they continued to work in agriculture.

"Farm workers shouldn’t struggle so much to feed their own families, and we can be part of that change," Luna said.

A national holiday in honor Chavez?

To help facilitate that change, Luna and the film’s cast — Michael Peña as Chavez, America Ferrera as his wife, Helen, and Rosario Dawson as labor leader Dolores Huerta — have been trekking all over the country promoting the film and a petition to make Chavez’s birthday on March 31 a national holiday.

"We aren’t pushing Cesar Chavez Day just to give people a day off. It’s to give people a ‘day on’ because we have a responsibility to provide service to our communities," United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez told CNN.

In 2008, President Barack Obama showed his support for the national holiday and even borrowed the United Farm Workers famous chant "Si Se Puede!’ — coined by Dolores Huerta — during his first presidential campaign.

Obama endorsed it again in 2012, when he created a national monument to honor Chavez, but the resolution still has to be passed by Congress to be recognized as a national holiday.

Right now, Cesar Chavez Day is recognized only in California, Texas and Colorado.
Political activist Dolores Huerta Political activist Dolores Huerta

Huerta, 83, is still going strong in her activism and has also helped promote the film. She said she wishes the film could have included more history, but she knows it’s impossible.

"There were so many important lessons in the film. All the sacrifices Cesar and his wife, Helen, had to make and the obstacles we had to face against the police and judges. We even had people that were killed in the movement but we were still able to organize," Huerta said.

Actor Tony Plana, who attending the New York screening, knew the late Chavez and credited him with the launch of his acting career. Plana, known for his role as the father on ABC’s "Ugly Betty" TV series, said his first acting gig was in the UFW’s theatrical troupe educating and helping raising farm workers’ awareness about their work conditions.

"I’ve waited more than 35 years for this film to be made, and I can’t tell you how honored I am to finally see it happen," Plana told CNN.

It’s not that there wasn’t interest in making the biopic before: Hollywood studios and directors have approached the Chavez family in the past, but the family kept turning them down, mainly for two reasons.

"Well, first Cesar didn’t want to spend the time making the film because there was so much work to do, and he was hesitant on being singled out because there were so many others that contributed to the UFW’s success," said Rodriguez.

It wasn’t until Luna came around and asked the Chavez family how they felt the movie should be made that the green light was given. But when it came time to getting the funding to produce the film, Hollywood was not willing.

"Hopefully this film will send a message to Hollywood that our [Latino] stories need to be portrayed in cinema," Luna added.

"Latinos go to the movies more than anyone else, but we’re the least represented on screen. It doesn’t make any sense," Dawson told CNN.

In 2012, Hispanics represented 18% of the movie-going population but accounted for 25% of all movies seen, according to Nielsen National Research Group.

"I hope young people use the power of social media to help spread the word about social change," Dawson said.

"There is power in being a consumer and boycotting. If we want more as a community, we need to speak up."


Bons baisers de Russie: Les affaires humaines ont leurs marées (Back to the future: who laughed when Romney said Russia was our No.1 foe ?)

26 mars, 2014

https://scontent-a-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1.0-9/s403x403/1962594_825839597442968_1671093139_n.jpg

Les affaires humaines ont leurs marées, qui, saisies au moment du flux, conduisent à la fortune ; l’occasion manquée, tout le voyage de la vie se poursuit au milieu des bas-fonds et des misères. En ce moment, la mer est pleine et nous sommes à flot : il faut prendre le courant tandis qu’il nous est favorable, ou perdre toutes nos chances. Shakespeare (Jules César, IV, 3)
Un des grands problèmes de la Russie – et plus encore de la Chine – est que, contrairement aux camps de concentration hitlériens, les leurs n’ont jamais été libérés et qu’il n’y a eu aucun tribunal de Nuremberg pour juger les crimes commis. Thérèse Delpech
Les dirigeants européens et américains espèrent que les tyrans et les autocrates du monde vont disparaître tout seuls. Mais les dinosaures comme Vladimir Poutine, Hugo Chávez et les ayatollahs iraniens ne vont pas s’effacer comme cela. Ils ne doivent leur survie qu’au manque de courage des chefs du Monde libre. Garry Kasparov
La politique de "redémarrage" des relations russo-américaines proposée par le président Obama a été interprétée à Moscou comme l’indice de la prise de conscience par les Américains de leur faiblesse, et par conséquent comme une invitation à Moscou de pousser ses pions (…) Le contrat d’achat des Mistrals présente un triple avantage: d’abord, la Russie acquiert des armements de haute technologie sans avoir à faire l’effort de les développer elle-même ; deuxièmement, elle réduit à néant la solidarité atlantique et la solidarité européenne ; troisièmement, elle accélère la vassalisation du deuxième grand pays européen après l’Allemagne. Un expert russe a récemment comparé cette politique à celle de la Chine face aux Etats-Unis : selon lui, à Washington le lobby pro-chinois intéressé aux affaires avec la Chine est devenu si puissant que les Etats-Unis sont désormais incapables de s’opposer à Pékin; la même chose est déjà vraie pour l’Allemagne face à la Russie et elle le sera pour la France après la signature du contrat sur les Mistrals. (…) Aujourd’hui, Moscou (…) se pose en rempart de la civilisation « du Nord », ce qui ne manque pas de sel quand on se souvient avec quelle persévérance Moscou a défendu le programme nucléaire iranien, contribuant grandement à l’émergence de cette « menace » du Sud, et avec quel enthousiasme elle célébrait, il y a un an encore, le naufrage de la civilisation occidentale. (…) On l’a vu dans les années 1930, la présence d’un Etat revanchard sur le continent européen peut réduire à néant toutes les tentatives de fonder un ordre international sur le droit et l’arbitrage. Françoise Thom
President Barack Obama defended the American invasion of Iraq Wednesday in a high-profile speech to address the Russian takeover of Crimea. Russian officials, Obama noted, have pointed to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as an example of  "Western hypocrisy." Obama struggled, however, in his attempt to defend the legality of the invasion. The war was unsanctioned by the United Nations, and many experts assert it violated any standard reading of international law. But, argued Obama, at least the U.S. tried to make it legal. « America sought to work within the international system, » Obama said, referencing an attempt to gain U.N. approval for the invasion — an effort that later proved to be founded on flawed, misleading and cherry-picked intelligence. The man who delivered the presentation to the U.N., then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, has repeatedly called it a « blot » on his record.  Obama, in his speech, noted his own opposition to the war, but went on to defend its mission."We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain," Obama argued. The Huffington Post
La destruction de l’URSS fut la plus grande catastrophe géopolitique du siècle. Poutine (2005)
C’est ma dernière élection. Après mon élection, j’aurai davantage de flexibilité. Obama (2012)
Aujourd’hui, c’est la Russie et pas l’Iran ou la Corée du Nord qui est l’ennemi géopolitique des Etats-Unis (…). Elle ne soutient que les pires régimes du monde. (…) Sur l’arène internationale, la Russie n’est pas un personnage amical. Le fait que le président américain veut plus de souplesse dans les relations avec la Russie est un signe alarmant (…). La Russie est sans aucun doute notre ennemi géopolitique numéro un. La Corée du Nord et l’Iran posent également assez de problèmes, mais ces terribles régimes poursuivent leur chemin, et nous allons à l’Onu pour les arrêter. Et si le président syrien tue ses propres citoyens, nous allons également à l’Onu, et qui monte alors au créneau pour défendre ces régimes? C’est toujours la Russie, souvent soutenue par la Chine. Romney
Nous avons connu d’autres crises en Europe ces dernières années: les Balkans dans les années 90, la Géorgie en 2008. Mais il s’agit là de la plus grave menace à la sécurité et à la stabilité de l’Europe depuis la fin de la Guerre froide. … On ne sait plus si la Russie est un partenaire ou un adversaire. Anders Fogh Rasmussen (secrétaire général de l’Otan)
Ce que Romney a dit sur la menace russe était en plein dans le mille. Cela a été amplement démontré en Ukraine, en Syrie et également en Russie. Nile Gardiner
Why, across the world, are America’s hands so tied? A large part of the answer is our leader’s terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. Mitt Romney

Retour vers le futur ?

Alors où (avant d’autres nations comme la Moldavie ou l’Argentine ?) l’ours russe vient de ne faire qu’une bouchée d’une partie d’un pays dont nous nous étions engagés à protéger l’intégrité …

 Et en ce deuxième anniversaire (jour pour jour) de cette fameuse interview de Mitt Romney sur CNN qui avait tant fait rire nos prétendus spécialistes …

Pendant qu’entre deux fourriers du terrorisme saoudien ou qatari, le Pays autoproclamé des droits de l’homme et donneur de leçons si prodigue envers ledit Poutine, déroule à nouveau le tapis rouge pour les bouchers toujours impunis de Tiananmen

Comment ne pas repenser à ces paroles désormais prophétiques du candidat républicain sur cette Russie de Poutine …

Qui vient de confirmer, deux ans plus tard, qu’elle "ne soutient que les pires régimes du monde" et qu’elle est bien "sans aucun doute notre ennemi géopolitique numéro un" ?

Et sur ce président américain qui pourrait bien se révéler l’un des pires (et plus naïfs) présidents de l’histoire …

Et qui, réduit à défendre onze ans après la guerre du pétrole de son prédécesseur qu’il avait tant condamnée, n’a apparemment toujours pas compris comme le rappelle Romney citant Shakespeare que "les affaires humaines avaient leurs marées" ?

The Price of Failed Leadership
The President’s failure to act when action was possible has diminished respect for the U.S. and made troubles worse.
Mitt Romney
March 17, 2014

Why are there no good choices? From Crimea to North Korea, from Syria to Egypt, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, America apparently has no good options. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, Russia owns Crimea and all we can do is sanction and disinvite—and wring our hands.

Iran is following North Korea’s nuclear path, but it seems that we can only entreat Iran to sign the same kind of agreement North Korea once signed, undoubtedly with the same result.

Our tough talk about a red line in Syria prompted Vladimir Putin’s sleight of hand, leaving the chemicals and killings much as they were. We say Bashar Assad must go, but aligning with his al Qaeda-backed opposition is an unacceptable option.

And how can it be that Iraq and Afghanistan each refused to sign the status-of-forces agreement with us—with the very nation that shed the blood of thousands of our bravest for them?

Why, across the world, are America’s hands so tied?

A large part of the answer is our leader’s terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community—and to the White House—that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more. That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.

Months before the rebellion began in Syria in 2011, a foreign leader I met with predicted that Assad would soon fall from power. Surely the White House saw what this observer saw. As the rebellion erupted, the time was ripe for us to bring together moderate leaders who would have been easy enough for us to identify, to assure the Alawites that they would have a future post-Assad, and to see that the rebels were well armed.

The advent of the Arab Spring may or may not have been foreseen by our intelligence community, but after Tunisia, it was predictable that Egypt might also become engulfed. At that point, pushing our friend Hosni Mubarak to take rapid and bold steps toward reform, as did Jordan’s king, might well have saved lives and preserved the U.S.-Egypt alliance.

The time for securing the status-of-forces signatures from leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan was before we announced in 2011 our troop-withdrawal timeline, not after it. In negotiations, you get something when the person across the table wants something from you, not after you have already given it away.

Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.

A chastened president and Secretary of State Kerry, a year into his job, can yet succeed, and for the country’s sake, must succeed. Timing is of the essence.

Mr. Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican nominee for president.

Voir aussi:

2 years ago
Romney not worried about Santorum, labels Russia No. 1 ‘foe’
Ashley Killough

CNN

March 26th, 2012

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday he was unfazed by recent ramped-up rhetoric coming from his opponent Rick Santorum.

"I’m not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days," Romney said on CNN’s "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "I know when you’re falling further and further behind, you get a little more animated."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Santorum made headlines Sunday when he claimed Romney would be the "worst" Republican candidate to match up against President Barack Obama in the general election, based on the issue of health care reform.

The former Massachusetts governor, he argued, would be poorly armed in a fight against the president after signing off on a health care law in the Bay State that critics now label a "blueprint" for the controversial federal health care legislation passed in 2010.

Romney argues, however, that he would attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act as president, saying states should have the right to regulate health care laws, not Washington.

"It’s a power grab by the federal government. It violates the 10th Amendment. It violates the economic principles and economy freedom in this country," Romney said on CNN. "It needs to be repealed."

The candidate also blasted Obama over a private conversation caught by microphone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which the president said he could be more flexible on the missile defense system in Europe after the election.

Romney joined other top Republicans in slamming the president over the remark on Monday and for making backroom deals with a country that Romney called America’s "Number One geopolitical foe."

“Who is it that always stands up with the world’s worst actors? It’s always Russia, typically with China alongside. In terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that’s on the Security Council, and as of course a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe. The idea that our president is planning on doing something with them that he’s not willing to tell the American people before the election is something I find very, very alarming,” Romney said.

The White House hopeful also opened up about how he spent some recent time-off from the campaign trail, saying he went to watch "The Hunger Games" with his grandchildren over the weekend.

"I read serious books, but every now and then I read just for fun," Romney said, talking about how he read the book before seeing the movie. "That was weekend fun, so it was nice to see a flick for the first time in a long time."

Voir encore:

Après la Crimée, Poutine va-t-il annexer une partie de la Moldavie?

Olivier Philippe-Viela

L’Express

26/03/2014

Après le rattachement de la Crimée à la Russie, Vladimir Poutine pourrait tenter d’absorber d’autres régions russophones, comme la Transnistrie, en Moldavie. Les explications du politologue Florent Parmentier.

Les velléités séparatistes de la Transnistrie en Moldavie pourraient faire le jeu de Moscou. Cette région moldave, autoproclamée indépendante en 1992, mais sans être reconnue par la communauté internationale, compte 550 000 habitants. Composé pour un tiers de russophones, un tiers de roumanophones et le reste d’ukrainiens, la République moldave du Dniestr (son nom officiel) a déjà demandé son rattachement à la Russie en 2006.

La Transnistrie peut-elle faire sécession comme la Crimée et conforter Vladimir Poutine dans son projet expansionniste? L’Express a posé la question à Florent Parmentier, responsable pédagogique à l’IEP de Paris et spécialiste de la Moldavie.

La Russie peut-elle annexer la Transnistrie comme elle a absorbé la Crimée?

La Transnistrie demande depuis 20 ans son rattachement à la Russie. Lors d’un référendum en 2006, non reconnu par l’Union européenne, 97% des votants avaient formulé ce souhait. Si le résultat est soviétique, il est évident qu’une majorité de la population souhaite faire partie de la Russie. Pour les Moldaves, la Transnistrie est déjà quasiment perdue. Ce qui ne veut pas dire que les Russes vont l’annexer. On ne peut pas exclure cette possibilité radicale, mais Moscou souhaite plutôt favoriser l’indépendance de cette région et s’appuyer dessus pour mettre un pied en Moldavie.

Celle-ci pense que l’unique moyen de retenir la Transnistrie est de présenter l’image la plus attractive possible. Il faut savoir que ce pays est en bonne santé économique par rapport à ses voisins. En 2013, sa croissance était de 8,9%. Le pouvoir moldave est pro-européen, prudent vis-à-vis de la Russie et soutien officiel de l’Ukraine par la voix de son Premier ministre Iurie Leanca.

Que cherche Vladimir Poutine en s’appropriant les anciens satellites soviétiques?

Le président russe veut intimider l’Occident. Il a une idéologie expansionniste. Pour Poutine, il s’agit d’un projet économique et géopolitique: le développement de l’Union douanière, calquée sur les frontières de l’ex-URSS. Dans son esprit, l’Ukraine aurait dû en faire partie. Cependant elle lui a échappé. La Crimée n’était pas sa priorité, mais il a voulu marquer le coup.

D’autres régions russophones souhaitent-elles être affiliées à la Fédération de Russie?

La Crimée est définitivement perdue pour l’Ukraine.

La Gagaouzie par exemple, district autonome au Sud de la Moldavie, a voté pour rejoindre l’Union douanière voulue par Vladimir Poutine à l’Est. Cette région russophile s’affirme ainsi par rapport au pouvoir central et conforte le projet économique de la Russie. En Ukraine, l’enjeu c’est le Sud et l’Est du pays. Les nouvelles autorités ukrainiennes ont eu un comportement pragmatique et intelligent, notamment sur l’usage de la langue russe, qui reste tolérée. En revanche, il semble évident que la Crimée est définitivement perdue pour l’Ukraine


Irak: Ah, le bon vieux temps de Saddam! (Bagdad worst: Guess who’s got the curse of Google auto-complete this year ?)

23 mars, 2014
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/images/saddam_baathist_propaganda.jpghttp://planetgroupentertainment.squarespace.com/storage/SaddamHussein.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1296254428690Si du temps de Saddam Hussein, le chômage sévissait déjà et l’eau et d’électricité manquaient, les problèmes étaient d’une moindre ampleur et mieux gérés. La sécurité, elle, s’est totalement détériorée depuis l’invasion de l’Irak, menée en 2003 par une coalition conduite par les Etats-Unis. Pourtant, Bagdad a une histoire glorieuse. Construite en 762 sur les rives du Tigre par le calife abbasside Abou Jaafar al-Mansour, la ville a depuis joué un rôle central dans le monde arabo-musulman. Au 20e siècle, Bagdad était le brillant exemple d’une ville arabe moderne avec certaines des meilleurs universités et musées de la région, une élite bien formée, un centre culturel dynamique et un système de santé haut de gamme. Son aéroport international était un modèle pour la région et la ville a connu la naissance de l’Opep, le cartel des pays exportateurs de pétrole. La ville abritait en outre une population de différentes confessions: musulmans, chrétiens, juifs et autres. "Bagdad représentait le centre économique de l’Etat abbasside", souligne Issam al-Faili, professeur d’histoire politique à l’université Moustansiriyah, un établissement vieux de huit siècles. Il rappelle qu’elle a "servi de base à la conquête de régions voisines pour élargir l’influence de l’islam"."Elle était une capitale du monde", dit, avec fierté, l’universitaire, qui admet qu’"aujourd’hui, elle est devenue l’une des villes les plus misérables de la planète". AFP
Every expat I know here is mystified by that data. I’d be hard-pressed to find an expat (not a lot of them around admittedly) who believes that’s the case, apart from the prisoners of the Green Zone — the embassy people, U.N. staff and others who can’t actually get out into the city. Jane Arraf (freelance journalist)
The Iraqi capital has beaten out 222 other locations to be named the city with the lowest quality of life for expats in the entire world. Baghdad is so bad, according to Mercer, that companies should pay people a considerable amount extra to live there. As Hannibal explained to me, companies would likely have to pay an employee an extra 35-40 percent on top of their base salary as compensation for the poor quality of life in Iraq – that some companies might go as high as 50 percent in cash or other services. Worse still, Baghdad is a persistent worst offender in Mercer’s data, gradually falling down the rankings since 2001 and ranking last since 2004. It’s even acquired the curse of Google Auto-complete: Type "Baghdad Worst" into the search engine, and "Baghdad worst place to live" and "Baghdad worst city" appear. The Washington Post
Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents. To ensure that compensation packages reflect the local environment appropriately, employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate. In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies. This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with. European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year. Several cities in Central and South America are still attractive to expatriates due to their relatively stable political environments, improving infrastructure, and pleasant climate. But many locations remain challenging due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes often hitting the region, as well as local economic inequality and high crime rates. Companies placing their workers on expatriate assignments in these locations must ensure that hardship allowances reflect the lower levels of quality of living. The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organisations and expatriates. Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding, keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities. However, some cities that might not have been very attractive to foreign companies are making efforts to attract them. Slagin Parakatil (Senior Researcher at Mercer)
The abysmal Iraq results forecast what could happen in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have so far spent $90 billion in reconstruction projects during a 12-year military campaign that is slated to end, for the most part, in 2014. Shortly after the March 2003 invasion, Congress set up a $2.4 billion fund to help ease the sting of war for Iraqis. It aimed to rebuild Iraq’s water and electricity systems; provide food, health care and governance for its people; and take care of those who were forced from their homes in the fighting. Less than six months later, President George W. Bush asked for $20 billion more to further stabilize Iraq and help turn it into an ally that could gain economic independence and reap global investments. To date, the U.S. has spent more than $60 billion in reconstruction grants to help Iraq get back on its feet after the country was broken by more than two decades of war, sanctions and dictatorship. That works out to about $15 million a day. And yet Iraq’s government is rife with corruption and infighting. Baghdad’s streets are still cowed by near-daily deadly bombings. A quarter of the country’s 31 million population lives in poverty, and few have reliable electricity and clean water. Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate committee that oversees U.S. funding, said the Bush administration should have agreed to give the reconstruction money to Iraq as a loan in 2003 instead as an outright gift. "It’s been an extraordinarily disappointing effort and, largely, a failed program," Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview Tuesday. "I believe, had the money been structured as a loan in the first place, that we would have seen a far more responsible approach to how the money was used, and lower levels of corruption in far fewer ways." (…) Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, who was the top U.S. military commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said, "It would have been better to hold off spending large sums of money" until the country stabilized. About a third of the $60 billion was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, which had to be rebuilt after the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded Saddam’s army in 2003. Today, Iraqi forces have varying successes in safekeeping the public and only limited ability to secure their land, air and sea borders. The report also cites Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq weakened U.S. influence in Baghdad. Panetta has since left office: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel took over the defense job last week. Washington is eyeing a similar military drawdown next year in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have spent $90 billion so far on rebuilding projects. The Afghanistan effort risks falling into the same problems that mired Iraq if oversight isn’t coordinated better. In Iraq, officials were too eager to build in the middle of a civil war, and too often raced ahead without solid plans or back-up plans, the report concluded. CBS news

Oubliez Damas ! Oubliez Grozny ! (sans parler de Tbilisi ou bientôt Kiev ?)

A l’heure où, après les dérives catastrophiques des années Bush, une Russie reconnaissante se réjouit du retour au bercail de sa province perdue de Crimée …

Et où sort le classement mondial des villes pour la qualité de vie par le leader mondial du conseil en ressources humaines Mercer Consulting Group …

(Vienne,  Vancouver, Pointe-à-Pitre, Singapour, Auckland, Port-Louis et Dubai contre Tbilisi, Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Dushanbe, Bangui et Bagdad) …

Comment, avec l’agence de presse nationale française AFP, ne pas être scandalisé de ce que le cowboy Bush a fait de la cité arabe modèle de Saddam

Qui, entre sa guerre et ses milliards (60 milliards de dollars de reconstruction, 800 avec la guerre !), se retrouve onze ans après… pire ville du monde ?

Jadis cité arabe modèle, Bagdad devient la pire ville au monde

Le Nouvel Observateur

AFPPar Salam FARAJ | AFP

21 mars 2014

Cité modèle dans le monde arabe jusqu’aux années 1970, Bagdad est devenue, après des décennies de conflits, la pire ville au monde en matière de qualité de vie.

La capitale irakienne -édifiée sur les rives du Tigre il y a 1.250 ans et jadis un centre intellectuel, économique et politique de renommée mondiale- est arrivée en 223e et dernière position du classement 2014 sur la qualité de vie, établi par le leader mondial du conseil en ressources humaines Mercer Consulting Group.

Ce classement tient compte de l’environnement social, politique et économique de la ville, qui compte 8,5 millions d’habitants, ainsi que des critères relatifs à la santé et l’éducation.

Et à Bagdad, les habitants doivent faire face à une multitude de problèmes: attentats quasi-quotidiens, pénurie d’électricité et d’eau potable, mauvais système d?égouts, embouteillages réguliers et taux de chômage élevé.

Si du temps de Saddam Hussein, le chômage sévissait déjà et l’eau et d’électricité manquaient, les problèmes étaient d’une moindre ampleur et mieux gérés.

La sécurité, elle, s’est totalement détériorée depuis l’invasion de l’Irak, menée en 2003 par une coalition conduite par les Etats-Unis.

"Nous vivons dans des casernes", se plaint Hamid al-Daraji, un vendeur, en évoquant les nombreux points de contrôle, les murs en béton anti-explosion et le déploiement massif des forces de sécurité.

"Riches et pauvres partagent la même souffrance", ajoute-t-il. "Le riche peut être à tout moment la cible d’une attaque à l’explosif, d’un rapt ou d’un assassinat, tout comme le pauvre".

Pourtant, Bagdad a une histoire glorieuse.

Construite en 762 sur les rives du Tigre par le calife abbasside Abou Jaafar al-Mansour, la ville a depuis joué un rôle central dans le monde arabo-musulman.

Au 20e siècle, Bagdad était le brillant exemple d’une ville arabe moderne avec certaines des meilleurs universités et musées de la région, une élite bien formée, un centre culturel dynamique et un système de santé haut de gamme.

Son aéroport international était un modèle pour la région et la ville a connu la naissance de l’Opep, le cartel des pays exportateurs de pétrole.

La ville abritait en outre une population de différentes confessions: musulmans, chrétiens, juifs et autres.

"Bagdad représentait le centre économique de l’Etat abbasside", souligne Issam al-Faili, professeur d’histoire politique à l’université Moustansiriyah, un établissement vieux de huit siècles.

Il rappelle qu’elle a "servi de base à la conquête de régions voisines pour élargir l’influence de l’islam".

- ‘Bagdad, la belle, en ruines’ -

"Elle était une capitale du monde", dit, avec fierté, l’universitaire, qui admet qu’"aujourd’hui, elle est devenue l’une des villes les plus misérables de la planète".

L’Irak connaît depuis un an une recrudescence des violences, alimentées par le ressentiment de la minorité sunnite face au gouvernement dominé par les chiites, et par le conflit en Syrie voisine. Depuis le début 2014, plus de 1.900 personnes ont été tuées.

Face aux violences, les forces de sécurité installent de nouveaux points de contrôle, qui pullulent déjà à Bagdad, et imposent des restrictions au trafic routier. Des murs massifs en béton, conçus pour résister à l’impact des explosions, divisent des quartiers confessionnellement mixtes.

Certains tentent de nettoyer et d’embellir la ville mais reconnaissent la difficulté de la mission.

"Les gouvernements successifs n’ont pas travaillé pour développer Bagdad", regrette Amir al-Chalabi, chef d’une ONG, la Humanitarian Construction Organisation, qui mène campagne pour améliorer les services de base dans la ville.

"La nuit, elle se transforme en une ville fantôme car elle manque d’éclairage", note-t-il.

Des câbles électriques pendent dans les rues où des particuliers gérant de générateurs fournissent, contre rémunération, du courant électrique, compensant ainsi les défaillances du réseau public. Et en raison du réseau limité des égouts, les rues de la capitale sont inondées dès les premières pluies.

Et malgré une économie en forte croissance grâce au pétrole, en pleine reprise, ce secteur n’est pas générateur d’emplois pour enrayer le taux de chômage dans le pays, y compris dans la capitale.

"Les problèmes de Bagdad sont innombrables. Bagdad la belle est aujourd’hui en ruines", se lamente Hamid al-Daraji.

Voir aussi:

Why do people choose to live in the ‘worst city in the world?’

Adam Taylor

The Washington Post

February 26 2014

Human resources consulting firm Mercer recently crunched the numbers on dozens of factors about life for an expatriate. The aim? To calculate exactly how much extra international firms should be willing to pay their employees when asking them to move to undesirable locations.(While Mercer wouldn’t release the precise data, Ed Hannibal, a global mobility leader at the company, said that factors involved included such concerns as security, infrastructure and the availability of international goods).

While the data has its practical uses, it has another, more viral, function too: Ranking the "best" and "worst" cities for quality of life in the entire world.

For example, it turns out that expats asked to move to Austria are pretty lucky: Vienna ranked top of the list for expats, followed by Zurich, Auckland, Munich and Vancouver. For all of these cities, Hannibal told me, quality of life was so good that companies were recommended to not pay employees there any hardship costs at all.

But down at the other end of the scale, it’s a different story. According to Mercer, companies should be willing to pay top dollar for some cities, and none more so than Baghdad.

Yes, the Iraqi capital has beaten out 222 other locations to be named the city with the lowest quality of life for expats in the entire world.

Baghdad is so bad, according to Mercer, that companies should pay people a considerable amount extra to live there. As Hannibal explained to me, companies would likely have to pay an employee an extra 35-40 percent on top of their base salary as compensation for the poor quality of life in Iraq – that some companies might go as high as 50 percent in cash or other services. Worse still, Baghdad is a persistent worst offender in Mercer’s data, gradually falling down the rankings since 2001 and ranking last since 2004. It’s even acquired the curse of Google Auto-complete: Type "Baghdad Worst" into the search engine, and "Baghdad worst place to live" and "Baghdad worst city" appear.

Could a bustling city of 6 million people really be the worst city in the world? To get a better perspective on it, I reached out to a few Baghdad expats, people who, unlike most Iraqis, made a choice to live in Iraq. Surprisingly, most seemed to be aware that they were apparently living in the worst place they could live.

"I know exactly which survey you mean," said one person who has lived in Baghdad for five years and asked not to be named. "I have often thought of that survey when I take the direct Austrian air flight from Baghdad to Vienna, thereby going from the worst city to the best city in the world in a matter of a few hours."

Others, however, were quick to argue that the poll didn’t reflect the Baghdad they knew. "Every expat I know here is mystified by that data," said Jane Arraf, a freelance journalist who has spent many years in the city. "I’d be hard-pressed to find an expat (not a lot of them around admittedly) who believes that’s the case, apart from the prisoners of the Green Zone — the embassy people, U.N. staff and others who can’t actually get out into the city."

It seems obvious, of course, that Baghdad is a more dangerous place than Vienna: More than 1,000 people were killed in attacks last month, for example. And surely luxury goods would be easier to find in a Western city (when I asked one Baghdad resident about the availability of international goods, they e-mailed back: "hahahahahahahaha").

"In a sense, almost anything an Iraqi could want can be obtained," Raoul Henri Alcala, a private businessman who has lived in the city for 10 years explains, "although often at a high price that also often includes payments to facilitators that can best be described as blatant corruption."

Alcala, who once worked for the Iraqi government and now runs his own consulting firm, lives in the "Green Zone" and says that while his choice of location is safer than the outside city (the "Red Zone"), his location provides its own difficulties. "Shops do exist in the Zone selling food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and minor comfort items," Alcala says. "Everything else has to be purchased outside, and can be brought into the Zone only after a laborious written authorization is requested and received." Popular restaurants, markets and liquor stores outside the Green Zone have become targets for terror attacks, according to Alcala.

Alcala says that he has never lived in a city with a comparable "level of uncertainty and difficulty." There do appear to be rivals, however, for Baghdad’s "worst city" crown. In the Mercer data, it narrowly beats out Bangui in the Central African Republic, Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, N’Djamena in Chad and Sana’a in Yemen. Plus, there are more than 223 cities on Earth. It’s plausible that one of these unlisted locations is "worse" than Baghdad (and, for what it’s worth, rival data from the Economist Intelligence Unit states that Damascus was the worst place in the world to live).

Baghdad’s place at the bottom of the list is a little more depressing when you consider that much of the lack of infrastructure and chaotic security situation can at least partially be blamed on eight years of U.S.-led war (the U.S. government has spent $60 billion in civilian reconstruction to be fair, though much of it is thought to have been wasted). That weight must affect some expats in Baghdad: One told me that she "felt a sense of responsibility to clean up the mess that George Bush made." On the other hand, others explained that the potential for personal remuneration was likely a serious motive for many expats.

Ultimately, people who choose to live in a place like Baghdad probably do so for a complicated set of reasons. As Arraf puts it, there are two types of people in the world: The "you couldn’t pay me enough to do this" types, and the "I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this" types. The latter should probably ignore Mercer’s data.

Voir enfin:

Baghdad Now World’s Worst City

AlJazeerah.net

3-3-4

Baghdad has been rated the world’s worst city to live in.

A new study by a UK research company puts the occupied Iraqi capital last of 215 cities it profiled throughout the world.

Mercer Human Resource Consulting based its overall quality of life survey on political, social, economic and environmental factors, as well as personal safety, health, education, transport and other public services.

It was compiled to help governments and major companies to place employees on international assignments.

The study, released on Monday, said Baghdad is now the world’s least attractive city for expatriates.

Top Swiss cities

Placed 213th out of 215 cities last year, Baghdad’s rating has dropped due to ongoing concerns over security and the city’s precarious infrastructure.

The survey revealed that Zurich and Geneva are the world’s top-rated urban centres.

The rating takes into account the cities’ schools, where standards of education are now considered among the best in the world.

Cities in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia continue to dominate the top of the rankings.

Vienna shares third place with Vancouver, while Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Sydney are joint fifth.

US cities slide

However, US cities have slipped in the rankings this year as tighter restrictions have been imposed on entry to the country.

Several US cities now also have to deal with increased security checks as a result of the "war on terror".

Meanwhile, other poor-scoring cities for overall quality of life include Bangui in the Central African Republic, and Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in Congo.

Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil said: "The threat of terrorism in the Middle East and the political and economic turmoil in African countries has increased the disparity between cities at the top and the bottom end of the rankings."

Voir encore:

Much of $60B from U.S. to rebuild Iraq wasted, special auditor’s final report to Congress shows

CBS news

APMarch 6, 2013

WASHINGTON Ten years and $60 billion in American taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation were worth the cost.

In his final report to Congress, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen’s conclusion was all too clear: Since the invasion a decade ago this month, the U.S. has spent too much money in Iraq for too few results.

The reconstruction effort "grew to a size much larger than was ever anticipated," Bowen told The Associated Press in a preview of his last audit of U.S. funds spent in Iraq, to be released Wednesday. "Not enough was accomplished for the size of the funds expended."

In interviews with Bowen, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the U.S. funding "could have brought great change in Iraq" but fell short too often. "There was misspending of money," said al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim whose sect makes up about 60 percent of Iraq’s population.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, the country’s top Sunni Muslim official, told auditors that the rebuilding efforts "had unfavorable outcomes in general."

"You think if you throw money at a problem, you can fix it," Kurdish government official Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, told auditors. "It was just not strategic thinking."

The abysmal Iraq results forecast what could happen in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have so far spent $90 billion in reconstruction projects during a 12-year military campaign that is slated to end, for the most part, in 2014.

Shortly after the March 2003 invasion, Congress set up a $2.4 billion fund to help ease the sting of war for Iraqis. It aimed to rebuild Iraq’s water and electricity systems; provide food, health care and governance for its people; and take care of those who were forced from their homes in the fighting. Less than six months later, President George W. Bush asked for $20 billion more to further stabilize Iraq and help turn it into an ally that could gain economic independence and reap global investments.

To date, the U.S. has spent more than $60 billion in reconstruction grants to help Iraq get back on its feet after the country was broken by more than two decades of war, sanctions and dictatorship. That works out to about $15 million a day.

And yet Iraq’s government is rife with corruption and infighting. Baghdad’s streets are still cowed by near-daily deadly bombings. A quarter of the country’s 31 million population lives in poverty, and few have reliable electricity and clean water.

Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects.

Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate committee that oversees U.S. funding, said the Bush administration should have agreed to give the reconstruction money to Iraq as a loan in 2003 instead as an outright gift.

"It’s been an extraordinarily disappointing effort and, largely, a failed program," Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview Tuesday. "I believe, had the money been structured as a loan in the first place, that we would have seen a far more responsible approach to how the money was used, and lower levels of corruption in far fewer ways."

In numerous interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials, and though multiple examples of thwarted or defrauded projects, Bowen’s report laid bare a trail of waste, including:

–In Iraq’s eastern Diyala province, a crossroads for Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents and Kurdish squatters, the U.S. began building a 3,600-bed prison in 2004 but abandoned the project after three years to flee a surge in violence. The half-completed Khan Bani Sa’ad Correctional Facility cost American taxpayers $40 million but sits in rubble, and Iraqi Justice Ministry officials say they have no plans to ever finish or use it.

–Subcontractors for Anham LLC, based in Vienna, Va., overcharged the U.S. government thousands of dollars for supplies, including $900 for a control switch valued at $7.05 and $80 for a piece of pipe that costs $1.41. Anham was hired to maintain and operate warehouses and supply centers near Baghdad’s international airport and the Persian Gulf port at Umm Qasr.

–A $108 million wastewater treatment center in the city of Fallujah, a former al Qaeda stronghold in western Iraq, will have taken eight years longer to build than planned when it is completed in 2014 and will only service 9,000 homes. Iraqi officials must provide an additional $87 million to hook up most of the rest of the city, or 25,000 additional homes.

–After blowing up the al-Fatah bridge in north-central Iraq during the invasion and severing a crucial oil and gas pipeline, U.S. officials decided to try to rebuild the pipeline under the Tigris River, at a cost of $75 million. A geological study predicted the project might fail, and it did: Eventually, the bridge and pipelines were repaired at an additional cost of $29 million.

–A widespread ring of fraud led by a former U.S. Army officer resulted in tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks and the criminal convictions of 22 people connected to government contracts for bottled water and other supplies at the Iraqi reconstruction program’s headquarters at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

In too many cases, Bowen concluded, U.S. officials did not consult with Iraqis closely or deeply enough to determine what reconstruction projects were really needed or, in some cases, wanted. As a result, Iraqis took limited interest in the work, often walking away from half-finished programs, refusing to pay their share, or failing to maintain completed projects once they were handed over.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite, described the projects as well intentioned, but poorly prepared and inadequately supervised.

The missed opportunities were not lost on at least 15 senior State and Defense department officials interviewed in the report, including ambassadors and generals, who were directly involved in rebuilding Iraq.

One key lesson learned in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told auditors, is that the U.S. cannot expect to "do it all and do it our way. We must share the burden better multilaterally and engage the host country constantly on what is truly needed."

Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, who was the top U.S. military commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said, "It would have been better to hold off spending large sums of money" until the country stabilized.

About a third of the $60 billion was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, which had to be rebuilt after the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded Saddam’s army in 2003. Today, Iraqi forces have varying successes in safekeeping the public and only limited ability to secure their land, air and sea borders.

The report also cites Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq weakened U.S. influence in Baghdad. Panetta has since left office: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel took over the defense job last week. Washington is eyeing a similar military drawdown next year in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have spent $90 billion so far on rebuilding projects.

The Afghanistan effort risks falling into the same problems that mired Iraq if oversight isn’t coordinated better. In Iraq, officials were too eager to build in the middle of a civil war, and too often raced ahead without solid plans or back-up plans, the report concluded.

Most of the work was done in piecemeal fashion, as no single government agency had responsibility for all of the money spent. The State Department, for example, was supposed to oversee reconstruction strategy starting in 2004, but controlled only about 10 percent of the money at stake. The Defense Department paid for the vast majority of the projects — 75 percent.

Voir par ailleurs:

2014 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings – Mercer survey

United States , New York

Publication date: 19 February 2014


Vienna is the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2014 Quality of Living rankings, in which European cities dominate. Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively. Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which is also the highest-ranking city in North America. Ranking 25 globally, Singapore is the highest-ranking Asian city, whereas Dubai (73) ranks first across Middle East and Africa. The city of Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, takes the top spot for Central and South America.

Mercer conducts its Quality of Living survey annually to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium. A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations, whereas a mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country. Mercer’s Quality of Living reports provide valuable information and hardship premium recommendations for over 460 cities throughout the world, the ranking covers 223 of these cities.

Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents. To ensure that compensation packages reflect the local environment appropriately, employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate,” said Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer.

Mr Parakatil added: “In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies. This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with.”

Europe

Vienna is the highest-ranking city globally. In Europe, it is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Düsseldorf (6), and Frankfurt (7). “European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year,” said Mr Parakatil.

Ranking 191 overall, Tbilisi, Georgia, is the lowest-ranking city in Europe. It continues to improve in its quality of living, mainly due to a growing availability of consumer goods, improving internal stability, and developing infrastructure. Other cities on the lower end of Europe’s ranking include: Minsk (189), Belarus; Yerevan (180), Armenia; Tirana (179), Albania; and St Petersburg (168), Russia. Ranking 107, Wroclaw, Poland, is an emerging European city. Since Poland’s accession to the European Union, Wroclaw has witnessed tangible economic growth, partly due to its talent pool, improved infrastructure, and foreign and internal direct investments. The EU named Wroclaw as a European Capital of Culture for 2016.

Americas

Canadian cities dominate North America’s top-five list. Ranking fifth globally, Vancouver tops the regional list, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15), Montreal (23), and San Francisco (27). The region’s lowest-ranking city is Mexico City (122), preceded by four US cities: Detroit (70), St. Louis (67), Houston (66), and Miami (65). Mr Parakatil commented: “On the whole, North American cities offer a high quality of living and are attractive working destinations for companies and their expatriates. A wide range of consumer goods are available, and infrastructures, including recreational provisions, are excellent.

In Central and South America, the quality of living varies substantially. Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, is the region’s highest-ranked city, followed by San Juan (72), Montevideo (77), Buenos Aires (81), and Santiago (93). Manaus (125), Brazil, has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region due to its major industrial centre which has seen the creation of the “Free Economic Zone of Manaus,” an area with administrative autonomy giving Manaus a competitive advantage over other cities in the region. This zone has attracted talent from other cities and regions, with several multinational companies already settled in the area and more expected to arrive in the near future.

Several cities in Central and South America are still attractive to expatriates due to their relatively stable political environments, improving infrastructure, and pleasant climate,” said Mr Parakatil. “But many locations remain challenging due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes often hitting the region, as well as local economic inequality and high crime rates. Companies placing their workers on expatriate assignments in these locations must ensure that hardship allowances reflect the lower levels of quality of living.

Asia Pacific

Singapore (25) has the highest quality of living in Asia, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo (43), Kobe (47), Yokohama (49), and Osaka (57). Dushanbe (209), Tajikistan, is the lowest-ranking city in the region. Mr Parakatil commented: “Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard amongst its cities than any other region. For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of living is continually improving. But for others, such as some in China, issues like pervasive poor air pollution are eroding their quality of living.

With their considerable growth in the last decade, many second-tier Asian cities are starting to emerge as important places of business for multinational companies. Examples include Cheonan (98), South Korea, which is strategically located in an area where several technology companies have operations. Over the past decades, Pune (139), India has developed into an education hub and home to IT, other high-tech industries, and automobile manufacturing. The city of Xian (141), China has also witnessed some major developments, such as the establishment of an “Economic and Technological Development Zone” to attract foreign investments. The city is also host to various financial services, consulting, and computer services.

Elsewhere, New Zealand and Australian cities rank high on the list for quality of living, with Auckland and Sydney ranking 3 and 10, respectively.

Middle East and Africa

With a global rank of 73, Dubai is the highest-ranked city in the Middle East and Africa region. It is followed by Abu Dhabi (78), UAE; Port Louis (82), Mauritius; and Durban (85) and Cape Town (90), South Africa. Durban has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region, due to the growth of its manufacturing industries and the increasing importance of the shipping port. Generally, though, this region dominates the lower end of the quality of living ranking, with five out of the bottom six cities; Baghdad (223) has the lowest overall ranking.

The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organisations and expatriates. Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding, keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities. However, some cities that might not have been very attractive to foreign companies are making efforts to attract them,” said Mr Parakatil.

Notes for Editors

Mercer produces worldwide quality-of-living rankings annually from its most recent Worldwide Quality of Living Surveys. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Comparative quality-of-living indexes between a base city and a host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Details are available from Mercer Client Services in Warsaw, at +48 22 434 5383 or at www.mercer.com/qualityofliving.

The data was largely collected between September and November 2013, and will be updated regularly to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments will be revised to reflect significant political, economic, and environmental developments.

Expatriates in difficult locations: Determining appropriate allowances and incentives

Companies need to be able to determine their expatriate compensation packages rationally, consistently and systematically. Providing incentives to reward and recognise the efforts that employees and their families make when taking on international assignments remains a typical practice, particularly for difficult locations. Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium:

  • A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.
  • A mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country.

A quality-of-living allowance is typically location-related, while a mobility premium is usually independent of the host location. Some multinational companies combine these premiums, but the vast majority provides them separately.

Quality of Living: City benchmarking

Mercer also helps municipalities assess factors that can improve their quality of living rankings. In a global environment, employers have many choices as to where to deploy their mobile employees and set up new business. A city’s quality of living standards can be an important variable for employers to consider.

Leaders in many cities want to understand the specific factors that affect their residents’ quality of living and address those issues that lower their city’s overall quality-of-living ranking. Mercer advises municipalities through a holistic approach that addresses their goals of progressing towards excellence, and attracting multinational companies and globally mobile talent by improving the elements that are measured in its Quality of Living survey.

Mercer hardship allowance recommendations

Mercer evaluates local living conditions in more than 460 cities it surveys worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:

  • Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services)
  • Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
  • Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
  • Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
  • Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc)
  • Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
  • Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
  • Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
  • Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

The scores attributed to each factor, which are weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, allow for objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a quality of living index that compares relative differences between any two locations evaluated. For the indices to be used effectively, Mercer has created a grid that allows users to link the resulting index to a quality of living allowance amount by recommending a percentage value in relation to the index.

Voir enfin:

The 10 worst cities in the world to live in

The Economist

Friday 30 August 2013

Damascus in Syria is the worst city in the world to live in, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking.

Cities across the world are awarded scores depending on lifestyle challenges faced by the people living there. Each city is scored on its stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Since the Arab Spring in 2011, Syria has been plagued with destruction and violence as rebels fight government forces. The country has been left battle-scarred with around 2 million people fleeing from country, while Damascus has been the source of much recent tension.

Other cities that have made it onto worst cities the list include Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria. Third worst city to live in was Port Moresby in Papa New Guinea, surprisingly Melbourne and Sydney in neighbouring nation Australia were ranked in the top 10 cities in the world to live in.

Click here to see the top 10 cities in the world

2. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The country has faced controversy recently after a garment factory collapsed killing over 1,000 people

2. Dhaka in Bangladesh: The country has faced controversy recently after a garment factory collapsed killing over 1,000 people

3. Moresby, Papa New Guinea: Despite recent growth, most people live in extreme poverty

3. Moresby, Papa New Guinea: Despite recent growth, most people live in extreme poverty

4. Lagos, Nigeria: The city rated poorly in The Economist Intelligence Unit's report and was awarded the lowest score for stability in the bottom 10 countries to live in

4. Lagos, Nigeria: The city rated poorly in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s report and was awarded the lowest score for stability

5. Harare, Zimbabwe: With the continuing economic and political crises that face the country, Harare is the fifth worst city to live in.

5. Harare, Zimbabwe: With the continuing economic and political crises that face the country, Harare is the fifth worst city to live in.  

6. Algiers, Algeria: While it rates more highly for its stability, there are terrorist groups that are active in the city. While conflict and natural disasters have left the old town in ruins

6. Algiers, Algeria: While it rates more highly for its stability, there are terrorist groups that are active in the city

7. Karachi, Pakistan: Violence linked to terrorism and high homicide rates makes this city one of the worst places in the world to live in

7. Karachi, Pakistan: Violence linked to terrorism and high homicide rates makes this city one of the worst places in the world to live in  

8. Tripoli, Libya: Since the Arab Spring in 2011 there has been violence and protests in the city

8. Tripoli, Libya: Since the Arab Spring in 2011 there has been violence and protests in the city

9. Douala, Cameroon: Despite being the richest city in the whole of Central Africa, Douala has scored the lowest for health care in the bottom 10 cities

9. Douala, Cameroon: Despite being the richest city in the whole of Central Africa, Douala has scored the lowest for health care in the bottom 10 cities

10. Tehran, Iran: While the city rates highly on health care and education, Tehran did not score so well on infrastructure.

10. Tehran, Iran: While the city rates highly on health care and education, Tehran did not score so well on infrastructure.


Obama/Ukraine: Quand le pacifisme devient meurtrier (As always in history, timidity invites the aggression it purports to prevent)

25 février, 2014
http://wordwarriorsandiego.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/obama-playing-nuclear-golf-77907740145_xlarge.jpg?w=450&h=379https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/t1/s526x296/1959218_4008407105623_2113883908_n.jpg‘Avoir la paix’, le grand mot de toutes les lâchetés civiques et intellectuelles. Charles Péguy
Le pacifisme est objectivement pro-fasciste. C’est du bon sens élémentaire. George Orwell
Il est parfaitement normal que la Russie veuille défendre ses intérêts ainsi que ceux des Russes en Russie et des russophones à l’extérieur de la Russie. Il est normal également que la communauté internationale veuille garantir l’intégrité, la souveraineté et l’indépendance de la Géorgie. Nicolas Sarkozy (Entretien avec son homologue Dmitri Medvedev au Kremlin, 11 août, 2008)
C’est ma dernière élection. Après mon élection, j’aurai davantage de flexibilité. Obama
Je comprends. Je transmettrai l’information à Vladimir. Medvedev
The real conundrum is why the president seems so compelled to take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him, and hoping they won’t realize which hand is holding the rabbit. That a large section of the country views him as a socialist while many in his own party are concluding that he does not share their values speaks volumes — but not the volumes his advisers are selling: that if you make both the right and left mad, you must be doing something right. As a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience, I will resist the temptation to diagnose at a distance, but as a scientist and strategic consultant I will venture some hypotheses. The most charitable explanation is that he and his advisers have succumbed to a view of electoral success to which many Democrats succumb — that “centrist” voters like “centrist” politicians. Unfortunately, reality is more complicated. Centrist voters prefer honest politicians who help them solve their problems. A second possibility is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted "present" (instead of "yea" or "nay") 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues. Drew Westen (Emory university, Aug. 2011)
First and foremost, stop “expressing deep concern”. All protestors on the Maidan have an allergy to this phrase, which in these circumstances has become senseless especially as all of the gangsters in the Ukrainian governmental gang enjoy mocking the helplessness of the EU. Apply sanctions. Don’t waste time in searching for their Achilles’ heel: it is the money deposited in your banks. Execute your own laws and stop money laundering. The Europe we want to be part of can never degrade the absolute value of human lives in favor of an absolute importance of money. Also cancel Western visas for all governmental gangsters and their families. It is a scandal that ordinary Ukrainians, living their simple lives, have to provide their ancestors’ family trees to obtain a visa, while ruling criminals guilty of murder, “disappearances”, and fraud in the eyes of the whole world, enjoy virtually free-entry status in Europe. Myroslav Marynovych
There are many things that Vladimir Putin doesn’t understand, but geopolitics isn’t one of them. His ability to identify and exploit the difference between the West’s rhetoric and its capabilities and intentions has allowed him to stop NATO expansion, split Georgia, subject Washington to serial humiliations in Syria and, now, to bring chaos to Ukraine. Mr. Putin is a master of a game that the West doesn’t want to play, and as a result he’s won game after game with weak cards. He cannot use smoke and mirrors to elevate Russia back into superpower rank, and bringing a peaceful Ukraine back into the Kremlin’s tight embrace is also probably beyond him. But as long as the West, beguiled by dreams of win-win solutions, fails to grapple effectively in the muddy, zero-sum world of classic geopolitics, Mr. Putin and his fellow revisionists in Beijing and Tehran will continue to wreak havoc with Western designs.  Walter Russel Meade
Mr. Putin’s agenda in Ukraine is part of his larger plans to solidify his own authoritarian control and revive Greater Russia. Without Ukraine, the most important of the former Soviet satellites, a new Russian empire is impossible. With Ukraine, Greater Russia sits on the border of the EU. If Ukraine moves toward Europe with a president who isn’t a Russian satrap, it also sets a democratic example for Russians. The world is seeing that Mr. Putin will do what it takes to stop such an event, even if it risks a civil war in Ukraine. The Russian is willing to play this rough because he sees Western weakness. The EU is hopeless, led by a Germany so comfortable in its pacifism that it won’t risk even a diplomatic confrontation. As for the U.S., it’s no coincidence that Mr. Putin asserted himself in Ukraine not long after Mr. Obama retreated in humiliating fashion from his "red line" in Syria. As always in history, such timidity invites the aggression it purports to prevent. If this American President won’t even bomb Damascus airfields to stop the use of chemical weapons, why would Mr. Putin think Mr. Obama would do anything for eastern Europe? The WSJ
How does a nation become self-governing when so much of "self" is so rotten? Run-of-the-mill analyses that Ukraine is a "young democracy" with corrupt elites, an ethnic divide and a bullying neighbor don’t suffice. Ukraine is what it is because Ukrainians are what they are. The former doesn’t change until the latter does. (…) that’s what people said about Ukraine during the so-called Orange Revolution in 2004, or about Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution in 2005, or about the Arab Spring in 2011. The revolution will be televised—and then it will be squandered. (…) The homo Sovieticus Ukrainians should fear the most may not be Vladimir Putin after all. Bret Stephens
Le gaz russe, le pétrole saoudien ou iranien, le soja argentin (justement surnommé "pétrole vert") confèrent une richesse provisoire, et plus encore l’illusion de la richesse. Cette illusion et l’argent facile que génère la rente minérale, dissuadent gouvernements et entrepreneurs d’innover et de se diversifier. En Russie, depuis que le prix du gaz monte, le pays ne cesse de se désindustrialiser : au pays de Poutine, il ne reste que des oligarques branchés sur les matières premières et de vastes supermarchés où tous les produits de consommation sont importés. La rente conduit aussi à des effets politiques notoires : en concentrant la richesse au sommet, elle perpétue les régimes autoritaires. Ceux qui sont assez astucieux pour redistribuer une partie de la rente (Poutine, la monarchie saoudienne, Chavez naguère, au Vénézuela, Nestor Kirchner, puis Cristina Fernandez en Argentine) se constituent une clientèle populaire qui soutient le despotisme redistributeur. Jusqu’au jour où les prix se retournent : ce qui, en ce moment même, est le cas sur le marché du soja et du gaz. Soudain, les gouvernements brésilien et argentin, privés de suffisamment de ressources à redistribuer, n’ont d’autres expédients que de fabriquer de la monnaie : avec l’inflation qui en résulte, leur chute est imminente. Un sort identique guette Poutine. La raison en est que les États-Unis, grâce à la technique de fracturation, mise au point par des entrepreneurs américains, sont en passe de devenir le premier producteur de gaz au monde. Partout, les prix commencent à baisser et ils baisseront plus encore quand les Américains exporteront ce gaz vers l’Europe. En Europe même, la Pologne, la Grande-Bretagne, la France (quand son gouvernement aura fait taire ses écologistes) deviendront des producteurs majeurs au détriment, là encore, de Gasprom. La "malédiction des ressources naturelles" est cependant une théorie ambigüe : elle laisserait supposer que leur absence est une bénédiction. S’il est vrai que la Corée du Sud ou Israël, par exemple, sont des succès économiques entièrement fondés sur l’absence de ressources naturelles, la Norvège, les États-Unis ou la Grande-Bretagne combinent habilement ressources naturelles et esprit d’entreprise. C’est donc l’esprit d’entreprise et la bonne gestion de l’État qui transforment les ressources naturelles soit en malédiction, soit en vitamines. S’il fallait parier sur l’avenir du modèle russo-poutinien, il me paraît condamné en moins de dix ans : Sotchi, à terme, apparaîtra comme la dernière fête avant l’extinction des feux et l’Histoire russe disqualifiera probablement Poutine pour dopage. Guy Sorman
Le manque de soutien des Américains aux Français est, en vérité, la marque de fabrique de Barack Obama (…) Le Président américain avait trouvé une stratégie d’évitement pour ne pas intervenir, à condition que le gouvernement syrien renonce à son arsenal chimique : toutes les autres formes d’assassinat de masse restaient donc tolérées par le Président américain. Un million de morts et deux millions de réfugiés plus tard n’empêchent apparemment pas Barack Obama de dormir la nuit : il a d’autres priorités, tel lutter contre un hypothétique déréglement du climat ou faire fonctionner une assurance maladie, moralement juste et pratiquement dysfonctionnelle. On connaît les arguments pour ne pas intervenir en Syrie : il serait difficile de distinguer les bons et les mauvais Syriens, les démocrates authentiques et les islamistes cachés. Mais ce n’est pas l’analyse du sénateur John Mc Cain, plus compétent qu’Obama sur le sujet : lui réclame, en vain, que les États-Unis arment décemment les milices qui se battent sur les deux fronts, hostiles au régime de Assad et aux Islamistes soutenus par l’Iran. Par ailleurs, se laver les mains face au massacre des civils, comme les Occidentaux le firent naguère au Rwanda – et longtemps en Bosnie et au Kosovo – n’est jamais défendable. Il est parfaitement possible, aujourd’hui encore en Syrie, d’interdire le ciel aux avions de Assad qui bombardent les civils, de créer des couloirs humanitaires pour évacuer les civils, d’instaurer des zones de sécurité humanitaire. C’est ce que Obama refuse obstinément à Hollande. Comment expliquer cette obstination et cette indifférence d’Obama : ne regarde-t-il pas la télévision ? Il faut en conclure qu’il s’est installé dans un personnage, celui du Président pacifiste, celui qui aura retiré l’armée américaine d’Irak, bientôt d’Afghanistan et ne l’engagera sur aucun autre terrain d’opérations. Obama ignorerait-il qu’il existe des "guerres justes" ? Des guerres que l’on ne choisit pas et qu’il faut tout de même livrer, parce que le pacifisme, passé un certain seuil, devient meurtrier. "À quoi sert-il d’entretenir une si grande armée, si ce n’est pas pour s’en servir ?", avait demandé Madeleine Albright, Secrétaire d’État de Bill Clinton, au Général Colin Powell, un militaire notoirement frileux. Les États-Unis sont le gendarme du monde, la seule puissance qui compte : les armées russes et chinoises, par comparaison, sont des nains. On posera donc à Obama – si on le pouvait – la même question que celle de Madeleine Albright : "À quoi sert l’armée américaine et à quoi sert le Président Obama ?". Il est tout de même paradoxal que Hollande, un désastre en politique intérieure, pourrait passer dans l’Histoire comme celui qui aura dit Non à la barbarie et Barack Obama, Prix Nobel de la Paix, pour celui qui se sera couché devant les Barbares. Guy Sorman

Quand le pacifisme devient meurtrier …

Alors que, profitant des Jeux de Sotchi et au prix d’on ne sait encore combien de victimes et, sans compter la généralisation de la corruption ambiante, pour combien de temps …

L’Ukraine semble avoir réussi à reprendre sa liberté face au Big brother russe "dopé au gaz"

Et découvre, toutes proportions gardées, le Nerverland ceausescuien de leur ex-président …

Comment ne pas voir avec l’essayiste Guy Sorman …

Et après les manifestants iraniens de juin 2009, les Libyens et les Syriens depuis trois ans et maintenant l’Ukraine …

Sans compter, lâchement abandonnés à leur sort, les Irakiens et les Afghans  …

Cette forme potentiellement meurtrière du pacifisme …

Que semble avoir adopté pour marque de fabrique derrière ses liquidations ciblées et  ses grandes oreilles

Le plus rapide prix Nobel de la paix de l’histoire ?

Hollande, Obama et le pacifisme meurtrier

Guy Sorman

Le futur, c’est tout de suite

20.02.2014

Le chef de l’État français n’est pas le meilleur économiste de son temps ; il n’est ni Don Juan ni Casanova ; mais nul ne contestera sa détermination guerrière. Quand le Mali faillit tomber aux mains de bandes se réclamant de l’Islamisme, il n’hésita pas un instant à dépêcher l’armée française. L’opération était risquée, improvisée, appuyée par une logistique américaine insignifiante : mais ce fut un succès. De nouveau, en République Centre africaine, François Hollande a dépêché, sans tergiverser, des militaires français qui ont interdit un génocide des musulmans par des chrétiens. Les gouvernements européens furent spectateurs et Barack Obama, pesant le pour et le contre, restait l’indécis permanent.

L’Afrique serait-elle l’arrière-cour de l’armée française au point que les Américains considèrent qu’il lui appartient d’y maintenir l’ordre pour l’éternité ? Cette analyse passéiste n’est pas tenable parce que l’armée américaine, qu’on le veuille ou non, est seule au monde à disposer de la logistique nécessaire pour intervenir massivement, en tout lieu. Et l’armée américaine est déjà fort infiltrée en Afrique, au Sénégal en particulier, profitant d’un recul des moyens de la France.

Le manque de soutien des Américains aux Français est, en vérité, la marque de fabrique de Barack Obama : lui seul décide. Son comportement laisse plus pantois encore face au massacre des Syriens. On rappellera que, le 25 août 2013, François Hollande annonçait que l’armée française était au seuil d’une intervention en Syrie pour stopper les massacres. Il avait, à ce moment-là, l’aval de la Maison Blanche et les états-majors français et américains s’étaient concertés, les rôles étaient distribués. Hélas, une semaine plus tard, Barack Obama trahissait François Hollande – ce qui est commun dans les relations internationales – mais, bien pire, abandonnait le peuple syrien. Le Président américain avait trouvé une stratégie d’évitement pour ne pas intervenir, à condition que le gouvernement syrien renonce à son arsenal chimique : toutes les autres formes d’assassinat de masse restaient donc tolérées par le Président américain. Un million de morts et deux millions de réfugiés plus tard n’empêchent apparemment pas Barack Obama de dormir la nuit : il a d’autres priorités, tel lutter contre un hypothétique déréglement du climat ou faire fonctionner une assurance maladie, moralement juste et pratiquement dysfonctionnelle.

On connaît les arguments pour ne pas intervenir en Syrie : il serait difficile de distinguer les bons et les mauvais Syriens, les démocrates authentiques et les islamistes cachés. Mais ce n’est pas l’analyse du sénateur John Mc Cain, plus compétent qu’Obama sur le sujet : lui réclame, en vain, que les États-Unis arment décemment les milices qui se battent sur les deux fronts, hostiles au régime de Assad et aux Islamistes soutenus par l’Iran. Par ailleurs, se laver les mains face au massacre des civils, comme les Occidentaux le firent naguère au Rwanda – et longtemps en Bosnie et au Kosovo – n’est jamais défendable. Il est parfaitement possible, aujourd’hui encore en Syrie, d’interdire le ciel aux avions de Assad qui bombardent les civils, de créer des couloirs humanitaires pour évacuer les civils, d’instaurer des zones de sécurité humanitaire. C’est ce que Obama refuse obstinément à Hollande. Comment expliquer cette obstination et cette indifférence d’Obama : ne regarde-t-il pas la télévision ? Il faut en conclure qu’il s’est installé dans un personnage, celui du Président pacifiste, celui qui aura retiré l’armée américaine d’Irak, bientôt d’Afghanistan et ne l’engagera sur aucun autre terrain d’opérations. Obama ignorerait-il qu’il existe des "guerres justes" ? Des guerres que l’on ne choisit pas et qu’il faut tout de même livrer, parce que le pacifisme, passé un certain seuil, devient meurtrier. "À quoi sert-il d’entretenir une si grande armée, si ce n’est pas pour s’en servir ?", avait demandé Madeleine Albright, Secrétaire d’État de Bill Clinton, au Général Colin Powell, un militaire notoirement frileux. Les États-Unis sont le gendarme du monde, la seule puissance qui compte : les armées russes et chinoises, par comparaison, sont des nains. On posera donc à Obama – si on le pouvait – la même question que celle de Madeleine Albright : "À quoi sert l’armée américaine et à quoi sert le Président Obama ?". Il est tout de même paradoxal que Hollande, un désastre en politique intérieure, pourrait passer dans l’Histoire comme celui qui aura dit Non à la barbarie et Barack Obama, Prix Nobel de la Paix, pour celui qui se sera couché devant les Barbares.

Voir aussi:

Poutine, dopé au gaz

Guy Sorman

24.02.2014

Au long des Jeux Olympiques de Sotchi, seuls les athlètes auront été contrôlés pour dopage. Les chefs d’État ne devraient-ils pas également l’être ? Certains Jeux ne coutèrent rien au pays d’accueil, comme ceux d’Atlanta en 1996 ou de Salt Lake City en 2002, car entièrement autofinancés par le secteur privé. À l’inverse, des nations peu fortunées comme la Chine en 2008, la Grèce en 2004 et la Russie cette fois-ci, auront pulvérisé le record de la dépense publique pour épater le monde : 50 milliards de dollars pour Sotchi. Ne devrait-on pas fixer aux États les mêmes règles de bonne conduite qu’aux sportifs ? Car, un athlète qui se dope nuit peu, tandis qu’un Poutine appauvrit des millions de Russes ; de même que le gouvernement grec avait déclenché la faillite publique de son pays.

Déduire du succès logistique des Jeux de Sotchi, comme le souhaiterait Poutine, que la Russie a renoué avec la puissance et la prospérité, serait une grave erreur de jugement. Le financement de ces Jeux comme la croissance soutenue de l’économie russe depuis quinze ans, reposent entièrement sur une aubaine : une constante hausse du prix du gaz au bénéfice du Gasprom, une entreprise qui se confond avec l’État. Poutine est dopé au gaz. La Russie bénéficie d’une rente gazière, accessoirement pétrolière, à la manière de l’Arabie saoudite, du Qatar ou du Vénézuela. On rappellera d’ailleurs – ce fait reste peu connu – que la relative prospérité de l’Union soviétique dans les années 1960, dérivait aussi de cette rente minérale : quand, dans les années 1980, les prix des matières premières et de l’énergie exportée déclinèrent, ne permettant plus à l’URSS d’importer suffisamment pour nourrir le peuple, l’URSS s’effondra. Vladimir Poutine et nous tous, devrions nous souvenir de ce passé si proche et, plus généralement, nous remémorer ce que les économistes appellent la "malédiction des ressources naturelles".

Le gaz russe, le pétrole saoudien ou iranien, le soja argentin (justement surnommé "pétrole vert") confèrent une richesse provisoire, et plus encore l’illusion de la richesse. Cette illusion et l’argent facile que génère la rente minérale, dissuadent gouvernements et entrepreneurs d’innover et de se diversifier. En Russie, depuis que le prix du gaz monte, le pays ne cesse de se désindustrialiser : au pays de Poutine, il ne reste que des oligarques branchés sur les matières premières et de vastes supermarchés où tous les produits de consommation sont importés. La rente conduit aussi à des effets politiques notoires : en concentrant la richesse au sommet, elle perpétue les régimes autoritaires. Ceux qui sont assez astucieux pour redistribuer une partie de la rente (Poutine, la monarchie saoudienne, Chavez naguère, au Vénézuela, Nestor Kirchner, puis Cristina Fernandez en Argentine) se constituent une clientèle populaire qui soutient le despotisme redistributeur. Jusqu’au jour où les prix se retournent : ce qui, en ce moment même, est le cas sur le marché du soja et du gaz. Soudain, les gouvernements brésilien et argentin, privés de suffisamment de ressources à redistribuer, n’ont d’autres expédients que de fabriquer de la monnaie : avec l’inflation qui en résulte, leur chute est imminente. Un sort identique guette Poutine. La raison en est que les États-Unis, grâce à la technique de fracturation, mise au point par des entrepreneurs américains, sont en passe de devenir le premier producteur de gaz au monde. Partout, les prix commencent à baisser et ils baisseront plus encore quand les Américains exporteront ce gaz vers l’Europe. En Europe même, la Pologne, la Grande-Bretagne, la France (quand son gouvernement aura fait taire ses écologistes) deviendront des producteurs majeurs au détriment, là encore, de Gasprom.

La "malédiction des ressources naturelles" est cependant une théorie ambigue : elle laisserait supposer que leur absence est une bénédiction. S’il est vrai que la Corée du Sud ou Israël, par exemple, sont des succès économiques entièrement fondés sur l’absence de ressources naturelles, la Norvège, les États-Unis ou la Grande-Bretagne combinent habilement ressources naturelles et esprit d’entreprise. C’est donc l’esprit d’entreprise et la bonne gestion de l’État qui transforment les ressources naturelles soit en malédiction, soit en vitamines. S’il fallait parier sur l’avenir du modèle russo-poutinien, il me paraît condamné en moins de dix ans : Sotchi, à terme, apparaîtra comme la dernière fête avant l’extinction des feux et l’Histoire russe disqualifiera probablement Poutine pour dopage.

Voir également:

What can Ukraine expect from the West now?

Ukrainian Time

What can Ukraine expect from the West now?

Myroslav Marynovych

I write to you as a former prisoner of conscience of the Brezhnev era. All other titles are rapidly losing sense in light of the bleeding Ukrainian Maidan.

All my life I admired Western civilization as the realm of values. Now I am close to rephrasing Byron’s words: “Frailty, thy name is Europe!” But the strength of bitterness here is matched by the strength of our love for Europe.

If it still concerns anybody in decision-making circles, I will answer the question in the title.

First and foremost, stop “expressing deep concern”. All protestors on the Maidan have an allergy to this phrase, which in these circumstances has become senseless especially as all of the gangsters in the Ukrainian governmental gang enjoy mocking the helplessness of the EU.

Apply sanctions. Don’t waste time in searching for their Achilles’ heel: it is the money deposited in your banks. Execute your own laws and stop money laundering. The Europe we want to be part of can never degrade the absolute value of human lives in favor of an absolute importance of money.

Also cancel Western visas for all governmental gangsters and their families. It is a scandal that ordinary Ukrainians, living their simple lives, have to provide their ancestors’ family trees to obtain a visa, while ruling criminals guilty of murder, “disappearances”, and fraud in the eyes of the whole world, enjoy virtually free-entry status in Europe.

Do not listen to Yanukovych’s and Putin’s propagandistic sirens. Just put cotton in your ears. Be able to decode their lies; otherwise they will decode your ability to defend yourself.

Listen instead to the Ukrainian media sacrificing their journalists’ lives to get credible information. Do not rely so much upon the information provided by your special correspondents from other countries who come to Ukraine for a day or two. Hire Ukrainians who live in this country to translate the Ukrainian cry of pain. Secure money for that right now instead of waiting for funds from next year’s budget.

Come to Ukrainian hospitals and talk to the so-called “extremists” who want to “subvert the legitimately elected government,” those who have allegedly “cruelly beaten” policemen and “deliberately” blasted explosives to wound themselves. Yes, the face of war is cruel. But, arriving at the Maidan, these people repeated almost literally what King George VI said to his people on September 3, 1939: “We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called … to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.”

Go out of your comfort zones! Just recall the coddled ancient Romans who refused to do that in time. Politely cajoling Putin won’t bring you security. Letting him take control over Ukraine could make world peace even more vulnerable. A Ukraine divided by force won’t bring the world peace, just as a Poland and Germany divided by force didn’t bring peace to the world.

Let us conclude in solidarity with the King and the Ukrainian people: “The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.”

Voir encore:

Putin Knows History Hasn’t Ended

Obama might like to pretend that geopolitics don’t matter, but the slaughter in Kiev shows how mistaken he is.

Walter Russel Meade

The WSJ

Feb. 20, 2014

The Ukrainian government’s assault on protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square over the past 48 hours shocked Europe and the world. The turmoil is also forcing both the European Union and the United States to re-examine some of their deepest assumptions about foreign policy in the post Cold War environment.

The Ukrainian crisis started last fall, when EU ministers thought Ukraine was about to sign an Association Agreement that would have begun the process of economic integration between Europe’s second-largest country and the European Union. This would have been a decisive step for Ukraine. Long hesitating between Moscow and Brussels, Ukraine would have seen the Association Agreement put it firmly on a Western path. That Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political support is rooted in the Russia-leaning half of the country, seemed prepared to take this step was particularly significant. It looked as if both halves of Ukraine had reached a consensus that the future lay with the West.

But the diplomats in Brussels and Washington forgot to factor one man into their calculations. For Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the prospect that a united Ukraine might desert Russia and join Europe is completely unacceptable. Mr. Putin saw the West’s overtures to Ukraine as an existential threat to Russia’s great power status and his own political position. Sensing that the West was unprepared and unfocused, he moved quickly and effectively to block the wedding by offering Mr. Yanukovych $15 billion to leave the Europeans standing at the altar.

European diplomats were flummoxed. Far from anticipating Putin’s intervention, they thought Mr. Yanukovych was hungry enough for an EU agreement that they could force him to free his imprisoned political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, as the price of the trade deal. These days, nothing much is heard about Ms. Tymoshenko—who was jailed in 2011 on charges of abusing power and embezzlement, after what many observers say was a politicized process—and the Europeans are scrambling, in their slow and bureaucratic way, to sweeten their offer and lure Ukraine back to the wedding chapel.

Washington was no better prepared. Between pivoting to Asia and coping with various crises in the Middle East, the Obama administration hadn’t deigned to engage seriously until Mr. Putin knocked the EU plan off course.

Inside Ukraine, Mr. Yanukovych’s reversal on Europe broke the fragile national consensus. Few countries had as wretched a 20th century as Ukraine. World War I, the Russian Civil War, the mass starvation and political purges of the Stalin era, the genocidal violence of World War II: wave after wave of mass death rolled over the land. The western half of the country sees Moscow as a hostile, rapacious power and believes—correctly—that Mr. Putin’s vision for their country will involve the loss of democratic freedoms and destroy any hope of establishing the rule of law and transparent institutions, or of joining the EU.

The eastern half is not so sure. Trade and cultural connections with Russia are stronger than they are with Europe, and while the EU is a good market for Ukrainian raw materials, Russia is willing to buy Ukrainian manufactured and consumer goods that Europe doesn’t much want.

Meanwhile, given Ukraine’s tormented history and the post-Soviet legacy of criminal oligarchs and corruption, the country’s weak institutions lack the legitimacy and perhaps the competence to manage deep conflicts like the one now shaking the nation. Political movements in both halves of the country have ties to shady figures, and the horrors of the past have left a residue of ethnic hatreds and conspiracy theories on both sides of the current divide.

For Mr. Putin, this is of little moment. With Ukraine, Russia can at least aspire to great power status and can hope to build a power center between the EU and China that can stand on something approaching equal terms with both. If, on the other hand, the verdict of 1989 and the Soviet collapse becomes final, Russia must come to terms with the same kind of loss of empire and stature that Britain, France and Spain have faced. Mr. Putin’s standing at home will be sharply, and perhaps decisively, diminished.

Both the EU and the U.S. made a historic blunder by underestimating Russia’s reaction to the Ukrainian trade agreement. Mr. Putin cannot let Ukraine slip out of Russia’s sphere without throwing everything he has into the fight. As I wrote last fall, the EU brought a baguette to a knife fight, and the bloody result is on the streets of Kiev.

The policy of detaching Ukraine from Russia should either have been pursued with enormous determination and focus—and an irresistible array of economic and political instruments of persuasion—or it should not have been pursued at all. While Mr. Putin and the Ukrainian government have turned a problem into a crisis, some responsibility for the deaths in Ukraine lies at the doors of those who blithely embarked on a dangerous journey without assessing the risks.

Neither the American policy makers nor the European ones who stumbled into this bear trap are stupid, but this episode is confirmation that the problem that has haunted Western statesmanship since 1989 is still with us. Both President Obama and the many-headed collection of committees that constitutes the decision-making apparatus of the EU believe that the end of the Cold War meant an end to geopolitics.

This helps explain why American diplomacy these days is about order and norms. The objectives are global: an environmental climate treaty, the abolition of nuclear weapons, the creation of new global governance mechanisms like the G-20, the further expansion of free trade agreements, and so on. When the U.S. voices its objections—to Bashar Assad’s slaughter in Syria, say, or to the Ukrainian crackdown this week—they are stated in terms of global norms. And so U.S. diplomacy with Russia has focused on order-building questions like nonproliferation, while gravely underestimating the degree to which Russia’s geopolitical interests conflict with those of the U.S.

This is not so much an intellectual error as a political miscalculation. For American and European policy makers, the 1989 geopolitical settlement of the Cold War seemed both desirable and irreversible. Powers like Russia, China and Iran, who might be dissatisfied with either the boundaries or the legal and moral norms that characterized the post-Cold War world, lacked the power to do anything about it. This outlook is Francis Fukuyama’s "The End of History" on steroids: Humanity had not only discovered the forms of government and economic organization under which it would proceed from here on out, it had found the national boundaries and the hierarchy of states that would last indefinitely.

There are many things that Vladimir Putin doesn’t understand, but geopolitics isn’t one of them. His ability to identify and exploit the difference between the West’s rhetoric and its capabilities and intentions has allowed him to stop NATO expansion, split Georgia, subject Washington to serial humiliations in Syria and, now, to bring chaos to Ukraine.

Mr. Putin is a master of a game that the West doesn’t want to play, and as a result he’s won game after game with weak cards. He cannot use smoke and mirrors to elevate Russia back into superpower rank, and bringing a peaceful Ukraine back into the Kremlin’s tight embrace is also probably beyond him.

But as long as the West, beguiled by dreams of win-win solutions, fails to grapple effectively in the muddy, zero-sum world of classic geopolitics, Mr. Putin and his fellow revisionists in Beijing and Tehran will continue to wreak havoc with Western designs.

Mr. Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest.

 Voir de même:

Why Putin Wants Ukraine

He sees a timid West and the chance to rebuild Greater Russia.

The WSJ

Feb. 21, 2014

The Sochi Olympics have showcased the face of Russia that President Vladimir Putin wants the world to see—spanking new, an international crossroads, and a revived global power. This is a comely veneer. The real Russia is on display this week in Kiev, where Ukraine’s government prodded by the Kremlin is attacking peaceful protestors with guns and truncheons. This is the Russia that the West needs to understand and resist.

The central fact of the Ukraine crisis is that it has been created and stoked from Moscow. Last autumn Russia’s President leaned on Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych to reject a trade association with the European Union in favor of one with Russia. After protests broke out in response, Mr. Putin offered the Ukraine government a $15 billion bailout. Russia then prodded the pro-Russian parliament in Kiev to pass antiprotest laws.

As the protests escalated and Mr. Yanukovych wavered, Russia froze its aid. Last week Mr. Yanukovych met Mr. Putin in Sochi, Russia released $2 billion on Monday, and Ukrainian forces began their violent crackdown on the protestors in Independence Square on Tuesday. Mr. Putin’s response was to blame the opposition for "an attempt to carry out a coup" and encourage the regime.

None of this Russian behavior should be a surprise. Mr. Putin’s regional ambitions have been apparent since the middle of the last decade. Yet Western leaders have refused to face this reality, offering displays of pleading and pliancy that have only encouraged Mr. Putin to press his agenda.

President George W. Bush looked into Mr. Putin’s soul and tried to charm him into mutual cooperation. In 2008 the West bent to Moscow by letting NATO shelve its "membership action plan" for Ukraine and Georgia. Mr. Bush and Europe were rewarded with Russia’s invasion of pro-Western Georgia and the confiscation of part of Georgian territory that it still hasn’t returned.

President Obama entered office blaming Mr. Putin’s behavior on Mr. Bush and pushing his famous "reset" of U.S.-Russian relations. A short era of forced good feeling led to an arms-control deal that failed to address Russia’s short-range tactical missiles, even as Russia began to cheat on the medium-range missile accord from the Reagan years.

Mr. Putin’s foreign policy goal has been to undermine U.S. interests at every turn. He has sought to stop missile defenses in Europe that are aimed at Iran. He has blocked United Nations action against Syria, armed Bashar Assad, and then leapt on Mr. Obama’s political panic over bombing Damascus to guarantee no U.S. attack in return for a promise to remove Assad’s chemical weapons. The chemical weapons are still there, and Assad has accelerated his military offensive.

Mr. Putin’s agenda in Ukraine is part of his larger plans to solidify his own authoritarian control and revive Greater Russia. Without Ukraine, the most important of the former Soviet satellites, a new Russian empire is impossible. With Ukraine, Greater Russia sits on the border of the EU. If Ukraine moves toward Europe with a president who isn’t a Russian satrap, it also sets a democratic example for Russians. The world is seeing that Mr. Putin will do what it takes to stop such an event, even if it risks a civil war in Ukraine.

The Russian is willing to play this rough because he sees Western weakness. The EU is hopeless, led by a Germany so comfortable in its pacifism that it won’t risk even a diplomatic confrontation. As for the U.S., it’s no coincidence that Mr. Putin asserted himself in Ukraine not long after Mr. Obama retreated in humiliating fashion from his "red line" in Syria. As always in history, such timidity invites the aggression it purports to prevent. If this American President won’t even bomb Damascus airfields to stop the use of chemical weapons, why would Mr. Putin think Mr. Obama would do anything for eastern Europe?

Perhaps the Moscow veil is now falling from White House eyes, with Mr. Obama’s vow on Wednesday of "consequences" if Ukraine continues its crackdown. That was a day before at least 50 more were killed as a truce collapsed. The U.S. has revoked the visas of 20 Ukrainian officials without releasing the names. But this will not deter the Kremlin.

The U.S. also needs to freeze the assets of Ukraine’s regime and of its oligarch supporters. Even a month ago it might have been possible to wait until elections scheduled for 2015, but at this stage early elections are also needed to resolve the standoff and restore legitimacy to the Ukraine government.

The point is to make the regime’s supporters choose. Side with Russia and your prospects in the West will be limited. Push for free elections and the opening to Europe, and greater prosperity will be possible.

No one wants a new Cold War, but no one should want a civil war in Eastern Europe either. Yet that is where Mr. Putin’s intervention and Western passivity are leading. Mr. Obama may still be able to stop it if he finally admits Vladimir Putin’s deep hostility to a free and democratic Europe and clearly tells protesting Ukrainians that we’re on their side.

Voir aussi:

Obama’s Foreign Policy: Enemy Action

Bruce S. Thornton

FrontPage Magazine

February 18, 2014

It’s often hard to determine whether a series of bad policies results from stupidity or malicious intent. Occam’s razor suggests that the former is the more likely explanation, as conspiracies assume a high degree of intelligence, complex organization, and secrecy among a large number of people, qualities that usually are much less frequent than the simple stupidity, disorganization, and inability to keep a secret more typical of our species. Yet surveying the nearly 6 years of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy blunders, I’m starting to lean towards Goldfinger’s Chicago mob-wisdom: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.”

Obama’s ineptitude started with his general foreign policy philosophy. George Bush, so the narrative went, was a trigger-happy, unilateralist, blundering, “dead or alive” cowboy who rushed into an unnecessary war in Iraq after alienating our allies and insulting the Muslim world. Obama pledged to be different. As a Los Angeles Times editorial advised him in January 2009, “The Bush years, defined by ultimatums and unilateral actions around the world, must be brought to a swift close with a renewed emphasis on diplomacy, consultation and the forging of broad international coalitions.” Obama eagerly took this advice, reaching out not just to our allies, but also to sworn enemies like Syria, Venezuela, and Iran, and serially bowing to various potentates around the globe. He went on the apology tour, in which he confessed America’s “arrogant, dismissive, derisive” behavior and the “darker periods in our history.” And he followed up by initiating America’s retreat from international affairs, “leading from behind,” appeasing our enemies, and using rhetorical bluster as a substitute for coherent, forceful action. Here follow 3 of the many mistakes that suggest something other than inexperience and a lack of knowledge is driving Obama’s policies.

Russia

Remember the “reset” button Obama offered to Russia? In September 2009 he made a down payment on this policy by reversing George Bush’s plan to station a radar facility in the Czech Republic and 10 ground-based missile interceptors in Poland. Russia had complained about these defensive installations, even though they didn’t threaten Russian territory. So to appease the Russians, Obama abandoned Poland and the Czech Republic, who still live in the dark shadow of their more powerful former oppressors, while Russia’s Iranian clients were emboldened by their patron’s ability to make the superpower Americans back down. As George Marshall Fund fellow David J. Kramer prophesized at the time, Obama’s caving “to Russian pressure . . . will encourage leaders in Moscow to engage in more loud complaining and bully tactics (such as threatening Iskander missiles against the Poles and Czechs) because such behavior gets desired results.”

Obama followed up this blunder with the New START arms reduction treaty with Russia signed in 2010. This agreement didn’t include tactical nuclear weapons, leaving the Russians with a 10-1 advantage. Multiple warheads deployed on a missile were counted as one for purposes of the treaty, which meant that the Russians could exceed the 1550 limit. Numerous other problems plague this treaty, but the worst is the dependence on Russian honesty to comply with its terms. Yet as Keith B. Payne and Mark B. Schneider have written recently, for years Russia has serially violated the terms of every arms-control treaty it has signed, for obvious reasons: “These Russian actions demonstrate the importance the Kremlin attaches to its new nuclear-strike capabilities. They also show how little importance the Putin regime attaches to complying with agreements that interfere with those capabilities. Russia not only seems intent on creating new nuclear- and conventional-strike capabilities against U.S. allies and friends. It has made explicit threats against some of them in recent years.” Busy pushing the reset button, Obama has ignored all this cheating. Nor did Obama’s 2012 appeasing pledge to outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev–– that after the election he would “have more flexibility” about the proposed European-based anti-missile defense system angering Russia––could convince Vladimir Putin to play ball with the U.S. on Iran and Syria. Obama’s groveling “reset” outreach has merely emboldened Russia to expand its influence and that of its satellites like Iran and Syria, at the expense of the interests and security of America and its allies.

Syria

Syria is another American enemy Obama thought his charm offensive could win over. To do so he had to ignore Syria’s long history of supporting terrorists outfits like Hezbollah, murdering its sectarian and political rivals, assassinating Lebanon’s anti-Syrian Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, and facilitating the transit of jihadists–– during one period over 90% of foreign fighters–– into Iraq to kill Americans. Yet Obama sent diplomatic officials on 6 trips to Syria in an attempt to make strongman Bashar al Assad play nice. In return, in 2010 Assad hosted a cozy conference with Hezbollah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah and the genocidal Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where they discussed “a Middle East without Zionists and without colonialists.” Despite such rhetoric, even as the uprising against Assad was unfolding in March 2011, Secretary of State Clinton said, “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

In response to the growing resistance against the “reformer” Assad, Obama once again relied on blustering rhetoric rather than timely action to bring down an enemy of the U.S. Sanctions and Executive Orders flew thick and fast, but no military aid was provided to Assad’s opponents, the moderates soon to be marginalized by foreign terrorists armed by Iran. As time passed, more Syrians died and more terrorists filtered into Syria, while Obama responded with toothless tough rhetoric, proclaiming, “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Equally ineffective was Obama’s talk in 2012 of a “red line” and “game-changer” if Assad used chemical weapons. Assad, obviously undeterred by threats from the world’s greatest military power, proceeded to use chemical weapons. Obama threatened military action, only to back down on the excuse that he needed the permission of Congress. Instead, partnering with the Russian wolf his own weakness had empowered, he brokered a deal that in effect gave Assad a free hand to bomb cities and kill civilians at the price of promising to surrender his chemical stockpiles. The butcher Assad magically changed from a pariah who had to go, into a legitimate partner of the United States, one whose cooperation we depend on for implementing the agreement. Given such cover, he has continued to slaughter his enemies and provide invaluable battlefield experience to tens of thousands of terrorist fighters.

Of course, without the threat of military punishment for violating the terms of the agreement­­––punishment vetoed by new regional player Russia––the treaty is worthless. Sure enough, this month we learned that Assad is dragging his feet, missing a deadline for turning over his weapons, while surrendering so far just 5% of his stockpiles. And those are just the weapons he has acknowledged possessing. In response, Secretary of State John Kerry has blustered, “Bashar al-Assad is not, in our judgment, fully in compliance because of the timing and the delays that have taken place contrary to the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]’s judgment that this could move faster. So the options are all the options that originally existed. No option has been taken off the table.” You can hear Assad, Rouhani, Nasrallah, and Putin rolling on the ground laughing their you-know-what’s off over that empty threat.

Iran

Now we come to the biggest piece of evidence for divining Obama’s motives, Iran. The Islamic Republic has been an inveterate enemy of this country since the revolution in 1979, with 35 years of American blood on its hands to prove it. Even today Iranian agents are facilitating with training and materiel the killing of Americans in Afghanistan. The regime is the biggest and most lethal state sponsor of terrorism, and proclaims proudly a genocidal, anti-Semitic ideology against Israel, our most loyal ally in the region. And it regularly reminds us that we are its enemy against whom it has repeatedly declared war, most recently in February when demonstrations celebrated the anniversary of the revolution with signs reading, “Hey, America!! Be angry with us and die due to your anger! Down with U.S.A.” At the same time, two Iranian warships crowded our maritime borders in the Atlantic, and state television broadcast a documentary simulating attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers.

Despite that long record of murder and hatred, when he first came into office, Obama made Iran a particular object of his diplomatic “outreach.” He “bent over backwards,” as he put it, “extending his hand” to the mullahs “without preconditions,” going so far as to keep silent in June 2009 as they brutally suppressed protests against the stolen presidential election. But the mullahs contemptuously dismissed all these overtures. In response, Obama issued a series of “deadlines” for Iran to come clean on its weapons programs, more bluster the regime ignored, while Obama assured them that “We remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement with Iran.” Just as with Russia and Syria, still more big talk about “all options are on the table” for preventing the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons has been scorned by the regime.

Doubling down on this failed policy, Obama along with the Europeans gambled that sanctions would bring Iran to its knees before it reached breakout capability for producing a weapon. Odds of success were questionable, but just as the sanctions appeared to be pushing the Iranian economy, and perhaps the regime, to collapse, in November of last year Obama entered into negotiations that resulted in a disastrous agreement that trades sanction relief for empty promises. This deal ensures that Iran will become a nuclear power, since the agreement allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium in violation of numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions. Finally, in an act of criminal incoherence, Obama threatened to veto any Congressional legislation imposing meaningful economic punishment for future Iranian cheating and intransigence.

Given this “abject surrender,” as former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton called it, it’s no surprise that the Iranians are trumpeting the agreement as a victory: “In this agreement, the right of Iranian nation to enrich uranium was accepted by world powers,” the “moderate reformer” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani bragged. “With this agreement … the architecture of sanctions will begin to break down.” Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, agreed: “None of the enrichment centers will be closed and Fordow and Natanz will continue their work and the Arak heavy water program will continue in its present form and no material (enriched uranium stockpiles) will be taken out of the country and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country. The current sanctions will move towards decrease, no sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return.” Memo to Mr. Obama: when the adversary loudly brags that the agreement benefits him, you’d better reexamine the terms of the deal.

As it stands today, the sanction regime is unraveling even as we speak, while the Iranians are within months of nuclear breakout capacity. Meanwhile the economic pain that was starting to change Iranian behavior is receding. According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran’s economy is projected to grow 2% in fiscal year 2014-15, compared to a 2% contraction this year. Inflation has dropped over 10 points since last year. Global businesses are flocking to Tehran to cut deals, while Obama blusters that “we will come down on [sanctions violators] like a ton of bricks.” Add that dull cliché to “red line,” “game-changer,” and the other empty threats that comprise the whole of Obama’s foreign policy.

These foreign policy blunders and numerous others––especially the loss of critical ally Egypt–– reflect ideological delusions that go beyond Obama. The notion that aggressors can be tamed and managed with diplomatic engagement has long been a convenient cover for a political unwillingness to take military action with all its dangers and risks. Crypto-pacifist Democrats are particularly fond of the magical thinking that international organizations, summits, “shuttle diplomacy,” conferences, and other photogenic confabs can substitute for force.

But progressive talk of “multilateralism” and “diplomatic engagement” hides something else: the Oliver Stone/Howard Zinn/Noam Chomsky/Richard Falk self-loathing narrative that the United States is a force of evil in the world, a neo-colonialist, neo-imperialist, predatory capitalist oppressor responsible for the misery and tyranny afflicting the globe. Given that America’s power is corrupt, we need a foreign policy of withdrawal, retreat, and apologetic humility, with our national sovereignty subjected to transnational institutions like the U.N., the International Court of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights ––exactly the program that Obama has been working on for the last 5 years. Given the damage such policies are serially inflicting on our security and interests, it starts to make sense that inexperience or stupidity is not as cogent an explanation as enemy action.

Voir enfin:

Game of Thrones

Sotchi, retour de la Russie : 25 ans après la chute du mur de Berlin, l’ancien empire soviétique a-t-il vraiment retrouvé sa puissance ?

Les Jeux Olympiques de Sotchi inaugurés le 7 février se veulent une démonstration de puissance pour la Russie, qui déploie aussi sa force sur le plan diplomatique. Mais, entre démographie en déclin, économie fragile et crise sociale, la Russie a-t-elle vraiment les moyens de son ambition ?

Atlantico

10 février 2014

Atlantico : Les jeux olympiques de Sotchi, suivis par la coupe de monde de football de 2018 en Russie marquent-ils le retour de l’ancien empire soviétique sur le devant de la scène internationale ? Après l’effondrement de l’URSS, l’ancien empire russe a-t-il vraiment retrouvé sa puissance ?

Alexandre Melnik : Relativisons les choses. Je vais inscrire votre question dans un large contexte géopolitique, en ce début du XXIe siècle.

Ces deux événements sportifs à résonance planétaire, dont l’organisation a été attribuée par ce qu’on appelle la « communauté internationale » à la Russie – au même titre que la Coupe du monde de football de l’été prochain et les JO de 2016 qui se dérouleront au Brésil – marquent, avant tout, un bouleversement des équilibres globaux dans un monde, où l’Occident perd son « monopole de l’Histoire » (qu’il détenait depuis la Renaissance de la fin XVe siècle), et cela, à la faveur des nouveaux « pôles d’excellence ». Oublions le vocable, déjà obsolète, « pays émergents », et apprenons à utiliser, en anticipant le cours des événements, l’expression qui correspond mieux à la réalité – « nouveau leadership du XXIe siècle ». Au fond, il s’agit des nouvelles puissances montantes (Brésil, Russie, Inde, Chine, Afrique du Sud, etc.) qui, assoiffées de succès après une longue période de bridage de leurs moteurs économiques et géopolitiques, dotées d’un fort potentiel de développement, s’installent graduellement aux manettes décisionnelles de la globalisation en cours, sans pour autant adopter les modes de pensée et de fonctionnement, ainsi que des valeurs, propres aux pays occidentaux, en perte de vitesse. C’est une nouvelle tendance lourde de l’évolution du monde, dont profite la Russie actuelle – nationaliste, volontariste, alliant une certaine opulence économique et l’évidente indigence démocratique. Deux décennies après la chute du communisme, elle revient en force sur l’arène internationale, en profitant du reflux de l’Occident et de la mollesse de ses dirigeants politiques.

Dans cette optique, les JO de Sotchi ne font que confirmer son rôle d’un incontournable global player – une évidence déjà éclatée au grand jour au cours de l’année passée – sur les dossiers internationaux majeurs : la Syrie, l’Iran, l’Ukraine. Et ce, à un moment où le sport, ce traditionnel vecteur de rassemblement de l’Humanité à l’occasion des Olympiades, devient un langage universel, dont parle en direct toute notre planète, de plus en plus interconnectée et aplatie par les nouvelles technologies qui effacent les frontières. La réunion des meilleurs sportifs au bord de la Mer Noire s’apparente donc aujourd’hui à une caméra loupe braquée sur les nouvelles métamorphoses géopolitiques, favorables à la Russie. Un phénomène tout récent, à ne pas confondre avec le « retour de l’empire soviétique », car l’idéologie communiste, qui cimentait cet empire, appartient déjà aux archives d’une époque définitivement révolue, avec son vocabulaire archaïque, qui ne correspond plus aux nouveaux enjeux.

Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier : Je commencerai par deux remarques préalables. Quand bien même l’URSS avait-elle recouvré, à l’issue de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, l’enveloppe spatiale de la Russie des tsars, elle ne constituait pas pour autant un empire stricto sensu. Au sens traditionnel du terme, l’Empire désigne une forme d’autorité spirituelle qui transcende les souverainetés temporelles (voir le Saint Empire), l’Empereur étant un « roi des rois ». Or, l’URSS était une idéocratie fondée sur la négation de toute vraie spiritualité, le marxisme-léninisme prétendant que les activités humaines d’ordre supérieur ne sont que le simple reflet des rapports de production au sein des sociétés humaines. D’autre part, s’il y a bien des éléments de continuité entre la « Russie-Soviétie » d’avant 1991 et la « Russie-Eurasie » de Vladimir Poutine, cette dernière n’est pas continuatrice pure et simple de l’ex-URSS. Au total, quinze Etats sont issus de la dislocation de l’URSS et chacun d’entre eux a sa légitimité propre. Quant à la Russie, si elle est effectivement marquée par une forme d’« ostalgie » et de dangereuses rémanences soviétiques, elle n’est pas l’URSS.

Retour sur le plan international ? En fait, la Russie des années 1990 n’avait pas disparu de la scène. Ne serait-ce que par l’ampleur des défis soulevés par la dislocation de l’URSS, les rebondissements de la vie politique russe et le pouvoir d’empêchement de Moscou, sur le plan international, la Russie conservait une visibilité certaine. La « transition » de la Russie post-soviétique vers la démocratie libérale et l’économie de marché était un thème important de l’époque dans les rubriques internationales et les négociations entre Moscou et le FMI étaient attentivement suivies par les médias. Au milieu des années 1990, Boris Eltsine avait même obtenu que la Russie soit associée au G-7, celui-ci devenant alors le G-8. Des partenariats spécifiques avaient été négociés avec l’UE et l’OTAN. C’est aussi dès le début des années 1990 que les dirigeants russes mettent en avant la notion d’« étranger proche » (1992) et sur ce thème, Eltsine admonestait son ministre des Affaires étrangères. Il ne faut donc pas exagérer l’effacement de la Russie des années Eltsine.

De fait, les Jeux olympiques de Moscou ont été pensés comme la mise en scène du retour de la Russie sur la scène internationale. Le thème est martelé par Poutine depuis le milieu des années 2000, alors que l’unité avec l’Occident sur la question du terrorisme international s’efface derrière d’autres enjeux, plus prégnants pour la direction russe : la guerre en Irak, l’élargissement à l’Europe centrale et orientale des instances euro-atlantiques (UE et OTAN), les « révolutions de couleur » en Géorgie puis en Ukraine… Les « révolutions de couleur » ont été essentielles dans le processus. De ces mouvements de contestation civique contre les manipulations électorales des pouvoirs en place en Géorgie et en Ukraine, certains officiels russes ont pu dire que c’était leur « 11 septembre » !

C’est à la suite du discours de Munich (février 2007) et de la guerre russo-géorgienne (août 2008) que ce « retour » s’est fait offensif. Ces derniers mois, l’accord américano-russe sur le désarmement chimique de la Syrie (septembre 2013), puis la volte-face de Ianoukovitch et la signature d’un « partenariat stratégique » entre l’Ukraine et la Russie (décembre 2013) ont même été à l’origine de discours sur le « triomphe » de Poutine. Si l’on va au-delà des apparences (Obama hésitant, Poutine impassible), ce n’est guère évident. Au Proche-Orient, on peut se demander si la diplomatie Obama, guère empressée d’intervenir en Syrie, ne s’appuie pas sur la Russie pour « geler » cette question et se concentrer sur des défis d’une autre ampleur. Quant à l’Ukraine, il suffit de considérer la situation du pays : pressions occultes, manœuvres et coups tactiques ne font pas une victoire stratégique et politique. Le cas de l’Ukraine montre qu’il sera difficile de restaurer une domination russe sur l’« étranger proche ».

Alexandre Del Valle : Je ne pense pas que les Jeux Olympiques marquent en soi le retour d’un pays sur la scène internationale, mais cela constitue sans aucun doute un passage obligé dans le monde hyperconnecté qui est le nôtre pour tout pays qui tente d’améliorer son image et de prouver qu’il fait partie des puissances de poids. Dans le cas russe, le fait d’organiser les Jeux olympiques les plus chers du monde est bien entendu pour Poutine, qui a été très sévèrement critiqué depuis le début de son règne et surtout depuis l’affaire syrienne, une façon de montrer que le monde doit tenir compte de la Russie, qu’elle renaît de ses cendres et que son leader est un homme incontournable, comme on l’a bien vu dans le cas de la crise syrienne. De plus, le fait d’accueillir les jeux est toujours une occasion unique pour promouvoir son pays, quel qu’il soit et pour profiter d’une tribune “universelle”, planétaire, unique. Une occasion à ne pas manquer, qui explique que le Président Poutine ait tout fait pour que son pays soit élu.

La Russie a-t-elle vraiment les moyens de son ambition ? D’un point de vue économique ? Du point de vue de sa production industrielle ? Du point de vue militaire ? Diplomatique ? De sa démographie en déclin ? De l’espérance de vie de sa population ?

Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier : Dopés par l’affolement des marchés pendant les années 2000, les revenus provenant des exportations de pétrole et de gaz ont permis une forte augmentation du PIB global et du revenu per capita. Cette rente a été mise à profit pour désendetter le pays, ce qui est bien avisé et méritoire. Cependant, les réformes structurelles requises pour assurer un développement durable et se projeter dans le nouveau siècle n’ont pas été menées. Pour parler comme les marxistes des années 1960-1970, le système économique russe est une forme de « capitalisme monopolistique d’Etat » dans lequel la richesse et la puissance sont confisquées par les clans qui gravitent autour du Kremlin. Cet « autoritarisme patrimonial » est animé par une logique de prédation qui nuit à l’efficacité économique et les caractéristiques de ce système de pouvoir excluent toute réforme un tant soit peu ambitieuse (les hommes au pouvoir ne vont pas scier la branche sur laquelle ils sont assis). Le peu de consistance des droits de propriété dans ce système, la corruption et le déplorable climat des affaires entraînent la fuite des capitaux hors de Russie. L’an passé, la crise financière de Chypre a mis en évidence ce phénomène.

Au total, la Russie n’est donc pas une « puissance émergente » et son économie ne repose guère que sur l’exportation des produits de base, auxquels il faut toutefois ajouter les ventes d’armes et le nucléaire civil. Alors que le baril de pétrole reste à des niveaux élevés, la croissance économique russe est tombée à 1,3 % en 2013 (7 à 8 % l’an dans les années qui précèdent 2008). La situation pourrait s’aggraver avec la crise des devises des pays dits « émergents », la restriction des liquidités injectées par la Fed (la banque centrale des Etats-Unis) et ses effets révélant les faiblesses des modèles de croissance de ces pays. Dans le cas russe, cela pourrait avoir un impact sur la vie politique. En effet, l’apathie politique russe s’explique par un contrat tacite entre la population et le système de pouvoir : les Russes acceptent le pouvoir de Poutine, pour autant que la croissance économique assure l’amélioration du niveau de vie et l’accès à la « société d’abondance ». Sur le plan de la puissance, le « système russe » repose sur une sorte de triangle entre l’énergie, l’armée et le statut international : les pétro-dollars financent les dépenses militaires qui contribuent à restaurer le rôle international de la Russie et son prestige. Aussi le fort ralentissement de la croissance économique pourrait-il menacer ce « système ». Enfin, la démographie et l’état sanitaire du pays révèlent l’ampleur des défis à relever, mais il a été décidé de baisser ce type de dépenses, au bénéfice du budget militaire.

Sur le plan militaire, précédemment évoqué, Poutine a lancé une réforme des armées, en 2008, avec pour objectifs la professionnalisation des personnels et la restauration des capacités d’intervention. En 2011, il a tranché entre les « civilniki » et les « siloviki », au bénéfice des seconds, et il a décidé un vaste programme de réarmement censé mobiliser 600 milliards de dollars d’ici 2020. L’enjeu est tout à la fois de renouveler l’arsenal nucléaire stratégique et de moderniser l’appareil militaire classique (conventionnel). Cet appareil militaire est dimensionné pour permettre des interventions dans l’ « étranger proche », en cohérence avec le projet politique d’Union eurasienne. Notons à ce propos que les sites militaires russes à l’étranger sont tous situés dans l’aire post-soviétique, à l’exception du port syrien de Tartous, seule empreinte militaire permanente dans l’« étranger lointain » (ladite base navale se résume à un bateau-atelier avec quelque 100-200 militaires et techniciens russes). Le budget militaire russe (près de 80 milliards d’euros en 2013) est conséquent et il dépasse largement celui de la France (la loi de programmation militaire prévoit 31,4 milliards d’euros par an pour la période 2014-2020). S’il faut être vigilant sur la reconstitution d’une certaine puissance militaire russe, il est nécessaire d’avoir en tête l’immensité du territoire et l’extrême longueur des frontières (plus de 20. 000 km de frontières terrestres, auxquels il faut ajouter les délimitations maritimes). Dans notre âge global et hyper-technologique, l’espace géographique peut aussi être un réducteur de puissance.

Alexandre Melnik : Dans la suite de mon raisonnement, qui vise à transcender le diktat de l’immédiat et à tracer une perspective à long terme, je pense que, pour imprimer de son empreinte le XXIe siècle, à la (de)mesure de son ambition quasi-messianique, la Russie doit affronter, en toute lucidité et sans plus tarder, sept défis clés.

1. Inverser la courbe démographique défavorable, car, malgré quelques signes d’amélioration observés ces deux dernières années dans les villes les plus dynamiques (Moscou, Saint-Pétersbourg, Samara, Ekaterinbourg), la Russie, bien que devenue un pays d’immigration (et non d’émigration), continue à perdre une partie importante de sa population, à l’échelle nationale. Alors qu’aucun pays ne peut réussir sans avoir une démographie saine et équilibrée.

2. Sortir de son auto-isolement international, dans lequel l’enfonce son actuel mode de gouvernance, en proie à une mentalité de la forteresse assiégée qui confine à la psychose obsidionale. La Russie n’avancera pas tant elle restera crispée dans sa diabolisation de l’Occident et sa virulente rhétorique anti-américaine, à la limite de la provocation ; les esprits du leadership politique russe sont pollués par la théorie d’un complot d’un autre âge.

3. Dissiper le brouillard de la confusion identitaire qui handicape la visibilité de son avenir, depuis des siècles : la Russie est-elle occidentale ou orientale ? Européenne ou Asiatique ? Eurasienne ? Ou… « unique », se complaisant dans sa prétendue « exception » ? Ces dichotomies, lancinantes, de la Russie, qualifiée de « torn country » (pays à identité déchirée) par Samuel Huntington dans son livre culte « Choc des civilisations », n’ont jamais été clairement tranchées au fil de son histoire plus que millénaire, ce qui inhibe constamment l’évolution russe.

4. Diversifier son économie « unijambiste », addicte aux exportations d’hydrocarbures. Comprendre que la seule matière première qui ne s’épuise pas en s’utilisant, c’est la matière grise, le cerveau humain. Privé d’innovation, le secteur industriel russe se délite.

Dans le même ordre d’idée, la Russie a besoin de s’ouvrir résolument au management moderne, qui repose sur le seul modèle qui fonctionne actuellement, à savoir le « bottom – up », en tirant la leçon du contre-exemple de Skolkovo, un « cluster » aux environs de Moscou, qui était censé devenir le pôle le plus avancé des technologies de pointe russes, à l’exemple de Silicon Valley en Californie, mais qui s’est vite mué, en réalité, en un repaire « top-down » d’apparatchiks « new look » et en un nouveau foyer de corruption. Est-il normal que les dépenses dans le R&D d’un pays qui dégage un taux de croissance avoisinant les 5% par an, depuis une dizaine d’année, plafonnent à hauteur de 1% de son PIB, soit un quinzième de celles des Etats-Unis et un quart de la Chine ? Faut-il alors s’étonner que la fuite de cerveaux frappe de plus en plus la Russie, vidée de ses meilleurs talents ?

5. A travers la réforme radicale du système éducatif, qui, à l’heure actuelle, continue, globalement, à fonctionner « à la soviétique », en faisant fi des changements intervenus dans le monde, donner l’envie de réussite (« race to the top ») aux jeunes générations russes, leur ouvrir un nouvel horizon global, grâce au mérite, à l’ambition individuelle, à un travail libre et créatif qui tire vers le haut. A titre d’exemple : la Chine consacre actuellement 13% de son budget à l’éducation, donc 21% aux études supérieures, contre 6% en Russie, un pays pourtant connu et reconnu pour sa tradition universitaire. De même, la Chine est déjà en deuxième position, après les Etats-Unis, dans le classement de Shanghai, qui note les meilleures universités du monde, et 42 institutions chinoises figurent dans le top 500, tandis que la Russie, elle, n’en compte que deux.

6. Mettre en valeur l’immense potentiel de la Sibérie et de l’Extrême-Orient, actuellement dormant dans cet immense pays qui s’étend sur 9 fuseaux horaires. Climat trop rude ? Conditions météorologiques insupportables ? Mais pourquoi la ville norvégienne Kirkenes, située sur la même latitude, à une centaine de kilomètres de Mourmansk, étale une prospérité et une qualité des infrastructures qui sont inimaginables pour son proche voisin russe ?

7. Moderniser son système politique non-adapté aux impératifs de la globalisation. Les trois piliers du système Poutine (Etat – patriotisme – orthodoxie), introduits dès 2011, se sont transformés, en 2014, au contraire de leur vocation initiale :

- l’Etat, proclamé « fort », est devenu obèse, inopérant, premier corrupteur et pillard des richesses naturelles (selon un récent classement de Transparency International, la Russie se trouve, en termes de corruption, en 143-ème place sur 178, en talonnant le Nigeria) ;

- le patriotisme, véhiculé, via des événements à grand renfort de propagande, comme les rituelles commémorations de la « Grande Victoire » soviétique en 1945, ou encore les fastes ostentatoires de Sotchi, vire souvent au panslavisme menaçant, à la haine d’un étranger qui n’est pas doté de faciès slave, ou, d’une façon plus générale, au rejet de l’Autre qui est construit différemment ;

- enfin, l’orthodoxie « vendue » comme la base de l’identité nationale, anéantit la capacité des Russes à agir et érige le fatalisme en vertu.

En conclusion, pour réussir pleinement dans le XXIe siècle, la Russie doit s’ouvrir au monde, en bâtissant l’avenir, au lieu de s’arc-bouter sur son modèle ultra-protectionniste, en ressassant la nostalgie de son passé. Les Jeux de Sotchi sont donc révélateurs de son potentiel, considérable et incontestable, plutôt que de son résultat, déjà obtenu, qui reste en deçà de ses capacités. Dans ce contexte, le président Poutine, prisonnier de sa vision atavique du monde, n’est plus une solution, mais un problème pour la Russie de demain, qui piétine dans l’antichambre de la globalisation, alors que la Chine rythme déjà son tempo.

Alexandre Del Valle : La Russie a sans aucun doute les moyens de son ambition. Mais sa plus grande vulnérabilité, selon moi, est le caractère non suffisamment libéral et non assez transparent de son économie et de ses structures économiques, pas assez ouvertes aux investissements extérieurs et trop étroitement contrôlées par des oligarchies opaques liées au pouvoir politique, puis , bien sûr, la trop grande dépendance de l’économie envers les énergies hydrocarbures. Le problème de pétro ou gazostratégie de Vladimir Poutine est de ne compter que sur l’énergie dont la Russie recèle, sans investir dans la diversification.

Du point de vue militaire, il est clair que la Russie demeure une grande puissance détenant le feu nucléaire, des milliers d’ogives nucléaires, de très bons systèmes anti-missiles et une industrie aéronautique assez performante, quoi que en retard vis-à-vis des Etats-Unis, mais les moyens de l’armée russe sont insignifiants par rapport à ceux des Etats-Unis avec qui Moscou feint de vouloir jouer à armes égales. Donc la Russie est un acteur géostratégique majeur, certes, doté d’un immense territoire, d’énergies, de savoir-faire technologique et de matières premières, mais elle n’a pas les moyens de briguer la première place, contrairement à son allié et ex-ennemi voisin chinois qui aura dans quelques décennies les moyens de concurrencer les Etats-Unis dans tous les domaines de la puissance.

A peine arrivés à Sotchi, les journalistes ont pu constater que seuls quatre des cinq anneaux olympiques se sont allumés lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture. Les médias s’en sont donné à cœur joie pour fustiger le manque d’hygiène et de confort des hôtels, l’opacité de l’eau du robinet… Ces critiques sont-elles seulement le reflet des préjugés des médias occidentaux, ou dénotent-elles un réel écart entre les prétentions de la Russie et ses moyens véritables ?

Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier : La question géopolitique russe requiert une analyse de type géographique qui distingue méthodiquement les ordres de grandeur et les niveaux d’analyse. Cet Etat-continent, le plus vaste à la surface de la Terre, a des ambitions mondiales. Le discours de la multipolarité tient surtout de la « polémique » anti-occidentale et les dirigeants russes raisonnent dans les termes d’un monde tripartite (dans un monde à trois, il faut être l’un des deux). Ils voient la Russie comme une puissance tierce, entre les Etats-Unis et l’Occident d’une part, la République populaire de Chine d’autre part. Ils redoutent l’écartèlement du territoire russe et de l’aire post-soviétique entre les champs d’attraction de ces deux systèmes de puissance. La possession du deuxième arsenal nucléaire mondial et leur rôle diplomatique permettent aux dirigeants russes de poser la Russie tout à la fois en rivale et en alter ego des Etats-Unis. Pourtant, l’activisme diplomatique (surtout marqué par des pratiques d’obstruction) et la « surface » nucléaire ne doivent pas occulter le fait que la Russie n’est pas une puissance globale d’envergure planétaire, soit une puissance première. Le budget militaire chinois est une fois et demie supérieur à la Russie et cela aura des conséquences sur le plan opérationnel.

Au niveau de l’Ancien Monde, la Russie est présentée par un certain nombre d’idéologues russes comme le « Heartland », un concept emprunté à MacKinder et à aux théories géopolitiques du début du XXe siècle, pour combler le vide idéologique résultant de la déroute du marxisme-léninisme. Cette représentation géopolitique est faussement exposée comme une loi du monde, la géopolitique étant ramenée à une sorte de scientisme mêlé de géomancie (un cocktail très « dix-neuvième »). L’idée de manœuvre, selon certains discours tenus au sommet du pouvoir russe, est de jouer l’Asie contre l’Europe. Concrètement, il s’agirait de sanctionner l’UE et ses Etats membres – ceux-ci refusant le monopole de Gazprom et son instrumentalisation politique ainsi que la satellisation de l’Est européen et du Sud-Caucase -, en détournant les flux de pétrole et de gaz russes vers l’Asie-Pacifique. Pourtant, les volumes exportés ne sont en rien comparables. Aussi et surtout, le développement d’une politique active en Asie-Pacifique est limité par la faible présence humaine et économique russe à l’est de l’Oural. Enfin, les ambitions russes dans la région se heurtent à celles de la Chine, qui dispose d’une base de puissance autrement plus consistante, et aux positions solidement constituées des Etats-Unis dans le bassin du Pacifique.

In fine, l’aire privilégiée de la puissance russe demeure l’aire post-soviétique, considérée à Moscou comme son « étranger proche ». Le néo-eurasisme n’est jamais que la projection idéologique des ambitions russes dans la région et de sa volonté de regrouper autour de Moscou la plus grande partie de l’URSS. C’est la raison d’être de l’Union douanière Russie-Biélorussie-Kazakhstan, une structure censée être élargie et transmutée en une Union eurasienne. Le projet est parfois présenté comme le cadre institutionnel à visée économique et commerciale, mais il est éminemment géopolitique. Poutine veut passer à la postérité comme le restaurateur d’une sorte d’union post-soviétique, centrée sur la Russie. Pourtant, le cas de l’Ukraine montre que ce « réunionisme » ne sera pas aisé. L’aire post-soviétique est un pluriversum géopolitique et, si certains des hommes au pouvoir dans les Etats successeurs de l’URSS sont intéressés par des garanties de sécurité, ils n’entendent pas redevenir des commissaires politiques aux ordres du « centre » moscovite. Il sera difficile d’aller au-delà du « club » de régimes autoritaires-patrimoniaux. Jusque dans l’aire post-soviétique, la Russie souffre d’une certaine solitude stratégique, ce que la reconnaissance unilatérale de l’Abkhazie et de l’Ossétie du Sud, en août 2008, a bien montré, aucun Etat de la CEI (Communauté des Etats indépendants) ou de l’OCS (Organisation de coopération de Shanghaï) ne la suivant sur ce chemin. Au vrai, les dirigeants russes en sont conscients et ils en tirent la conclusion suivante : puisqu’ils ne nous aimeront jamais, il faut leur faire peur.

Alexandre Del Valle : Je pense que globalement, on n’observe pas plus de dysfonctionnements dans l’organisation logistique des jeux en Russie qu’ailleurs, car nombre de pays ont eu bien plus de difficultés que la Russie dans le passé, mais ce qui extraordinaire dans la presse occidentale et dans la façon dont les intellectuels, les politiques et les journalistes des pays atlantiques perçoivent et décrivent la Russie de Poutine, est toujours l’absence totale de nuance, le parti-pris, l’a priori systématiquement sceptique ou moqueur, la critique exacerbée. En matière de moyens, il est difficile de dire que la Russie n’a pas eu les moyens de son ambition puisque ces jeux sont les plus chers de l’histoire. Aussi la Russie est-elle dans une situation économique à bien des égards plus favorable que nombre de pays occidentaux, notamment européens, non seulement appauvris par la dette et le chômage mais même à certains égards en voie de tiersmondisation…

Alexandre Melnik : Je comprends qu’en notre époque, noyée dans l’océan des informations instantanées, les médias sont enclins à un tropisme compulsif qui les amène à « zoomer » sur les détails, faciles à visualiser immédiatement, qui peuvent faire le buzz sur les réseaux sociaux. Ce ne sont pas des « préjugés des médias occidentaux » que vous évoquez, mais un nouveau logiciel de fonctionnement de l’ensemble des producteurs et diffuseurs de nouvelles et de commentaires, à l’échelle globale. Dans ce contexte où les flux d’informations s’accélèrent et se télescopent, un anneau qui ne s’allume pas ou l’eau jaunâtre qui coule dans le robinet d’une chambre d’hôtel éclipsent, logiquement, toute réflexion qui exige un recul conceptuel. Or celui-ci est indispensable pour mieux comprendre l’ensemble de la situation ! Car pour s’en forger une idée, il est important de distinguer l’accessoire, qui saute souvent aux yeux, de l’essentiel, plus difficile à décrypter. En l’occurrence, il faut rappeler que l’organisation d’aucun événement d’une ampleur comparable aux Jeux Olympiques, n’est jamais exempte de couacs. La perfection zéro, à ce niveau, n’existe pas. Tous les JO précédents le prouvent. En revanche, ce qui compte, en dernier ressort, c’est le ratio des points forts et faibles, qui doit nous servir de critère final. D’où deux conclusions concernant les jeux de Sotchi.

Primo, le début de ses compétitions démontre un haut niveau des infrastructures sportives, construites en un laps d’un temps historiquement court, avec un évident effort de modernité, au diapason des attentes des athlètes. Sans oublier que la cérémonie d’ouverture, calibrée au millimètre, a réussi à sublimer le temps, l’espace et les aléas idéologiques trop prononcés, en s’inscrivant dans l’esprit de la Russie éternelle, dotée d’une âme, particulièrement colorée et exubérante.

Secundo, il serait erroné, à partir d’une manifestation sportive, d’extrapoler que la Russie d’aujourd’hui possède tous les moyens technologiques de ses ambitions – gigantesques et démesurées, à mon avis – dans la course à la performance globalisée, engagée dans le monde moderne. Ainsi, je note que la quasi-totalité des installations sportives à Sotchi a été réalisée sur la base des technologies occidentales, avec l’implication décisive des architectes et designers étrangers. Ce qui place la Russie devant un défi crucial, somme toute, similaire à celui, auquel sont actuellement confrontés les autres nouveaux challengers de la globalisation (Chine, Brésil, Inde, Turquie, Corée du Sud, etc.), à savoir – comment passer du stade d’imitation des recettes occidentales à celui de réelle innovation, gisement d’une valeur ajoutée radicalement nouvelle. Cette disruptive innovation, la seule qui vaille, est-elle possible dans un pays autoritaire, comme la Russie, qui réduit les libertés publiques et bride l’individu dans son élan créateur ? La réponse à cette question reste ouverte.


Mort de Pete Seeger: Jusque dans sa mort, l’idéal-type de l’idiot utile américain divise encore l’Amérique (Looking back at Pete Seeger’s All-American Communism)

30 janvier, 2014
http://hani.lunarservers.com/~highl20/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/king-seeger-horton-parks-abernathy-300x234.jpghttp://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-i-still-call-myself-a-communist-because-communism-is-no-more-what-russia-made-of-it-than-pete-seeger-265737.jpgLe monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
“Communism is 20th Century Americanism" Slogan du PC américain
Saisissons l’arme de la culture. L’activité culturelle est une phase essentielle du travail idéologique général du Parti. V. J. Jerome (XVe Convention nationale du Parti communiste américain, New York, 1951)
Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they’ve all taken husbands. Where are the men, they’re all in the army. (Chanson traditionnelle ukrainienne reprise par Mikhaïl Cholokhov)
Where have all the young men gone? They’re all in uniform. Oh, when will you ever learn? Pete Seeger ("Where have all the flowers gone?")
If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, All over this land. (..) It’s the hammer of justice, It’s the bell of freedom, And a song about love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land. Pete Seeger ("If I had a hammer")
Home of the brave land of the free/I don’t want to be mistreated by no bourgeoisie. Leadbelly ("The Bourgeois Blues")
Franklin D, listen to me, You ain’t a-gonna send me ’cross the sea. You may say it’s for defense That kinda talk ain’t got no sense. Pete Seeger
Now, Mr. President You’re commander-in-chief of our armed forces The ships and the planes and the tanks and the horses I guess you know best just where I can fight . . . So what I want is you to give me a gun So we can hurry up and get the job done! Pete Seeger
I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature. (…) I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.  Pete Seeger (réponse au Comité des affaires antiaméricaines, 1955)
Je me suis rabattu sur un ‘Faisons chanter l’Amérique’; peut-être que la philosophie démocratique de base de ces chansons folk atteindra subliminalement les Américains. A l’époque, il n’y avait que les cocos pour utiliser des mots comme paix et liberté. Le message était que nous avions les outils et que nous allions réussir. En tout cas, la dernière ligne ne disait pas: ‘Il n’y a ni marteau ni cloche, mais chérie je t’ai toi’. Pete Seeger
Today I’ll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was simply a ‘hard-driver’ and not a supremely cruel misleader. I guess anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A. could consider apologizing for stealing land from Native Americans and for enslaving blacks … for putting Japanese-Americans in concentration camps—let’s look ahead. Pete Seeger (autobiographie, 1997)
Je suis toujours communiste, dans le sens que je ne crois pas que le monde survivra avec les riches devenant plus riches et les pauvres devenant plus pauvres. Pete Seeger (Mother Jones, 2004)
I learned our government must be strong. It’s always right and never wrong. Our leaders are the finest men. And we elect them again and again. Tom Paxton ("What did you learn in school?")
Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, No religion to Imagine all the people, Living life in peace. John Lennon ("Imagine")
Il n’y a jamais eu de bon chanteur de folk républicain. Joan Baez
At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history. He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete’s somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won’t let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we’ve imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us. Bruce Springsteen
Once called ‘America’s tuning fork,’ Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community — to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice — and his hammer — to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Barack Obama
Seeger would sing and give his support to peace rallies and marches covertly sponsored by the Soviet Union and its Western front groups and dupes — while leaving his political criticism only for the United States and its defensive actions during the Cold War. Ronald Radosh
If authoritarianism of the right or left ever comes to America it will come surrounded by patriotism and show business. It will be made fashionable by talented people like Pete Seeger. John P. Roche (president of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action in the 1960s and speechwriter for Hubert Humphrey)
La politisation de la musique populaire américaine date des années 60, mais elle est le produit d’une patiente stratégie politique de gauche qui a commencé au milieu des années 30 issue de l’effort du Front populaire du parti Communiste d’employer la culture populaire pour avancer sa cause (…) Une figure ressort tout particulièrement dans cette entreprise: ‘la légende de la musique folk’, chanteur-parolier et ancien pilier du Parti, Peter Seeger, maintenant âgé de 86 ans. Etant donné son influence décisive sur la direction politique de la musique populaire, il est bien possible que Seeger ait été le communiste américain le plus efficace de l’histoire. (…) Si Seeger était le Lénine du Front Populaire, Dylan était son Che Guevara, moto comprise. Howard Husock

Quelle meilleure incarnation de l’idée chrétienne devenue folle que la carrière de Pete Seeger ?

Membre du PC américain jusqu’en 1950, pacifiste et défaitiste révolutionnaire opposé à l’engagement américain dans la Deuxième guerre mondiale jusqu’à comme il se doit l’invasion de l’Union soviétique,  excuses aussi tardives que sommaires et réticentes pour son soutien prolongé du régime stalinien, approbation jusque dans les années 70 des expulsions de dissidents par les régimes marxistes tels que le chanteur est-allemand Wolf Biermann, dument en 1999 primé par le régime castriste …

A l’heure où, pour faire avaler sa pilule socialiste,  le Handicapeur en chef menace désormais de gouverner par décret …

Et où, au-delà de l’accord général sur l’indéniable apport d’un homme sans qui Bob Dylan ou Bruce Springsteen ou même Woody Guthrie n’auraient probablement jamais existé, la mort, à 94 ans, d’un des véritables pionniers de la musique populaire américaine semble, à l’instar de sa carrière entière, diviser les commentateurs …

Comment ne pas voir, comme a l’honnêteté de le rappeler The Atlantic …

Que, derrière son attachement certes éminemment "américain" (et naïf ?) à la cause du plus faible et de l’opprimé …

Le  fils de musicologue passé par Harvard comme son père  et, entre l’adaptation d’un livre de la Bible (L’Ecclésiaste pour "Turn, turn turn")  et d’un chant ukrainien ("Where have all the flowers gone ?") sans parler d’une chanson miltaire israélienne (Tzena, Tzena, Tzena et d’un chant zoulou (“Wimoweh”), d’un chant national cubain ("Guantanamara") et de son célibrissime hymne au marteau et à la faucille ("If iI had a hammer"), co-auteur de l’hymne de la lutte des droits civiques ("We shall overcome", à partir d’un vieux negro spiritual) …

A vraiment représenté l’idéal-type, redoutablement efficace, de l‘idiot utile du communisme ?

Pete Seeger’s All-American Communism

The folksinger’s romance with Stalinism remains disturbing, but it can’t be separated from the rest of his work—nor from U.S. history.

David A. Graham

Jan 29 2014

Pete Seeger chats with Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace aboard a plane during a 1948 barnstorming tour. (Associated Press)

In death as in life, Pete Seeger brought Americans together, then divided them into warring ideological camps. To oversimplify, one can lump the political reactions to Seeger’s death on Monday at 94 into two groups. There are those, generally on the center-left, who praise Seeger heartily, accenting his stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee, while quietly—if at all—acknowledging his disturbingly durable devotion to Communism. And there are those, mostly on the right, who acknowledge Seeger’s importance and praise his less political songs while arguing, in essence, that his politics sadly tainted the rest of his career.

Both approaches offer serious problems. Seeger’s political record—as a whole, not taken selectively—is exactly the point. As Andrew Cohen wrote in his appreciation, Seeger was often described as “anti-American”:

I think the opposite was true. I think he loved America so much that he was particularly offended and disappointed when it strayed, as it so often has, from the noble ideals upon which it was founded. I don’t think that feeling, or the protests it engendered, were anti-American. I think they were wholly, unabashedly American.

Seeger’s beliefs sometimes led him to grievously wrong conclusions, but it’s not un-American to be wrong, and that same politics is what also led him to stand up to McCarthyism, fight for the environment, and march with labor unions, too. (To which one might waggishly add, can anyone to whom Bruce Springsteen had dedicated a tribute be anything other than All-American?) Nor can one separate his music from his politics, something former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer tried to do.

To understand why the full range of Seeger’s political activities are indivisible from his music, you have to begin with his childhood and entry in the folk scene through his parents’ involvement. There’s an instructive comparison here with Nelson Mandela, whose relationship with the Communist Party was a newly contentious topic in the days after his death. Unlike Mandela, whose alliance with Communism seems to have been a brief and opportunistic response to the brutal apartheid regime, Seeger’s was deeply rooted. Unlike the rural folk musicians he emulated, Seeger was no naif. His father was a Harvard-educated musicologist and his stepmother a composer, both early folk aficionados; he himself enrolled at Harvard. Later, Seeger also worked as an intern for the great folk-song collector Alan Lomax. The recordings that early 20th century collectors made are the basis of what we now know as American music, from blues to old-time country.

The early folk movement was overtly and radically political, reaching across class boundaries and celebrating of common people.

It’s easy to mock folkies as bearded hippies today, but the early folk movement was overtly and radically political, reaching across class boundaries and celebrating of common people. The participants were preserving what seemed to them to represent an important part of the American identity, a part that was in danger of disappearing under pressure from the modern world. The class consciousness of that movement easily (perhaps inevitably) led to socialist and communist politics. As my colleague Rebecca Rosen notes, even Seeger’s choice of an instrument was charged. Like James Agee and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (or for that matter The Grapes of Wrath), the early folk collectors evinced a belief in the wisdom of the common people, but also an anger at their destitution—all the more extreme in an era before New Deal infrastructure projects and labor reforms. Even after FDR, that radicalism remained. There’s a reason that the New York folk scene was viewed with suspicion by anti-Communists in the 1950s and 1960s: Many of them were Communists.

This worldview led Seeger to some distressing and dangerous positions. He opposed American involvement in World War II up until the moment Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Though he’d quit the Communist Party by 1950, he never owned up adequately to having served as a useful idiot for the regime. The apology he delivered in his 1997 autobiography, quoted by Dylan Matthews, is shockingly terse and grudging:

Today I’ll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was simply a ‘hard-driver’ and not a supremely cruel misleader. I guess anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A. could consider apologizing for stealing land from Native Americans and for enslaving blacks … for putting Japanese-Americans in concentration camps—let’s look ahead.

As late as the 1970s, in his column in the left-wing folk magazine Sing Out!, Seeger was giving space to horrifying ideas. Dealing with the case of Wolf Biermann, a socialist singer expelled from East Germany for dissidence, he gave space to correspondents arguing that there might appropriately be limits on what artists should say in an ideal Marxist regime. In 1999, he accepted an award from Fidel Castro’s regime. It’s hard to square these actions with the ideas Seeger promoted elsewhere, and they deserves condemnations.

But while the class-leveling ambitions of Seeger and his ilk may have been extreme or wrong, labeling them un-American is ahistorical, as is the conviction that they were inevitably doomed to failure. To call Seeger’s Communist affiliation un-American is to beg the question. In Seeger’s eyes, the ideas the Communist Party stood for were quintessentially American: It sought to protect the little guy and to defend him against avaricious attacks from the powerful. He and his comrades believed they were defending the ideals the country was founded on, and if they were wrong—the country was, after all, founded by wealthy landowners—that was because they were foolish enough to naively believe the national myth.

But while the class-leveling ambitions of Seeger and his ilk may have been extreme or wrong, labeling them un-American is ahistorical, as is the conviction that they were inevitably doomed to failure.

It’s harder than ever to imagine a truly leftist America today. Labor unions are on the wane, faith in government programs is at a low, and even an elaborate, market-based plan to expand healthcare is decried as socialism. (Incredibly, Seeger managed to remain optimistic, even as his brand of politics became an odd antique.) During the 1930s, when Seeger was in his twenties, that wasn’t unpredictable. As Jacob Remes notes, Earl Browder, the general secretary of the Communist Party USA, was around that time using the slogan, “Communism is 20th Century Americanism," arguing for a patriotic leftism.

There’s no moral equivalence between Stalin’s regime, with its millions of victims, and the 20th century American government, it’s important to remember that for Seeger and his comrades, the question of who was defending liberty was not so clear, especially at a remove from the Soviet Union. As Seeger notes in this video, he had friends who died fighting with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain, as part of the Communist and republican opposition to Francisco Franco, who was backed by Hitler. More to the point, Seeger was famously called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, a congressional body devoted to depriving Americans of their livelihoods and freedom. In Seeger’s case, they were nearly successful. An investigation managed to derail his band, the Weavers, and got him blacklisted. After refusing to testify before HUAC in 1955, he was charged with contempt of Congress in 1957 and sentenced to a year in prison in 1961, though the conviction was overturned. The incident limited his career opportunities for years to come.

Over the following decades, and as Seeger came to be seen more as a kindly uncle and graying institution than a dangerous radical, the same commitment to social justice that had led him to naively embrace Communism also led him to pen the defining anthem of the modern civil-rights era, “We Shall Overcome” and to stand side by side with Martin Luther King. It led him to protest the Vietnam War, and later against the war in Iraq. It led him to speak out against tobacco and to argue for environmental conservation. It led him to sing “This Land Is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate Barack Obama’s inauguration, and it led him to march with Occupy Wall Street protesters, many angry at Obama, in 2011. In its strange way, it also led to his conniption when Bob Dylan plugged in at Newport, even if the story of Seeger trying to take an axe to the electrical cord is apocryphal. Many of these stands were and are politically contentious: King is now a celebrated idol, while the Vietnam War still divides. But each of them represented Seeger situating himself in the middle of a heated American political debate.

Unionism, Communism, pacifism—each of these political movements is an important part of both Seeger’s story and the American story. Seeger—who demanded to know, “Which side are you on?”—was perhaps not the type to embrace political ecumenicism, but trying to wipe these chapters from history or declare them outside the bounds of national identity is to perpetuate an impoverished and incomplete idea of what it means to be American.

Here in the June 1941 Atlantic, political theorist Carl Joachim Friedrich writes to condemn Songs for John Doe, an album of antiwar songs by the Almanac Singers, a group that included a young Pete Seeger on banjo and vocals. See page 668.

The Poison in Our System (The Atlantic, June 1941)

Voir aussi:

Music

Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change, Dies at 94

Jon Parelsjan

The NYT

28, 2014

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94.

His death, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was confirmed by his grandson Kitama Cahill Jackson.

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10, from college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

In 2007, Pete Seeger performed in Beacon, N.Y. and spoke with The Times’s Andrew C. Revkin about climate change. Mr. Seeger died on Monday at age 94.

Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

A Generation’s Mentor

Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ’50s and ’60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew from Mr. Seeger’s repertory of traditional music about a turbulent America in recording his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural. At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”

Although he recorded dozens of albums, Mr. Seeger distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom. He invariably tried to use his celebrity to bring attention and contributions to the causes that moved him, or to the traditional songs he wanted to preserve.

Mr. Seeger saw himself as part of a continuing folk tradition, constantly recycling and revising music that had been honed by time.

During the McCarthy era Mr. Seeger’s political affiliations, including membership in the Communist Party in the 1940s, led to his being blacklisted and later indicted for contempt of Congress. The pressure broke up the Weavers, and Mr. Seeger disappeared from commercial television until the late 1960s. But he never stopped recording, performing and listening to songs from ordinary people. Through the decades, his songs have become part of America’s folklore.

“My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

Peter Seeger was born in Manhattan on May 3, 1919, to Charles Seeger, a musicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, a concert violinist. His parents later divorced.

He began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a private boarding school in Connecticut. His father and his stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, collected and transcribed rural American folk music, as did folklorists like John and Alan Lomax. He heard the five-string banjo, which would become his main instrument, when his father took him to a square-dance festival in North Carolina.

Young Pete became enthralled by rural traditions. “I liked the strident vocal tone of the singers, the vigorous dancing,” he is quoted as saying in “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a biography by David Dunaway. “The words of the songs had all the meat of life in them. Their humor had a bite, it was not trivial. Their tragedy was real, not sentimental.”

Planning to be a journalist, Mr. Seeger attended Harvard, where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. After two years he dropped out and went to New York City, where Alan Lomax introduced him to the blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly. Lomax also helped Mr. Seeger find a job cataloging and transcribing music at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.

Mr. Seeger met Guthrie, a songwriter who shared his love of vernacular music and agitprop ambitions, in 1940, when they performed at a benefit concert for migrant California workers. Traveling across the United States with Guthrie, Mr. Seeger picked up some of his style and repertory. He also hitchhiked and hopped freight trains by himself, learning and trading songs.

When he returned to New York later in 1940, Mr. Seeger made his first albums. He, Millard Lampell and Hays founded the Almanac Singers, who performed union songs and, until Germany invaded the Soviet Union, antiwar songs, following the Communist Party line. Guthrie soon joined the group.

During World War II the Almanac Singers’ repertory turned to patriotic, anti-fascist songs, bringing them a broad audience, including a prime-time national radio spot. But the singers’ earlier antiwar songs, the target of an F.B.I. investigation, came to light, and the group’s career plummeted.

Before the group completely dissolved, however, Mr. Seeger was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a unit of performers. He married Toshi-Aline Ohta while on furlough in 1943. She would become essential to his work: he called her “the brains of the family.”

When he returned from the war he founded People’s Songs Inc., which published political songs and presented concerts for several years before going bankrupt. He also started his nightclub career, performing at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. Mr. Seeger and Paul Robeson toured with the campaign of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate, in 1948.

Forming the Weavers

Mr. Seeger invested $1,700 in 17 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y., and began building a log cabin there in the late 1940s. (He lived in Beacon for the rest of his life.) In 1949, Mr. Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman started working together as the Weavers. They were signed to Decca Records by Gordon Jenkins, who was the company’s music director and an arranger for Frank Sinatra. With Jenkins’s elaborate orchestral arrangements, the group recorded a repertoire that stretched from “If I Had a Hammer” and a South African song, “Wimoweh” (the title was Mr. Seeger’s mishearing of “Mbube,” the name of a South African hit by Solomon Linda), to an Israeli soldiers’ song, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” and a cleaned-up version of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene.” Onstage, they also sang more pointed topical songs.

In 1950 and 1951 the Weavers were national stars, with hit singles and engagements at major nightclubs. Their hits included “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Guthrie’s “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh),” and they sold an estimated four million singles and albums.

Their commercial success was dampened, however, when “Red Channels,” an influential pamphlet that named performers with suspected Communist ties, appeared in June 1950 and listed Mr. Seeger, although by then he had quit the Communist Party. He later criticized himself for not having left the party sooner, though he continued to describe himself as a “communist with a small ‘c.’ ”

By the summer of 1951, the “Red Channels” citation and leaks from F.B.I. files had led to the cancellation of television appearances. In 1951, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee investigated the Weavers for sedition. And in February 1952, a former member of People’s Songs testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that three of the four Weavers were members of the Communist Party.

As engagements dried up, the Weavers disbanded, though they reunited occasionally in the mid-1950s. After the group recorded an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes, Mr. Seeger left, citing his objection to promoting tobacco use.

Shut out of national exposure, Mr. Seeger returned primarily to solo concerts, touring college coffeehouses, churches, schools and summer camps, building an audience for folk music among young people. He started to write a long-running column for the folk-song magazine Sing Out! And he recorded prolifically for the independent Folkways label, singing everything from children’s songs to Spanish Civil War anthems.

In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. In his testimony he said, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.

Mr. Seeger was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress. He was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison, but the next year an appeals court dismissed the indictment as faulty. After the indictment, Mr. Seeger’s concerts were often picketed by the John Birch Society and other rightist groups. “All those protests did was sell tickets and get me free publicity,” he later said. “The more they protested, the bigger the audiences became.”

The Folk Revival Years

By then the folk revival was prospering. In 1959, Mr. Seeger was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival. The Kingston Trio’s version of Mr. Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reached the Top 40 in 1962, soon followed by Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of “If I Had a Hammer,” which rose to the Top 10.

Like Mandela, Mr. Seeger had the rare ability to accomplish great things through humility and good will. How fortunate we humans have been…

In the early Sixties my friends and I attended the UCLA Folk Festival ~~ after attending workshops with The New Lost City Ramblers, Mance…

When I got home from work yesterday, the first thing my 10-year old son told me was that Pete Seeger had died, and his entire school sang…

Mr. Seeger was signed to a major label, Columbia Records, in 1961, but he remained unwelcome on network television. “Hootenanny,” an early-1960s show on ABC that capitalized on the folk revival, refused to book Mr. Seeger, causing other performers (including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary) to boycott it. “Hootenanny” eventually offered to present Mr. Seeger if he would sign a loyalty oath. He refused.

He toured the world, performing and collecting folk songs, in 1963 and returned to serenade civil rights advocates, who had made a rallying song of his “We Shall Overcome.”

Like many of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “We Shall Overcome” had convoluted traditional roots. It was based on old gospel songs, primarily “I’ll Overcome,” a hymn that striking tobacco workers had sung on a picket line in South Carolina. A slower version, “We Will Overcome,” was collected from Lucille Simmons, one of the workers, by Zilphia Horton, the musical director of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., which trained union organizers.

Ms. Horton taught it to Mr. Seeger, and her version of “We Will Overcome” was published in the People’s Songs newsletter. Mr. Seeger changed “We will” to “We shall” and added verses (“We’ll walk hand in hand”). He taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton, who would join the Weavers in 1962, and Guy Carawan, who became musical director at Highlander in the ’50s. Mr. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention.

The song was copyrighted by Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Carawan and Ms. Horton. “At that time we didn’t know Lucille Simmons’s name,” Mr. Seeger wrote in his 1993 autobiography, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” All of the song’s royalties go to the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, administered by what is now the Highlander Research and Education Center, which provides grants to African-Americans organizing in the South.

Along with many elders of the protest-song movement, Mr. Seeger felt betrayed when Bob Dylan set aside protest songs for electric rock. When Mr. Dylan appeared at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a loud electric blues band, some listeners booed, and reports emerged that Mr. Seeger had tried to cut the power cable with an ax. But witnesses, including the festival’s producer, George Wein, and production manager, Joe Boyd (later a leading folk-rock record producer), said he did not go that far. (An ax was available, however. A group of prisoners had used it while singing a logging song.)

In later recountings, Mr. Seeger said he had grown angry because the music was so loud and distorted that he couldn’t hear the words.

As the United States grew divided over the Vietnam War, Mr. Seeger wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an antiwar song with the refrain “The big fool says to push on.” He performed the song during a taping of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in September 1967, his return to network television, but it was cut before the show was broadcast. After the Smothers Brothers publicized the censorship, Mr. Seeger returned to perform the song for broadcast in February 1968.

Fighting for the Hudson River

During the late 1960s Mr. Seeger started an improbable project: a sailing ship that would crusade for cleaner water on the Hudson River. Between other benefit concerts he raised money to build the Clearwater, a 106-foot sloop, which was launched in June 1969 with a crew of musicians. The ship became a symbol and a rallying point for antipollution efforts and education.

In May 2009, after decades of litigation and environmental activism led by Mr. Seeger’s nonprofit environmental organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, General Electric began dredging sediment containing PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson. Mr. Seeger and his wife also helped organize a yearly summer folk festival named after the Clearwater.

In the 1980s and ’90s Mr. Seeger toured regularly with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, and continued to lead singalongs and perform benefit concerts. Recognition and awards arrived. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1993 he was given a lifetime achievement Grammy Award. In 1994 he received a Kennedy Center Honor and, from President Bill Clinton, the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest arts honor, awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1999 he traveled to Cuba to receive the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest cultural award, for his “humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism.”

Mr. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the category of early influences, in 1996. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” had reached No. 1, only to add, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.” Mr. Seeger made no acceptance speech, but he did lead a singalong of “Goodnight, Irene,” flanked by Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and members of the Jefferson Airplane.

Mr. Seeger won Grammy Awards for best traditional folk album in 1997, for the album “Pete” and, in 2009, for the album “At 89.” He won a Grammy in the children’s music category in 2011 for “Tomorrow’s Children.”

Mr. Seeger kept performing into the 21st century, despite a flagging voice; audiences happily sang along more loudly. He celebrated his 90th birthday, on May 3, 2009, at a Madison Square Garden concert — a benefit for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater — with Mr. Springsteen, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Ms. Baez, Ani DiFranco, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Emmylou Harris and dozens of other musicians paying tribute. That August he was back in Newport for the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.

Mr. Seeger’s wife, Toshi, died in 2013, days before the couple’s 70th anniversary. Survivors include his son, Daniel; his daughters, Mika and Tinya; two half-sisters, Peggy, also a folk singer, and Barbara; eight grandchildren, including Mr. Jackson and the musician Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, who performed with him at the Obama inaugural; and four great-grandchildren. His half-brother, Mike Seeger, a folklorist and performer who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009.

Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

Voir également:

Totalitarian Troubadour

We shouldn’t forget that Pete Seeger was Communism’s pied piper.

John Fund

National Review online

January 29, 2014

For some liberals, there really are no adversaries to their left. President Obama’s statement Tuesday on the death of folk singer Pete Seeger at age 94 was remarkable. Seeger was a talented singer, but he was also an unrepentant Stalinist until 1995, when he finally apologized for “following the [Communist] party line so slavishly.” You’d think Obama might have at least acknowledged (as even Seeger did) the error of his ways. Instead, Obama celebrated him only as a hero who tried to “move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.”

“Over the years, Pete used his voice — and his hammer — to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation,” said Obama. “We will always be grateful to Pete Seeger.” Not even a hint that the “world peace” Seeger was seeking was one that would have been dominated by the Soviet Union.

I found Seeger a highly talented musician who raised American folk music to a new standard. But, as with other artists — the Nazi-era filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and the fascist poet Ezra Pound — an asterisk must be placed beside their names for their service in behalf of an evil cause.

Time magazine’s obituary of Seeger was entitled: “Why Pete Seeger Mattered: The Pied Piper of the People’s Music.”

Recall that the original Pied Piper lured away the children of an entire town. They disappeared into a cave and were never seen again. When Seeger sang “If I Had a Hammer,” what he really meant was “If I Had a Hammer and Sickle.”

As historian Ronald Radosh wrote: “Seeger would sing and give his support to peace rallies and marches covertly sponsored by the Soviet Union and its Western front groups and dupes — while leaving his political criticism only for the United States and its defensive actions during the Cold War.” Radosh, an admirer and onetime banjo student of Seeger’s, says he is grateful Seeger ultimately acknowledged the crimes of Stalin.

Fair enough, but it’s not enough to say, as liberal blogger Mike O’Hare wrote, that Seeger “was wrong ‘for the right reasons’ (ignorance and misplaced hope, not bloody-mindedness or cruelty), and in the days he got Stalin wrong, a lot of good people did the same.”

Actually, the vast majority didn’t, and we shouldn’t forget those who did. The late John P. Roche, who served as president of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action in the 1960s and was a speechwriter for Hubert Humphrey, once told me that the success American Communists had in the 1930s by wrapping their ideology in the trappings of American traditions had to be remembered. “If authoritarianism of the right or left ever comes to America it will come surrounded by patriotism and show business,” he told me. “It will be made fashionable by talented people like Pete Seeger.”

Roche vividly recalled how American Stalinists suddenly flipped on the issue of Nazi Germany after the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 brought the two former adversaries together. “Stalinists acclaimed this treaty as the high point of 20th century diplomacy,” Roche wrote in 1979. He vividly recalled “the laudatory speech” that the future congresswoman Bella Abzug gave in support of the pact at Hunter College in 1940.

The next year, Pete Seeger, a member of the Young Communist League, lent his support for the effort to stop America from going to war to fight the Nazis. The Communist-party line at the time was that the war between Britain and Germany was “phony” and a mere pretext for big American corporations to get Hitler to attack Soviet Russia. The album Seeger and his fellow Almanac Singers, an early folk-music group, released was called “Songs for John Doe.” Its songs opposed the military draft and other policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D, listen to me,

You ain’t a-gonna send me ’cross the sea.

You may say it’s for defense

That kinda talk ain’t got no sense.

Just one month after the album was released, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The album was quickly withdrawn from circulation, and Seeger and his buddies immediately did a 180-degree turn and came up with new songs:

Now, Mr. President

You’re commander-in-chief of our armed forces

The ships and the planes and the tanks and the horses

I guess you know best just where I can fight . . .

So what I want is you to give me a gun

So we can hurry up and get the job done!

Seeger may have formally left the Communist party in 1949, but for decades afterward he would still identify himself as “communist with a small c.”

We can honor Seeger the singer and mourn his passing. But at the same time we should respect the power that popular culture has over people and warn against its misuse. The late Andrew Breitbart lived largely to remind us that culture is upstream of politics — our culture is a stream of influence flowing into our politics.

Pete Seeger aimed to change both our culture and our politics. Howard Husock wrote at NRO this week that he “was America’s most successful Communist.”

I recall interviewing East German dissidents in 1989 who were still angry at Seeger and Kris Kristofferson for the concerts they did on behalf of the Communist regime that built the Berlin Wall. He was hailed in the pages of Neues Deutschland, the Communist-party newspaper in East Berlin, as “the Karl Marx of the teenagers.”

By all means, let’s remember Pete Seeger for his talent while also remembering the monstrous causes he sometimes served.

— John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for National Review Online.

Voir encore:

In Defense of Pete Seeger, American Communist

Bhaskar Sunkara

Al Jazeera America

29 January 14

Like his party associates, Seeger was consistently on the right side of history

hen the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94, remembrances of him, unsurprisingly, focused less on his music than on his social activism. All the better – Seeger, the epitome of tireless commitment to "the cause," would have liked it that way.

Some comments were laudatory, praising every aspect of his advocacy. But most of them struck the balanced tone of The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews, who tweeted: "I love and will miss Pete Seeger but let’s not gloss over that fact that he was an actual Stalinist."

Such attempts at balance miss the mark. It’s not that Seeger did a lot of good despite his longtime ties to the Communist Party; he did a lot of good because he was a Communist.

This point is not to apologize for the moral and social catastrophe that was state socialism in the 20th century, but rather to draw a distinction between the role of Communists when in power and when in opposition. A young worker in the Bronx passing out copies of the Daily Worker in 1938 shouldn’t be conflated with the nomenklatura that oversaw labor camps an ocean away.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, time after time American Communists such as Seeger were on the right side of history – and through their leadership, they encouraged others to join them there.

Communists ran brutal police states in the Eastern bloc, but in Asia and Africa they found themselves at the helm of anti-colonial struggles, and in the United States radicals represented the earliest and more fervent supporters of civil rights and other fights for social emancipation. In the 1930s, Communist Party members led a militant anti-racist movement among Alabama sharecroppers that called for voting rights, equal wages for women and land for landless farmers. Prominent and unabashedly Stalinist figures such as Mike Gold, Richard Wright and Granville Hicks pushed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to be more inclusive and led the mass unionization drives of the era. These individuals, bound together by membership in an organization most ordinary Americans came to fear and despise, played an outsize and largely positive role in American politics and culture. Seeger was one of the last surviving links to this great legacy.

"Stateside Communists were the underdogs, fighting the establishment for justice – the victims of censorship and police repression, not its perpetrators."

American communism was different during those years. It wasn’t gray, bureaucratic and rigid, as it was in the U.S.S.R., but creative and dynamic. Irving Howe thought it was a put-on, a "brilliant masquerade" that fought for the right causes but in a deceptive, opportunistic way. But there was an undeniable charm to the Communist Party – an organization that hosted youth dances and socials, as well as militant rallies – that first attracted Seeger. One need only reread the old transcripts from his 1955 run-in with the House Un-American Activities Committee to see the difference between the stodginess of the interrogators and the crackling wit of the young firebrand.

Stateside Communists were the underdogs, fighting the establishment for justice – the victims of censorship and police repression, not its perpetrators.

Seeger, like other party members, came to regret the illusions he held about the Soviet Union. He apologized for thinking that "Stalin was simply a ‘hard-driver’ and not a supremely cruel misleader." But he never abandoned his commitment to organized radical politics. Along with Angela Davis and other prominent former Communist Party members, he helped form the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a democratic socialist group, in 1991.

Voir encore:

Watch Bruce Springsteen’s Moving Birthday Tribute to Pete Seeger

At the folk legend’s 90th birthday celebration, Springsteen delivered a heartfelt, beautiful speech

David Marchese

Rolling Stone

January 28, 2014

Bruce Springsteen made no secret of his admiration for American icon Pete Seeger. In 2009, at a 90th birthday celebration held at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden in the latter’s honor, Springsteen put into words just how he felt. It’s a lovely, touching speech — especially today as we remember the folk legend — and you can watch it here:

Below is a transcript of Springsteen’s words:

As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama’s Inaugural Celebration, he told me the entire story of "We Shall Overcome." How it moved from a labor movement song, and with Pete’s inspiration, had been adapted by the civil rights movement. That day as we sang "This Land Is Your Land," I looked at Pete, the first black president of the United States was seated to his right, and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken. My own growing up in the Sixties in towns scarred by race rioting made that moment nearly unbelievable, and Pete had 30 extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt. He was so happy that day. It was like, "Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man!" It was so nice. At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing, like 15 degrees, and Pete was there. He had his flannel shirt on. I said, man, you better wear something besides that flannel shirt! He says, yeah, I got my longjohns on under this thing.

Look back at Pete Seeger’s remarkable life in photos

And I asked him how do you want to approach "This Land Is Your Land?" It would be near the end of the show and all he said was, "Well, I know I want to sing all the verses, I want to sing all the ones that Woody wrote. Especially the two that get left out: about private property and the relief office." And I thought, of course, that’s what Pete’s done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we’d like to leave out of our history as a people. At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history. He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete’s somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won’t let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we’ve imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us.

On top of it, he never wears it on his sleeve. He has become comfortable and casual in this immense role. He’s funny and very eccentric. I’m gonna bring Tommy out, and the song Tommy Morello and I are about to sing I wrote in the mid-nineties and it started as a conversation I was having with myself. It was an attempt to regain my own moorings. Its last verse is the beautiful speech that Tom Joad whispers to his mother at the end of The Grapes of Wrath. It says, "Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy / Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries / Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air / Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there."

Well, Pete has always been there.

For me that speech is always aspirational. For Pete, it’s simply been a way of life. The singer in my song is in search of the ghost of Tom Joad. The spirit who has the guts and toughness to carry forth, to fight for and live their ideals.

I’m happy to report that spirit, the very ghost of Tom Joad is with us in the flesh tonight. He’ll be on this stage momentarily, he’s gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He’s gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass.

This is for Pete…

Remarking on Seeger, Bruce Springsteen once said that "he’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends."

In stark contrast to the role played by state socialists abroad, that’s a good way to describe the legacy of the Communist Party at home, a legacy Seeger never recanted.

See Also: Here’s the Amazing Transcript of Pete Seeger Pissing Off the House Un-American Activities Committee


Martin Luther King/85e: Cachez cette religion que ne saurai voir ! (No religion please, we’re Americans!)

20 janvier, 2014
St MLKhttp://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/amos-5-24-2.jpg?w=450&h=528http://www.amdoc.org/projects/truelives/pressroom/mayalin/images/03_mayalin.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Westminster_Abbey_C20th_martyrs.jpghttp://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/28676-libertybellatlibertymiddle.jpg?w=450&h=620http://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/a6560-freeatlast.png?w=450&h=199Moïse monta des plaines de Moab sur le mont Nebo, au sommet du Pisga, vis-à-vis de Jéricho. Et l’Éternel lui fit voir tout le pays (…) L’Éternel lui dit: C’est là le pays que j’ai juré de donner à Abraham, à Isaac et à Jacob, en disant: Je le donnerai à ta postérité. Je te l’ai fait voir de tes yeux; mais tu n’y entreras point. Moïse, serviteur de l’Éternel, mourut là, dans le pays de Moab, selon l’ordre de l’Éternel. (…) Les enfants d’Israël pleurèrent Moïse pendant trente jours, dans les plaines de Moab (…) Il n’a plus paru en Israël de prophète semblable à Moïse, que l’Éternel connaissait face à face. Nul ne peut lui être comparé pour tous les signes et les miracles que Dieu l’envoya faire au pays d’Égypte contre Pharaon, contre ses serviteurs et contre tout son pays, et pour tous les prodiges de terreur que Moïse accomplit à main forte sous les yeux de tout Israël. Deutéronome 34 : 1-12
Comme tout le monde, j’aimerais vivre une longue vie. La longévité est importante mais je ne suis pas concerné par ça maintenant. Je veux juste accomplir la volonté de Dieu. Et il m’a autorisé à grimper sur la montagne! Et j’ai regardé autour de moi, et j’ai vu la terre promise. Martin Luther King (extrait de son sermon à la veille de son assassinat)
Que la droiture soit comme un courant d’eau, et la justice comme un torrent qui jamais ne tarit. Amos 5: 24
Que toute vallée soit exhaussée, Que toute montagne et toute colline soient abaissées! Que les coteaux se changent en plaines, Et les défilés étroits en vallons! Alors la gloire de l’Éternel sera révélée, Et au même instant toute chair la verra. Esaïe 40: 4-5
Et nous sommes déterminés ici à Montgomery, de travailler et de nous battre jusqu’à ce que la justice jaillisse comme l’eau et le droit comme un torrent intarissable. Martin Luther King (Montgomery, 1955)
Nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable. (…) Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair. Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Martin Luther King (Washington, 1963)
Vous proclamerez la liberté dans le pays pour tous ses habitants. Lévitique 25: 10
Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! Mon pays, c’est toi que je chante (ancien hymne national américain)
Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres !  Negro spiritual
Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King, I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing, In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes, I put together pieces of a Dream I still have one …The world waitin’ for me to yell "I Have a Dream … Common
Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, "Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top." "Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan", "And I want freedom for all Americans." And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue. Ralph Abernathy (39:50-42:43)
Il y a, cependant, des considérations pratiques occasionnelles qui justifient les tergiversations, voire la répression. Au cours de la l’hystérie médiatique Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton a été neutralisé, incapable de mener à bien les tâches qui étaient les siennes avec le cafouillage sur les taches des robes bleues et la configuration exacte du pénis présidentiel. Il aurait pu être  désastreusement distrayant si, pendant la crise des missiles cubains, on avait appris que les frères Kennedy se faisaient Marilyn Monroe à tour de rôle. Les grandes affaires du monde sont plus importantes que ces anecdotes. La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous? John Sutherland (The Guardian)
Du rififi à Montgomery Les studios Universal ont décidé de lâcher Memphis, un projet de film sur Martin Luther King porté par le réalisateur Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, United 93, Green Zone, la série des Jason Bourne…), qu’ils prévoyaient de sortir à l’occasion du prochain Martin Luther King Day, en janvier 2012. La raison officielle est qu’ils craignent que le film ne puisse pas être prêt à temps, mais il existe une raison officieuse, selon le site Deadline, qui a révélé l’information: «Les héritiers King se montraient très critiques envers le projet et ont exercé des pressions sur le studio pour qu’il l’abandonne. […] La famille aurait fait savoir qu’elle pourrait manifester publiquement son déplaisir concernant le scénario de Greengrass.» (…) «Il devait se concentrer sur les derniers moments controversés de Martin Luther King en mars-avril 68, de son combat pour les droits des éboueurs de Memphis à ses relations enflammées avec le président Johnson en raison de leur désaccord sur le Vietnam, en passant par sa vision du Black Power et de la classe ouvrière. Le film devait aussi s’attarder sur sa vie personnelle, alors qu’à l’époque sa tabagie s’intensifiait, son mariage s’effondrait et qu’il consommait des quantités déraisonnables de nourriture et d’alcool.»Un ami et confident de King, Andrew Young, ancien maire d’Atlanta, s’en est lui pris au projet dans les colonnes du quotidien britannique The Independent on Sunday: «Ce scénario était fondé sur des informations fausses. Des gens ont témoigné devant le Congrès du fait que le FBI avait fabriqué certaines informations, comme celle selon laquelle Martin et Coretta songeaient au divorce. […] C’est une histoire trop grandiose pour s’attarder sur des balivernes. […] Je veux que quelqu’un fasse pour Martin Luther King ce que Sir Richard Attenborough a fait pour Gandhi.» Deadline estime que cette attitude pourrait également s’expliquer par l’existence d’un autre projet porté par le scénariste Ronald Harwood (Le Pianiste de Polanski) et les studios Dreamworks de Steven Spielberg, qui ont payé les droits pour pouvoir utiliser les discours du leader des droits civiques. Un troisième projet sur Martin Luther King, Selma, du réalisateur Lee Daniels, a lui échoué à se lancer. Revenant sur cette affaire et sur celle de la mini-série sur les Kennedy tournée puis refusée par une chaîne américaine, le chroniqueur John Sutherland livre un point de vue ambigu dans The Guardian, en estimant qu’un certain degré de réécriture de l’Histoire peut encore se justifier: "La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous?" Slate
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Sad news. My MLK project involvement has ended. I did an extensive rewrite of the script, but the producers won’t go with it.
10:04 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
The script dealt w/ issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being
10:13 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth.
10:21 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington
10:30 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Martin, I grieve for you. You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans—but, thank God, not a saint.
10:39 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.” This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. (…) I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. (…) I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. (…) Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism. (…) Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.” (…)  Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.” Mike Fleming jr.
Nous ne rendons pas service à Martin Luther King et au pays qu’il a contribué à changer quand nous enjolivons l’image du tumulte social et politique déclenché par le mouvement pour les droits civiques, mouvement extrêmement controversé qui s’est heurté à une opposition acharnée. Tout comme King lui-même. On ne se souvient qu’imparfaitement de Martin Luther King, réduit à quelques fragments de rhétorique dans les gentils sermons du dimanche et à une silhouette de teinte sépia dans les parades scolaires. Si vous vous imaginez que King était un homme paisible et modéré sur le plan politique, passionné mais jamais provocateur, vous ne savez rien de lui. Vous avez fait d’une personnalité complexe une caricature. Il était bien plus que sa célèbre formule "Je fais un rêve". Les archives historiques montrent que King était rejeté comme un communiste – un traître – par une grande partie des citoyens américains, et non des moindres, tel le directeur du FBI de l’époque, J. Edgar Hoover. Alors que King incitait ses partisans à n’opposer aux chiens policiers et aux lances à incendie que des têtes baissées, on l’accusait de fomenter des violences.(…) Si King louait généreusement les responsables religieux blancs, juifs et catholiques compris, qui soutenaient le mouvement pour les droits civiques, il critiquait aussi férocement les hommes d’Eglise blancs qui ne le faisaient pas. Dans un entretien accordé en 1965 au magazine Playboy, il expliquait : "L’Eglise blanche m’a considérablement déçu. Alors que l’homme noir lutte contre une terrible injustice, la plupart des religieux blancs n’ont à offrir que de pieuses absurdités et de sentencieuses bêtises. Les paroissiens blancs, qui tiennent tant à se dire chrétiens, pratiquent la ségrégation dans la maison de Dieu avec la même rigidité que dans les salles de cinéma. Les croyants blancs sont bien trop nombreux à se montrer timides et inefficaces, et certains sont hystériques dans leur défense du racisme et des préjugés." Une des déclarations publiques les plus controversées de Martin Luther King a été sa dénonciation de la guerre du Vietnam, en 1967, lors d’un discours prononcé dans l’église de Riverside, à New York. Outre ses critiques à l’encontre de la guerre elle-même, il s’en est pris vertement au recours à la force de l’Amérique : "Je sais que jamais je ne pourrai de nouveau m’élever contre la violence dont font l’objet les opprimés dans les ghettos sans m’être d’abord exprimé sans ambiguïté à propos du plus grand pourvoyeur de violence dans le monde aujourd’hui, mon propre gouvernement." Les Vietnamiens "nous regardent empoisonner leur eau, détruire leurs récoltes par millions d’hectares. Jusqu’à présent, peut-être avons-nous tué 1 million d’entre eux, des enfants pour la plupart", avait-il déclaré. Cynthia Tucker
“It was a good speech,” says Clarence Jones, writer of the final draft. “Substantively it was not his greatest speech. But it was the power of delivery and the power of the circumstances. The crowd, the march, the Lincoln Memorial, the beautiful day. So many intangible things came together … It was a perfect storm.” A great speech is both timely and timeless. First and foremost it must touch and move its immediate audience. It needs to encapsulate the mood of a moment, reflect, and then amplify it. But it must also simultaneously reach over the heads of the assembled toward posterity. There are many excellent speeches so narrowly tailored to the needs of their particular purpose that their lasting relevance is limited. The “I Have a Dream” speech qualified on both counts. It was delivered in a year that started with Alabama governor George Wallace standing on the steps of the state capitol in hickory-striped pants and a cutaway coat declaring, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and ended with President Kennedy’s assassination. The march was held just ten weeks after Wallace stood in a schoolhouse doorway to prevent black students from going to college, and little more than two weeks before four black girls were bombed to death in Birmingham, Alabama, during Sunday school. So it came at a turning point for both the civil rights movement and the country. The speech starts, both literally and metaphorically, in the shadow of Lincoln (King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial), ends with a quote from a Negro spiritual, and in between quotes the song “My Country ’Tis of Thee” while evoking “a dream rooted in the American dream” and drawing references from the Bible and the Constitution. (…) It speaks, in the vernacular of the black church, with clarity and conviction to African Americans’ historical plight and looks forward to a time when that plight will be eliminated ("We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘for whites only’. No, no, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream"). Its nod to all that is sacred in American political culture, from the founding fathers to the American dream, makes it patriotic ("I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’"). It sets bigotry against colour-blindness while prescribing no route map for how we get from one to the other. ("I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists… little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.") Gary Younge
These green bars represent familiar songs and hymns and scriptures throughout the piece. These words were sacred to the audience because they’d read and sung them together. The orange bars are references to political documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of independence. … Now let’s look at that amazing climax of the speech … there’s a lot of green … Green, remember, is the spiritual songs and hymns …   the first batch of green is a scripture from the prophetic book of Isaiah making the audience fill as if they are fulfilling scripture. The second batch of green is a patriotic song "My countrys t’is of thee" … The fourth batch of green is the very famous negro spiritual "Free at last". This serves as a powerful ending to his new bliss. What Dr. King did is he reached into the hearts of his audience. He identified things that were already there and resonated deeply with those things and utilized them throughout his speech to persuade the audience to work towards equality for all men. Nancy Duarte
The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker. Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” (…) the concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2). One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.) The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Hannibal Hamlin
Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead. "I want to say that we are not here advocating violence," King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church. "I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people," King said. "We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest." King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents. "And we are determined here in Montgomery," King said that day in 1955, "to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’" In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24. A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: "We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’" This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law. The words "God," "Jesus" and "Lord" — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name. King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply "Martin Luther King Jr." (…) Near the close of his "I Have a Dream" speech" — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5. "I have a dream," said King, "that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’ "This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with," King said. "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope" On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The first half of the sentence — "With this faith, we will be able to hew" — is missing. Yes, the "faith" is missing. Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word "faith" has been edited from the passage of his "I Have a Dream" speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, "Strength to Love." At the end of that sermon, King said: "Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him." The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial. Terence P. Jeffrey

Attention: un tabou peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain de la véritable overdose de panégyriques qui a suivi la mort d’autre grand saint laïque qui, à quelques arrangements près avec son passé de terroriste repenti a eu, lui, droit à plusieurs films …

Et en ce 85e anniversaire du pasteur baptiste et véritable apôtre (républicain, s’il vous plait!) de la lutte pour les droits civiques américain Martin Luther King (né Michael King) …

Comment ne pas s’étonner, 46 ans après sa mort-martyre, que l‘équivalent le plus proche de ce que les Américains puissent avoir d’un saint laïque n’ait toujours pas eu droit, malgré plusieurs récentes tentatives (les nombreux plagiats et les tout aussi multiples liaisons ne semblent décidément pas passer, du moins pour la famille King qui interdit aussi pour des raisons de droits la reproduction du fameux discours de 1963, la rampe de l’histoire ou en tout cas du cinéma grand public ?) , à aucun film ?

Mais surtout, contre toute vérité historique, que les divers monuments qui ont depuis été construits en son honneur aient pu à ce point gommer ce qui faisait justement la force et la résonance proprement prophétiques de ses discours et de son action …

A savoir non seulement les célébrissimes cadences mais la parole vive de la Bible elle-même ?

Missing From Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: God

Terence P. Jeffrey

CNS news

January 18, 2012

Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead.

"I want to say that we are not here advocating violence," King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church.

"I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people," King said. "We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest."

King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents.

"And we are determined here in Montgomery," King said that day in 1955, "to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’"

In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24.

A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: "We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’"

This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law.

The words "God," "Jesus" and "Lord" — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name.

King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply "Martin Luther King Jr."

How important was King’s Christian ministry to him? When he was thrown in the Birmingham jail for marching without a permit on Good Friday 1963, King wrote an open letter expressing disappointment with fellow clergymen who criticized the nonviolent movement to desegregate that city.

"I say it as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen," said King.

In the same letter, King explained again how the civil rights movement was rooted in traditional Christian morality.

"A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God," King said. "An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."

In this letter, King also again argued that the God-given moral law that demanded equal rights for African Americans was the same God-given moral law on which America was founded.

"We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands," said King.

"One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thus carrying our whole nation back to great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence," said King.

The granite slabs at the memorial do quote from this famous letter. But they steer clear of King’s invocation of God’s law, the Declaration and the Constitution. Instead they use these words: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Near the close of his "I Have a Dream" speech" — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5.

"I have a dream," said King, "that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’

"This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with," King said. "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope"

On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The first half of the sentence — "With this faith, we will be able to hew" — is missing.

Yes, the "faith" is missing.

Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word "faith" has been edited from the passage of his "I Have a Dream" speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, "Strength to Love."

At the end of that sermon, King said: "Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him."

The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial.

Voir aussi:

Martin Luther King and the King James Bible

Hannibal Hamlin

Manifold greatness

Tomorrow (August 28) was to have been the day for officially opening the new and long-awaited Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. Hurricane Irene delayed these plans along with so much else. (Check the Memorial’s website for updates on the ceremony plans for the future.) August 28 remains, of course, the anniversary of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech from the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

For the past week, the site on the Tidal Basin, on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, has been open to visitors, though, who could view the impressive sculpture by Lei Yixin and the many quotations from King’s speeches and writings engraved around the site. The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker.

Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” looks impressive, though I’ve as yet seen it only in photos. The concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2).

One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.)

The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” That final time of Justice might not yet have arrived, but Lowry must have been thinking that at least some of those waters had rolled down since 1963. King had looked down the Mall toward the Capitol as he shared his dream of racial equality, but Lowry, and Obama, looked back the opposite way from the steps of the Capitol itself.

Hannibal Hamlin, associate professor of English at The Ohio State University, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Voir encore:

On Eve Of MLK Day, Will Adultery Keep Epic Dr. King Movie Off The Big Screen?

Mike Fleming

January 17, 2014

Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.”

This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. This is an incredibly difficult and emotional situation because it depicts flaws in a man whose message of tolerance and equality and nonviolence still means so much to so many and has made him one of the most galvanizing figures of the 20th Century.

I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. Young understandably felt differently. “There is testimony in congressional hearings that a lot of that information was manufactured by the FBI and wasn’t true,” Young told me. “The FBI testified to that. I was saying simply, why make up a story when the true story is so great? My only concern here is honoring the message of Martin Luther King’s life, and how you can change the world without killing anybody. You’ve seen glimpses of that in the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Poland, South Africa, in a movement in Egypt that began with prayers, where even mercenaries and the most brutal soldiers have trouble shooting someone on their knees. These regimes crumbled before nonviolent demonstrations, and that is a message the world needs.”

I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. Young said: “It’s not wrong if the warts are there. But we had the most powerful and understanding wives in history: Coretta, my wife Jean, and Ralph Abernathy’s wife Juanita. These women were more dedicated and enthusiastic in pushing us into these struggles than anybody, and the inference Coretta might have been upset about Martin being gone so much or them having marital troubles, it’s just not true. Maybe I’m piqued because nobody read my book, and I tried to be honest, and I was there. We were struggling with history that we didn’t even understand, but somehow by the grace of God it came out right. We were trying to change the world — not by any means necessary, but by being dedicated to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecuted us. That’s hard to believe in this day and age. But I can remember when everybody had guns in the South, and after Martin’s house was bombed, they all came. He sent them home. Time after time, our nonviolent commitment was put the test, but that was one test we passed, even in extremely difficult circumstances.” Young said he offered input on Memphis but hasn’t heard back. “I said I would pay my own way to LA to sit with the writers, tell what really went on, and give them names, but nobody took me up on it,” he said.

Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism.

You’ll definitely see it, I’m just not quite ready to do it yet,” Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.”

These fact-based films continue to present creative quandaries, the latest of which is The Wolf Of Wall Street, which got a haul of Oscar nominations this week including Best Picture. It was among five fact-based stories that got Best Picture noms. Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.”

Voir par ailleurs:

"I have a dream" : il y a 50 ans, Martin Luther King a failli ne pas prononcer ce discours

Béatrice Toulon

journaliste formatrice

Le Nouvel observateur

28-08-2013

LE PLUS. "I have a dream" est l’un des discours les plus célèbres du monde. Prononcés par Martin Luther King le 28 août 1963, ces mots fêtent leurs 50 ans. Mais ce jour-là, le pasteur a failli rater son rendez-vous avec l’histoire… Retour sur les coulisses avec Béatrice Toulon, formatrice spécialiste de la prise de parole en public.

"I have a dream" aurait pu rester dans les mémoires sous le nom "Let Freedom Ring" ou "Go back". Il aurait pu ne pas avoir de nom du tout, car aujourd’hui, il serait oublié.

"I have a dream", le discours prononcé par Martin Luther King il y a juste 50 ans, le 28 août 1963, a failli être amputé de la partie du rêve éveillé qui lui a donné son statut de chef d’œuvre de rhétorique aux USA et dans le reste du monde.

Le 27 au soir, le leader du Mouvement des droits civiques est dans un hôtel de Washington, avec ses conseillers. Ils parlent du discours qu’il doit prononcer le lendemain. Le 28, on célèbre les 100 ans de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Ce sera le point d’arrivée de la grande marche "Justice et emploi" qui mobilise des dizaines de milliers de personnes qui réclament l’abolition de la ségrégation encore en vigueur dans les États du sud. 100.000 personnes sont attendues, les télévisions ont fait le déplacement.

"Ne mets pas ‘le rêve’"

Les discours, c’est son job. Martin Luther King est pasteur, un de ces prêcheurs du Sud qui changent les messes en kermesses. Il s’est aussi rodé au discours politique à force de meetings. Mais là, c’est différent. Il ne s’adresse pas à ses paroissiens, ni au militants des droits civiques, il s’adresse à toute l’Amérique, il doit lui faire comprendre qu’elle perd son âme en acceptant la ségrégation. Et qu’elle peut encore gagner son ciel.

Les conseillers se disputent pas mal sur le contenu du discours. Wyatt Walker, l’un de ses proches, est sûr d’une chose:

"Ne mets pas ‘le rêve’. C’est trop banal, trop cliché."

Il parle de "I have a dream". Ce rêve éveillé d’un monde meilleur, Martin Luther King le place systématiquement dans ses discours depuis quelques temps. Il aime cette idée de décrire une Jérusalem céleste sur Terre. Cela correspond bien à sa double personnalité d’homme d’Église et d’homme d’action.

La semaine précédente, son rêve a eu un beau succès dans son discours à Chicago. Walker insiste :

"Je t’assure, tu l’as trop utilisé."

Martin Luther King travaille toute la nuit à son discours. Il dira plus tard qu’il a aussi beaucoup dialogué avec Dieu, pour l’inspiration. Le lendemain matin, il descend dans le hall muni et donne son texte à un assistant pour impression. Le rêve n’y figure pas.

"Dis-leur ton rêve, Martin !"

Martin Luther King est le dernier intervenant de la journée, juste avant la bénédiction. La foule compte 250.000 personnes, du jamais vu. Mais l’ambiance est un peu molle. Les orateurs se sont succédé toute la journée, l’assistance est un peu fatiguée. Le rabbin Prinz évoque l’Allemagne sous Hitler, "un grand peuple devenu muet, simple spectateur" et exhorte les Américains à "ne plus rester muets". Puis il passe la parole à Martin Luther King.

Orateur aguerri, King est stressé. Il lit son texte, trop. Ceux qui le connaissaient bien diront qu’il n’était pas à son meilleur. Peu à peu, il prend de l’assurance, lève les bras, se met à vibrer à la lecture des mots scandés comme dans les poésies :

"Go back to Mississipi, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana…"

La fin du discours approche. Son conseiller Clarence Jones racontera plu tard qu’à ce moment-là, Mahalia Jackson, la chanteuse et amie très chère du pasteur, lui lance depuis l’arrière de l’estrade :

"Dis leur ton rêve, Martin ! Le rêve…"

King poursuit encore son texte puis lève le nez, met son texte de côté et lance :

"Même si nous affrontons des difficultés, je fais un rêve…"

Clarence Jones entendit Walker s’écrier :

"Oh, merde ! Le rêve…"

Son public : toute l’Amérique

Il ne faut pas toujours écouter les conseillers. Ce que Walker n’avait pas compris c’est que jusqu’à présent, seuls les paroissiens et les partisans avaient entendu les discours/prêches de King.

Son public, cette fois, c’était toute l’Amérique. Il pouvait lui décrive avec son éloquence de génie qu’elle était devenue l’enfer sur terre mais qu’elle pouvait, si elle le voulait, devenir le paradis. Pour cela, il fallait lui faire prendre de la hauteur, une hauteur vertigineuse même, là-haut où les peurs s’effacent devant la beauté de la promesse.

Toute la partie précédente, solide, explicative, puissante n’arriverait pas assez haut sans l’offre d’un rêve, d’une utopie partagée. Martin Luther King expliquera plus tard qu’il avait senti qu’il fallait qu’il ajoute "I have a dream". Il ne risquait rien, ce n’était pas vraiment une improvisation. Les témoins parleront d’une foule électrisée. L’année suivante toutes les lois raciales étaient abolies.

Pour le racisme, c’est une autre histoire…

Voir enfin:

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

28 August 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

¹ Amos 5:24 (rendered precisely in The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible)

2 Isaiah 40:4-5 (King James Version of the Holy Bible). Quotation marks are excluded from part of this moment in the text because King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:4 does not precisely follow the KJV version from which he quotes (e.g., "hill" and "mountain" are reversed in the KJV). King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:5, however, is precisely quoted from the KJV.

3 At: http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/free_at_last_from.htm

Also in this database: Martin Luther King, Jr: A Time to Break Silence

Audio Source: Linked directly to: http://www.archive.org/details/MLKDream

External Link: http://www.thekingcenter.org/

JE REVE

(traduction en français)

Jeune Afrique

"Je suis heureux de me joindre à vous aujourd’hui pour participer à ce que l’histoire appellera la plus grande démonstration pour la liberté dans les annales de notre nation.

Il y a un siècle de cela, un grand Américain qui nous couvre aujourd’hui de son ombre symbolique signait notre Proclamation d’Émancipation. Ce décret capital se dresse, comme un grand phare illuminant d’espérance les millions d’esclaves marqués au feu d’une brûlante injustice. Ce décret est venu comme une aube joyeuse terminer la longue nuit de leur captivité.

Mais, cent ans plus tard, le Noir n’est toujours pas libre. Cent ans plus tard, la vie du Noir est encore terriblement handicapée par les menottes de la ségrégation et les chaînes de la discrimination. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir vit à l’écart sur son îlot de pauvreté au milieu d’un vaste océan de prospérité matérielle. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir languit encore dans les coins de la société américaine et se trouve exilé dans son propre pays.

C’est pourquoi nous sommes venus ici aujourd’hui dénoncer une condition humaine honteuse. En un certain sens, nous sommes venus dans notre capitale nationale pour encaisser un chèque. Quand les architectes de notre République ont magnifiquement rédigé notre Constitution de la Déclaration d’Indépendance, ils signaient un chèque dont tout Américain devait hériter. Ce chèque était une promesse qu’à tous les hommes, oui, aux Noirs comme aux Blancs, seraient garantis les droits inaliénables de la vie, de la liberté et de la quête du bonheur.

Il est évident aujourd’hui que l’Amérique a manqué à ses promesses à l’égard de ses citoyens de couleur. Au lieu d’honorer son obligation sacrée, l’Amérique a délivré au peuple Noir un chèque en bois, qui est revenu avec l’inscription “ provisions insuffisantes ”. Mais nous refusons de croire qu’il n’y a pas de quoi honorer ce chèque dans les vastes coffres de la chance, en notre pays. Aussi, sommes-nous venus encaisser ce chèque, un chèque qui nous donnera sur simple présentation les richesses de la liberté et la sécurité de la justice.

Nous sommes également venus en ce lieu sacré pour rappeler à l’Amérique les exigeantes urgences de l’heure présente. Ce n’est pas le moment de s’offrir le luxe de laisser tiédir notre ardeur ou de prendre les tranquillisants des demi-mesures. C’est l’heure de tenir les promesses de la démocratie. C’est l’heure d’émerger des vallées obscures et désolées de la ségrégation pour fouler le sentier ensoleillé de la justice raciale. C’est l’heure d’arracher notre nation des sables mouvant de l’injustice raciale et de l’établir sur le roc de la fraternité. C’est l’heure de faire de la justice une réalité pour tous les enfants de Dieu. Il serait fatal pour la nation de fermer les yeux sur l’urgence du moment. Cet étouffant été du légitime mécontentement des Noirs ne se terminera pas sans qu’advienne un automne vivifiant de liberté et d’égalité.

1963 n’est pas une fin, c’est un commencement. Ceux qui espèrent que le Noir avait seulement besoin de se défouler et qu’il se montrera désormais satisfait, auront un rude réveil, si la nation retourne à son train-train habituel.

Il n’y aura ni repos ni tranquillité en Amérique jusqu’à ce qu’on ait accordé au peuple Noir ses droits de citoyen. Les tourbillons de la révolte ne cesseront d’ébranler les fondations de notre nation jusqu’à ce que le jour éclatant de la justice apparaisse.

Mais il y a quelque chose que je dois dire à mon peuple, debout sur le seuil accueillant qui donne accès au palais de la justice : en procédant à la conquête de notre place légitime, nous ne devons pas nous rendre coupables d’agissements répréhensibles.

Ne cherchons pas à satisfaire notre soif de liberté en buvant à la coupe de l’amertume et de la haine. Nous devons toujours mener notre lutte sur les hauts plateaux de la dignité et de la discipline. Nous ne devons pas laisser nos revendications créatrices dégénérer en violence physique. Sans cesse, nous devons nous élever jusqu’aux hauteurs majestueuses où la force de l’âme s’unit à la force physique.

Le merveilleux esprit militant qui a saisi la communauté noire ne doit pas nous entraîner vers la méfiance de tous les Blancs, car beaucoup de nos frères blancs, leur présence ici aujourd’hui en est la preuve, ont compris que leur destinée est liée à la nôtre. L’assaut que nous avons monté ensemble pour emporter les remparts de l’injustice doit être mené par une armée bi-raciale. Nous ne pouvons marcher tout seul au combat. Et au cours de notre progression il faut nous engager à continuer d’aller de l’avant ensemble. Nous ne pouvons pas revenir en arrière.

Il y a des gens qui demandent aux militants des Droits Civiques : “ Quand serez-vous enfin satisfaits ? ” Nous ne serons jamais satisfaits aussi longtemps que le Noir sera la victime d’indicibles horreurs de la brutalité policière. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos corps, lourds de la fatigue des voyages, ne trouveront pas un abri dans les motels des grandes routes ou les hôtels des villes.

Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que la liberté de mouvement du Noir ne lui permettra guère que d’aller d’un petit ghetto à un ghetto plus grand. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos enfants, même devenus grands, ne seront pas traités en adultes et verront leur dignité bafouée par les panneaux “ Réservé aux Blancs ”. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps qu’un Noir du Mississippi ne pourra pas voter et qu’un Noir de New-York croira qu’il n’a aucune raison de voter. Non, nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable.

Je n’ignore pas que certains d’entre vous ont été conduis ici par un excès d’épreuves et de tribulations. D’aucuns sortent à peine d’étroites cellules de prison. D’autres viennent de régions où leur quête de liberté leur a valu d’être battus par les orages de la persécution et secoués par les bourrasques de la brutalité policière. Vous avez été les héros de la souffrance créatrice. Continuez à travailler avec la certitude que la souffrance imméritée vous sera rédemptrice.

Retournez dans le Mississippi, retournez en Alabama, retournez en Caroline du Sud, retournez en Georgie, retournez en Louisiane, retournez dans les taudis et les ghettos des villes du Nord, sachant que de quelque manière que ce soit cette situation peut et va changer. Ne croupissons pas dans la vallée du désespoir.

Je vous le dis ici et maintenant, mes amis, bien que, oui, bien que nous ayons à faire face à des difficultés aujourd’hui et demain je fais toujours ce rêve : c’est un rêve profondément ancré dans l’idéal américain. Je rêve que, un jour, notre pays se lèvera et vivra pleinement la véritable réalité de son credo : “ Nous tenons ces vérités pour évidentes par elles-mêmes que tous les hommes sont créés égaux ”.

Je rêve qu’un jour sur les collines rousses de Georgie les fils d’anciens esclaves et ceux d’anciens propriétaires d’esclaves pourront s’asseoir ensemble à la table de la fraternité.

Je rêve qu’un jour, même l’Etat du Mississippi, un Etat où brûlent les feux de l’injustice et de l’oppression, sera transformé en un oasis de liberté et de justice.

Je rêve que mes quatre petits-enfants vivront un jour dans une nation où ils ne seront pas jugés sur la couleur de leur peau, mais sur la valeur de leur caractère. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour, même en Alabama, avec ses abominables racistes, avec son gouverneur à la bouche pleine des mots “ opposition ” et “ annulation ” des lois fédérales, que là même en Alabama, un jour les petits garçons noirs et les petites filles blanches pourront se donner la main, comme frères et sœurs. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair.

Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de transformer les discordes criardes de notre nation en une superbe symphonie de fraternité.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de travailler ensemble, de prier ensemble, de lutter ensemble, d’aller en prison ensemble, de défendre la cause de la liberté ensemble, en sachant qu’un jour, nous serons libres. Ce sera le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu pourront chanter ces paroles qui auront alors un nouveau sens : “ Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! ” Et, si l’Amérique doit être une grande nation, que cela devienne vrai.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des merveilleuses collines du New Hampshire !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des montagnes grandioses de l’Etat de New-York !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des sommets des Alleghanys de Pennsylvanie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des cimes neigeuses des montagnes rocheuses du Colorado !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne depuis les pentes harmonieuses de la Californie !

Mais cela ne suffit pas.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Stone de Georgie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Lookout du Tennessee !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut de chaque colline et de chaque butte du Mississippi ! Du flanc de chaque montagne, que sonne le cloche de la liberté !

Quand nous permettrons à la cloche de la liberté de sonner dans chaque village, dans chaque hameau, dans chaque ville et dans chaque Etat, nous pourrons fêter le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu, les Noirs et les Blancs, les Juifs et les non-Juifs, les Protestants et les Catholiques, pourront se donner la main et chanter les paroles du vieux Negro Spiritual : “ Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres ! ”."

Voir par ailleurs:

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

by Rev. Ralph David Abernathy

Booknotes

October 29, 1989

BRIAN LAMB: Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, author of the book, "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," when did you first think that you wanted to write your autobiography?

ABERNATHY: Oh, about four or five years ago. I decided that I would write my autobiography and I have been working on it ever since then. Not straight out but for given periods, I would write and I would leave it, you know, and go back to it, and come back to it, and so I wanted to write this book.

LAMB: Are you happy about it?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I am very, very happy about it. I am so pleased that it is a good looking book and it is a good book and it is more than 600 pages of my life story. I am the son of a farmer and I grew up in Linden, Alabama — Meringo County, the heart of the black belt. My grandfather and my grandmother were born slaves and I just wanted to tell my story and to show the youth of America, the children of America, that you may be locked in poverty and you may have a difficult time surviving but you can be, what my dear friend, Martin Luther King, often quoted: "If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley but be the best little scrub by the side of the hill…be a bush if you can’t be a tree." So you can be something and somebody if you do not lose your sense of worth and dignity and somebody-ness.

LAMB: I want to start with the last part of the book first, the epilogue. In there you describe that in 1980 you supported Ronald Reagan for the presidency. Why did you do that?

ABERNATHY: Well, I did it for the simple reason first. I did not believe President Carter could lead the nation forward at that particular juncture. He is a good man but I just did not feel that you could run the country as he had ran the state of Georgia and he did not have, around him, the staff, that was able to do that. Secondly, I supported Ronald Reagan because he was talking about jobs and income and I went on with that side of my political life and thirdly, I believe that young black people should participate in both parties. The Republican Party has too long ignored us and the Democratic Party has taken us for granted and so since all of my colleges and the latter in various places across the country were supporting the Democratic Party, I felt that I should support Ronald Reagan.

I understood very, very clearly that it is a policy in politics, according to President Gerald Ford, that you reward your friends but you punish your enemies, so I thought that I would launch a job program and get help from Mr. Reagan and from the private sector as well as the public sector. The Republicans have most of the money in the country and I thought that I would get that type of help but he’d soon forgotten what I had sought to do to him, or I cannot get through. And one distinguished journalist, just happened to have been connected with my congregation and I had to do the grandmother’s funeral and she told me, "Dr. Abernathy, what you really should do to get to Mr. Reagan is get to Mrs. Reagan and maybe like that you can get through." But Ed Meese and the people surrounded him. I just felt that they never let my calls through and never gave me ample time to explain fully the meaning of the foundation of economic enterprises development.

LAMB: Let’s go back. I did not mean to interrupt, but I want to go back so that the audience understands the context. You were asked to come and do public, hold up the hands and endorse President Reagan back during the 1980 campaign, and you did that. Do remember the city in which you did that?

ABERNATHY: Yes, in Detroit, Michigan.

LAMB: And you flew up there to do it and when you got there you had a meeting with the President. And then you walked out and found some of your other friends were there with you?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I found that other persons, including Jose Williams, former staff member of mine, at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had come to join me in endorsing Mr. Reagan. But I had a private conference with Mr. Reagan because I wanted to get the guarantee from him that he wanted me to endorse him and that he would be accessible to me, because I didn’t want to just be endorsing a man that I was unable to talk to.

LAMB: After you endorsed him, the election is over, you tried to reach President Reagan, what happened?

ABERNATHY: Well, I could not get any farther than Ed Meese. I went out to Palm Springs to see President Gerald Ford and he was most sympathetic, most kind and he called the White House while I was there and he …

LAMB: This was in 1981, right in the first year?

ABERNATHY: Yes, and he said, "Well, hey Meese, I want you to arrange a meeting with the President and Ralph Abernathy has suffered greatly." — Because my colleagues didn’t like that, you know. They tried to dry up my resources and everything. — And he said, "Well, I want him to be able to talk to the President." And he said, "Well, I will arrange the meeting and you can be assured." I was in his office at that particular time. I had set up the foundation for Economic Enterprises Development, was fully tax deductible and I had gone through this ordeal of my friend James Peterson had worked with me and he was the executive vice-president of the organization and finally the meeting was arranged. It was just about a five minute, ten minute meeting.

LAMB: With the President?

ABERNATHY: Yes.

LAMB: Was he interested?

ABERNATHY: No, Mr. Meese had told me that he was not interested. He, Mr. Ford, thought that he could call to the White House, some millionaires, about one hundred of them, and they could give the money that was necessary — $100,000 each to the Foundation and take care of one who had suffered so much because I endorsed the President. Mr. Meese said that he could not call anybody to come to the White House and there were no private sector funds available and he told me that the public sector writes proposals. And we wrote a proposal, and finally, the Department of Transportation — finally we received a small grant from the Department of Labor, and that is all that we received and that was not enough to sustain that Foundation. So the Foundation now has no address to receive contributions but I am working still with the Foundation and James Peterson is working still with the Foundation and hopefully we will get it back operating.

LAMB: What did you do in 1984, did you endorse President Reagan for a second term?

ABERNATHY: No, I decided to go with my friend, Jesse L. Jackson. Jesse Jackson had expressed the hope and the dream of receiving the nomination of the Democrats. So, naturally, he was my former employee and my friend, and so I went to — I guess it was somewhere in North Carolina — and when he announced his candidacy I supported him all the way. He preached at my church and spoke at my church and we were able to give him more than $10,000 in offering for his candidacy. And we were proud to. And he has carried us closer as black people to the White House than any other person. Jesse Jackson is a good man. He is very, very articulate. He has his faults and failures as all of us have them and he has a big ego, but I do not know a President of the United States that has not had a big ego. I guess it takes a big ego to become the President.

LAMB: In the epilogue, again, you write about the illnesses that you had and you talk about the strokes. How many strokes have you had?

ABERNATHY: I have had two small strokes, never a massive stroke. I have had brain surgery, one of the carotid arteries was clogged and I went to Johns Hopkins Hospital. My wife took me there and I had a carotid artery and that artery supplies the blood flow to the brain — there are two — and I became the 51st person to undergo that microscopic surgery and it takes about 12 hours. I could not speak too clearly because of it being clogged. So, consequently, when the anesthesiologist came to me and gave me lessons and said, "Dr. Abernathy…," — they call me "Dr. A." — "Dr. A., when you wake up, I want you to wake up talking and when we ask you to move your right hand, don’t move your left hand and you have to prove to us that you understand when we ask, who is the President of the United States, we want you to say, ‘Ronald Reagan’".

So, consequently, Mr. Reagan did call me and wish me success in everything and so when I finished with the surgery and the anesthesiologist called me, "Dr. A., wake up…," I knew and I heard them the first time, but I knew that I would have to spend the rest of my life, from my meager earnings and savings, paying them for such an operation, so I just caused them some anxiety.

They had to call me the second time. "Dr. A., wake up…" and I said, "I love Jesus, I love Jesus, I love Jesus." And they said, "Dr. A., don’t say another word, because you are running your blood pressure off the cuff." What I was thought to be did not happen. I was to have a black eye and I was to have to be kept in intensive care for five to six days. But the next morning I was awakened and I had a full breakfast — bacon and eggs, juice and coffee and they said, "Now we are going to get you out of here, because you are doing fine." And I called my wife over at the Hopkins Inn and she said, "Oh, Ralph, why are you — are you still perking and kicking…?" And I said, "I am back in my room at Johns Hopkins Hospital." And she said, "I cannot believe it, they said that you would be there four to five days in intensive care." But God was good to me and God be the Glory, he is due all the praise and people across this nation had fasted and prayed for me and my family and Juanita is a very, very, lovely wife and I am proud that she is the mother of my four, lovely children. She is a great woman and she is a woman of great intellect. And she is just — I love her.

LAMB: In the book, we have a picture here that the audience will see of your family, when was this taken?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that was taken, I guess, a couple of years ago.

LAMB: Can you tell us who is your daughter here?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that is Donzalae. Donzalae Abernathy is married to George Bosley and George Bosley is a high school — not high school — but college school mate, who majored in the movie industry also. Donzalae is an actress. She maintains her name Abernathy. She is married to a young white man but she is dedicated to the family. She is the second of our two daughters.

LAMB: This daughter right here?

ABERNATHY: That is Donzalae.

LAMB: And you say that she is married to a white man?

ABERNATHY: Yes, uh huh…

LAMB: Would you tell us the story that you tell in the book about the marriage itself?

ABERNATHY: Well, it is just a very, very comical thing. The church holds about 2,500 people and the marriage was scheduled for 11 o’clock and it was thought that George’s mother had a heart attack the previous evening and it turned out that she just had some gas pains or something like that but she was in the hospital. George was to go by and let her check him out and see his tuxedo, and he neglected — as young people will do — to call the church and be in contact with me and I thought that he might have stood up my daughter.

LAMB: How late was he?

ABERNATHY: He was about 45 minutes late.

LAMB: So you had a church full of 2,500 people?

ABERNATHY: Yes, yes and they were waiting and Father Jim Nickie from Chicago, Illinois, the Chaplain of the O’Hare Airport, had been invited to assist me in marrying my daughter and I was to marry her, but certainly he was to assist me and I had him go out and assure the people that George was running late and finally, George came. What a relief it was for me.

LAMB: All right, in this picture, in addition to Donzalae you have another daughter and let’s see on the screen please … Who is this daughter?

ABERNATHY: This daughter is Wandalynn. Wandalynn is our oldest daughter. She lives in West Germany as she is an opera singer. She sang at the wedding of Donzalae. She is not married. I chided recently about being able to see one of my grandchildren before passing on to the other side, my new home. And she said, "Oh, daddy, I am not married." And I said, "I would like to see some of my grandchildren." And she said, "Well, what about a surrogate, grandchild?" And I said, "Oh, no, no, I want the real thing. I want a real Abernathy."

LAMB: You have more children here in this picture, two sons, right here. Who are they?

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is Quamaylatuli, an 18-year-old student Williams College in Massachusetts now and Ralph David Abernathy III. He is a member of the State Legislature in Georgia.

LAMB: Ralph David Abernathy, our guest and the name of the book is "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down." Where did you get the title?

ABERNATHY: Well, I just thought about it and finally concluded to use the old spiritual .. the battle is Jericho, Jericho. "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down."

LAMB: Did you write this yourself or did you have help?

ABERNATHY: No, no, I wrote it myself. Naturally, I had editorial assistance, suggestions and I had research person who checked out the dates for accuracy and assisted me in reading and grammar and spelling of words and so forth but it is my writing, my story, my words."And the Walls Came Tumbling Down".

LAMB: How did you write it? Did you write it on a typewriter, long hand or a computer, or how?

ABERNATHY: Sometimes I wrote it on a legal pad, in long hand and I used to talk into a tape recording machine and the secretary would lift it from there and I would use various means. No I cannot operate a computer. I was not blessed with any such skills. I had to deal with the talking into a tape recorder or writing it in long hand. And I have my own type of short hand. You know, you have to write when you feel like writing, are inspired to write. I have to write my sermons like that So often my wife says to me, "You know, Ralph, if you complete your sermon and then we can go out to a party or visit some friends but you don’t write." I don’t write like that. I have to wait for the moment of inspiration to come. And I can work, work and work and work and work long hours way until the wee hours of the morning. Often I sit up all night long.

LAMB: Did you write totally from memory or had you kept notes over the years?

ABERNATHY: I had kept notes over the years but mainly memory. As I acknowledged in the introduction, the Bible was written by many, many inspired men of God. But the life of Jesus is recorded in what is referred to as the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And they give the life, the verse, the crucifixion, and the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they all tell it in a different day and I wrote it from my perspective. And I told it to the best of my ability. And memory sometimes fail. But I had a person to check me on accurate dates, especially the New York Times.

LAMB: There are 638 pages including the index in this book. And as you well know, three pages out of this book have been the focus of attention. The night before Martin Luther King was murdered. Are you surprised that only those three pages have been the subject of all the attention for this book?

ABERNATHY: Greatly surprised and disappointed.

LAMB: Why?

ABERNATHY: Because to me it is only jealousy. I didn’t ask anybody if I could write my autobiography. It is my story. The story of my life. And you would believe it was the story of the life of my dearest buddy and friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And so it is not his story, but it is my story. And the second reason why I am surprised — they took these four pages and created a controversy. And they sent me a telegram and tried to get me to retract, falsely accused me of not having written the book, and demanding that I withdraw. Tell the publisher "repudiate this book." And I said to her, "I cannot do that." And I went to Memphis on my first tour in promoting the book. And so when I got there, upon arrival at the Peabody Hotel, this young man from the commercial appeal on the newspaper …

LAMB: In Memphis?

ABERNATHY: … in Memphis, was there. And he was a black young man and he said, "Dr. Abernathy I need to see you and ask you some questions." And naturally I didn’t want to talk to him but he said, "It’s very, very urgent." And I went up and checked in and went up to the room and came back to talk with him and he told me that the Associated Press had received a telegram and that had been sent to me from The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. I thought that was very, very unfortunate because The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change is being very, very violent.

These people had not come to see me at all. Only the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Jesse Hill, had come to see me. And he came not reaching me, keeping me standing all day that Saturday and all day that Sunday. And on the Sunday brought a dear friend of mine who signed the telegram and he just left on the message box of my wife’s telephone that I should look under the door because they had left a message for me, the copy that of the telegram that I would be receiving. And so I didn’t. It was piercing and strong –telling me to repudiate it and I talked to Dr. Kilgore and to him the next morning and Dr. Kilgore was in very, very unique position because he had enough love for me and my family and enough love for Dr. King Jr. and his family. He loved and supported both of us. He was now in North Carolina and Jesse Hill hooked me into Dr. King, Dr. Kilgore, and we talked, we talked, we talked and we prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed and I agreed to receive calls from Lerome Bennett and from Bob Johnson, the editor of Jet magazine in Chicago and the editor of Ebony magazine, since they were learned in that field of publication.

And the next time I heard from Mr. Hill he was telling me or telling my wife that he had received a message that I was supposed to answer that I was supposed to give in response to. And Lerome Bennett never called me. Bob Johnson never called me. And I didn’t dignify what they were trying to say to me. If they wanted to reach me my telephone is listed. The only black leader, national black leader in the country. I have a listed telephone and you can look in the telephone directory and see the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and you can look in the telephone book under the Mary Kay Cosmetic Section, Business Section and my wife’s telephone is listed, Mrs. Juanita Odessa Jones Abernathy. And so, I have always had the burning desire to be accessible to the poor people of this country and the poor people of this land.

LAMB: Why do you think that your friends, and there are a lot of people that are well known — Jesse Jackson was in that — I assumed signed that telegram and others. Why do they feel that strongly about you publishing what you say is the truth about Martin Luther King?

ABERNATHY: Well, I don’t know you would have to ask them. I cannot answer that question.

LAMB: They help sales. Are you selling more books because of all of the controversy?

ABERNATHY: No, I don’t know, I have not been in contact with the Harper & Row. I just heard that they have ordered some more books, but I do not know how the sales of the books are going and whether they are helping or hurting. I just don’t know.

LAMB: What do you think of the way that the media has treated you, the interviews that you have they been fair?

ABERNATHY: No, a lot of people ask me the same old questions, there it goes again, the same question, over and over again. And Bryant Gumble from NBC, my brother, who is my hero, March Arden, long for him to have the host of the Today Show, and he, one week prior to my appearance on NBC, had come to Atlanta and taped in the interview with me and had not even mentioned anything about Martin Luther King womanizing or anything but he wanted me to come to New York last Friday and I went to New York and I told him, you know, "Why come to Atlanta and ask me nothing about these pages?" And nobody had to ask me anything about Martin Luther King’s womanizing and if they had been true, most people that read a book and buy a book, especially in the black community, they stop long before 435 pages. They don’t read that far but they created a controversy.

LAMB: Why did you fly all the way to New York to sit down with Bryant Gumble on the Today Show? Did he tell you what he was going to do, that he wanted to ask you about those pages before you flew up there?

ABERNATHY: No, he did not tell me that. I was scheduled to go to New York and to sign books and promote the book for Harper & Row. When I got there, just as I am in Washington today, I was invited to appear on your show, and so I was invited to appear on Phil Donahue’s Show. My wife and I were both on the show and bell hooks was on that show, Roy Ennis was on that show with us and the four of us dealt with Mr. Donahue the same day. And Jose Williams was invited and I understand that he had called me the Judas of the movement, and Jose Williams had always supported me across the years and he had brought 30 pieces of silver and Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, "Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top." "Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan", "And I want freedom for all Americans." And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue.

I wanted to tell the story, where my book would have validity and not be thrown out by historians because they would say that he has been dishonest in not talking about the life of Martin Luther King to it’s fullest extent, so if he lies about one thing, looks over one side of the picture, the book is no good. I wanted it to be an honest and truthful book and I told nothing but the truth, so help me God. I am not a criminal and I challenge anybody to prove that the things that I said was not true in that book.

LAMB: Right after this book was published and right after the Memphis appeal reporter and the AP and all started writing about that four pages, the first thing that we read was that you had a couple of strokes and had brain surgery and that something was wrong — and that was why you put it in here, and did not quite know what you were doing. And then after another series of stories, we read that Bernard Lee, who was written about as the only other man with you that night, I believe, before. Is that correct?

ABERNATHY: Yes …

LAMB: Bernard Lee is out here in Lorton Prison as a chaplain …

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is right.

LAMB: …but then you hear Bernard Lee being quoted as saying that you were intoxicated that night.

ABERNATHY: Well, Bernard Lee is quoted as saying that he is the assistant pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church …

LAMB: Where you were?

ABERNATHY: And I, where I am today and Bernard Lee has never assisted me as pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church, so he told an untruth. I have never been a drinking man. I have never desired even a strong — a Coca-Cola is too strong for me and it burns my throat and I have never needed caffeine to wake me up. I have never been a smoker and I have never been a coffee drinker, even if it is decaffeinated coffee. They said that I have had two massive strokes and I have had brain surgery, but thanks be to God, you can ask me any question about what happened in the Movement. I was there and they were not there. I was there and I can give you an accurate account of what happened because I was there and I was alive and I was awake and I have never been drunk.

LAMB: One last question on this particular thing — Why have your former friends, or you may call them still your friends, worked so hard at trying to discredit you? What will be — after the dust clears on this — what is the effect of trying to discredit you?

ABERNATHY: Well, I really don’t know, for my so-called friends. First they are so-called friends because they didn’t come to see me out of the 25-30 people that signed that telegram. Many of them I do not even know and, consequently, only, I guess two people came to see me while I had these so called massive strokes. Now, I am not paralyzed. A massive stroke leaves an individual paralyzed or the mouth disfigured, or something like that. I have all of my thinking faculties and my memory. I talk slow and I am not — the wear and tear of the 63 years of my life has taken it’s toll on me — but I have been on this show.You told me when I came in that I came in here with the understanding that I was to talk to you for 45 minutes and you told me an hour and I am going an hour and I can go two hours, because I am an honest man and if you expect me to talk to you an hour, I will talk to you two hours if necessary.

Jesus says that when any man requires of you to walk one mile with him, walk two miles with him and that meant in my estimation, the one mile is required, but when you start walking the second mile, he is embarrassed and he starts loving you and being kind to you. And Jesus was a non-violent personality, but Jesus became violent on one occasion when he ran the people out of the temple because they were misusing his house. Martin Luther King shoved a woman across the bed the next day because he lost his temper. People are just people, human beings are mortal feeble beings and the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh of which he spoke about.

I could call you a list of people. I am staying at the Jefferson Hotel, but Thomas Jefferson had made some mistakes also. The father of our nation, George Washington had made mistakes, the slave girls talked about his affairs. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt — I don’t propose to know and be able to talk about these people and I do not speak of them in this book but I do speak of my friend, Martin Luther King Jr. and he would want me to tell it like it is and be honest and truthful and I am not trying to hurt Mrs. King because she knows it is public knowledge.

J. Edgar Hoover had revealed Martin Luther King’s lifestyle and in the book I tell of visits that I had made on his behalf and I am not trying to tell the children, his lovely children, of anything about that day because I love those children and they call me Uncle Ralph and they cited to me in the telegram that the Uncle Ralph I know would not do this. Yet, they do all kinds of things, including sending me mail to my house where they invite not my wife to the birthday celebration of Mahatma Ghandi. They are just always trying to ignore and re-write history.

If you go to the King’s Center on the marches and demonstrations and if you go to the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, you will see pictures of me and Martin marching together and that somebody has cropped me off. They have decided that I am not going to fill my rightful place in history and, if they have the power to broad out my having been there by the side of Martin Luther King, they are willing. They have my permission to try to block me out because I came as Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to free the captives to set liberty to those of the blues and to proclaim the acceptable year of the law. I have been talking to you all this time and have not even taken a drink of water from this lovely cup that I am going to take and put in a loftily place, signifying that I was here today.

LAMB: Let me ask you, and we are about out of time. Your chapter headings are Atlanta, Albany, Birmingham, St. Augustine, Selma, Chicago, Memphis, Charleston, Martin Luther King Jr., and then you have a chapter heading Jesse Jackson. Now let me read to you the last paragraph that you wrote about Jesse Jackson in this chapter."Yet I have supported him twice in his bid for Presidency…" – I assume that is 1984 and 1988?

ABERNATHY: That is right.

LAMB: "… And I suspect that I will support him again if he chooses to run. Over the years I have come to love and admire Jesse in part because he has matured into a great leader, in part because he has been so supportive of me." You go on to write though in the book, or you wrote before that in the book, about the night that Martin Luther King was killed and the story that we have looked at many times since then — was Jesse Jackson there and did he cradle Martin Luther King his arms? And you talk about how close you were to him, and that Jesse Jackson. — I haven’t got the quotes here right in front of me — was nowhere around right after the shot was fired. How much admiration is there from Jesse Jackson to you? And after this episode, where he has denounced you in what you said here, do you think that you will still support him the next time that he runs for President?

ABERNATHY: Jesse Jackson is a good man and he has shown amazing growth in his maturity as we all. He was young then but he did not cradle Martin Luther King. He was down in the Courtyard and his first reaction was to call Mrs. King and notify her that he had been shot. But I rushed to the side of Martin Luther King and I cradled him in my arms and Bernard Lee, I want you to ask him — didn’t I and he commit civil disobedience and stay in the operating room and the doctor came over and said to me that it would be an act of mercy if God took him because he would be a vegetable. He would be paralyzed from his neck down. And I want you to ask Jose Williams, where did Jesse Jackson get that blood from — the man that called me the Jesus and the man that has supported me all of these years. And I have never done anything but try to tell the truth and try to be with Martin Luther King in all of his efforts while he was alive and lived in Resurrection City, right here in Washington D.C. and built the Resurrection City and stayed in the Movement — trying to keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive of exposing poverty in this nation.

LAMB: What is your favorite chapter, we just have a minute left, of all the chapters?

ABERNATHY: Oh, my favorite chapter is the chapter Little David, the first chapter in the book, because I just love, I just love my daddy. Upon birth when I was delivered by my maternal grandmother, Ellen Bell, he came home and made my name Little David and I regret that fact that my sister later added Ralph, because Ralph does not have much meaning but I love the name David. I was a Little David, like the goal I faced and I was able to do much, much to help Martin Luther King realize his dreams and my dreams and the dreams of all black people in this country.

LAMB: Our guest for the last hour has been Ralph David Abernathy and this is the book. "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," an autobiography. Thank you for being with us.

ABERNATHY: Thank you so very, very kindly.

Voir aussi:

I have a Deram or Dream

By IHaveaDERam

CNN (unvetted)

August 2, 2009

Forty years after his death, the popularity of Martin Luther King remains extraordinary. He is perhaps the single most praised person in American history, and millions adore him as a hero and almost a saint. The federal government has made space available on the Mall in Washington for a national monument for King, not far from Lincoln’s. Only four men in American history have national monuments: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt; and now King will make five.

King is the only American who enjoys the nation’s highest honor of having a national holiday on his birthday. There are other days of remembrance such as Presidents’ Day, but no one else but Jesus Christ is recognized with a similar holiday. Does King deserve such honors? Much that has been known to scholars for years—but largely unknown to most Americans—suggests otherwise.

Plagiarism

As a young man, King started plagiarizing the work of others and he continued this practice throughout his career.

At Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1951, many of his papers contained material lifted verbatim and without acknowledgement from published sources. An extensive project started at Stanford University in 1984 to publish all of King’s papers tracked down the original sources for these early papers and concluded that his academic writings are “tragically flawed by numerous instances of plagiarism.” Journalist Theodore Pappas, who has also reviewed the collection, found one paper showing “verbatim theft” in 20 of a total of 24 paragraphs. He writes:

“King’s plagiarisms are easy to detect because their style rises above the level of his pedestrian student prose. In general, if the sentences are eloquent, witty, insightful, or pithy, or contain allusions, analogies, metaphors, or similes, it is safe to assume that the section has been purloined.”

King also plagiarized himself, recycling old term papers as new ones. Some of his professors complained about sloppy references, but they seem to have had no idea how extensively he was stealing material, and his habits were well established by the time he entered the PhD program at Boston University. King plagiarized one-third of his 343-page dissertation, the book-length project required to earn a PhD, leading some to say he should be stripped of his doctoral degree. Mr. Pappas explains that King’s plagiarism was a lifelong habit:

“King’s Nobel Prize Lecture was plagiarized extensively from works by Florida minister J. Wallace Hamilton; the sections on Gandhi and nonviolence in his ‘Pilgrimage’ speech were taken virtually verbatim from Harris Wofford’s speech on the same topic; the frequently replayed climax to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech—the ‘from every mountainside, let freedom ring’ portion—came from a 1952 address to the Republican National Convention by a black preacher named Archibald Carey; and the 1968 sermon in which King prophesied his martyrdom was based on works by J. Wallace Hamilton and Methodist minister Harold Bosley.”

Perhaps King had no choice but to use the words of others. Mr. Pappas has found that on the Graduate Record Exam, King “scored in the second-lowest quartile in English and vocabulary, in the lowest ten percent in quantitative analysis, and in the lowest third on his advanced test in philosophy.”

Adultery

King lived a double life. During the day, he would speak to large crowds, quoting Scripture and invoking God’s will, and at night he frequently had sex with women from the audience. “King’s habits of sexual adventure had been well established by the time he was married,” says Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University, a King admirer. He notes that King often “told lewd jokes,” “shared women with friends,” and was “sexually reckless.” According to King biographer Taylor Branch, during a long party on the night of January 6 and 7, 1964, an FBI bugging device recorded King’s “distinctive voice ring out above others with pulsating abandon, saying, ‘I’m f***ing for God!’”

Sex with single and married women continued after King married, and on the night before his death, King had two adulterous trysts. His first rendezvous was at a woman’s house, the second in a hotel room. The source for this was his best friend and second-in-command, Ralph Abernathy, who noted that the second woman was “a member of the Kentucky legislature,” now known to be Georgia Davis Powers.

Abernathy went on to say that a third woman was also looking for King that same night, but found his bed empty. She knew his habits and was angry when they met later that morning. In response, writes Abernathy, King “lost his temper” and “knocked her across the bed. … She leapt up to fight back, and for a moment they were engaged in a full-blown fight, with [King] clearly winning.” A few hours later, King ate lunch with Abernathy and discussed the importance of nonviolence for their movement.

To other colleagues, King justified his adultery this way: “I’m away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. F***ing’s a form of anxiety reduction.” King had many one-night stands but also grew close to one of his girlfriends in a relationship that became, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Garrow, “the emotional centerpiece of King’s life.” Still, sex with other women remained “a commonplace of King’s travels.”

In private, King could be extremely crude. On one FBI recording, King said to Abernathy in what was no doubt a teasing remark, “Come on over here, you big black motherf***er, and let me suck your d**k.” FBI sources told Taylor Branch about a surveillance tape of King watching a televised rerun of the Kennedy funeral. When he saw the famous moment when Jacqueline Kennedy knelt with her children before her dead husband’s coffin, King reportedly sneered, “Look at her. Sucking him off one last time.”

Despite his obsession with sex and his betrayal of his own wife and children, and despite Christianity’s call for fidelity, King continued to claim the moral authority of a Baptist minister.

Whites

King stated that the “vast majority of white Americans are racist” and that they refused to share power. His solution was to redistribute wealth and power through reparations for slavery and racial quotas:

“No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries. Not all the wealth of this affluent society could meet the bill. Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. … The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement.” Continued King, “Moral justification for such measures for Negroes is rooted in the robberies inherent in the institution of slavery.” He named his plan the Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged. Some poor whites would also receive compensation because they were “derivative victims of slavery,” but the welfare of blacks was his central focus.

King has been praised, even by conservatives, as the great advocate of color-blindness. They focus too narrowly on one sentence in his “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he said he wanted to live in a nation “where [my children] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The truth is that King wanted quotas for blacks. “[I]f a city has a 30 percent Negro population,” King reasoned, “then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30 percent of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas.”

One of King’s greatest achievements is said to have been passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the signing ceremony on July 2, he stood directly behind President Lyndon Johnson as a key guest. The federal agency created by the act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, now monitors hiring practices and ensures that King’s desires for racial preferences are met.

Like liberals today, King denied racial differences. In a reply to an interviewer who told him many Southern whites thought racial differences were a biological fact, he replied:

“This utterly ignorant fallacy has been so thoroughly refuted by the social scientists, as well as by medical science, that any individual who goes on believing it is standing in an absolutely misguided and diminishing circle. The American Anthropological Association has unanimously adopted a resolution repudiating statements that Negroes are biologically, in innate mental ability or in any other way inferior to whites.”

The conclusions to be drawn from his belief in across-the-board equality were clear: failure by blacks to achieve at the level of whites could be explained only by white oppression. As King explained in one interview, “I think we have to honestly admit that the problems in the world today, as they relate to the question of race, must be blamed on the whole doctrine of white supremacy, the whole doctrine of racism, and these doctrines came into being through the white race and the exploitation of the colored peoples of the world.” King predicted that “if the white world” does not stop this racism and oppression, “then we can end up in the world with a kind of race war.”

Communism

In his public speeches, King never called himself a communist, instead claiming to stand for a synthesis of capitalism and communism: “[C]apitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is individual. Truth is found neither in the rugged individualism of capitalism nor in the impersonal collectivism of communism. The Kingdom of God is found in a synthesis that combines the truths of these two opposites.”

However, David Garrow found that in private King “made it clear to close friends that economically speaking he considered himself what he termed a Marxist.” Mr. Garrow passes along an account of a conversation C.L.R. James, a Marxist intellectual, had with King: “King leaned over to me saying, ‘I don’t say such things from the pulpit, James, but that is what I really believe.’… King wanted me to know that he understood and accepted, and in fact agreed with, the ideas that I was putting forward—ideas which were fundamentally Marxist-Leninist. … I saw him as a man whose ideas were as advanced as any of us on the Left, but who, as he actually said to me, could not say such things from the pulpit. … King was a man with clear ideas, but whose position as a churchman, etc. imposed on him the necessity of reserve.” J. Pius Barbour, a close friend of King’s at seminary, agreed that he “was economically a Marxist.”

Some of King’s most influential advisors were Communists with direct ties to the Soviet Union. One was Stanley Levison, whom Mr. Garrow called King’s “most important political counselor” and “at Martin Luther King’s elbow.” He organized fundraisers for King, counseled him on tax issues and political strategy, wrote fundraising letters and his United Packinghouse Workers Convention speech, edited parts of his books, advised him on his first major national address, and prepped King for questions from the media. Coretta Scott King said of Levison that he was “[a]lways working in the background, his contribution has been indispensable,” and Mr. Garrow says the association with Levison was “without a doubt King’s closest friendship with a white person.”

What were Levison’s political views? John Barron is the author of Operation SOLO, which is about “the most vital intelligence operation the FBI ever had sustained against the Soviet Union.” Part of its work was to track Levison who, according to Mr. Barron, “gained admission into the inner circle of the communist underground” in the US. Mr. Garrow, a strong defender of King, admits that Levison was “one of the two top financiers” of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), which received about one million dollars a year from the Soviet Union. Mr. Garrow found that Levison was “directly involved in the Communist Party’s most sensitive financial dealings,” and acknowledged there was first-hand evidence of Levison’s “financial link to the Soviet Union.”

Hunter Pitts O’Dell, who was elected in 1959 to the national committee, the governing body for the CPUSA, was another party member who worked for King. According to FBI reports, Levison installed O’Dell as the head of King’s New York office, and later recommended that O’Dell be made King’s executive assistant in Atlanta.

King knew his associates were Communists. President Kennedy himself gave an “explicit personal order” to King advising against his “shocking association with Stanley Levison.” Once when he was walking privately with King in the White House Rose Garden, Kennedy also named O’Dell and said to King: “They’re Communists. You’ve got to get rid of them.”

The Communist connections help explain why Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorized the FBI to wiretap King’s home and office telephones in October 1963. Kennedy, like his brother John, was deeply sympathetic to King but also aware of the threat of communism.

Mr. Garrow tried to exonerate King of the charge of being a fellow traveler by arguing that Levison broke with the CPUSA while he worked for King, that is, from the time he met King in the summer of 1956 until King’s death in 1968. However, as historian Samuel Francis has pointed out, an official break with the CPUSA does not necessarily mean a break with the goals of communism or with the Soviet Union.

John Barron argues that if Levison had defected from the CPUSA and renounced communism, he would not have associated with former comrades, such as CP officials Lem Harris, Hunter Pitts O’Dell, and Roy Bennett (Levison’s twin brother who had changed his last name). He was also close to the highly placed KGB officer Victor Lessiovsky, who was an assistant to the head of the United Nations, U Thant.

Mr. Barron asks why Lessiovsky would “fritter away his time and risk his career … by repeatedly indulging himself in idle lunches or amusing cocktail conversation with an undistinguished lawyer [Levison] … who had nothing to offer the KGB, or with someone who had deserted the party and its discipline, or with someone about whom the KGB knew nothing? … And why would an ordinary American lawyer … meet, again and again, with a Soviet assistant to the boss of the United Nations?”

Other Communists who worked with King included Aubrey Williams, James Dombrowski, Carl Braden, William Melish, Ella J. Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Benjamin Smith. King also “associated and cooperated with a number of groups known to be CPUSA front organizations or to be heavily penetrated and influenced by members of the Communist Party”—for example, the Southern Conference Educational Fund; Committee to Secure Justice for Morton Sobell; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America; the National Lawyers Guild; and the Highlander Folk School.

The CPUSA clearly tried to influence King and his movement. An FBI report of May 6, 1960 from Jack Childs, one of the FBI’s most accomplished spies and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Intelligence, said that the CP “feels that it is definitely to the Party’s advantage to assign outstanding Party members to work with the [Martin] Luther King group. CP policy at the moment is to concentrate upon Martin Luther King.”

As Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina concluded in a Senate speech written by Francis, King’s alliance with Communists was evidence of “identified Communists … planning the influencing and manipulation of King for their own purposes.” At the same time, King relied on them for speech writing, fundraising, and raising public awareness. They, in turn, used his stature and fame to their own benefit. Senator Helms cited Congressman John M. Ashbrook, a ranking member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, who said: “King has consistently worked with Communists and has helped give them a respectability they do not deserve. I believe he has done more for the Communist Party than any other person of this decade.”

Christianity

King strongly doubted several core beliefs of Christianity. “I was ordained to the Christian ministry,” he claimed, but Stanford University’s online repository includes King’s seminary writings in which he disputed the full divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection, suggesting that we “strip them of their literal interpretation.”

Regarding the divine nature of Jesus, King wrote that Jesus was godlike, but not God. People called Jesus divine because they “found God in him” like a divinely inspired teacher, not because he literally was God, as Jesus himself claimed. On the Virgin Birth, King wrote:

“First we must admit that the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is to [sic] shallow to convince any objective thinker. How then did this doctrine arise? A clue to this inquiry may be found in a sentence from St. Justin’s First Apology. Here Justin states that the birth of Jesus is quite similar to the birth of the sons of Zeus. It was believed in Greek thought that an extraordinary person could only be explained by saying that he had a father who was more than human. It is probable that this Greek idea influenced Christian thought.”

Concerning the Resurrection, King wrote: “In fact the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting.” The early church, he says, formulated this doctrine because it “had been captivated by the magnetic power of his [Jesus’] personality. This basic experience led to the faith that he could never die. And so in the pre-scientific thought pattern of the first century, this inner faith took outward form.” Thus, in this view, Jesus’ body never rose from the dead, even though according to Scripture, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”

Two other essays show how King watered down Christianity. In one, he wrote that contemporary mystery religions influenced New Testament writers: “[A]fter being in contact with these surrounding religions and hearing certain doctrines expressed, it was only natural for some of these views to become part of their subconscious minds. … That Christianity did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied, but it was generally a natural and unconscious process rather than a deliberate plan of action.” In another essay, King wrote that liberal theology “was an attempt to bring religion up intellectually,” and the introduction to the paper at the Stanford website says that King was “scornful of fundamentalism.” King wrote that in fundamentalism the Trinity, the Atonement, and the Second Coming are “quite prominent,” but again, these are defining beliefs of Christianity.

Known and unknown

King is both known and unknown. Millions worldwide see him as a moral messiah, and American schools teach young children to praise him. In the United States there are no fewer than 777 streets named for him. But King is also unknown because only a few people are aware of the unsavory aspects of his life. The image most people have of King is therefore cropped and incomplete.

In the minds of many, King towers above other Americans as a distinguished orator and writer, but this short, 5’6½" man often stole the words of others. People believe he was a Christian, but he doubted some of the fundamentals of the faith. Our country honors King, but he worked closely with Communists who aimed to destroy it. He denied racial differences, but fought for racial favoritism in the form of quotas. He claimed to be for freedom, but he wanted to force people to associate with each other and he promoted the redistribution of wealth in the form of reparations for slavery. He quoted the ringing words of the Bible and claimed, as a preacher, to be striving to be more like Jesus, but his colleagues knew better.

Perhaps he, too, knew better. His closest political advisor, Stanley Levison, said King was “an intensely guilt-ridden man” and his wife Coretta also called him “a guilt-ridden man.” Levison said that the praise heaped upon King was “a continual series of blows to his conscience” because he was such a humble man. If King was guilt-ridden might it have been because he knew better than anyone the wide gap between his popular image and his true character?

The FBI surveillance files could throw considerable light on his true character, but they will not be made public until 2027. On January 31, 1977, as a result of lawsuits by King’s allies against the FBI, a US district judge ordered the files sealed for 50 years. There are reportedly 56 feet of records — tapes, transcripts, and logs — in the custody of the National Archives and Record Service.

Meanwhile, for those who seek to know the real identity of this nearly untouchable icon, there is still plenty of evidence with which to answer the question: Was Martin Luther King, Jr. America’s best and greatest man?

COMPLEMENT:

Why ‘I have a dream’ was and still is an exceptionally good speech

by JC Durbant

As a biographer of Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 speech recently said, a great speech is a speech that is “both timely and timeless”, that is a speech that is both adapted to the occasion and its immediate audience but also a speech that will stand the test of time. And ‘I have a dream’ obviously qualifies on both counts.

Timely because it appealed to and had a message for all the different types of audience that were then present, the over 200, 000 thousands who were physically there on Washington’s Mall and the probably millions who were listening in or watching at home on their radios or televisions. To the ordinary blacks who needed encouragement for the present and hope for the future (“we are not be satisfied”, “go back to Mississippi”) and the militant blacks who were tempted by the violent ways of Malcom X and the Black panthers (“discipline”, “dignity”). But also to the average whites and the largely white authorities who needed to understand the black population’s unacceptable condition and their responsibility in it as well as the white supremacists who needed to be shown blacks were just as American as they were and not the savages they portrayed them to be (“police brutality”, “lodging in motels and hotels”, “For Whites only signs”, the northern “ghettoes”, the “vote” question).

And timeless because it appealed to all that was then and still is sacred to all Americans. First by placing itself literally in the shadow of US history’s most respected president (the majestic Lincoln memorial but also the centennial of his Emancipation Proclamation which offered freedom to the South’s slaves willing to fight for it). But also by profusely and patriotically quoting from the founding texts of the nation: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (”unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”) as well as the old national anthem (“America, my country ‘tis of thee”) and the Liberty bell’s biblical motto (“proclaim liberty throughout the land”). And of course, not to mention the Gettysburg Address reference (“five score years ago”), the naming of all the major states and a Shakespeare half quote (“summer of discontent” from the opening of Richard III), from the Bible itself – King never let you forget he was a pastor – both directly (“justice rolls down like waters”, “every valley shall be exalted”) and through an old Negro spiritual (“Free at last”).

But both timely and timeless by the way Dr. King and his speechwriters so effectively made use of all the riches of eloquence and rhetoric. From the easy-to-remember anaphora and epistrophe (the famous “I have a dream” – which is also “deeply rooted” in the quintessential American dream – repeated no less than eight times, “now is the time”, “satisfied”, “let freedom ring”, “free at last”, “together”) to the biblical cadences and parallelisms. From the analogies, comparisons and metaphors to the alliterations, rhymes and rhetorical questions, not to mention the humor and irony (“bad check”, perhaps the only direct reference to the March’s original goal of jobs). And of course from King himself, the deep, powerful voice to inspire, build up emotion and win over both heads and hearts. Then, as the crowd’s cheering amply shows in the recording but also as the civil rights legislation and his Nobel prize proved the following year or just more recently his own national holiday and memorial in the nation’s capital. And still, fifty-one years later – and not just to Americans – under an African-American president, today.

I Have A Dream

Common, 2006

(I am happy…I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out

(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day) That one day

(That One Day) I’ma look deep within myself

(I Have a Dream) I gotta find a way…

My Dream Is To Be Free

In search of brighter days, I ride through the maze of the madness,

Struggle is my address, where pain and crack lives,

Gunshots comin’ from sounds of Blackness,

Given this game with no time to practice,

Born on the Black list, told I’m below average,

A life with no cabbage,

That’s no money if you from where I’m from,

Funny, I just want some of your sun

Dark clouds seem to follow me,

Alcohol that my pops swallowed bottled me,

No apology, I walk with a boulder on my shoulder,

It’s a Cold War – I’m a colder soldier,

Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King,

I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing,

In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes,

I put together pieces of a Dream

I still have one

Chorus

The world’s seen me lookin’ in the mirror,

Images of me, gettin’ much clearer,

Dear Self, I wrote a letter just to better my soul,

If I don’t express it then forever I’ll hold, inside

I’m from a side where we out of control,

Rap music in the ‘hood played a fatherly role,

My story’s like yours, yo it gotta be told,

Tryna make it from a gangsta to a godlier role,

Read scrolls and stow slaves,

And Jewish people in cold cage,

Hate has no color or age, flip the page,

Now my rage became freedom,

Writin’ dreams in the dark, they far but I can see ‘em,

I believe in Heaven more than Hell,

Blessings more than jail,

In the ghetto let love prevail,

With a story to tell, my eyes see the glory and well,

The world waitin’ for me to yell "I Have a Dream


Obama: Pire président du siècle ? (Worst president in a hundred years ? – even Carter and Nixon did better !)

29 novembre, 2013
Photo : OBAMA: WORST IN A HUNDRED YEARS ? (even Carter and Nixon did better !)Rankings released by YouGov/Economist show that Ronald Reagan is viewed as the greatest president of the last 100 years, while Obama is viewed as the "biggest failure."The poll asked respondents "to rate each president [since Theodore Roosevelt] in six categories: great, near great, average, below average, failure, and don't know."Results showed that Reagan bested Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a tight race for the top spot. 32 percent of the respondents categorized Reagan as "great," while 31 percent labeled FDR "great" and 30 percent chose JFK.When it came to ranking presidents viewed to be a "failure," Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon fared better than Obama. Of those polled, 22 percent of respondents rated Carter a "failure," while 30 percent gave that same ranking to Nixon. But Obama took first place at the bottom of the list, with 37 percent of respondents choosing him as the biggest "failure" of all. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/26/Presidential-Poll-Reagan-The-Best-Obama-The-Worst-In-Last-100-Yearshttp://today.yougov.com/news/2013/11/22/poll-results-presidents/I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.MLKIf Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.Geraldine Ferraro http://jcdurbant.wordpress.com/2009/12/12/presidence-obama-le-droit-detre-aussi-nuls-que-certains-blancs-he-had-a-dream-we-got-a-nightmare/http://jcdurbant.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/presidentielle-americaine-pas-la-couleur-de-leur-peau-mais-la-nature-de-leur-caractere-judged-not-by-the-color-of-their-skin-but-by-the-content-of-their-character/http://www.la-croix.com/var/bayard/storage/images/lacroix/actualite/france/la-france-va-t-elle-si-mal-2013-11-18-1062460/francois_hollande_record_d_impopularite_23823_hd/36462839-1-fre-FR/francois_hollande_record_d_impopularite_23823_hd_lacroix_large.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510E0uz5dRL.jpgCe qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme. René Girard
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
Le gouvernement est autorisé de manière unilatérale à empêcher tout élément, qu’il soit spirituel ou matériel, qui constituerait une menace à ses intérêts (…) pour l’islam, les exigences du gouvernement remplacent tous les autres aspects, y compris même la prière, le jeûne et le pèlerinage à la Mecque. Khomeini (1988)
La République islamique sera fondée sur la liberté d’expression et luttera contre toute forme de censure. Khomeyni (Entretien avec Reuters, le 26 octobre 1978.)
Tout ce que vous avez entendu concernant la condition féminine dans la République islamique n’est qu’une propagande hostile. (Dans le futur gouvernement), les femmes seront complètement libres, dans leur éducation et dans tout ce qu’elles feront, tout comme les hommes. Khomeyni (Entretien accordé à un groupe de reporters allemands à Paris, le 12 novembre 1978.)
En 1978, Foucault trouva de telles forces transgressives dans le personnage révolutionnaire de l’ayatollah Khomeiny et des millions de gens qui risquaient la mort en le suivant dans sa Révolution. Il savait que des expériences aussi «limites» pouvaient conduire à de nouvelles formes de créativité et il lui donna son soutien avec ardeur. Janet Afary et Kevin B. Anderson
La révolution iranienne fut en quelque sorte la version islamique et tiers-mondiste de la contre-culture occidentale. Il serait intéressant de mettre en exergue les analogies et les ressemblances que l’on retrouve dans le discours anti-consommateur, anti-technologique et anti-moderne des dirigeants islamiques de celui que l’on découvre chez les protagonistes les plus exaltés de la contre-culture occidentale. Daryiush Shayegan (Les Illusions de l’identité, 1992)
Je rêve que mes quatre petits enfants vivront un jour dans un pays où on ne les jugera pas à la couleur de leur peau mais à la nature de leur caractère. Martin Luther King
Si Obama était blanc, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Et s’il était une femme, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Il a beaucoup de chance d’être ce qu’il est. Et le pays est pris par le concept. Geraldine Ferraro
Ce qui rendait Obama unique, c’est qu’il était le politicien charismatique par excellence – le plus total inconnu à jamais accéder à la présidence aux Etats-Unis. Personne ne savait qui il était, il sortait de nulle part, il avait cette figure incroyable qui l’a catapulté au-dessus de la mêlée, il a annihilé Hillary, pris le contrôle du parti Démocrate et est devenu président. C’est vraiment sans précédent : un jeune inconnu sans histoire, dossiers, associés bien connus, auto-créé. Il y avait une bonne volonté énorme, même moi j’étais aux anges le jour de l’élection, quoique j’aie voté contre lui et me sois opposé à son élection. C’était rédempteur pour un pays qui a commencé dans le péché de l’esclavage de voir le jour, je ne croyais pas personnellement le voir jamais de mon vivant, quand un président noir serait élu. Certes, il n’était pas mon candidat. J’aurais préféré que le premier président noir soit quelqu’un d’idéologiquement plus à mon goût, comme par exemple Colin Powell (que j’ai encouragé à se présenter en 2000) ou Condoleezza Rice. Mais j’étais vraiment fier d’être Américain à la prestation de serment. Je reste fier de ce succès historique. (…) il s’avère qu’il est de gauche, non du centre-droit à la manière de Bill Clinton. L’analogie que je donne est qu’en Amérique nous jouons le jeu entre les lignes des 40 yards, en Europe vous jouez tout le terrain d’une ligne de but à l’autre. Vous avez les partis communistes, vous avez les partis fascistes, nous, on n’a pas ça, on a des partis très centristes. Alors qu’ Obama veut nous pousser aux 30 yards, ce qui pour l’Amérique est vraiment loin. Juste après son élection, il s’est adressé au Congrès et a promis en gros de refaire les piliers de la société américaine — éducation, énergie et soins de santé. Tout ceci déplacerait l’Amérique vers un Etat de type social-démocrate européen, ce qui est en dehors de la norme pour l’Amérique. (…) Obama a mal interprété son mandat. Il a été élu six semaines après un effondrement financier comme il n’y en avait jamais eu en 60 ans ; après huit ans d’une présidence qui avait fatigué le pays; au milieu de deux guerres qui ont fait que le pays s’est opposé au gouvernement républicain qui nous avait lancé dans ces guerres; et contre un adversaire complètement inepte, John McCain. Et pourtant, Obama n’a gagné que par 7 points. Mais il a cru que c’était un grand mandat général et qu’il pourrait mettre en application son ordre du jour social-démocrate. (…) sa vision du monde me semble si naïve que je ne suis même pas sûr qu’il est capable de développer une doctrine. Il a la vision d’un monde régulé par des normes internationales auto-suffisantes, où la paix est gardée par un certain genre de consensus international vague, quelque chose appelé la communauté internationale, qui pour moi est une fiction, via des agences internationales évidemment insatisfaisantes et sans valeur. Je n’éleverais pas ce genre de pensée au niveau d’ une doctrine parce que j’ai trop de respect pour le mot de doctrine. (…) Peut-être que quand il aboutira à rien sur l’Iran, rien sur la Corée du Nord, quand il n’obtiendra rien des Russes en échange de ce qu’il a fait aux Polonais et aux Tchèques, rien dans les négociations de paix au Moyen-Orient – peut-être qu’à ce moment-là, il commencera à se demander si le monde fonctionne vraiment selon des normes internationales, le consensus et la douceur et la lumière ou s’il repose sur la base de la puissance américaine et occidentale qui, au bout du compte, garantit la paix. (…) Henry Kissinger a dit une fois que la paix peut être réalisée seulement de deux manières : l’hégémonie ou l’équilibre des forces. Ca, c’est du vrai réalisme. Ce que l’administration Obama prétend être du réalisme est du non-sens naïf. Charles Krauthammer (oct. 2009)
Selon un sondage publié par YouGov/économiste, Ronald Reagan est perçu comme le plus grand président des 100 dernières années, même si Obama est considéré comme le « plus grand échec ». Le sondage demandait aux répondants "de coter chaque Président [depuis Theodore Roosevelt] dans six catégories : grand, près de grand, moyen, inférieur à la moyenne, échec et ne sais pas." Les résultats ont montré que Reagan a battu Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) et John F. Kennedy (JFK) dans une course serrée pour la première place. 32 % des répondants catégorisé Reagan comme « grand », tandis que 31 pour cent étiqueté FDR « grand » et 30 % ont choisi JFK. Quant aux classement des présidents perçus comme des "échecs", Jimmy Carter et Richard Nixon ont fait mieux qu’ Obama. Pour 22% des répondants,  Carter était un "échec", tandis que 30% attribuait le même qualificatif à Nixon. Mais c’est Obama qui a pris la première place au bas de la liste, avec 37 % des personnes interrogées le choisissant comme le plus grand "échec" de tous. Charles Breitbart
Jamais un président de la République n’avait suscité autant de mécontentements. Avec 20 % de satisfaits et 79 % de mécontents dans le dernier baromètre Ifop-JDD, François Hollande bat le record d’impopularité d’un chef de l’État détenu jusque-là par François Mitterrand. La Croix
Les lamentations sur ce qui est advenu de la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient passent à côté de l’essentiel.  Le plus remarquable concernant la diplomatie du président Obama dans la région, c’est qu’elle est revenue au point de départ – jusqu’au début de sa présidence. La promesse d’ "ouverture"  vers l’Iran, l’indulgence envers la tyrannie de Bashar Assad en Syrie, l’abandon des gains américains en Irak et le malaise systématique à l’égard d’Israël — tels étaient les traits distinctifs de l’approche du nouveau président en politique étrangère. A présent, nous ne faisons qu’assister aux conséquences alarmantes d’une perspective aussi malavisée que naïve. Fouad Ajami

Pire président du siècle ?

Alors qu’après un an à peine de sa réélection et au lendemain d’un prétendu accord, digne de Münich, avec les autocrates iraniens …

Un sondage place le Kennedy noir (qui a certes encore 100 ans pour se racheter – Reagan lui-même actuellement au pinacle de la popularité était loin de l’être à la fin de son deuxième mandat) …

Au rang de plus mauvais président américain du siècle (même Clinton et Nixon font mieux !) ..

Pendant qu’en comparaison, au 50e anniversaire de son assassinat, le vrai président Kennedy apparait plus que jamais pour le centriste qu’il était réellement …

Et qu’en France notre Obama blanc à nous en rajoute chaque jour un peu plus (jusqu’à, crise en début de mandat oblige, être réélu en 2017?) dans son incroyable gémellité

Comment ne pas être frappé avec le politologue libano-américain Fouad Ajami …

Tant de la remarquable cohérence de l’approche même qui avait dès le départ fait son charme et son élection …

Que, face à la redoutable sophistication de l’islamisme actuel, l’incroyable naïveté de ladite approche ?

A Lawyer Lost in a Region of Thugs

Obama’s foreign policy has been consistent from its first day: Let us reason together.

Fouad Ajami

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 23, 2013

Lamentations about what has become of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East miss the point. The remarkable thing about President Obama’s diplomacy in the region is that it has come full circle—to the very beginning of his presidency. The promised "opening" to Iran, the pass given to Bashar Assad’s tyranny in Syria, the abdication of the American gains in Iraq and a reflexive unease with Israel—these were hallmarks of the new president’s approach to foreign policy.

Now we are simply witnessing the alarming consequences of such a misguided, naïve outlook.

Consider this bit of euphoria from a senior Obama administration official after the Oct. 16-17 negotiations in Geneva with the Iranians over their nuclear program: "I’ve been doing this now for about two years, and I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before."

In Iran, especially, Mr. Obama believed that he would work his unique diplomatic magic. If Tehran was hostile to U.S. interests, if Iran had done its best to frustrate the war in Iraq, to proclaim a fierce ideological war against Israel’s place in the region and its very legitimacy as a state, the fault lay, Mr. Obama seemed to believe, with the policies of his predecessors.

When antiregime protests roiled Iran in Mr. Obama’s first summer as president, he stood locked in the vacuum of his own ideas. He remained aloof as the Green Movement defied prohibitive odds to challenge the theocracy. The protesters had no friend in Mr. Obama. He was dismissive, vainly hoping that the cruel rulers would accept the olive branch he had extended to them.

No one asked the fledgling American president to dispatch U.S. forces into the streets of Tehran, but the indifference he displayed to the cause of Iranian freedom was a strategic and moral failure. Iran’s theocrats gave nothing in return for that favor. They pushed on with their nuclear program, they kept up the proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq, they pushed deeper into Arab affairs, positioning themselves, through their proxies, as a power of the Mediterranean. This should have been Mr. Obama’s Persian tutorial. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had no interest in a thaw with the Great Satan.

Yet last month at the United Nations Mr. Obama hailed Khamenei for issuing a "fatwa" against his country’s development of nuclear weapons. Even though there is no evidence that any such fatwa exists, the notion that the Iranian regime is governed by religious edict is naïve in the extreme. Muslims know—unlike the president, apparently—that fatwas can be issued and abandoned at the whim of those who pronounce them. In any event, Khamenei is not a religious scholar sitting atop Iran’s theocracy. He is an apparatchik. As the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself put it in 1988, when his regime was reeling from a drawn-out war with Iraq: "Our government has priority over all other Islamic tenets, even over prayer, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca."

We must not underestimate the tenacity of this regime and its will to rule. We should see through the rosy Twitter messages of President Hasan Rouhani, and the PowerPoint presentations of his foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif. These men carry out the writ of the supreme leader and can only go as far as the limit drawn by the Revolutionary Guard.

In a lawyerly way, the Obama administration has isolated the nuclear issue from the broader context of Iran’s behavior in the region. A new dawn in the history of the theocracy has been proclaimed, but we will ultimately discover that Iran’s rulers are hellbent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions.

True, the sanctions have had their own power, but they haven’t stopped Iran from aiding the murderous Assad regime in Syria, or subsidizing Hezbollah in Beirut. And they will not dissuade this regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. In dictatorial regimes, the pain of sanctions is passed onto the underclass and the vulnerable.

Just as he has with Iran, President Obama now takes a lawyerly approach to Syria, isolating Assad’s use of chemical weapons from his slaughter of his own people by more conventional means. The president’s fecklessness regarding Syria—the weakness displayed when he disregarded his own "red line" on Assad’s use of chemical weapons—was a gift to the Iranian regime. The mullahs now know that their nuclear program, a quarter-century in the making, will not have to be surrendered in any set of negotiations. No American demand will be backed by force or even by force of will.

The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in the region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti- Iranian Arab coalition.

In Washington, the threats represented by Tehran’s theocrats are forgotten in this time of undue optimism, as is the Assad regime’s continued barbarity. With the Russian-brokered "deal" on Syria’s chemical weapons, Mr. Obama has merely draped American abdication in the garb of reason and prudence.

Those who run the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear program, like most others in the region, have taken the full measure of this American president. They sense his desperate need for a victory—or anything that can be passed off as one.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author most recently of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover Press, 2012).

Voir aussi:

Presidential Poll: Reagan Best, Obama Worst in Last 100 Years

AWR Hawkins

27 Nov 2013

Rankings released by YouGov/Economist show that Ronald Reagan is viewed as the greatest president of the last 100 years, while Obama is viewed as the "biggest failure."

The poll asked respondents "to rate each president [since Theodore Roosevelt] in six categories: great, near great, average, below average, failure, and don’t know."

Results showed that Reagan bested Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a tight race for the top spot. 32 percent of the respondents categorized Reagan as "great," while 31 percent labeled FDR "great" and 30 percent chose JFK.

When it came to ranking presidents viewed to be a "failure," Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon fared better than Obama.

Of those polled, 22 percent of respondents rated Carter a "failure," while 30 percent gave that same ranking to Nixon. But Obama took first place at the bottom of the list, with 37 percent of respondents choosing him as the biggest "failure" of all.

Rankings released by YouGov/Economist show that Ronald Reagan is viewed as the greatest president of the last 100 years, while Obama is viewed as the "biggest failure."

The poll asked respondents "to rate each president [since Theodore Roosevelt] in six categories: great, near great, average, below average, failure, and don’t know."

Results showed that Reagan bested Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a tight race for the top spot. 32 percent of the respondents categorized Reagan as "great," while 31 percent labeled FDR "great" and 30 percent chose JFK.

When it came to ranking presidents viewed to be a "failure," Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon fared better than Obama.

Of those polled, 22 percent of respondents rated Carter a "failure," while 30 percent gave that same ranking to Nixon. But Obama took first place at the bottom of the list, with 37 percent of respondents choosing him as the biggest "failure" of all.

Voir également:

JFK Museum Updates Exhibit Following Complaints by Conservative Author

Author: JFK was ‘tax-cutting, pro-growth politician’

October 18, 2013

The John F. Kennedy museum in Dallas told the Washington Free Beacon that it is planning to “completely update and revise” its permanent exhibit after a historian accused it of falsely depicting the 35th president as a big-government liberal.

Ira Stoll, author of JFK, Conservative, called on the Sixth Floor Museum last month to revise alleged “inaccuracies” in its exhibit regarding Kennedy’s views on social programs, the federal deficit, and tax policy.

The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles Kennedy’s legacy and his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Nicola Longford, executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum, said the permanent exhibit is 25 years old and in need of updating. She said the institution is planning a major overhaul after the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination next month.

“While Mr. Stoll has taken issues with the content of a few exhibit text panels, and encouraged priority attention for substantial updating and revision, it bears stating that this exhibit text is almost 25 years old,” said Longford. “Clearly the world has changed dramatically during this quarter century and now half century since the assassination.”

She added that the museum’s “intent has always been to completely update and revise our core exhibit post fiftieth anniversary (November 2013) and it is at this time that we will carefully review and consider all comments and recommendations.”

Stoll wrote in a letter to Longford that he was “troubled by some passages of the permanent exhibit text about Kennedy and his administration that struck me as inaccurate or misleading.”

He disputed the exhibit’s claim that “massive new social programs were central to Kennedy’s New Frontier philosophy,” calling it “just not true.”

“Kennedy was against ‘massive new social programs,’” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy described his own Medicare plan, accurately, not as ‘massive’ but rather as ‘a very modest proposal.’ And, as [Arthur] Schlesinger [Jr.] noted, he chose not to fight for even that.”

Stoll also took issue with a passage that refers to Kennedy’s “philosophy of using induced deficits to encourage domestic fiscal growth became a mainstay of American government under later administrations, both Democratic and Republican.”

According to Stoll, “Kennedy’s recipe for growth was not a deficit; it was a tax cut that, both by changing incentives and by putting more money in the hands of the private sector, would yield growth that would ultimately narrow the deficit by increasing federal revenues.”

Additionally, the exhibit discusses the positions of one of Kennedy’s liberal economic advisors, Walter Heller, without mentioning the views of Kennedy’s “more conservative Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon,” wrote Stoll.

He said Kennedy’s own statements and actual policies hewed closer to the conservative view.

“As for the idea that Kennedy’s deficits were a ‘radical departure’ from [President Dwight] Eisenhower’s balanced budgets, that is not supported by the evidence,” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy’s annual deficits—$3.3 billion in 1961, $7.1 billion in 1962, and $4.8 billion in 1963—were modest by modern standards and as a percentage of GDP.”

When contacted by the Free Beacon on Friday, Stoll praised the museum’s response to his letter.

“I’m thrilled to learn that, after receiving my letter based on the research in my book, JFK, Conservative, calling inaccuracies to their attention, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas has announced plans to revise its exhibit text panels,” he said. “I hope the new exhibit text portrays JFK as closer to the real JFK I describe in my book—a tax-cutting, pro-growth politician who favored welfare reform, free trade, domestic spending restraint, and a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle.”

Stoll’s book, JFK, Conservative, was released on Oct. 15. It argues that the 35th president, idolized by liberal Democrats, was actually a conservative on economic and national security issues.

Voir encore:

John Fitzgerald Bush

The New York Sun

January 20, 2005

As President Bush prepared for his second inaugural, we settled down with an illuminating new book called "Ask Not," written by a historian, Thurston Clark, about the inaugural address of President Kennedy. That is the speech in which the 35th president declared the most fundamental belief of his tenure, one for which the 43rd president has been mocked for reiterating so often – that, as JFK put it, "the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

One of the points that Mr. Clark makes in the book, and that was reiterated in an op-ed article in Saturday’s number of the Times, is that part of the power of Kennedy’s speech came from its autobiographical nature. When he spoke of the torch being passed "to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage," he was speaking of his own life in a literal way.

That passage was followed by the new president’s most famous vow: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." This is the phrasing that inspired our expedition in Vietnam and that has stuck in the minds of millions over the years. It is against that declaration that American politics seems to be at such an ironical pass.

For in the election just ended, it was the Republican who, while so different in style, carried the substance of these sentiments to the voters, while it was the Democrat, Senator Kerry, who, while affecting so many similarities of the Kennedy style, campaigned to repudiate these sentiments. It was President Bush who fought for and won the $87 billion in funding for our troops in Iraq that became the symbol of this issue, and it was Senator Kerry, another Massachusetts Democrat, who voted against it and, incidentally, who went on to argue for a more pragmatic, less idealistic foreign policy.

When did this happen? When was the moment at which the Democrats relinquished the mantle of leadership in the struggle for the success of liberty? When, and how? Some say it was relinquished at the Bay of Pigs or, later, during the Cuban missile crisis, when, it turns out, Kennedy signaled he would pull American missiles out of Turkey if the Russians retreated in Cuba. Others reckon Kennedy relinquished the mantle when he authorized the coup that led to the murder of President Diem in South Vietnam.

Others might say that the default came the year President Johnson ran against Senator Goldwater, when LBJ mocked the conservative with the famous advertisement showing a little girl plucking petals from a daisy until an atomic bomb went off. It ushered in an era when the Democrats sought to be perceived as less likely to risk all in the war with the Soviet Union. Still others might suggest the tipping point came when Johnson chose not to run, rather than to see out the fight in Vietnam.

Nixon failed to pick up the mantle. His presidency was marked by retreat in Vietnam and detente with the Soviet Union. He truckled to the Red Chinese. President Carter sounded some of the noblest themes ever uttered by a president, such as his Notre Dame speech, where he marked the point that the great democracies of the world were not free because they were rich but rich because they were free. He engaged, through proxies, the Soviets in Afghanistan. But he kissed Brezhnev and turned his human rights rhetoric against America and the flaws of our allies.

It fell onto Reagan’s shoulders to pick up the mantle of leadership in the global fight for freedom. He abandoned the idea of peaceful coexistence and initiated the rollback that brought the defeat of Soviet Russia, the unification of Germany, and the expansion of democracy in Central America and Africa. It was a vast and sophisticated leadership, involving a rebuilding of the defense budget, the backing of the twilight wars, a brilliant fight against the Sandinistas and other communistic regimes in Central America and the Caribbean, and the greatest presidential act of the 20th century, walking away from the brink of appeasement at Reykjavik.

President Bush turned out to be a transitional figure, and President Clinton lacked the biography that Professor Clark teaches was so important to Kennedy’s inaugural. He was a child of the peace movement, who, in the most desperate hours of the fight for freedom in Southeast Asia, failed to report. As president, he was prepared to use force, at least from the air, as he showed in the Balkans. But he was not a master of it, and he was by instinct a conciliator. He failed to enforce United Nations sanctions in Iraq. Toward the end of his presidency, he made a trip to Vietnam and, en route, told the Associated Press that he had a better grasp now than he once did of what Johnson faced.

It was not until war was brought to our shores on September 11 that America was confronted with a test that a president could not dodge, which is how George W. Bush came to prove the point JFK was making when he said, "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger." The energy, the faith, the devotion which Americans bring to this endeavor would, Kennedy said, light our country and all who serve it and light the world. And he issued his exhortation to his fellow Americans: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country."

JFK Museum Updates Exhibit Following Complaints by Conservative Author

Author: JFK was ‘tax-cutting, pro-growth politician’

BY: Alana Goodman Follow @alanagoodman

October 18, 2013 5:10 pm

The John F. Kennedy museum in Dallas told the Washington Free Beacon that it is planning to “completely update and revise” its permanent exhibit after a historian accused it of falsely depicting the 35th president as a big-government liberal.

Ira Stoll, author of JFK, Conservative, called on the Sixth Floor Museum last month to revise alleged “inaccuracies” in its exhibit regarding Kennedy’s views on social programs, the federal deficit, and tax policy.

The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles Kennedy’s legacy and his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Nicola Longford, executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum, said the permanent exhibit is 25 years old and in need of updating. She said the institution is planning a major overhaul after the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination next Tuesday.

“While Mr. Stoll has taken issues with the content of a few exhibit text panels, and encouraged priority attention for substantial updating and revision, it bears stating that this exhibit text is almost 25 years old,” said Longford. “Clearly the world has changed dramatically during this quarter century and now half century since the assassination.”

She added that the museum’s “intent has always been to completely update and revise our core exhibit post fiftieth anniversary (November 2013) and it is at this time that we will carefully review and consider all comments and recommendations.”

Stoll wrote in a letter to Longford that he was “troubled by some passages of the permanent exhibit text about Kennedy and his administration that struck me as inaccurate or misleading.”

He disputed the exhibit’s claim that “massive new social programs were central to Kennedy’s New Frontier philosophy,” calling it “just not true.”

“Kennedy was against ‘massive new social programs,’” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy described his own Medicare plan, accurately, not as ‘massive’ but rather as ‘a very modest proposal.’ And, as [Arthur] Schlesinger [Jr.] noted, he chose not to fight for even that.”

Stoll also took issue with a passage that refers to Kennedy’s “philosophy of using induced deficits to encourage domestic fiscal growth became a mainstay of American government under later administrations, both Democratic and Republican.”

According to Stoll, “Kennedy’s recipe for growth was not a deficit; it was a tax cut that, both by changing incentives and by putting more money in the hands of the private sector, would yield growth that would ultimately narrow the deficit by increasing federal revenues.”

Additionally, the exhibit discusses the positions of one of Kennedy’s liberal economic advisors, Walter Heller, without mentioning the views of Kennedy’s “more conservative Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon,” wrote Stoll.

He said Kennedy’s own statements and actual policies hewed closer to the conservative view.

“As for the idea that Kennedy’s deficits were a ‘radical departure’ from [President Dwight] Eisenhower’s balanced budgets, that is not supported by the evidence,” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy’s annual deficits—$3.3 billion in 1961, $7.1 billion in 1962, and $4.8 billion in 1963—were modest by modern standards and as a percentage of GDP.”

When contacted by the Free Beacon on Friday, Stoll praised the museum’s response to his letter.

“I’m thrilled to learn that, after receiving my letter based on the research in my book, JFK, Conservative, calling inaccuracies to their attention, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas has announced plans to revise its exhibit text panels,” he said. “I hope the new exhibit text portrays JFK as closer to the real JFK I describe in my book—a tax-cutting, pro-growth politician who favored welfare reform, free trade, domestic spending restraint, and a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle.”

Stoll’s book, JFK, Conservative, was released on Oct. 15. It argues that the 35th president, idolized by liberal Democrats, was actually a conservative on economic and national security issues.

——

JFK Conservative

By Ira Stoll from the October 2013 issue

It’s time to re-evaluate the legacy of our 35th president.

“I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all.” — John F. Kennedy, 1953

THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF John Fitzgerald Kennedy after the July 4, 1946, speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall caution of the hazards of drawing too many conclusions from a single talk. His mother, Rose Kennedy, in pearls and a floral print dress, clings to his left arm. His grandmother, Mary Fitzgerald, clings to his right arm. His speech is rolled up in his hand like a baton. His grandfather, John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a former congressman and mayor of Boston who had been the principal speaker on the same platform exactly 50 years earlier, looks dapper in a bow tie. As for Kennedy himself, the broad white smile is unmistakable, but the skinny young man in a jacket and tie, surrounded by proud and doting elderly relatives, looks less like a fully formed professional politician than like a high school valedictorian on graduation day.

So if, to contemporary ears, the language—his references to “Christian morality” and the “right of the individual against the state,” or his attack on the “cynical philosophy of many of our intellectuals”—seems off-key for a president who has become an icon of liberalism, there is no shortage of possible explanations. Perhaps it was the immature speech of a twenty-something who changed his views as he got older. Perhaps the young politician was led astray by a speechwriter with strong views of his own. This, though, is unlikely. Kennedy’s White House spokesman, Pierre Salinger, recalled, “Actually, speeches were not written for the president but with him. He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. The role of the speech writer was to organize JFK’s thoughts into a rough draft, on which he himself would put the final touches. His revisions would often change it dramatically.” Kennedy’s secretary in the Senate and in the White House, Evelyn Lincoln, remembered, “He usually dictated a rough draft of his speeches.” Though Salinger and Lincoln joined Kennedy’s staff some years after 1946, marks on drafts of his speeches from this earlier period show a Kennedy who was more than capable of editing either speechwriters’ or his own drafts.

Kennedy’s secretary from 1947 to 1952, Mary Davis, in an oral history interview that at times is quite negative about Kennedy (“a spoiled young man”), recalls:

When he wanted to write a speech he did it, most of it. I would say 99 percent of that was done by JFK himself. I can remember first time he ever called me in—I even forget what the speech was going to be on, but it was going to be a major speech, one of his first major speeches. And I thought, “Oh, oh, this young, green congressman. What’s he going to do?” No preparation. He called me in and he says, “I think we’d better get to work on the speech.” And I said “Okay, fine.” And I thought he was going to stumble around, and he’ll er, ah, um.

I was never so startled in my life. He sat back in his chair, and it just flowed right out.

Salinger, Lincoln, and other Kennedy aides from the presidential years may have had an interest in inflating the late president’s reputation so as to enhance, by association, their own. But here their testimony seems to match that of Davis, who quit working for Kennedy following a dispute over her salary.

Was Kennedy’s July 4, 1946, speech simply a case of political pandering? Probably not. Less than a month before, Kennedy had won the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 11th Congressional District. It was a reliably Democratic district, and if the candidate was trying to appeal to independent or Republican crossover voters, a speech on a holiday weekend, months before the November election, would have been an odd vehicle. Perhaps Kennedy’s words were just rhetoric from a hypocritical politician who, once in office, would, in his public actions and private behavior, disregard them. Maybe the stress on religion was convenient Cold War shorthand for anticommunism, a way of drawing a contrast between the United States and the atheistic Soviet Union, or a way for an ambitious Catholic to reassure and win the trust of Protestant voters.

Maybe, just maybe—and here is the most dramatic and intriguing possibility of them all—Kennedy actually, deeply believed what he said, and would go on to serve as a congressman and senator and president of the United States according to those principles. He would take a hard line against communism in China, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam, and even in America’s own labor unions, weathering protests and criticisms from academia, European intellectuals, and left-wing journalists. He would be supported personally in this struggle by his own strong religious faith, and he would often refer publicly to God and to America’s religious history in his most powerful and important speeches. On the home front, Kennedy cut taxes and restrained government spending in marked contrast with Lyndon Johnson’s subsequent War on Poverty.

Another aide to Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., reports that one night Kennedy remarked to him, “Liberalism and conservatism are categories of the thirties, and they don’t apply any more.” But of course they did, and they still do. The liberalism and conservatism of our two chief political parties have shifted over time, and it is hard for us to remember liberal Republicans or truly conservative Democrats. Yet Kennedy’s actions—his tax cuts, his domestic spending restraint, his military buildup, his pro-growth economic policy, his emphasis on free trade and a strong dollar, and his foreign policy driven by the idea that America had a God-given mission to defend freedom—make him, by the standards of both his time and our own, a conservative.

WHAT I TAKE to be the truth about John Kennedy and his conservatism has, in the years since he died, been forgotten. This is partly because of the work of liberal historians and partly due to changes in America’s major political parties. Yet calling Kennedy a conservative was hardly controversial during his lifetime. “A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative,”Look headlined an article in June 1946. “When young, wealthy and conservative John Fitzgerald Kennedy announced for Congress, many people wondered why,” the story began. “Hardly a liberal even by his own standards, Kennedy is mainly concerned by what appears to him as the coming struggle between collectivism and capitalism. In speech after speech he charges his audience ‘to battle for the old ideas with the same enthusiasm that people have for new ideas.’”

The Chicago Tribune reported Kennedy’s election to the U.S. Senate in 1952 by describing him as a “fighting conservative.” In a June 1953 Saturday Evening Post article, Kennedy said, “I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all,” adding, speaking of liberals, “I’m not comfortable with those people.” In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked in a television interview what she would do if she had to choose between a “conservative Democrat like Kennedy and a liberal Republican [like] Rockefeller.” She said she would do all she possibly could to make sure the Democrats did not nominate a candidate like Kennedy.

On the campaign trail before the 1960 election, Kennedy spoke about economics: “We should seek a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle with surpluses during good times more than offsetting the deficits which may be incurred during slumps. I submit that this is not a radical fiscal policy. It is a conservative policy.” This wasn’t just campaign rhetoric—Kennedy kept his distance from liberalism right up until his assassination. “Why are some ‘liberals’ cool to the Kennedy Administration?” Newsweek asked in April 1962. The article went on to explain: “the liberal credentials of young Senator Kennedy never were impeccable…He never was really one of the visceral liberals…many liberal thinkers never felt close to him.”

Even after Kennedy’s death, the “conservative” label was used to describe the late president and his policies by some of those who knew him best. One campaign staffer and congressional aide, William Sutton, described Kennedy’s political stance in the 1946 campaign as “almost ultraconservative.” “He was more conservative than anything else,” said a Navy friend of Kennedy’s, James Reed, who went on to serve Kennedy’s assistant Treasury secretary and who had talked for “many hours” with the young Kennedy about fiscal and economic matters. Another of Kennedy’s friends, the Washington columnist Joseph Alsop, echoed these sentiments in a 1964 interview:

The thing that’s very important to remember about the president was that he was not, in the most marked way, he was not a member of the modern, Democratic, liberal group. He had real—contempt I’m afraid is the right word—for the members of that group in the Senate, or most of them…What he disliked—and here again we’ve often talked about it—was the sort of posturing, attitude-striking, never getting anything done liberalism…This viewpoint was completely foreign to Kennedy, and he regarded it with genuine contempt. Genuine contempt. He really was—contemptuous is the right word for it. He was contemptuous of that attitude in American life.

Alsop went on to emphasize “the great success that the Kennedy administration had with an intelligent, active, but (in my opinion) conservative fiscal-economic policy.”

In January 1981, in the early days of the Reagan presidency, a group of Kennedy administration veterans gathered at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for a private conversation. One of the participants, Ted Sorensen, said, “Kennedy was a fiscal conservative. Most of us and the press and historians have, for one reason or another, treated Kennedy as being much more liberal than he so regarded himself at the time…In fiscal matters, he was extremely conservative, very cautious about the size of the budget.” Sorensen made a similar point in a November 1983 Newsweek article, saying, “He never identified himself as a liberal…On fiscal matters he was more conservative than any president we’ve had since.” In a 1993 speech, Kennedy’s Treasury secretary, Douglas Dillon, described the president as “financially conservative.” Combine that position with hawkish anticommunism, and it is hard to find much overlap with liberals.

EVIDENCE OF IT notwithstanding, Kennedy’s conservatism was no more a settled point during his lifetime than it is today. In January 1962, a columnist for National Review wrote that Kennedy’s latest speech had given “further proof of his dedication to doctrinaire liberalism.” In 2011, the editorial page editor of the Boston Globe, Peter Canellos, wrote of the Kennedy family, “For five decades, they advanced liberal causes.” The same year, at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration, the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick spoke of “the liberalism that he did stand four-squarely behind.” In 2012, Columbia University history professor Alan Brinkley wrote that John Kennedy “seemed to many people a passionate and idealistic liberal,” though he allowed that such a perception was perhaps “surprising.” Lyndon Johnson’s biographer Robert Caro has written, almost in passing, as if no further explanation were needed, that Johnson’s assignment of holding the South for Kennedy in 1960 was a tough one because of “Kennedy’s liberalism.”

Categorizing Kennedy is made more complicated by the difficulty of defining exactly what a “conservative” or a “liberal” was at the time he lived, and by the shifting definitions of the terms over time, in both foreign and domestic policy. The Political Science Quarterly once published a 25-page article trying to answer the question “What Was Liberalism in the 1950s?” The author finally punted: “Above all, we must resist the temptation to reduce 1950s liberalism” to “a simple idea.” If it is a frustrating point, it is nonetheless a fair one, and so too for the 1960s, when liberalism existed not only in tension with conservatism, but also in contrast to radicalism. Yet my point is not primarily about political theory, but about the policies, principles, and legacy of a person, John F. Kennedy, whose devotion to the traditional American values he spoke of on July 4, 1946, was sufficiently strong that it was said, “If you talk with a thousand people evenly divided between liberals and conservatives, you find that five hundred conservatives think that Jack is a conservative.”

If, after Kennedy’s death, there has been confusion about the reality of his politics and principles, it is certainly not the only aspect of his life on which, in spite of all the words written and spoken about it— maybebecause of all the words written and spoken about it—there are widely divergent views.

Take subjects as seemingly simple and straightforward as how Kennedy dressed or what he drank. The biographer Robert Dallek describes Kennedy in “khaki pants and a rumpled seersucker jacket with a shirttail dangling below his coat,” and quotes a secretary as saying, “He wore the most godawful suits…Horrible looking, hanging from his frame.” By contrast, the journalist Ben Bradlee remembers his friend as “immaculately dressed” in “well-tailored suits” and “custom-made shoes and shirts,” and fastidious to the point of castigating Bradlee for the fashion foul of wearing dark brown shoes with a blue suit. According to Garry Wills, Kennedy was more or less a teetotaler, a man who pawned off his liquor coupons while stationed in the Solomon Islands during World War II. By contrast, Sorensen writes of Kennedy, “When relaxing, he enjoyed a daiquiri, a scotch and water or a vodka and tomato juice before dinner and a brandy stinger afterward.” Kennedy “never had brandy in his life,” insisted his wife Jacqueline.

Some of these differences may be explained by changes in Kennedy’s behavior over time. But there is a deeper issue too. Kennedy himself once said that “what makes journalism so fascinating and biography so interesting” is “the struggle to answer that single question: ‘What’s he like?’” He grappled with this in his own historical writing: The last chapter of his book Profiles in Courage begins with the observation that, “However detailed may have been our study of his life, each man remains something of an enigma…shadowed by a veil which cannot be torn away…Something always seems to elude us.”

THE QUESTION OF Kennedy’s ultimate political convictions is more than a matter of mere historical curiosity. Kennedy consistently ranks near the top of public polls asking about the greatness of past presidents. His popularity suggests that the American people think his record is a model worth emulating. Simply to ape Kennedy would be impossible, of course. The Soviet Union is gone, tax rates now are lower than when Kennedy wanted to cut them, and the state universities of the South have been racially integrated. But if the contours of the foreign policy, tax, and education fights have shifted, Kennedy’s course in them may nonetheless inform our choices today, as it has since his death. And other issues of Kennedy’s time are still with us, including economic growth, government spending, inflation, and, as he put it, “Christian morality,” the “cynical philosophy of many of our intellectuals,” and “the right of the individual against the state.”

Calling Kennedy a political conservative may make liberals uncomfortable—perish the thought!—by crowning conservatism with the halo of Camelot. And it could make conservatives uncomfortable too. Many have long despised the entire Kennedy family, especially John’s younger brother Ted. But conservatives need not always trust received wisdom, especially when it comes to conservatism. Better, then, to forge ahead, to try to understand both the 29-year-old Navy veteran speaking at Faneuil Hall and the president he became.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureofCapitalism.com and author of the new book JFK, Conservative (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), from which this essay is adapted.

——

cf. :

Updated September 12, 2012, 6:48 p.m. ET

The Obama Democrats

This isn’t the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton. They’re different.

Daniel Henninger

It is no accident that the Chicago teachers union would walk off the job, seeking a 29%, two-year wage settlement, days after the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. The Chicago teachers union and the podium speakers in Charlotte are part of the seamless political fabric that has been created by Barack Obama and the modern Democratic Party. They’ve got goals, and what they want from the people of Chicago or America is compliance.

The speakers in Charlotte fastened the party to a theme: We’re all in it together. This claim is false. The modern Democratic Party, the party of Obama, is about permanent division and permanent opposition. You’d never have guessed they were speaking on behalf of an incumbent and historic presidency. One speaker after another ranted that the America system remains fundamentally unfair.

Despite seven Democratic presidencies since FDR, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Harvard still grieves, "The system is rigged!" Jennifer Granholm, who seems to have summered in Argentina, shouted that for Mitt Romney, "year after year, it was profit before people." The economics of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro (Stanford, Harvard Law): "It’s a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less." Sandra Fluke: "Six months from now, we’ll all be living in one [future], or the other. But only one."

How is it that this generation of Democrats, nearly 225 years after the Constitutional Convention, sees 21st century America at the precipice of tooth and claw?

Recall all the talk about Bill Clinton’s politically "generous" speech. His speech was an outlier. Set against the furious voices roaring off that stage, Bill Clinton was a figure from the Democrats’ crypt.

The Obama Democrats are no longer the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton. All were combative partisans, but their view of the American system was fundamentally positive. The older Democratic Party grew out of the American labor experience of the early 20th century, which recognized its inevitable ties to the private sector. The systemically alienated Obama party more resembles the ancient anticapitalist syndicalist movements of continental Europe.

In its 2008 primaries, the Democratic Party made a historic pivot. The center-left party of Bill and Hillary Clinton was overthrown by Barack Obama and the party’s "progressives," the redesigned logo of the vestigial Democratic left.

The internal tension between the party’s liberals and the left blasted to the surface at the Chicago convention in 1968, when the famous Days of Rage street protesters vilified the party of LBJ and Hubert Humphrey. The "San Francisco Democrats" dominated the 1984 convention, but the party still nominated the establishment liberal Walter Mondale.

While liberals owned the party apparatus, the left took control of its ideas. By 1990, liberal Harvard Law School was torn apart by a left-wing theory called critical legal studies, which condemned the American legal and economic system as . . . rigged.

What binds Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Sandra Fluke and the rest of the Charlotte roster is the belief, learned early on, that their politics has made them a perpetual band of American outsiders.

It’s an irony now that one of their touchstone ideological works has been Richard Hofstadter’s "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" (1964), which was about the American political right back then. Today it’s the Obama Democrats who insist that something like voter-identification statutes are a racist conspiracy. Barack Obama in his grave acceptance speech fears that "this nation’s promise is reserved for the few." And so out on the plains, the Obama Democrats will assemble a voter army from that vast proletariat, the U.S. middle class, to pull down "the wealthiest."

This is a party whose agenda is avenging slights, wrongs and the systemic theft of "our democracy." For all this injustice, someone must be made to pay. How far all this is from the America called for in Lincoln’s first inaugural: "We must not be enemies."

The Obama administration’s battle with the Catholic Church over contraceptive services is symbolic and important. The tradition of religious independence, which even liberal Catholics thought legitimate, has no standing with the do-the-right-thing politics of the Democratic left. Kathleen Sebelius to American Catholics: Get out of our way.

An Obama victory wouldn’t be just a defeat of the GOP. It would be a defeat of the post-World War II Democratic Party. And they know it. The progressive left has wanted to push Democratic liberalism over the cliff for decades. This is their best shot to get it done.

Mitt Romney—whose own political conversation is remarkably bereft of history—ought to be explaining to Democrats-turned-independent how far Mr. Obama has moved their party from its traditions. FDR’s Social Security and LBJ’s Medicare asked all to buy in to supporting it. ObamaCare doesn’t; Mr. Obama revels in explaining how "they" will pay for "you." Left unanswered, demagoguery can win elections. And take a generation to undo.

——

It’s Not Your Father’s Democratic Party: How the Party has Changed for the Worse since Clinton’s era

September 3, 2012 – 8:52 am – by Ron Radosh

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, one thing is clear: it’s not your father’s Democratic Party any longer. Readers of Jay Cost’s important new book, Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, already know this. Cost gives us the analysis that shows the slow but unmistakable transformation of the once broad-based political party to a machine operation controlled by the new elites and the public sector unions, beholden not to the American public but to the narrow interests that dominate its machinery. As the publisher’s description of the book says:

No longer able to govern for the vast majority of the country, the Democratic party simply taxes Middle America to pay off its clients while hiding its true nature behind a smoke screen of idealistic rhetoric. Thus, the Obama health care, stimulus, and auto bailout health care bill were created not to help all Americans but to secure contributions and votes. Average Americans need to see that whatever the Democratic party claims it is doing for the country, it is in fact governing simply for its base.

Use that description as the guide when you watch the convention the next three days. Cost making this argument is one thing — after all, he writes for the Weekly Standard, and some will thus write him off as a conservative and simply ignore what he has to say. But Newsweek making the same argument is another thing. Following Niall Ferguson’s much-discussed cover story of two weeks ago, Tina Brown has done it again. This week features an analysis of Bill Clinton’s apparent reconciliation with Barack Obama, and the meaning of his featured prime-time speech at the DNC.

Written by Peter J. Boyer, the article is not really about Clinton, but rather is a sharp analysis of how the Democrats have changed since the era of Clinton’s presidency. Clinton may have accepted the difficult task of trying to save the Obama presidency and speaking on the president’s behalf to satisfy his large ego, but everyone knows the truth. Obama and Clinton have had what Boyer calls an “uneasy” relationship since 2008, due to the bitter primary fight with his wife that “inflicted real wounds” that in fact have not healed.

More to the point is that the party and the politics Bill Clinton represents are far removed from our current president’s lurch to the left. After Republicans gained strength and Clinton saw the handwriting on the wall, he moved to the center, reflecting his own origins as head of the moderate and centrist so-called New Democrats. They were aligned with the now defunct Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to reflect the concerns of blue-dog Democrats, centrists, and the business community. When Clinton won re-election, he worked with Republicans to institute real welfare reform, and he abandoned his ill-conceived experiment in universal health care. Earlier, he got NAFTA passed despite union opposition and with Republican votes.

So while Clinton will speak in Charlotte, as Boyer writes, “that brand of centrist New Democrat politics that helped make him the first president of his party to win reelection since FDR … will be mostly missing. Conservative and centrist Democrats, so critical to Clinton’s efforts to reform welfare, balance the budget, and erase the image of the party as being reflexively anti-business, have nearly vanished.”

Today’s Democratic Party is an institution beholden to its public-sector union clients, academics, Eastern elites, and the crony capitalists who give it funding and benefit from the White House’s largesse when it gives them contracts — such as those for the failed energy companies like Solyndra.

Its base is the anti-business and anti-war Left, symbolized by the likely-to-fail campaign for Senate in Massachusetts waged by Elizabeth Warren. Hers, like that of the president, is that of a party that has taken “an ever-more-stridently leftward turn.” Gone is the emphasis of the DLC for private-sector growth, government efficiency, personal responsibility, and what Boyer writes is “an affirmation of mainstream values.” And one should add that also gone is a tough foreign policy against very real enemies, replaced by Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy. This has left the U.S. without influence to stop the slaughter in Syria, to defend Israel from ever growing attacks, and, most importantly, to force Iran to stop preparing the enrichment of uranium.

Boyer highlights the very real differences:

Obama’s presidency has seemed, in key regards, a repudiation of the New Democrat idea. Clinton Democrats embraced business; Obama attacked private equity. A New Democrat would have championed the Keystone XL Pipeline; Obama, yielding to environmentalists, has resisted it. Although Obama campaigned in coal country in 2008 as a friend of the industry (and of all those blue-collar jobs associated with it), his Environmental Protection Agency has established regulations so severe that one administration official admitted, “if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem.” Many of the workers affected by such policies are swing-state voters, who are also keenly sensitive to values issues. Obama’s health-care mandates on contraception may help him with single women and urban voters, but it might hurt him among Catholics in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act; Obama stopped enforcing it, and then declared himself a supporter of gay marriage — the day after North Carolinians voted a traditional definition of marriage into the state’s constitution.

Pollster Doug Schoen says Obama has “substituted class warfare for Clintonism.”

“I think the New Democrat movement can be saved,” says Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council. “We do go through cycles. But it would have been a lot better if we had had a second New Democrat president to cement it.”

From, speaking to Boyer, ties the change to those he calls the “cultural liberals,” reflected in the press, academia, New York’s Upper West Side and Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and, of course, most of the film academy and big Hollywood boosters of Obama like George Clooney. The rest of the party’s base is made up of those who get government checks and those in the business community who get what From calls “corporate welfare.” In other words, the party has become “the party of elites and dependents.”

Given this reality, it is not a surprise that during the Republican National Convention — as I said in my previous column — the media did not highlight the speech by Jane Edmonds or even let most people know of the defection to the Republican side of former Alabama Congressman Arthur Davis, the man who seconded Obama’s nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Davis is an African-American who must have taken great pride in the symbolic importance of a black man receiving the nomination of one of America’s major political parties. But Davis found that Obama had taken a different path than that which allowed Democrats in the South to gain electoral victories. Rather than trying to get those who had voted for Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan to vote for him, Obama, Davis points out, “was figuring out how to rally the Democratic base around him,” and he never “had to do what Clinton had to do …which was to figure out how to construct some kind of other political case that appealed to conservative-leaning voters.”

The other point made by Boyer, who favorably cites Democratic pollster and analyst Doug Schoen, is that Obama has “substituted class-based politics — resentment of the rich, taxing the rich — for fiscal discipline, and prudence.” That was most validated when the nation saw Obama simply ignore any of the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission. As Davis tellingly says, the Democratic Party is “slipping in the direction of becoming a self-conscious vehicle of the left, that is more concerned about developing a righteous leftist platform than one that has a particular project to govern.”

And yes, Ed Rendell is right in his observation that one of the problems is that while Newt Gingrich could bring along his base and get them to accept compromises and work with Clinton to implement them, the current congressional Republican leadership is stymied because many of the new Tea Party-elected officials owe no loyalty to them, and can’t be budged to accept any suggestions the Boehner-Cantor leadership might suggest that they disapprove of. But, one should note, when Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress, he still could not get his own Democrats to move one inch and to accept any compromise with Republicans. Nancy Pelosi and her followers ran the show, rather than the White House.

So will Clinton turn the day, making those independent and moderate swing voters decide to vote for Obama? Doug Schoen tells Boyer that he doubts it, and sees Clinton’s coming speech as mere “political artifice.” It is meant, Schoen thinks, to “achieve a short-term political result,” and not a “change in philosophy.”

So the reasons Ronald Reagan asserted as to why he became a Republican still stand. “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” Reagan said. “It left me.” Now, many Clinton Democrats, reflecting on the four years of Barack Obama and the party he represents, will join Artur Davis and others in making that same statement. The time and moment for the Democrats to change their philosophy has long passed.

For Democrats who really want to move forward, they too have to abandon a liberalism that has become both obsolete and reactionary, and join conservatives, libertarians, and moderates in voting this November for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Lieberman: This is not your father’s Democratic Party

http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Fathers-Democratic-Party/dp/1477600957

——–

JFK and the Death of Liberalism

By Jeffrey Lord on 5.31.12 @ 6:11AM

John F. Kennedy, the father of the Reagan Democrats, would have been 95 this week.

May 29th of this week marked John F. Kennedy’s 95th birthday.

Had he never gone to Dallas, had he the blessings of long years like his 105 year old mother Rose, the man immutably fixed in the American memory as a vigorous 40-something surely would be seen in an entirely different light.

If JFK were alive today?

Presuming his 1964 re-election, we would know for a fact what he did in Vietnam. We would know for a fact what a second-term Kennedy domestic program produced. And yes, yes, all those torrent of womanizing tales that finally gushed into headlines in the post-Watergate era (and still keep coming, the tale of White House intern Mimi Alford recently added to the long list) would surely have had a more scathing effect on his historical reputation had he been alive to answer them.

But he wasn’t.

As the world knows, those fateful few seconds in Dallas on November 22, 1963 not only transformed American and world history. They transformed JFK himself into an iconic American martyr, forever young, handsome and idealistic. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination—and in spite of all the womanizing tales, in spite of the passage of now almost half a century—John F. Kennedy is still repeatedlyranked by Americans as among the country’s greatest presidents. In the American imagination, JFK is historically invincible

All of this comes to mind not simply as JFK’s 95th birthday came and went this week with remarkably little fanfare.

As readers of The American Spectator are well familiar, TAS founder and Editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has a new book out in which he details The Death of Liberalism.

Once upon a time — in 1950 — Bob Tyrrell notes that the liberal intellectual Lionel Trilling could honestly open his book The Liberal Imagination with this sentence:

In the United States at this time Liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.

It was true in 1950 — and it was still true on the day John F. Kennedy’s motorcade began to make its way through the streets of Dallas.

It was still true a year later, when Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson swamped the GOP’s conservative nominee Barry Goldwater.

But something had happened by 1964. Something Big. And it’s fair to wonder on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s 95th birthday if in fact that Something Big would ever have happened at all if Kennedy had not been in Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun sight that sunny November day almost 49 years ago.

In short, one wonders. Did the bullets that killed JFK hit another target — liberalism itself? Unlike JFK, not killing liberalism instantly but inflicting something else infinitely more damaging than sudden death? Or, as Tyrrell puts it, inflicting “a slow, but steady decline of which the Liberals have been steadfastly oblivious.”

While LBJ would ride herd on American liberalism for another year, in fact the dominant status of liberalism in both politics and culture that Trilling had observed in 1950 had, after JFK’s murder, curiously begun to simply fade. Not unlike Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat, leaving nothing behind but a grin. Writes Tyrrell:

Yet Liberals, who began as the rightful heirs to the New Deal, have carried on as a kind of landed aristocracy, gifted but doomed.

The new book in Robert Caro’s biographical series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power has received considerable attention for Caro’s detailed depiction of LBJ’s transition from powerful Senate Majority Leader to a virtual impotence as Kennedy’s vice president. But there’s a clue in this book as to the future decline of liberalism that is completely overlooked (and wasn’t published until after Tyrrell’s). A clue that revolves around the treatment of Vice President Johnson by Kennedy insiders and JFK’s Washington admirers — a treatment, it is important to note, that was never ever exhibited by JFK himself.

While Kennedy gave strict orders that LBJ was to be treated at all times with the respect due his office — and this was in an era when vice presidents customarily went unused by presidents, a fate that had befallen all vice presidential occupants from the nation’s first, John Adams, to Johnson — there was something else bubbling just below the surface in the Washington that was the Kennedy era.

Robert Caro describes it this way:

Washington had in many ways always been a small town, and in small towns gossip can be cruel, and the New Frontiersmen — casual, elegant, understated, in love with their own sophistication (“Such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not”, recalls Ashton Gonella) — were a witty bunch, and wit does better when it has a target to aim at, and the huge, lumbering figure of Lyndon Johnson, with his carefully buttoned-up suits and slicked-down hair, his bellowing speeches and extravagant, awkward gestures, made an inevitable target. “One can feel the hot breath of the crowd at the bullfight exulting as the sword flashes into the bull,” one historian wrote. In the Georgetown townhouses that were the New Frontier’s social stronghold “there were a lot of small parties, informal kinds, dinners that were given by Kennedy people for other Kennedy people. You know, twelve people in for dinner, all part of the Administration,” says United States Treasurer Elizabeth Gatov. “Really, it was brutal, the stories that they were passing, and the jokes and the inside nasty stuff about Lyndon.” When he mispronounced “hors d’oeuvres” as “whore doves,” the mistake was all over Georgetown in what seemed an instant.

Johnson’s Texas accent was mocked. His proclivity for saying “Ah reckon,” “Ah believe,” and saying the word “Negro” as “nigrah.” On one occasion of a white tie event at the White House, Caro writes of LBJ that “he wore, to the Kennedy people’s endless amusement, not the customary black tailcoat but a slate-gray model especially sent up by Dallas’ Neiman-Marcus department store.” The liberals populating the Kennedy administration and Washington itself were people with an affinity for words, and they began to bestow on Johnson — behind his back — nicknames such as “Uncle Cornpone” or “Rufus Cornpone.” Lady Bird Johnson was added to the game, and the Johnsons as a couple were nicknamed “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop.”

None of this, Caro notes, was done by John Kennedy himself. JFK had an instinctive appreciation for Johnson’s sense of dignity, and he thought Lady Bird “neat.” This is, in retrospect, notable.

Why?

Let’s rocket ahead now to what Bob Tyrrell calls The Death of Liberalism. In particular the numbers — polling data. Tyrrell spends an entire chapter discussing polling data, as well he should. His findings are the ultimate teachable moment as we settle into the 2012 Obama-Romney race.

By 1968 — five years after the death of JFK and in the last of the five years of the Johnson presidency — the number of “self-identified” conservatives began to climb. Sharply. The Liberal dominance Lionel Trilling had written about had gone, never to this moment to return. Routinely now in poll after poll that Tyrrell cites — and there are plenty of others he doesn’t have room to cite — self-identified liberals hover at about 20% of the American body politic. Outnumbered more than two-to-one by conservatives, with moderates bringing up the remainder in the middle.

What happened in those five years after JFK’s death?

One very compelling thing.

The attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy’s liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists — slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself.

Recall Caro’s descriptions of people who were “in love with their own sophistication,” who were “such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not.” Think of the snotty arrogance displayed as these people laughed at LBJ’s accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife (“Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop”).

Slowly, and then not so slowly, these elitist, arrogant and if not outright snotty attitudes sought out a new target during the years when LBJ was sitting in the White House — when, in the view of these people, “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop” had replaced the King and Queen of Camelot.

That new target?

The American people themselves. They had, after all, elected LBJ in a landslide in 1964. Now Uncle Cornpone was the elected President of the United States. To make matters more unbearable, LBJ was using his newfound power and popularity to actually pass the liberal agenda of the day, which Johnson labeled “The Great Society.” Uncle Cornpone, it seemed, wasn’t such a ridiculous figure after all when it came to getting the liberal wish list through the Congress.

No one better than JFK would have known instantly what a huge mistake this elitist attitude would be. Discussing the relationship of a presidential candidate with the American people, JFK had told historian and friend Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series, that, in White’s re-telling, “a man running for the Presidency must talk up, way up there.” It was a principle Kennedy surely would have applied to his own party — and did so while he was president. Not from JFK was there a drop of elitist contempt — from a man who unarguably could claim the title in a blink — for his fellow countrymen.

But in a horrifying flash, JFK was gone. And the elitist tide spread.

Slowly this contempt for the American people spread to institutions that were not government, manifesting itself in a thousand different ways. It infected the media, academe and Hollywood, where stars identified with middle-America like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were eclipsed in the spotlight by leftists like Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda.

The arms-linked peaceful civil rights protests led by Christian ministers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave way to bombings and violent demonstrations against the Vietnam War led by snooty, well-educated white left-wing kids like Bill Ayers. The great American middle class — from which many of these educated kids had sprung — was trashed in precisely the fashion LBJ had been trashed. For accents, clothing styles, housing choices (suburbs and rural life were out) food, music, the love of guns, choice of cars, colleges, hair styles and more. Religion itself could not escape, Christianity to be mocked, made into a derisive laughingstock. The part of America between New York and California became known sneeringly as “flyover country.

As time moved on, these attitudes hardened, taking on colors, colors derived from election night maps where red represented conservative, Republican or traditional candidates and blue became symbolic of homes to Liberalism.

Red States. Blue States.

Liberal candidates hoping to carry Red States or even Purple States had to hide the contempt they felt for their own constituents. When Governor Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary snapped in a 60 Minutes interview over her husband’s infidelities that:

You know, I’m not sitting here — some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.

— the Clinton campaign quickly swung into damage control mode, an apology as quickly forthcoming.

Sixteen years later it was Barack Obama’s turn, the candidate caught on audio tape describing Pennsylvania voters to a fundraising audience of rich, fashionable San Francisco liberals as:

bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The Obama and Hillary Clinton expressions were about as far as one could get from JFK’s conception that when running for president one has to talk “way up there” to the American people.

By now, millions of Americans have come to see the elitism that once was directed privately at LBJ in Georgetown salons as an ingrained characteristic of Liberalism. Even NBC’s Tom Brokaw is getting antsy at the insiderdom on televised display at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Think of the treatment of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin versus that afforded Hillary Clinton. The treatment of Clarence Thomas — versus Barack Obama.

Self-identify with that kind of treatment? Of course not. Compounding the problem for liberals is that this attitude is linked to what Tyrrell accurately calls Obama’s “Stealth Socialism.” And the combination of the two is proving to be politically deadly.

Here’s a JFK-Obama contrast.

In 1960, JFK determined that if he were to win the Democratic nomination he would in fact have to win the West Virginia primary. Why West Virginia? Because Kennedy was Catholic, no Catholic had ever been elected president — and West Virginia was heavily Protestant. It was a knock-down, drag-out fight — a furious battle against Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey. In an upset, a legend in West Virginia politics to this day, JFK won. By emphasizing his PT-109 heroism in World War II and his support of coal mining — and coal miners.

What happened the other day in the West Virginia Democratic primaries? That’s right. A Texas prison inmate named Keith Judd paid the $2,500 filing fee to get his name on the ballot opposing Obama — getting 40% of the vote. Why this particular humiliation? Right again. The President’s “Stealth Socialism” — specifically in West Virginia his energy and environmental policies — are seen by West Virginians as savaging the state’s coal industry. A world away from the JFK approach.

And let’s not forget the double standard that elitist liberals in the media love when it comes to their fellow countrymen.

What was one of the most notable stylistic aspects of the Kennedy presidency that had Georgetown parlors and the liberal media of the day swooning with admiration?

Exactly. They loved Jackie Kennedy — specifically they absolutely adored that the First Lady was an accomplished horsewoman. Scenes like this video of Jackie riding with her children in the Virginia hunt country – as JFK watched from nearby — were staples of the liberal media, the only media, of the day. If one grew up in the Kennedy era it is recognized instantly, particularly the scene where Caroline’s horse “Macaroni” is nibbling on JFK as the President laughs. Horseback riding as Mrs. Kennedy pursued it was an expensive hobby then — as now. And this fact was lavishly presented to the American public as a sign of class — both financial class and as in “classy.”

What was the big story about Ann Romney the other day? Take a look at Breitbart.com where they have neatly caught onto the sneering elitism that is falsely ascribed to Ann Romney because — yes indeed — just like Jackie Kennedy, Ann Romney rides horses. With one very big difference. In Mrs. Romney’s case horseback riding was prescribed as therapy for her multiple sclerosis. Now, however, as was true with a big front pagestory in the New York Times, Republican Ann Romney is involved with a “rarified sport.” Translation: Mrs. Romney is a snob. What’s fabulous for Jackie is snooty for Ann.

Which leads us back to where we began.

Had John F. Kennedy been alive and well this week, celebrating his 95th birthday, one can only wonder whether liberalism would have survived with him.

This is, after all, the president who said in cutting taxes that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” Becoming The favorite presidential example (along with Calvin Coolidge) of no less than Ronald Reagan on tax policy. This is, after all, the president who ran to the right of Richard Nixon in 1960 on issues of national security.

In fact, many of those who voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 would twenty years later vote for Ronald Reagan. One famous study of Macomb County, Michigan found 63% of Democrats in that unionized section of autoworker country voting for JFK in 1960. In 1980, same county, essentially the same Democrats — 66% voted for Reagan. The difference? Liberalism was dying.

There is a term of political art for these millions of onetime JFK voters — a term used still today: Reagan Democrats. It is not too strong a statement to say that in point of political fact John F. Kennedy was the father of the Reagan Democrats.

Would JFK have let the arrogant liberal elitism that was bubbling under the surface of his own administration metastasize to so many American institutions — including his own party — had he lived?

Would he have sat silently as the liberal culture turned against the vast American middle and working blue collar class and its values, sending JFK voters into the arms of Republicans in seven out of twelve of the elections following his own?

Would he have fought the subtle but distinct change of his famous inaugural challenge from “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” to what it has now become: “ask not what you can do for your country, ask what service your government can provide you?”

We will never know.

But there is every reason to believe, after all these decades, that, to use the title of JFK biographer William Manchester’s famous book, The Death of a President, brought another, quite unexpected death in its wake.

The Death of Liberalism.

——–

JFK: Democrats’ role model ?

September 04, 2008

The John F. Kennedy legacy came up repeatedly during the Democratic National Convention. But today, would JFK even be a Democrat?

Kennedy supported, in today’s lexicon, a George W. Bush-like "belligerent" approach to fighting the Cold War, and told CBS’ Walter Cronkite it would be "a great mistake" to withdraw the American presence from Vietnam. In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

How would such a man feel about fighting today’s global peril – Islamo-fascism?

Barack Obama likes to point to the 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev summit to support his desire for meetings "without preconditions" with enemies such as Iran and North Korea.

But Kennedy’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk, urged against such a non-conditions-based summit. And later, Kennedy called the summit meeting the "roughest thing in my life. (Khrushchev) just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts." Indeed, Khrushchev thought Kennedy a weak amateur. Following the summit, Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall and placed missiles in Cuba, an action that led the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.

Kennedy believed in cutting taxes – deeply and dramatically. Before Kennedy’s tax cuts, the top marginal tax rate stood at over 90 percent, and Kennedy – albeit after his assassination – got it reduced to 70 percent, a much greater percentage reduction than did Bush. Kennedy, in a 1962 speech before the Economic Club of New York said, "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country’s own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy, which can bring a budget surplus."

In January 1963, Kennedy addressed Congress: "Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government." Several days later, JFK sent another message to Congress: "Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate."

In a televised national address just two months before his assassination, Kennedy broke it down: "A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues."

Kennedy, unlike Obama, opposed race-based preferences. In a 1963 interview, Kennedy expected blacks to resist a call for preferential treatment: "The Negro community did not want job quotas to compensate for past discrimination. What I think they would like is to see their children well educated, so that they could hold jobs … and have themselves accepted as equal members of the community. … I don’t think we can undo the past. In fact, the past is going to be with us for a good many years in uneducated men and women who lost their chance for a decent education. We have to do the best we can now. That is what we are trying to do."

Kennedy also objected to assigning positions or granting promotions based on what today’s advocates call under-representation: "I think it is a mistake to begin to assign quotas on the basis of religion or race – color – nationality. … On the other hand, I do think that we ought to make an effort to give a fair chance to everyone who is qualified – not through a quota – but just look over our employment rolls, look over our areas where we are hiring people and at least make sure we are giving everyone a fair chance. But not hard and fast quotas. … We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color."

So when the haze disappears, what remains? A man of limited government, low taxes and strong national defense who rejected a government-led redistribution of wealth.

In other words, someone who would today fit very comfortably in the party – the Republican Party.

———

John F. Kennedy on taxes

July 19, 2004

By William J. Federer

Editor’s note: The following quotes are published in the book, "The Interesting History of Income Tax," by William J. Federer (Amerisearch, Inc., P.O. Box 20163, St. Louis, MO 63123, 1-888-USA-WORD)

"It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus."

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference

"Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

"In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: "The Economic Report Of The President"

"It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: "The Economic Report Of The President"

"Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.

"A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues."

– John F. Kennedy, Sept. 18, 1963, radio and television address to the nation on tax-reduction bill

"I have asked the secretary of the treasury to report by April 1 on whether present tax laws may be stimulating in undue amounts the flow of American capital to the industrial countries abroad through special preferential treatment."

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 6, 1961, message to Congress on gold and the balalnce of payments deficit

"In those countries where income taxes are lower than in the United States, the ability to defer the payment of U.S. tax by retaining income in the subsidiary companies provides a tax advantage for companies operating through overseas subsidiaries that is not available to companies operating solely in the United States. Many American investors properly made use of this deferral in the conduct of their foreign investment."

– John F. Kennedy, April 20, 1961, message to Congress on taxation

"Our present tax system … exerts too heavy a drag on growth … It reduces the financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking … The present tax load … distorts economic judgments and channels an undue amount of energy into efforts to avoid tax liabilities."

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, press conference

"The present tax codes … inhibit the mobility and formation of capital, add complexities and inequities which undermine the morale of the taxpayer, and make tax avoidance rather than market factors a prime consideration in too many economic decisions."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 23, 1963, special message to Congress on tax reduction and reform

"In short, it is a paradoxical truth that … the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country’s own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus."

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, news conference

"The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources and to a higher rate of economic growth is the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative and incentive."

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, special message to Congress on tax reduction and reform

"Expansion and modernization of the nation’s productive plant is essential to accelerate economic growth and to improve the international competitive position of American industry … An early stimulus to business investment will promote recovery and increase employment."

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 2, 1961, message on economic recovery

"We must start now to provide additional stimulus to the modernization of American industrial plants … I shall propose to the Congress a new tax incentive for businesses to expand their normal investment in plant and equipment."

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 13, 1961, National Industrial Conference Board

"A bill will be presented to the Congress for action next year. It will include an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in both corporate and personal income taxes. It will include long-needed tax reform that logic and equity demand … The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy. Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy."

– John F. Kennedy, Aug. 13, 1962, radio and television report on the state of the national economy

 "This administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes … Next year’s tax bill should reduce personal as well as corporate income taxes, for those in the lower brackets, who are certain to spend their additional take-home pay, and for those in the middle and upper brackets, who can thereby be encouraged to undertake additional efforts and enabled to invest more capital … I am confident that the enactment of the right bill next year will in due course increase our gross national product by several times the amount of taxes actually cut."

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, news conference

William J. Federer, is a best-selling author and the president of Amerisearch Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.

——-


Thanksgiving Day/392e: Vous avez dit puritain ? (Looking back at the steamy love triangle behind the Thanksgiving story)

28 novembre, 2013
http://www.thefrontporchantiques.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/CIMG3524.jpgMon Dieu, gardez-moi de mes amis. Quant à mes ennemis, je m’en charge ! Voltaire
Il est inévitable qu’à un moment donné, même les meilleurs amis du monde croisent sur leur chemin un objet qu’ils ne peuvent ni ne souhaitent partager. René Girard
Si le grand capitaine de Plymouth est alors très impatient de me marier, pourquoi ne vient-il pas en personne et ne prend-il pas la peine de me séduire ? Si je ne suis pas une valeur la courtiser, je suis sûrement pas d’une valeur du gagner ! Il a pas le temps pour de telles choses, comme vous l’appelez, avant il est marié, il serait susceptible de le trouver, ou le faire, après le mariage ? C’est ainsi avec vous, les hommes ; vous ne comprenez pas nous, vous ne pouvez pas. Quand vous avez fait votre choix, après réflexion de celui-ci et celui-là, choisir, choix, rejetant, en comparant l’un avec l’autre, puis vous faire connaître votre volonté, avec l’aveu de brusque et soudain, offensé et blessé et indigné peut-être, qu’une femme ne répond pas à la fois à un amour qu’elle a jamais soupçonnée, sans atteindre à une limite la hauteur à laquelle vous avez été l’escalade. Ce n’est pas bon ni juste : car l’affection de la femme n’est certainement pas une chose à être demandé et avait pour seul le demander. Quand on est vraiment amoureux, un non seulement dit qu’il, mais il montre. Avait-il mais attendu un certain temps, il avait seulement montré qu’il m’aimait, même ce capitaine de la vôtre — qui sait? — enfin pourrait ont gagné moi, vieux et brut tel qu’il est ; mais maintenant il ne peut arriver. Priscilla Mullins
Servez-vous vous-même, si vous voulez être bien servi, est un excellent adage; Donc, je prends soin de mes bras, comme vous de vos stylos et votre écritoire.
Aller à la demoiselle Priscilla, la plus belle fille de Plymouth, dire qu’un vieux capitaine émoussé, un homme, pas des mots, mais des actions, offre sa main et son coeur, la main et le coeur d’un soldat. Pas dans ces mots, vous le savez, mais ce bref est à mon sens ; Je suis une machine de guerre et pas un faiseur de phrases. Vous, qui sont élevés en tant que chercheur, pouvez il dire en langage élégant, tels que vous lisez dans vos livres des plaidoiries et wooings des amateurs, comme vous pensez mieux adapté pour conquérir le cœur d’une jeune fille.
John Alden ! vous avez trahi moi ! Moi, Miles Standish, votre ami ! ont supplanté, victime d’une fraude, me trahi ! Le vôtre est la plus grande trahison, pour vôtre est une trahison de l’amitié ! Vous, qui vivait sous mon toit, que j’ai chéri et aimé comme un frère ; Vous, qui avez nourris à mon conseil d’administration et bu à ma tasse, dont maintien j’ai confié mon honneur, mes pensées le plus sacrées et secret, — vous aussi, Brutus ! Ah malheur au nom de l’amitié ci-après ! Brutus était ami de César, et vous étaient les miens, mais dorénavant qu’il n’y a rien entre nous sauver la guerre et la haine implacable ! Miles Standish
Il est bien connu, que, de la première compagnie, consistant en cent un, environ la moitié sont morts dans les six mois après l’arrivée, par suite de difficultés, ils ont été appelés pour la rencontre. Mme Rose Standish, épouse du capitaine Standish, quitté cette vie le 29 de janvier 1621. Cette circonstance est mentionnée comme une introduction à l’anecdote suivante, qui a été soigneusement transmis par la tradition. "En très peu de temps après le décès de Mme Standish, le commandant de bord a été amené à penser, que, s’il pouvait obtenir Mademoiselle Priscilla Mullins, fille de m. William Mullins, la violation de sa famille serait être heureusement réparée. Il a, par conséquent, selon la coutume de ces temps, envoyé demander la permission de m. Mullins pour visiter sa fille. John Alden, le Messager, est allé et transmis fidèlement la volonté du capitaine. Le vieux Monsieur ne s’oppose pas, car il aurait pu, en raison de la récence de deuil du capitaine Standish. Il dit que c’était parfaitement acceptable pour lui, mais la jeune fille doit également être consultée. La jeune fille s’appelait alors dans la pièce, et John Aden, qui est censé avoir été un homme de la plus excellente forme avec un teint vermeil et équitable, leva et, d’une manière très courtoise et avenant, livré sa course. Miss Mullins écouté avec une attention respectueuse, et enfin, après une pause considérable, fixant ses yeux sur lui, avec un visage ouvert et agréable, dit, « prithee, John, pourquoi parles-tu pas vous-même? » Il rougit et s’inclina et prit congé, mais avec un coup d’oeil, qui indiquait plus, que son manque d’assurance lui permettrait par ailleurs à exprimer. Toutefois, il a bientôt renouvelé sa visite, et il n’était pas long avant que leurs noces ont été célébrées sous forme ample. A partir de là sont tous les descendants du nom, Alden, aux États-Unis. Quel rapport il a fait à sa constituante, après la première entrevue, la tradition ne se déplie pas ; mais il est dit, comment vrai l’écrivain ne connaît pas, que le capitaine lui pardonna jamais au jour de sa mort. D’une Collection de Timothy Alden d’épitaphes américains et les Inscriptions avec des Notes occasionnelles (New York : 1814)
Des historiens, comme le Dr. Harry S. Stout de l’université de Yale, se sont intéressés aux puritains américains derrière les mythes forgés pendant la prohibition (1919-1933) par ses opposants. Le puritanisme n’est pas l’antonyme de l’hédonisme. Les puritains aimaient les couleurs vives. Leurs vêtements et leurs maisons étaient colorées. C’est le cinéma qui a propagé l’idée qu’ils s’habillaient en noir. Les puritains n’étaient pas prudes. Le sexe au sein du mariage était encouragé et n’était pas condamné. Des puritains pouvaient être punis pour chasteté. Les puritains n’étaient pas sobres. L’alcool était consommé. Les puritains buvaient du vin, de la bière, du cidre, du rhum… L’eau douce était souvent impropre à la consommation. Les puritains aimaient la poésie (Anne Bradstreet ou Edward Taylor). Les puritains n’étaient pas opposés aux fêtes et aux jeux. Wikipedia

Vous avez dit puritain ?

En cette fête de Thanksgiving

oubliant la dure leçon qui fut payée si chère …

Tout n’est ordinairement qu’hommes en noir (couleur réservée en fait aux offices religieux) et prétendues pruderies d’un autre âge …

Retour (merci Glaeken) avec la fameuse chronique de l’humoriste Art Buchwald il y a exactement 60 ans …

Sur la torride histoire d’amour, un véritable triangle français qu’avait conté en son temps le poète Henry Longfellow ("La Cour de Miles Standfish", 1854) …

Du capitaine de la Plymouth company Miles Standish  …

Trompé, comme il se doit, par celui à qui il avait malencontreusement confié sa demande en mariage de la belle Priscilla Mullins…

A savoir son meilleur ami John Alden …

Le Grande Thanksgiving

Art Buchwald

New York Herald

22 novembre 1953

This confidential column was leaked to me by a high government official in the Plymouth colony on the condition that I not reveal his name.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant .

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims ( Pelerins ) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde ) where they could shoot Indians ( les Peaux-Rouges ) and eat turkey ( dinde ) to their hearts’ content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn ( mais ). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

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

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :

"Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe ), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

"I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui tes pain comme un tudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable tre emballe ), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’tonnement et las tristesse ).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" ( Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance ?)

Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?" ( Chacun a son gout. )

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fte and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

Voir aussi:

LOVE & LEGEND : THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH

Frances D. Leach

Pilgrim Hall Museum

In The Courtship of Miles Standish, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized the legend of the love triangle between John Alden, Miles Standish, and Priscilla Mullins.

Longfellow, an Alden descendent, wove the narrative around an old family tradition. The earliest time the story appears in print is in Timothy Alden’s A Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions with Occasional Notes , published in 1814.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882) was a scholar, a Harvard professor, and a poet. His poems were immensely popular both at home and abroad. He provided the Victorians with poetry, drama and romance — enabling them to escape the drab cities of the Industrial Revolution or the loneliness of the isolated farmhouse. Longfellow’s vivid verbal imagery, wrapped in the gentle cadences of his verse, bring each scene to life. His narrative poems include Evangeline (1847), Hiawatha (1855), and The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858).

Generations of schoolchildren grew up with Longfellow’s poetry. In The Courtship of Miles Standish , they discovered an exciting human dimension in the textbook story of the Pilgrims. It is evident that the poet had access to historical records, but he did not feel constrained to follow the literal course of events. For dramatic effect, he compressed several years of incidents into a very short time frame in 1621.

Longfellow used his imagination to flesh out the characters in his love triangle. Miles Standish appears as a swash – buckling hero, brave but inarticulate and somewhat peevish. Handsome young John Alden is torn between his devotion to the Captain and his love for the Pilgrim maiden. Priscilla, despite her domestic virtues, speaks her mind in the manner of a modern feminist. Longfellow could tell a romantic tale, and in so doing, he made the names of these three Pilgrims household words across the nation. From Timothy Alden’s A Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions with Occasional Notes (New York : 1814) : "It is well known, that, of the first company consisting of one hundred and one, about one half died in six months after landing, in consequence of the hardships they were called to encounter. Mrs. Rose Standish, consort of Captain Standish , departed this life on the 29 of January 1621. This circumstance is mentioned as an introduction to the following anecdote, which has been carefully handed down by tradition. "In a very short time after the decease of mrs. Standish, the captain was led to think, that, if he could obtain miss Priscilla Mullins, a daughter of mr. William Mullins, the breach in his family would be happily repaired. He, therefore, according to the custom of those times, sent to ask mr. Mullins’ permission to visit his daughter. John Alden, the messenger, went and faithfully communicated the wishes of the captain. The old gentleman did not object, as he might have done, on account of the recency of captain Standish’s bereavement. He said it was perfectly agreeable to him, but the young lady must also be consulted. The damsel was then called into the room, and John Aden, who is said to have been a man of most excellent form with a fair and ruddy complexion, arose, and, in a very courteous and prepossessing manner, delivered his er rand. Miss Mullins listened with respectful attention, and at last, after a considerable pause, fixing her eyes upon him, with an open and pleasant countenance, said, "prithee, John, why do you not speak for yourself?" He blushed, and bowed, and took his l eave, but with a look, which indicated more, than his diffidence would permit him otherwise to express. However, he soon renewed his visit, and it was not long before their nuptials were celebrated in ample form. From then are descended all of the name, Alden, in the United States. What report he made to his constituent, after the first interview, tradition does not unfold; but it is said, how true the writer knows not, that the captain never forgave him to the day of his death."

The only facts known from the Records of Plymouth Colony and other primary source materials are : Rose Standish (wife of Myles Standish) died January 29, 1621. William Mullins (father of Priscilla Mullins) died in February of 1621. Priscilla Mullins married John Alden, but we do not know the date or even the year of their marriage. It is probable that they were married before 1623. By 1627, John and Priscilla were not only married but the parents of two children. Miles Standish married Barbara Standish in 1623 or 1624. John Alden and Miles Standish were both among the founders of the town of Duxbury, across the bay from the original Plymouth settlement. Alexander Standish, the second child of seven born to Miles and Barbara, married Sarah Alden, the fourth child of ten born to John and Priscilla.

Voir également:

Eat, Drink, and Relax

Elesha Coffman

Christianity Today

11/01/2004

I’m sure Thanksgiving Day church services are lovely, but I have to admit that I’ve never been to one. In my family, Thanksgiving means watching parades and football games, cooking, eating, and maybe playing a few games of pinochle. Aside from the pre-dinner prayer, it’s not an overtly religious celebration.

Neither was the so-called “First Thanksgiving” in 1621.

The Separatists (only much later known as “Pilgrims”) who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620 disdained most holidays. In fact, they recognized only three: the weekly Sabbath, the Day of Humiliation and Fasting, and the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. The latter two were not set on the calendar but could be proclaimed in response to God’s perceived disfavor or favor. Because colonial life was so bound to the growing cycle, though, fast days were most often called in the spring, when there wasn’t much to eat anyway, while feast days often accompanied the fall harvest. Both observances occurred on weekdays-usually the day of special sermons known as Lecture Day, which was Thursday in Massachusetts.

But the famous feast shared by about 50 colonists and 90 Wampanoag Indians was not an official Day of Thanksgiving. In the only surviving firsthand account of the meal, Edward Winslow describes it this way:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

Such entertainments as hunting and arms exercises had no place in a religious Thanksgiving observance. They did belong, however, in the long tradition of harvest festivals, with which the Separatists would have been quite familiar. In their native England, days of feasting and leisure commonly followed the harvest. Earlier harvest festivals include ancient Greek Thesmophoria, ancient Roman Cerealia, and Jewish Sukkot.

(This is not to say that the Separatists’ 1621 feast had more in common with pagan Thesmophoria than with their first Christian Thanksgiving, which they observed in 1623 to celebrate a crop-saving rainfall. In the Separatist worldview, shared in almost all particulars by the wider Puritan community, nothing fell outside the experience of faith. As Leland Ryken wrote in Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were (Zondervan, 1986):

“Puritanism was impelled by the insight that all of life is God’s. The Puritans lived simultaneously in two worlds-the invisible spiritual world and the physical world of earthly existence. For the Puritans, both worlds were equally real, and there was no cleavage of life into sacred and secular. All of life was sacred.”

In other words, whether you go to church on Thanksgiving or not, the day can be seasoned with what Puritan divine Richard Baxter called “a drop of glory.” As Paul and David said, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1, 1 Cor. 10:26).

Voir encore:

LA COUR DE MILES STANDISH

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1858

I

Miles Standish

Dans les jours de la vieille Colonie, à Plymouth dans la région des Pèlerins,

Allant çà et là dans une chambre de sa maison simple et primitive,

Vêtu en pourpoint et en culotte courte, et chaussé avec ses bottes de cuir de Cordoue,

Marchant à grandes enjambées, avec un air martial, Miles Standish, le capitaine puritain.

Il semblait, enfoui dans ses pensées, avec ses mains derrière le dos, et il s’arrêtait

De temps à autre pour voir ses étincelantes armes de guerre,

Suspendues et disposées brillamment le long des parois de la chambre,

Coutelas et corselet d’acier, et sa fidèle épée de Damas,

Courbée à ses extrémités et avec sa phrase mystique inscrite en arabe,

Bien en dessous, dans un coin, étaient le fusil de chasse, le mousquet et le fusil à mèche.

Il était court de stature, mais solidement construit et athlétique,

Large des épaules et de la poitrine, avec des muscles et des tendons de fer;

Brun comme une noix, c’était son visage, mais sa barbe rousse était déjà

Parsemé avec des plaques de neige, comme parfois les couvertures de neige en Novembre.

Près de lui était assis John Alden, son ami, et compagnon de chambre,

Écrivait à une vitesse diligente sur une table de pin près la fenêtre;

Les cheveux bien fournis, les yeux d’azur, avec le teint délicat des Saxons,

À l’aube rosée de sa jeunesse, et avec une beauté semblable à ceux, qui étaient captifs

Et que Saint-Grégoire en les voyant s’écria: «Non pas des angles, mais des anges."

Il était le plus jeune, de tous ces hommes qui sont venus avec le Mayflower.

Tout à coup, rompant avec le silence, le dévoué scribe s’interrompit,

Miles Standish, le capitaine de Plymouth, parlait avec orgueil dans son cœur.

«Regardez ces armes», disait-il, "les armes de guerre qui pendent ici

Brunies et lumineuses et propres, entretenues comme pour un défilé ou l’inspection!

C’est l’épée de Damas avec laquelle je me suis battu en Flandre, et ce pectoral,

Eh bien, je me souviens du jour! De la fois qu’il m’a sauvé la vie dans une escarmouche;

Ici, devant vous pouvez voir la force même de la balle

Tiré à bout portant vers mon cœur par un Espagnol à Arcabucero.

N’eut été de ce pur acier, il aurait fallu oublier les os de Miles Standish

À ce moment il ne serait que de la moisissure, dans sa tombe dans les marais flamands. "

Là-dessus, répondit John Alden, mais ne regardant plus sur son écriture:

"Vraiment, le souffle de l’Éternel a ralenti la vitesse de la balle;

Il vous a préservé dans sa miséricorde, pour être notre bouclier et notre arme! "

Toutefois le capitaine continuait, sans soucier des paroles du jeune homme:

"Voyez, comment ils sont lumineusement polis, comme s’ils étaient suspendus dans un arsenal;

C’est parce que je l’ai fait moi-même, et que je n’ai pas laissé à d’autres le soin de le faire.

Servez-vous vous-même, si vous voulez être bien servi, est un excellent adage;

Donc, je prends soin de mes bras, comme vous de vos stylos et votre écritoire.

Puis, aussi, il y a mes soldats, ma grande armée invincible,

Douze hommes, tous équipés, chacun ayant son endroit de repos et son fusil à mèche, et les

Dix-huit shillings par mois, avec un régime alimentaire et en plus du pillage,

Et, comme César, je sais le nom de chacun de mes soldats! "

Ce qu’il dit avec un sourire dansait dans ses yeux, comme les rayons du soleil

Dansent sur les vagues de la mer, et disparaissent à nouveau l’instant d’après.

Alden s’est mis à rire comme il écrivait, et encore le capitaine a continué:

«Regardez! Vous pouvez le voir de cette fenêtre mon obusier d’airain planté

En haut sur le toit de l’église, un prédicateur qui parle à propos,

Ferme, droit devant, et puissant, avec une logique irrésistible,

Orthodoxe, convaincantes étincelles allant droit au cœur des païens.

Maintenant, je pense que nous sommes prêts, contre toute agression de la part des Indiens;

Qu’ils viennent, s’ils le veulent, et le plus tôt s’ils essaient, mieux cela vaudra, -

Qu’ils viennent, s’ils le veulent, que ce soit Sagamore, sachem, ou pow-wow,

Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, ou Tokamahamon! "

Il se tenait le long de la fenêtre, et regardait avec mélancolie sur le paysage,

Délavé par un brouillard gris et froid, le souffle vaporeux du vent de l’Est,

La forêt et la prairie et de les collines, et la masse bleu acier de l’océan,

Allongé dans l’ombre silencieux et triste, un après-midi ensoleillé.

Sur son visage passa une ombre comme celle passant sur le paysage,

Obscurité mêlée à la lumière, et sa voix était trahie par l’émotion,

La tendresse, la pitié, le regret, comme après une pause, il continua:

"Là-bas, là-bas, sur la colline près de la mer, Rose Standish est enterrée;

Belle rose de l’amour, qui a fleuri pour moi au bord du chemin!

Elle fut la première à mourir de tous ceux qui venaient dans le Mayflower!

Le champ de blé, que nous avons semé, est verdoyant grâce à sa culture,

Mieux vaut cacher les tombes de nos gens, aux éclaireurs indiens

De peur qu’ils ne les comptent et voient combien ont déjà péri! "

Malheureusement son visage se détourna, et se dirigea de haut en bas, et comme s’il réfléchissait.

Il y avait de fixée sur le mur d’en face une étagère de livres, et parmi eux

Trois dominaient et se distinguaient aussi bien par leur apparence que par la reliure;

Guide d’artillerie Bariffe, et les Commentaires de César,

Sur traduit du latin par Arthur Goldinge de Londres,

Et, comme s’il était gardé par ceux-ci, entre les deux se tenait la Bible.

Rêvant un moment devant ceux-ci, Miles Standish fit une pause, comme s’il était indécis à savoir

Lequel des trois, il devrait choisir pour sa consolation et son confort,

Que cela soit les guerres des Hébreux, les campagnes célèbres des Romains,

Ou la pratique d’artillerie, conçue pour les chrétiens belligérants.

Enfin il prit de son étagère et traîna le lourd volume romain,

S’assit à la fenêtre, et ouvrit le livre, et en silence

Il tourna les feuilles bien usées du dessus, où l’épaisseur de ses pouces se démarquait sur les bords de la marge,

Comme si le piétinement de ses pieds proclamait qu’il était au plus chaud de la bataille.

On n’entendait rien dans la chambre, à part la plume de l’adolescent qui se hâtait d’écrire,

Écrivant activement d’importantes épîtres, pour aller avec le Mayflower,

Prêt à naviguer pour le lendemain, ou le jour d’après au plus tard, si Dieu le veut!

Avec les nouvelles domestiques reliées à tout ce que l’hiver a de terrible,

Des lettres écrites par Alden, et pleines du nom de Priscilla,

Remplies du nom et de la renommée de la jeune puritaine Priscilla!

Voir enfin:

THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1858

I MILES STANDISH

In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,

To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,

Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,

Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.

Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing

Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,

Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,—

Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,

Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,

While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket, and matchlock.

Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,

Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron;

Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already

Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.

Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household companion,

Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;

Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,

Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives

Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, "Not Angles, but Angels."

Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower.

Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting,

Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth.

"Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang here

Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!

This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this breastplate,

Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;

Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet

Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.

Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish

Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the Flemish morasses."

Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing:

"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet;

He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"

Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the stripling:

"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging;

That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.

Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;

So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn.

Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army,

Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock,

Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,

And, like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!"

This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams

Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.

Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued:

"Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted

High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to the purpose,

Steady, straight-forward, and strong, with irresistible logic,

Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.

Now we are ready, I think, for any assault of the Indians;

Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the better,—

Let them come if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or pow-wow,

Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"

Long at the window he stood, and wistfully gazed on the landscape,

Washed with a cold gray mist, the vapory breath of the east-wind,

Forest and meadow and hill, and the steel-blue rim of the ocean,

Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine.

Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the landscape,

Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with emotion,

Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded:

"Yonder there, on the hill by the sea, lies buried Rose Standish;

Beautiful rose of love, that bloomed for me by the wayside!

She was the first to die of all who came in the Mayflower!

Green above her is growing the field of wheat we have sown there,

Better to hide from the Indian scouts the graves of our people,

Lest they should count them and see how many already have perished!"

Sadly his face he averted, and strode up and down, and was thoughtful.

Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and among them

Prominent three, distinguished alike for bulk and for binding;

Bariffe’s Artillery Guide, and the Commentaries of Caesar,

Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge of London,

And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible.

Musing a moment before them, Miles Standish paused, as if doubtful

Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and comfort,

Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns of the Romans,

Or the Artillery practice, designed for belligerent Christians.

Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous Roman,

Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence

Turned o’er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick on the margin,

Like the trample of feet, proclaimed the battle was hottest.

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,

Busily writing epistles important, to go by the Mayflower,

Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God willing!

Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter,

Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla,

Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!

II

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,

Or an occasional sigh from the laboring heart of the Captain,

Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius Caesar.

After a while he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand, palm downwards,

Heavily on the page: "A wonderful man was this Caesar!

You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow

Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"

Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful:

"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his weapons.

Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate

Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs."

"Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,

"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Caesar!

Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village,

Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it.

Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after;

Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he conquered;

He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;

Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus!

Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,

When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too,

And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together

There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from a soldier,

Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded the captains,

Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;

Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons;

So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other.

That’s what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,

You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"

All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading.

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling

Writing epistles important to go next day by the Mayflower,

Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla;

Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla,

Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret,

Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name of Priscilla!

Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponderous cover,

Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket,

Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth:

"When you have finished your work, I have something important to tell you.

Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not be impatient!"

Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his letters,

Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful attention:

"Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always ready to listen,

Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles Standish."

Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and culling his phrases:

"‘T is not good for a man to be alone, say the Scriptures.

This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it;

Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and say it.

Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary and dreary;

Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friendship.

Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden Priscilla.

She is alone in the world; her father and mother and brother

Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming,

Now to the grave of the dead, and now to the bed of the dying,

Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever

There were angels on earth, as there are angels in heaven,

Two have I seen and known; and the angel whose name is Priscilla

Holds in my desolate life the place which the other abandoned.

Long have I cherished the thought, but never have dared to reveal it,

Being a coward in this, though valiant enough for the most part.

Go to the damsel Priscilla, the loveliest maiden of Plymouth,

Say that a blunt old Captain, a man not of words but of actions,

Offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier.

Not in these words, you know, but this in short is my meaning;

I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases.

You, who are bred as a scholar, can say it in elegant language,

Such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers,

Such as you think best adapted to win the heart of a maiden."

When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair-haired, taciturn stripling,

All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered,

Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with lightness,

Trying to smile, and yet feeling his heart stand still in his bosom,

Just as a timepiece stops in a house that is stricken by lightning,

Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered than answered:

"Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and mar it;

If you would have it well done,—I am only repeating your maxim,—

You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"

But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn from his purpose,

Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth:

"Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it;

But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for nothing.

Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases.

I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to surrender,

But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not.

I’m not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon,

But of a thundering "No!" point-blank from the mouth of a woman,

That I confess I’m afraid of, nor am I ashamed to confess it!

So you must grant my request, for you are an elegant scholar,

Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases."

Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant and doubtful,

Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he added:

"Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the feeling that prompts me;

Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!"

Then made answer John Alden: "The name of friendship is sacred;

What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!"

So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler,

Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.

III

THE LOVER’S ERRAND

So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand,

Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of the forest,

Into the tranquil woods, where blue-birds and robins were building

Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of verdure,

Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom.

All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict,

Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous impulse.

To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and dashing,

As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the vessel,

Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean!

"Must I relinquish it all," he cried with a wild lamentation,

"Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion?

Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped in silence?

Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the shadow

Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England?

Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption

Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion;

Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan.

All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly!

This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in anger,

For I have followed too much the heart’s desires and devices,

Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal.

This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retribution."

So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;

Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over pebble and shallow,

Gathering still, as he went, the May-flowers blooming around him,

Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful sweetness,

Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in their slumber.

"Puritan flowers," he said, "and the type of Puritan maidens,

Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Priscilla!

So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the May-flower of Plymouth,

Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take them;

Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and perish,

Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the giver."

So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;

Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the ocean,

Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of the east-wind;

Saw the new-built house and people at work in a meadow;

Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla

Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem,

Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist,

Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting many.

Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden

Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift

Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle,

While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion.

Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ainsworth,

Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together,

Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a churchyard,

Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses.

Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem,

She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the forest,

Making the humble house and the modest apparel of home-spun

Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her being!

Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and relentless,

Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and woe of his errand;

All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had vanished,

All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion,

Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful faces.

Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he said it,

"Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look backwards;

Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers of life to its fountains,

Though it pass o’er the graves of the dead and the hearths of the living,

It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for ever!"

So he entered the house: and the hum of the wheel and the singing

Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold,

Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome,

Saying, "I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the passage;

For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning."

Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been mingled

Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the maiden,

Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an answer,

Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that day in the winter,

After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the village,

Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the doorway,

Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house, and Priscilla

Laughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside,

Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the snow-storm.

Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain had he spoken;

Now it was all too late; the golden moment had vanished!

So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an answer.

Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beautiful Spring-time,

Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower that sailed on the morrow.

"I have been thinking all day," said gently the Puritan maiden,

"Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of England,—

They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden;

Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the linnet,

Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors

Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together,

And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivy

Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the churchyard.

Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion;

Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in Old England.

You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almost

Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched."

Thereupon answered the youth:—"Indeed I do not condemn you;

Stouter hearts than a woman’s have quailed in this terrible winter.

Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;

So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage

Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth!"

Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters,—

Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,

But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a schoolboy;

Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.

Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden

Looked into Alden’s face, her eyes dilated with wonder,

Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless;

Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:

"If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,

Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?

If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!"

Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,

Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,—

Had no time for such things;—such things! the words grating harshly

Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer:

"Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is married,

Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?

That is the way with you men; you don’t understand us, you cannot.

When you have made up your minds, after thinking of this one and that one,

Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with another,

Then you make known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal,

And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a woman

Does not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,

Does not attain at a bound the height to which you have been climbing.

This is not right nor just: for surely a woman’s affection

Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking.

When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.

Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed that he loved me,

Even this Captain of yours—who knows?—at last might have won me,

Old and rough as he is; but now it never can happen."

Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla,

Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding;

Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in Flanders,

How with the people of God he had chosen to suffer affliction,

How, in return for his zeal, they had made him Captain of Plymouth;

He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree plainly

Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lancashire, England,

Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of Thurston de Standish;

Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely defrauded,

Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a cock argent

Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon.

He was a man of honor, of noble and generous nature;

Though he was rough, he was kindly; she knew how during the winter

He had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle as woman’s;

Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it, and headstrong,

Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable always,

Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little of stature;

For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly, courageous;

Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in England,

Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of Miles Standish!

But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,

Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,

Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes over-running with laughter,

Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?"

IV

JOHN ALDEN

Into the open air John Alden, perplexed and bewildered,

Rushed like a man insane, and wandered alone by the sea-side;

Paced up and down the sands, and bared his head to the east-wind,

Cooling his heated brow, and the fire and fever within him.

Slowly as out of the heavens, with apocalyptical splendors,

Sank the City of God, in the vision of John the Apostle,

So, with its cloudy walls of chrysolite, jasper, and sapphire,

Sank the broad red sun, and over its turrets uplifted

Glimmered the golden reed of the angel who measured the city.

"Welcome, O wind of the East!" he exclaimed in his wild exultation,

"Welcome, O wind of the East, from the caves of the misty Atlantic!

Blowing o’er fields of dulse, and measureless meadows of sea-grass,

Blowing o’er rocky wastes, and the grottos and gardens of ocean!

Lay thy cold, moist hand on my burning forehead, and wrap me

Close in thy garments of mist, to allay the fever within me!"

Like an awakened conscience, the sea was moaning and tossing,

Beating remorseful and loud the mutable sands of the sea-shore.

Fierce in his soul was the struggle and tumult of passions contending;

Love triumphant and crowned, and friendship wounded and bleeding,

Passionate cries of desire, and importunate pleadings of duty!

"Is it my fault," he said, "that the maiden has chosen between us?

Is it my fault that he failed,—my fault that I am the victor?"

Then within him there thundered a voice, like the voice of the Prophet:

"It hath displeased the Lord!"—and he thought of David’s transgression,

Bathsheba’s beautiful face, and his friend in the front of the battle!

Shame and confusion of guilt, and abasement and self-condemnation,

Overwhelmed him at once; and he cried in the deepest contrition:

"It hath displeased the Lord! It is the temptation of Satan!"

Then, uplifting his head, he looked at the sea, and beheld there

Dimly the shadowy form of the Mayflower riding at anchor,

Rocked on the rising tide, and ready to sail on the morrow;

Heard the voices of men through the mist, the rattle of cordage

Thrown on the deck, the shouts of the mate, and the sailors’ "Ay, ay, Sir!"

Clear and distinct, but not loud, in the dripping air of the twilight.

Still for a moment he stood, and listened, and stared at the vessel,

Then went hurriedly on, as one who, seeing a phantom,

Stops, then quickens his pace, and follows the beckoning shadow.

"Yes, it is plain to me now," he murmured; "the hand of the Lord is

Leading me out of the land of darkness, the bondage of error,

Through the sea, that shall lift the walls of its waters around me,

Hiding me, cutting me off, from the cruel thoughts that pursue me.

Back will I go o’er the ocean, this dreary land will abandon,

Her whom I may not love, and him whom my heart has offended.

Better to be in my grave in the green old churchyard in England,

Close by my mother’s side, and among the dust of my kindred;

Better be dead and forgotten, than living in shame and dishonor!

Sacred and safe and unseen, in the dark of the narrow chamber

With me my secret shall lie, like a buried jewel that glimmers

Bright on the hand that is dust, in the chambers of silence and darkness,—

Yes, as the marriage ring of the great espousal hereafter!"

Thus as he spake, he turned, in the strength of his strong resolution,

Leaving behind him the shore, and hurried along in the twilight,

Through the congenial gloom of the forest silent and sombre,

Till he beheld the lights in the seven houses of Plymouth,

Shining like seven stars in the dusk and mist of the evening.

Soon he entered his door, and found the redoubtable Captain

Sitting alone, and absorbed in the martial pages of Caesar,

Fighting some great campaign in Hainault or Brabant or Flanders.

"Long have you been on your errand," he said with a cheery demeanor,

Even as one who is waiting an answer, and fears not the issue.

"Not far off is the house, although the woods are between us;

But you have lingered so long, that while you were going and coming

I have fought ten battles and sacked and demolished a city.

Come, sit down, and in order relate to me all that has happened."

Then John Alden spake, and related the wondrous adventure,

From beginning to end, minutely, just as it happened;

How he had seen Priscilla, and how he had sped in his courtship,

Only smoothing a little, and softening down her refusal.

But when he came at length to the words Priscilla had spoken,

Words so tender and cruel: "Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?"

Up leaped the Captain of Plymouth, and stamped on the floor, till his armor

Clanged on the wall, where it hung, with a sound of sinister omen.

All his pent-up wrath burst forth in a sudden explosion,

Even as a hand-grenade, that scatters destruction around it.

Wildly he shouted, and loud: "John Alden! you have betrayed me!

Me, Miles Standish, your friend! have supplanted, defrauded, betrayed me!

One of my ancestors ran his sword through the heart of Wat Tyler;

Who shall prevent me from running my own through the heart of a traitor?

Yours is the greater treason, for yours is a treason to friendship!

You, who lived under my roof, whom I cherished and loved as a brother;

You, who have fed at my board, and drunk at my cup, to whose keeping

I have intrusted my honor, my thoughts the most sacred and secret,—

You too, Brutus! ah woe to the name of friendship hereafter!

Brutus was Caesar’s friend, and you were mine, but henceforward

Let there be nothing between us save war, and implacable hatred!"

So spake the Captain of Plymouth, and strode about in the chamber,

Chafing and choking with rage; like cords were the veins on his temples.

But in the midst of his anger a man appeared at the doorway,

Bringing in uttermost haste a message of urgent importance,

Rumors of danger and war and hostile incursions of Indians!

Straightway the Captain paused, and, without further question or parley,

Took from the nail on the wall his sword with its scabbard of iron,

Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frowning fiercely, departed.

Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of the scabbard

Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away in the distance.

Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth into the darkness,

Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was hot with the insult,

Lifted his eyes to the heavens, and, folding his hands as in childhood,

Prayed in the silence of night to the Father who seeth in secret.

Meanwhile the choleric Captain strode wrathful away to the council,

Found it already assembled, impatiently waiting his coming;

Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in deportment,

Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest to heaven,

Covered with snow, but erect, the excellent Elder of Plymouth.

God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting,

Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed of a nation;

So say the chronicles old, and such is the faith of the people!

Near them was standing an Indian, in attitude stern and defiant,

Naked down to the waist, and grim and ferocious in aspect;

While on the table before them was lying unopened a Bible,

Ponderous, bound in leather, brass-studded, printed in Holland,

And beside it outstretched the skin of a rattle-snake glittered,

Filled, like a quiver, with arrows; a signal and challenge of warfare,

Brought by the Indian, and speaking with arrowy tongues of defiance.

This Miles Standish beheld, as he entered, and heard them debating

What were an answer befitting the hostile message and menace,

Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggesting, objecting;

One voice only for peace, and that the voice of the Elder,

Judging it wise and well that some at least were converted,

Rather than any were slain, for this was but Christian behavior!

Then out spake Miles Standish, the stalwart Captain of Plymouth,

Muttering deep in his throat, for his voice was husky with anger,

"What! do you mean to make war with milk and the water of roses?

Is it to shoot red squirrels you have your howitzer planted

There on the roof of the church, or is it to shoot red devils?

Truly the only tongue that is understood by a savage

Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the mouth of the cannon!"

Thereupon answered and said the excellent Elder of Plymouth,

Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irreverent language:

"Not so thought Saint Paul, nor yet the other Apostles;

Not from the cannon’s mouth were the tongues of fire they spake with!"

But unheeded fell this mild rebuke on the Captain,

Who had advanced to the table, and thus continued discoursing:

"Leave this matter to me, for to me by right it pertaineth.

War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous,

Sweet is the smell of powder; and thus I answer the challenge!"

Then from the rattlesnake’s skin, with a sudden, contemptuous gesture,

Jerking the Indian arrows, he filled it with powder and bullets

Full to the very jaws, and handed it back to the savage,

Saying, in thundering tones: "Here, take it! this is your answer!"

Silently out of the room then glided the glistening savage,

Bearing the serpent’s skin, and seeming himself like a serpent,

Winding his sinuous way in the dark to the depths of the forest.

V

THE SAILING OF THE MAYFLOWER

Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose from the meadows,

There was a stir and a sound in the slumbering village of Plymouth;

Clanging and clicking of arms, and the order imperative, "Forward!"

Given in tone suppressed, a tramp of feet, and then silence.

Figures ten, in the mist, marched slowly out of the village.

Standish the stalwart it was, with eight of his valorous army,

Led by their Indian guide, by Hobomok, friend of the white men,

Northward marching to quell the sudden revolt of the savage.

Giants they seemed in the mist, or the mighty men of King David;

Giants in heart they were, who believed in God and the Bible,—

Ay, who believed in the smiting of Midianites and Philistines.

Over them gleamed far off the crimson banners of morning;

Under them loud on the sands, the serried billows, advancing,

Fired along the line, and in regular order retreated.

Many a mile had they marched, when at length the village of Plymouth

Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on its manifold labors.

Sweet was the air and soft; and slowly the smoke from the chimneys

Rose over roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily eastward;

Men came forth from the doors, and paused and talked of the weather,

Said that the wind had changed, and was blowing fair for the Mayflower;

Talked of their Captain’s departure, and all the dangers that menaced,

He being gone, the town, and what should be done in his absence.

Merrily sang the birds, and the tender voices of women

Consecrated with hymns the common cares of the household.

Out of the sea rose the sun, and the billows rejoiced at his coming;

Beautiful were his feet on the purple tops of the mountains;

Beautiful on the sails of the Mayflower riding at anchor,

Battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the winter.

Loosely against her masts was hanging and flapping her canvas,

Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands of the sailors.

Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the ocean,

Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward; anon rang

Loud over field and forest the cannon’s roar, and the echoes

Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of departure!

Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of the people!

Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read from the Bible,

Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fervent entreaty!

Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pilgrims of Plymouth,

Men and women and children, all hurrying down to the sea-shore,

Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the Mayflower,

Homeward bound o’er the sea, and leaving them here in the desert.

Foremost among them was Alden. All night he had lain without slumber,

Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest of his fever.

He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late from the council,

Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and murmur,

Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it sounded like swearing.

Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a moment in silence;

Then he had turned away, and said: "I will not awake him;

Let him sleep on, it is best; for what is the use of more talking!"

Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on his pallet,

Dressed as he was, and ready to start at the break of the morning,—

Covered himself with the cloak he had worn in his campaigns in Flanders,—

Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for action.

But with the dawn he arose; in the twilight Alden beheld him

Put on his corselet of steel, and all the rest of his armor,

Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of Damascus,

Take from the corner his musket, and so stride out of the chamber.

Often the heart of the youth had burned and yearned to embrace him,

Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for pardon;

All the old friendship came back, with its tender and grateful emotions;

But his pride overmastered the nobler nature within him,—

Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning fire of the insult.

So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but spake not,

Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he spake not!

Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the people were saying,

Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and Richard and Gilbert,

Joined in the morning prayer, and in the reading of Scripture,

And, with the others, in haste went hurrying down to the sea-shore,

Down to the Plymouth Rock, that had been to their feet as a door-step

Into a world unknown,—the corner-stone of a nation!

There with his boat was the Master, already a little impatient

Lest he should lose the tide, or the wind might shift to the eastward,

Square-built, hearty, and strong, with an odor of ocean about him,

Speaking with this one and that, and cramming letters and parcels

Into his pockets capacious, and messages mingled together

Into his narrow brain, till at last he was wholly bewildered.

Nearer the boat stood Alden, with one foot placed on the gunwale,

One still firm on the rock, and talking at times with the sailors,

Seated erect on the thwarts, all ready and eager for starting.

He too was eager to go, and thus put an end to his anguish,

Thinking to fly from despair, that swifter than keel is or canvas,

Thinking to drown in the sea the ghost that would rise and pursue him.

But as he gazed on the crowd, he beheld the form of Priscilla

Standing dejected among them, unconscious of all that was passing.

Fixed were her eyes upon his, as if she divined his intention,

Fixed with a look so sad, so reproachful, imploring, and patient,

That with a sudden revulsion his heart recoiled from its purpose,

As from the verge of a crag, where one step more is destruction.

Strange is the heart of man, with its quick, mysterious instincts!

Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments,

Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall adamantine!

"Here I remain!" he exclaimed, as he looked at the heavens above him,

Thanking the Lord whose breath had scattered the mist and the madness,

Wherein, blind and lost, to death he was staggering headlong.

"Yonder snow-white cloud, that floats in the ether above me,

Seems like a hand that is pointing and beckoning over the ocean.

There is another hand, that is not so spectral and ghost-like,

Holding me, drawing me back, and clasping mine for protection.

Float, O hand of cloud, and vanish away in the ether!

Roll thyself up like a fist, to threaten and daunt me; I heed not

Either your warning or menace, or any omen of evil!

There is no land so sacred, no air so pure and so wholesome,

As is the air she breathes, and the soil that is pressed by her footsteps.

Here for her sake will I stay, and like an invisible presence

Hover around her for ever, protecting, supporting her weakness;

Yes! as my foot was the first that stepped on this rock at the landing,

So, with the blessing of God, shall it be the last at the leaving!"

Meanwhile the Master alert, but with dignified air and important,

Scanning with watchful eye the tide and the wind and the weather,

Walked about on the sands; and the people crowded around him

Saying a few last words, and enforcing his careful remembrance.

Then, taking each by the hand, as if he were grasping a tiller,

Into the boat he sprang, and in haste shoved off to his vessel,

Glad in his heart to get rid of all this worry and flurry,

Glad to be gone from a land of sand and sickness and sorrow,

Short allowance of victual, and plenty of nothing but Gospel!

Lost in the sound of the oars was the last farewell of the Pilgrims.

O strong hearts and true! not one went back in the Mayflower!

No, not one looked back, who had set his hand to this ploughing!

Soon were heard on board the shouts and songs of the sailors

Heaving the windlass round, and hoisting the ponderous anchor.

Then the yards were braced, and all sails set to the west-wind,

Blowing steady and strong; and the Mayflower sailed from the harbor,

Rounded the point of the Gurnet, and leaving far to the southward

Island and cape of sand, and the Field of the First Encounter,

Took the wind on her quarter, and stood for the open Atlantic,

Borne on the send of the sea, and the swelling hearts of the Pilgrims.

Long in silence they watched the receding sail of the vessel,

Much endeared to them all, as something living and human;

Then, as if filled with the spirit, and wrapt in a vision prophetic,

Baring his hoary head, the excellent Elder of Plymouth

Said, "Let us pray!" and they prayed, and thanked the Lord and took courage.

Mournfully sobbed the waves at the base of the rock, and above them

Bowed and whispered the wheat on the hill of death, and their kindred

Seemed to awake in their graves, and to join in the prayer that they uttered.

Sun-illumined and white, on the eastern verge of the ocean

Gleamed the departing sail, like a marble slab in a graveyard;

Buried beneath it lay for ever all hope of escaping.

Lo! as they turned to depart, they saw the form of an Indian,

Watching them from the hill; but while they spake with each other,

Pointing with outstretched hands, and saying, "Look!" he had vanished.

So they returned to their homes; but Alden lingered a little,

Musing alone on the shore, and watching the wash of the billows

Round the base of the rock, and the sparkle and flash of the sunshine,

Like the spirit of God, moving visibly over the waters.

VI

PRISCILLA

Thus for a while he stood, and mused by the shore of the ocean,

Thinking of many things, and most of all of Priscilla;

And as if thought had the power to draw to itself, like the loadstone,

Whatsoever it touches, by subtile laws of its nature,

Lo! as he turned to depart, Priscilla was standing beside him.

"Are you so much offended, you will not speak to me?" said she.

"Am I so much to blame, that yesterday, when you were pleading

Warmly the cause of another, my heart, impulsive and wayward,

Pleaded your own, and spake out, forgetful perhaps of decorum?

Certainly you can forgive me for speaking so frankly, for saying

What I ought not to have said, yet now I can never unsay it;

For there are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion,

That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble

Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,

Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.

Yesterday I was shocked, when I heard you speak of Miles Standish,

Praising his virtues, transforming his very defects into virtues,

Praising his courage and strength, and even his fighting in Flanders,

As if by fighting alone you could win the heart of a woman,

Quite overlooking yourself and the rest, in exalting your hero.

Therefore I spake as I did, by an irresistible impulse.

You will forgive me, I hope, for the sake of the friendship between us,

Which is too true and too sacred to be so easily broken!"

Thereupon answered John Alden, the scholar, the friend of Miles Standish:

"I was not angry with you, with myself alone I was angry,

Seeing how badly I managed the matter I had in my keeping."

"No!" interrupted the maiden, with answer prompt and decisive;

"No; you were angry with me, for speaking so frankly and freely.

It was wrong, I acknowledge; for it is the fate of a woman

Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless,

Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence.

Hence is the inner life of so many suffering women

Sunless and silent and deep, like subterranean rivers

Running through caverns of darkness, unheard, unseen, and unfruitful,

Chafing their channels of stone, with endless and profitless murmurs."

Thereupon answered John Alden, the young man, the lover of women:

"Heaven forbid it, Priscilla; and truly they seem to me always

More like the beautiful rivers that watered the garden of Eden,

More like the river Euphrates, through deserts of Havilah flowing,

Filling the land with delight, and memories sweet of the garden!"

"Ah, by these words, I can see," again interrupted the maiden,

"How very little you prize me, or care for what I am saying.

When from the depths of my heart, in pain and with secret misgiving,

Frankly I speak to you, asking for sympathy only and kindness,

Straightway you take up my words, that are plain and direct and in earnest,

Turn them away from their meaning, and answer with flattering phrases.

This is not right, is not just, is not true to the best that is in you;

For I know and esteem you, and feel that your nature is noble,

Lifting mine up to a higher, a more ethereal level.

Therefore I value your friendship, and feel it perhaps the more keenly

If you say aught that implies I am only as one among many,

If you make use of those common and complimentary phrases

Most men think so fine, in dealing and speaking with women,

But which women reject as insipid, if not as insulting."

Mute and amazed was Alden; and listened and looked at Priscilla,

Thinking he never had seen her more fair, more divine in her beauty.

He who but yesterday pleaded so glibly the cause of another,

Stood there embarrassed and silent, and seeking in vain for an answer.

So the maiden went on, and little divined or imagined

What was at work in his heart, that made him so awkward and speechless.

"Let us, then, be what we are, and speak what we think, and in all things

Keep ourselves loyal to truth, and the sacred professions of friendship.

It is no secret I tell you, nor am I ashamed to declare it:

I have liked to be with you, to see you, to speak with you always.

So I was hurt at your words, and a little affronted to hear you

Urge me to marry your friend, though he were the Captain Miles Standish.

For I must tell you the truth: much more to me is your friendship

Than all the love he could give, were he twice the hero you think him."

Then she extended her hand, and Alden, who eagerly grasped it,

Felt all the wounds in his heart, that were aching and bleeding so sorely,

Healed by the touch of that hand, and he said, with a voice full of feeling:

"Yes, we must ever be friends; and of all who offer you friendship

Let me be ever the first, the truest, the nearest and dearest!"

Casting a farewell look at the glimmering sail of the Mayflower,

Distant, but still in sight, and sinking below the horizon,

Homeward together they walked, with a strange, indefinite feeling,

That all the rest had departed and left them alone in the desert.

But, as they went through the fields in the blessing and smile of the sunshine,

Lighter grew their hearts, and Priscilla said very archly:

"Now that our terrible Captain has gone in pursuit of the Indians,

Where he is happier far than he would be commanding a household,

You may speak boldly, and tell me of all that happened between you,

When you returned last night, and said how ungrateful you found me."

Thereupon answered John Alden, and told her the whole of the story,—

Told her his own despair, and the direful wrath of Miles Standish.

Whereat the maiden smiled, and said between laughing and earnest,

"He is a little chimney, and heated hot in a moment!"

But as he gently rebuked her, and told her how much he had suffered,—

How he had even determined to sail that day in the Mayflower,

And had remained for her sake, on hearing the dangers that threatened,—

All her manner was changed, and she said with a faltering accent,

"Truly I thank you for this: how good you have been to me always!"

Thus, as a pilgrim devout, who toward Jerusalem journeys,

Taking three steps in advance, and one reluctantly backward,

Urged by importunate zeal, and withheld by pangs of contrition;

Slowly but steadily onward, receding yet ever advancing,

Journeyed this Puritan youth to the Holy Land of his longings,

Urged by the fervor of love, and withheld by remorseful misgivings.

VII

THE MARCH OF MILES STANDISH

Meanwhile the stalwart Miles Standish was marching steadily northward,

Winding through forest and swamp, and along the trend of the sea-shore,

All day long, with hardly a halt, the fire of his anger

Burning and crackling within, and the sulphurous odor of powder

Seeming more sweet to his nostrils than all the scents of the forest.

Silent and moody he went, and much he revolved his discomfort;

He who was used to success, and to easy victories always,

Thus to be flouted, rejected, and laughed to scorn by a maiden,

Thus to be mocked and betrayed by the friend whom most he had trusted!

Ah! ‘t was too much to be borne, and he fretted and chafed in his armor!

"I alone am to blame," he muttered, "for mine was the folly.

What has a rough old soldier, grown grim and gray in the harness,

Used to the camp and its ways, to do with the wooing of maidens?

‘T was but a dream,—let it pass,—let it vanish like so many others!

What I thought was a flower, is only a weed, and is worthless;

Out of my heart will I pluck it, and throw it away, and henceforward

Be but a fighter of battles, a lover and wooer of dangers!"

Thus he revolved in his mind his sorry defeat and discomfort,

While he was marching by day or lying at night in the forest,

Looking up at the trees, and the constellations beyond them.

After a three days’ march he came to an Indian encampment

Pitched on the edge of a meadow, between the sea and the forest;

Women at work by the tents, and the warriors, horrid with war-paint,

Seated about a fire, and smoking and talking together;

Who, when they saw from afar the sudden approach of the white men,

Saw the flash of the sun on breastplate and sabre and musket,

Straightway leaped to their feet, and two, from among them advancing,

Came to parley with Standish, and offer him furs as a present;

Friendship was in their looks, but in their hearts there was hatred.

Braves of the tribe were these, and brothers gigantic in stature,

Huge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king of Bashan;

One was Pecksuot named, and the other was called Wattawamat.

Round their necks were suspended their knives in scabbards of wampum,

Two-edged, trenchant knives, with points as sharp as a needle.

Other arms had they none, for they were cunning and crafty.

"Welcome, English!" they said,—these words they had learned from the traders

Touching at times on the coast, to barter and chaffer for peltries.

Then in their native tongue they began to parley with Standish,

Through his guide and interpreter Hobomok, friend of the white man,

Begging for blankets and knives, but mostly for muskets and powder,

Kept by the white man, they said, concealed, with the plague, in his cellars,

Ready to be let loose, and destroy his brother the red man!

But when Standish refused, and said he would give them the Bible,

Suddenly changing their tone, they began to boast and to bluster.

Then Wattawamat advanced with a stride in front of the other,

And, with a lofty demeanor, thus vauntingly spake to the Captain:

"Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the Captain,

Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave Wattawamat

Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a woman,

But on a mountain, at night, from an oak-tree riven by lightning,

Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons about him,

Shouting, ‘Who is there here to fight with the brave Wattawamat?’"

Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on his left hand,

Held it aloft and displayed a woman’s face on the handle,

Saying, with bitter expression and look of sinister meaning:

"I have another at home, with the face of a man on the handle;

By and by they shall marry; and there will be plenty of children!"

Then stood Pecksuot forth, self-vaunting, insulting Miles Standish:

While with his fingers he petted the knife that hung at his bosom,

Drawing it half from its sheath, and plunging it back, as he muttered,

"By and by it shall see; it shall eat; ah, ha! but shall speak not!

This is the mighty Captain the white men have sent to destroy us!

He is a little man; let him go and work with the women!"

Meanwhile Standish had noted the faces and figures of Indians

Peeping and creeping about from bush to tree in the forest,

Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their bow-strings,

Drawing about him still closer and closer the net of their ambush.

But undaunted he stood, and dissembled and treated them smoothly;

So the old chronicles say, that were writ in the days of the fathers.

But when he heard their defiance, the boast, the taunt, and the insult,

All the hot blood of his race, of Sir Hugh and of Thurston de Standish,

Boiled and beat in his heart, and swelled in the veins of his temples.

Headlong he leaped on the boaster, and, snatching his knife from its scabbard,

Plunged it into his heart, and, reeling backward, the savage

Fell with his face to the sky, and a fiendlike fierceness upon it.

Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound of the war-whoop,

And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wind of December,

Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feathery arrows,

Then came a cloud of smoke, and out of the cloud came the lightning,

Out of the lightning thunder, and death unseen ran before it.

Frightened the savages fled for shelter in swamp and in thicket,

Hotly pursued and beset; but their sachem, the brave Wattawamat,

Fled not; he was dead. Unswerving and swift had a bullet

Passed through his brain, and he fell with both hands clutching the greensward,

Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the land of his fathers.

There on the flowers of the meadow the warriors lay, and above them,

Silent, with folded arms, stood Hobomok, friend of the white man.

Smiling at length he exclaimed to the stalwart Captain of Plymouth:

"Pecksuot bragged very loud, of his courage, his strength, and his stature,—

Mocked the great Captain, and called him a little man; but I see now

Big enough have you been to lay him speechless before you!"

Thus the first battle was fought and won by the stalwart Miles Standish.

When the tidings thereof were brought to the village of Plymouth,

And as a trophy of war the head of the brave Wattawamat

Scowled from the roof of the fort, which at once was a church and a fortress,

All who beheld it rejoiced, and praised the Lord, and took courage.

Only Priscilla averted her face from this spectre of terror,

Thanking God in her heart that she had not married Miles Standish;

Shrinking, fearing almost, lest, coming home from his battles,

He should lay claim to her hand, as the prize and reward of his valor.

VIII

THE SPINNING-WHEEL

Month after month passed away, and in Autumn the ships of the merchants

Came with kindred and friends, with cattle and corn for the Pilgrims.

All in the village was peace; the men were intent on their labors,

Busy with hewing and building, with garden-plot and with merestead,

Busy with breaking the glebe, and mowing the grass in the meadows,

Searching the sea for its fish, and hunting the deer in the forest.

All in the village was peace; but at times the rumor of warfare

Filled the air with alarm, and the apprehension of danger.

Bravely the stalwart Miles Standish was scouring the land with his forces,

Waxing valiant in fight and defeating the alien armies,

Till his name had become a sound of fear to the nations.

Anger was still in his heart, but at times the remorse and contrition

Which in all noble natures succeed the passionate outbreak,

Came like a rising tide, that encounters the rush of a river,

Staying its current awhile, but making it bitter and brackish.

Meanwhile Alden at home had built him a new habitation,

Solid, substantial, of timber rough-hewn from the firs of the forest.

Wooden-barred was the door, and the roof was covered with rushes;

Latticed the windows were, and the window-panes were of paper,

Oiled to admit the light, while wind and rain were excluded.

There too he dug a well, and around it planted an orchard:

Still may be seen to this day some trace of the well and the orchard.

Close to the house was the stall, where, safe and secure from annoyance,

Raghorn, the snow-white steer, that had fallen to Alden’s allotment

In the division of cattle, might ruminate in the night-time

Over the pastures he cropped, made fragrant by sweet pennyroyal.

Oft when his labor was finished, with eager feet would the dreamer

Follow the pathway that ran through the woods to the house of Priscilla,

Led by illusions romantic and subtile deceptions of fancy,

Pleasure disguised as duty, and love in the semblance of friendship.

Ever of her he thought, when he fashioned the walls of his dwelling;

Ever of her he thought, when he delved in the soil of his garden;

Ever of her he thought, when he read in his Bible on Sunday

Praise of the virtuous woman, as she is described in the Proverbs,—

How the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her always,

How all the days of her life she will do him good, and not evil,

How she seeketh the wool and the flax and worketh with gladness,

How she layeth her hand to the spindle and holdeth the distaff,

How she is not afraid of the snow for herself or her household,

Knowing her household are clothed with the scarlet cloth of her weaving!

So as she sat at her wheel one afternoon in the Autumn,

Alden, who opposite sat, and was watching her dexterous fingers,

As if the thread she was spinning were that of his life and his fortune,

After a pause in their talk, thus spake to the sound of the spindle.

"Truly, Priscilla," he said, "when I see you spinning and spinning,

Never idle a moment, but thrifty and thoughtful of others,

Suddenly you are transformed, are visibly changed in a moment;

You are no longer Priscilla, but Bertha the Beautiful Spinner."

Here the light foot on the treadle grew swifter and swifter; the spindle

Uttered an angry snarl, and the thread snapped short in her fingers;

While the impetuous speaker, not heeding the mischief, continued:

"You are the beautiful Bertha, the spinner, the queen of Helvetia;

She whose story I read at a stall in the streets of Southampton,

Who, as she rode on her palfrey, o’er valley and meadow and mountain,

Ever was spinning her thread from a distaff fixed to her saddle.

She was so thrifty and good, that her name passed into a proverb.

So shall it be with your own, when the spinning-wheel shall no longer

Hum in the house of the farmer, and fill its chambers with music.

Then shall the mothers, reproving, relate how it was in their childhood,

Praising the good old times, and the days of Priscilla the spinner!"

Straight uprose from her wheel the beautiful Puritan maiden,

Pleased with the praise of her thrift from him whose praise was the sweetest,

Drew from the reel on the table a snowy skein of her spinning,

Thus making answer, meanwhile, to the flattering phrases of Alden:

"Come, you must not be idle; if I am a pattern for housewives,

Show yourself equally worthy of being the model of husbands.

Hold this skein on your hands, while I wind it, ready for knitting;

Then who knows but hereafter, when fashions have changed and the manners,

Fathers may talk to their sons of the good old times of John Alden!"

Thus, with a jest and a laugh, the skein on his hands she adjusted,

He sitting awkwardly there, with his arms extended before him,

She standing graceful, erect, and winding the thread from his fingers,

Sometimes chiding a little his clumsy manner of holding,

Sometimes touching his hands, as she disentangled expertly

Twist or knot in the yarn, unawares—for how could she help it?—

Sending electrical thrills through every nerve in his body.

Lo! in the midst of this scene, a breathless messenger entered,

Bringing in hurry and heat the terrible news from the village.

Yes; Miles Standish was dead!—an Indian had brought them the tidings,—

Slain by a poisoned arrow, shot down in the front of the battle,

Into an ambush beguiled, cut off with the whole of his forces;

All the town would be burned, and all the people be murdered!

Such were the tidings of evil that burst on the hearts of the hearers.

Silent and statue-like stood Priscilla, her face looking backward

Still at the face of the speaker, her arms uplifted in horror;

But John Alden, upstarting, as if the barb of the arrow

Piercing the heart of his friend had struck his own, and had sundered

Once and for ever the bonds that held him bound as a captive,

Wild with excess of sensation, the awful delight of his freedom,

Mingled with pain and regret, unconscious of what he was doing,

Clasped, almost with a groan, the motionless form of Priscilla,

Pressing her close to his heart, as for ever his own, and exclaiming:

"Those whom the Lord hath united, let no man put them asunder!"

Even as rivulets twain, from distant and separate sources,

Seeing each other afar, as they leap from the rocks, and pursuing

Each one its devious path, but drawing nearer and nearer,

Rush together at last, at their trysting-place in the forest;

So these lives that had run thus far in separate channels,

Coming in sight of each other, then swerving and flowing asunder,

Parted by barriers strong, but drawing nearer and nearer,

Rushed together at last, and one was lost in the other.

IX

THE WEDDING-DAY

Forth from the curtain of clouds, from the tent of purple and scarlet,

Issued the sun, the great High-Priest, in his garments resplendent,

Holiness unto the Lord, in letters of light, on his forehead,

Round the hem of his robe the golden bells and pomegranates.

Blessing the world he came, and the bars of vapor beneath him

Gleamed like a grate of brass, and the sea at his feet was a laver!

This was the wedding morn of Priscilla the Puritan maiden.

Friends were assembled together; the Elder and Magistrate also

Graced the scene with their presence, and stood like the Law and the Gospel,

One with the sanction of earth and one with the blessing of heaven.

Simple and brief was the wedding, as that of Ruth and of Boaz.

Softly the youth and the maiden repeated the words of betrothal,

Taking each other for husband and wife in the Magistrate’s presence,

After the Puritan way, and the laudable custom of Holland.

Fervently then, and devoutly, the excellent Elder of Plymouth

Prayed for the hearth and the home, that were founded that day in affection,

Speaking of life and of death, and imploring divine benedictions.

Lo! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold,

Clad in armor of steel, a sombre and sorrowful figure!

Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition?

Why does the bride turn pale, and hide her face on his shoulder?

Is it a phantom of air,—a bodiless, spectral illusion?

Is it a ghost from the grave, that has come to forbid the betrothal?

Long had it stood there unseen, a guest uninvited, unwelcomed;

Over its clouded eyes there had passed at times an expression

Softening the gloom and revealing the warm heart hidden beneath them,

As when across the sky the driving rack of the rain-cloud

Grows for a moment thin, and betrays the sun by its brightness.

Once it had lifted its hand, and moved its lips, but was silent,

As if an iron will had mastered the fleeting intention.

But when were ended the troth and the prayer and the last benediction,

Into the room it strode, and the people beheld with amazement

Bodily there in his armor Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth!

Grasping the bridegroom’s hand, he said with emotion, "Forgive me!

I have been angry and hurt,—too long have I cherished the feeling;

I have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God! it is ended.

Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh Standish,

Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error.

Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John Alden."

Thereupon answered the bridegroom: "Let all be forgotten between us,—

All save the dear, old friendship, and that shall grow older and dearer!"

Then the Captain advanced, and, bowing, saluted Priscilla,

Gravely, and after the manner of old-fashioned gentry in England,

Something of camp and of court, of town and of country, commingled,

Wishing her joy of her wedding, and loudly lauding her husband.

Then he said with a smile: "I should have remembered the adage,—

If you would be well served, you must serve yourself; and moreover,

No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas!"

Great was the people’s amazement, and greater yet their rejoicing,

Thus to behold once more the sun-burnt face of their Captain,

Whom they had mourned as dead; and they gathered and crowded about him,

Eager to see him and hear him, forgetful of bride and of bridegroom,

Questioning, answering, laughing, and each interrupting the other,

Till the good Captain declared, being quite overpowered and bewildered,

He had rather by far break into an Indian encampment,

Than come again to a wedding to which he had not been invited.

Meanwhile the bridegroom went forth and stood with the bride at the doorway,

Breathing the perfumed air of that warm and beautiful morning.

Touched with autumnal tints, but lonely and sad in the sunshine,

Lay extended before them the land of toil and privation;

There were the graves of the dead, and the barren waste of the sea-shore,

There the familiar fields, the groves of pine, and the meadows;

But to their eyes transfigured, it seemed as the Garden of Eden,

Filled with the presence of God, whose voice was the sound of the ocean.

Soon was their vision disturbed by the noise and stir of departure,

Friends coming forth from the house, and impatient of longer delaying,

Each with his plan for the day, and the work that was left uncompleted.

Then from a stall near at hand, amid exclamations of wonder,

Alden the thoughtful, the careful, so happy, so proud of Priscilla,

Brought out his snow-white steer, obeying the hand of its master,

Led by a cord that was tied to an iron ring in its nostrils,

Covered with crimson cloth, and a cushion placed for a saddle.

She should not walk, he said, through the dust and heat of the noonday;

Nay, she should ride like a queen, not plod along like a peasant.

Somewhat alarmed at first, but reassured by the others,

Placing her hand on the cushion, her foot in the hand of her husband,

Gayly, with joyous laugh, Priscilla mounted her palfrey.

"Nothing is wanting now," he said with a smile, "but the distaff;

Then you would be in truth my queen, my beautiful Bertha!"

Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation,

Happy husband and wife, and friends conversing together.

Pleasantly murmured the brook, as they crossed the ford in the forest,

Pleased with the image that passed, like a dream of love through its bosom,

Tremulous, floating in air, o’er the depths of the azure abysses.

Down through the golden leaves the sun was pouring his splendors,

Gleaming on purple grapes, that, from branches above them suspended,

Mingled their odorous breath with the balm of the pine and the fir-tree,

Wild and sweet as the clusters that grew in the valley of Eshcol.

Like a picture it seemed of the primitive, pastoral ages,

Fresh with the youth of the world, and recalling Rebecca and Isaac,

Old and yet ever new, and simple and beautiful always,

Love immortal and young in the endless succession of lovers,

So through the Plymouth woods passed onward the bridal procession.


Iran: La paix pour notre temps (Peace for our time and a new Chamberlain for America)

26 novembre, 2013
http://newsbusters.org/static/2009/11/Chris%20Matthews%20Compares%20Obama%20To%20Neville%20Chamberlain.jpgMes bons amis, voici la seconde fois que nous rentrons d’Allemagne à Downing Street avec une paix honorable. Je crois qu’il s’agit de la paix pour notre temps. Nous vous remercions du fond du cœur. À présent, je vous conseille de rentrer chez vous, et dormez en paix. Chamberlain
A l’époque, pendant que nous étions en train de discuter avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions des équipements dans certaines parties d’Ispahan, et le projet était sur le point d’être complété. En réalité, c’est en créant un climat de sérénité, que nous avons pu achever Ispahan. Hassan Rohani (03.11.03)
What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true. Marziyeh Afkham (Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman)
Un haut responsable israélien a révélé au quotidien Haaretz qu’Israël avait connaissance des entretiens secrets depuis le début de l’été 2013, bien avant avoir été averti officiellement par l’administration américaine. Les contacts secrets entre les Etats-Unis et l’Iran auraient débuté avant l’élection de Hassan Rohani à la présidence de la République islamique, plus précisément à partir de mars 2013, alors que Mahmoud Ahmadinejad était encore en fonction. Depuis l’accession au pouvoir de Rohani, il y aurait encore eu quatre rencontres, deux en août et deux en octobre, la plupart s’étant tenues dans le sultanat d’Oman. (…) Selon le Haaretz, Netanyahou aurait été avisé par M. Obama, un jour avant son discours à l’ONU début octobre, des deux réunions du mois d’août, mais pas de celles qui s’étaient tenues avant l’élection présidentielle iranienne. I24news
Iran is already in violation of a number of Security Council resolutions demanding it cease all uranium enrichment and heavy water activity – a process used to create weapons-grade plutonium. Furthermore, none of this activity is even remotely necessary if Iran, as it claims, only wants a peaceful nuclear program. There are many countries that have nuclear power that do not have the capability to enrich their own fuel. They buy it from abroad and that’s what Iran could do. And that’s what the media are neglecting to tell you. There are over thirty countries around the world that have nuclear power programs but according to the World Nuclear Association, only eleven have the capacity to enrich their own fuel. Here are some of the countries that have nuclear energy but don’t enrich their own nuclear fuel: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. The fact is that, of countries that have enrichment capabilities, the majority also possess nuclear weapons. Countries that enrich nuclear materials but do not have nuclear weapons include Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Countries that enrich and do have nuclear weapons include Pakistan, Russia and China. When you think of Iran, do you think it fits in with Germany, Japan and the Netherlands? Or, does it fit better with Pakistan, Russia and China? If that isn’t enough to make you uncomfortable, in a speech to the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council in 2005, Rouhani himself said: A county that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons. Since Argentina, Armenia, Sweden and Spain can buy nuclear fuel from abroad, why can’t Iran? Since our neighbors Canada and Mexico can pursue this policy, why can’t Iran? Camera
Les faucons affirment (…) que le président Ahmadinejad a déclaré vouloir “rayer Israël de la carte”. Mais cet argument repose sur une mauvaise traduction de ses propos. La traduction juste est qu’Israël “devrait disparaître de la page du temps”. Cette expression (empruntée à un discours de l’ayatollah Khomeiny) n’est pas un appel à la destruction physique d’Israël. Bien que très choquant, son propos n’était pas un appel à lancer une attaque, encore moins une attaque nucléaire, contre Israël. Aucun État sensé ne peut partir en guerre sur la foi d’une mauvaise traduction. John J. Mearsheimer et Stephen M. Walt
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
One of the best peace speeches I ever read was one delivered back in the 1930s — by Adolf Hitler. He knew that peace speeches would keep the Western democracies from matching his military buildup with their own, or attacking him to prevent his buildup from continuing. Peace speeches by Iran today serve the same purpose of buying time — until they can create a nuclear bomb. Thomas Sowell
The Iranian agreement comes not in isolation, unfortunately. The Syrian debacle instructed the Iranians that the Obama administration was more interested in announcing a peaceful breakthrough than actually achieving it. The timing is convenient for both sides: The Obama administration needed an offset abroad to the Obamacare disaster, and the Iranians want a breathing space to rebuild their finances and ensure that Assad can salvage the Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis. The agreement is a de facto acknowledgement that containing, not ending, Iran’s nuclear program is now U.S. policy. After all, to what degree would an Iranian freeze really retard development of a bomb, or simply put it on hold? In other words, has Iran already met some of its requirements for weaponization, and now simply wishes to take a breather, rebuild its economy, and strengthen its image in the West — before the final and rather easy development of a deliverable bomb? If the sanctions are not only lifted, but incentives are added in place of them, why then would Iran not agree to dismantle completely elements of its program that exceed domestic energy purposes? (Or for that matter, why would a nation with among the world’s largest reserves of gas and oil feel the need to fund an expensive nuclear energy program in the first place?) (…) Collate reset, lead from behind, “redlines,” “game-changers,” ”deadlines,” the Arab Spring confusion, the skedaddle from Iraq, Benghazi, the Eastern European missile pullback, and the atmosphere is comparable to the 1979–80 Carter landscape, in which after three years of observation, the opportunists at last decided to act while the acting was good, from Afghanistan to Central America to Tehran. There is not a good record, from Philip of Macedon to Hitler to Stalin in the 1940s to Carter and the Soviets in the 1970s to radical Islamists in the 1990s, of expecting authoritarians and thugs to listen to reason, cool their aggression, and appreciate democracies’ sober and judicious appeal to logic — once they sense in the West greater eagerness to announce new, rather than to enforce old, agreements. Victor Davis Hanson
Iran will gradually shake free of sanctions and glide into a zone of nuclear ambiguity that will keep its adversaries guessing until it opts to make its capabilities known. Saudi Arabia will move swiftly to acquire a nuclear deterrent from its clients in Islamabad; Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made that clear to the Journal last week when he indiscreetly discussed "the arrangement with Pakistan." Egypt is beginning to ponder a nuclear option of its own while drawing closer to a security alliance with Russia. As for Israel, it cannot afford to live in a neighborhood where Iran becomes nuclear, Assad remains in power, and Hezbollah—Israel’s most immediate military threat—gains strength, clout and battlefield experience. The chances that Israel will hazard a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites greatly increased since Geneva. More so the chances of another war with Hezbollah. Bret Stephens
After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away. If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it’s because the West is being led by the same sort of menIf the parties do not even agree to what they’ve just signed in the 18 hours after inking a document, how well is verification going to go? Mohammed Zarif, Iran’s chief negotiator, asserted that the agreement takes the threat of force off the table, and enshrines Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium. Kerry flatly denies both. Nice start. (…) Iran controls the world’s fourth largest supply of oil and second largest reserve of natural gas. Are we to believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear power because of concern about climate change? How exactly would Iran’s active research on nuclear-weapons design and development of ballistic-missile technology suit that explanation? It has been obvious for more than two decades that Iran is determined to join the nuclear club — a goal America’s allies in the region and right-thinking people the world over view with horror and dread. Five Security Council resolutions have demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment of uranium. The Obama administration itself has repeatedly and starkly declared that Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is “unacceptable.” (…) Nor is it correct that the only alternative to this capitulation was war. The sanctions that this agreement supersedes were working well to force the Iranian regime to come to terms. Their nation is struggling with high prices, shortages, and a collapsing currency due to sanctions. This should have been a moment of maximum leverage for the United States and other powers. Yet the deal they’ve achieved does next to nothing to reverse Iran’s march to a bomb and does a great deal to undermine the fragile, painfully achieved world consensus to impose sanctions. Mona Charen
On compare souvent Rouhani à Mikhaïl Gorbatchev. Quand celui-ci a lancé sa perestroika en 1986 et décidé de mettre fin à la guerre froide, beaucoup d’Occidentaux ont cru à une ruse et refusé de lui faire confiance – sauf, curieusement, les deux leaders occidentaux les plus anticommunistes, l’Américain Ronald Reagan et la Britannique Margaret Thatcher. Mais Rouhani n’est pas à l’Iran actuel ce que Gorbatchev était à l’URSS des années 1980. Gorbatchev était le maître absolu, le « tsar rouge », de son pays : chef de l’Etat et du parti, commandant en chef des armées, chef suprême des services secrets. Rouhani, en dépit de son titre de chef d’Etat, n’est qu’un rouage relativement secondaire d’un régime théocratique dirigé par l’ayatollah Khamenei et la technostructure des Gardiens de la Révolution. Tout laisse donc à penser que son « ouverture » n’est – ne peut être – qu’une manœuvre permettant à l’Iran de desserrer l’étau des sanctions internationales, de gagner du temps sur le plan du nucléaire et de sauvegarder, avec la complicité active de la Russie, ses alliés syrien (Assad) et libanais (le Hezbollah). Michel Gurfinkiel

Après les printemps arabes, Benghazi et Damas, le nouveau Carter (ou Chamberlain ?) noir pouvait-il résister à un nouveau fiasco, iranien cette fois ?

A l’heure où, se félicitant d’un prétendu accord historique (aussitôt dénoncé, à la nord-corénne, par les intéressés eux-mêmes!), ceux qui nous tiennent lieu de gouvernants et d’informateurs  …

Nous proposent de desserrer, au moment même où elles commencent à porter leurs fruits, des sanctions qu’on avait mis tant de temps à mettre en place …

Concernant un programme nucléaire officiellement non-existent …

Et avec un régime dont l’actuel pantin de service se vantait il y a dix ans d’avoir floué l’Occident et dont le véritable homme fort appelait à nouveau il y a quelques jours à peine à la disparition ("de la page du temps", s’il vous plait!) d’un de ses voisins …

Comment ne pas voir, avec les quelques voix encore lucides comme celle de Michel Gurfinkiel, l’évidence d’une énième et longuement préparée manoeuvre dilatoire ?

Entretien/ Obama entre échecs et fantasmes

Pour l’Iran, la « détente » avec les Etats-Unis est une brillante manœuvre diplomatique, préparée avant même l’élection de Rouhani. Une interview accordée à l’hebdomadaire Hamodia.

Michel Gurfinkiel

October 3 2013

HAMODIA. Pourquoi cette soudaine cette idylle entre les Etats-Unis et l’Iran ?

MICHEL GURFINKIEL. Il faut distinguer entre deux niveaux. D’une part, sur le long terme, Obama et son entourage ont toujours fantasmé sur une réconciliation globale entre les Etats-Unis et l’islamisme, qu’il s’agisse de l’islamisme sunnite des Frères musulmans ou de l’islamisme chiite iranien. C’était le sens, dès 2009, du discours-manifeste du Caire, prononcé, il ne faut pas l’oublier, au moment même où le pouvoir des mollahs écrasait dans le sang un « printemps iranien ».

Cela a été également le sens, par la suite, de la temporisation d’Obama sur la question du nucléaire iranien : Washington s’est prononcé en faveur de sanctions économiques de plus en plus lourdes, mais n’a pas envisagé sérieusement une action militaire contre l’Iran ni accordé de feu vert à une éventuelle action militaire israélienne.

L’élection à la présidence iranienne, le 15 juin dernier, de Hassan Rouhani, un homme qui, dans le contexte du régime khomeiniste, peut passer pour un modéré et sait user de cette image, a évidemment relancé ce fantasme. Des négociations discrètes ont été menées au début de l’été entre Washington et Téhéran, et elles avaient suffisamment abouti dès le mois d’août – quand Rouhani a pris officiellement ses fonctions – pour que plusieurs revues américaines influentes diffusent presque immédiatement des articles préparant l’opinion à cette « détente », sinon à ce renversement d’alliance.

La New York Review of Books publie dans sa livraison datée du 15 août un long article en faveur d’un « nouvelle approche envers l’Iran » cosigné, de manière significative – l’union sacrée, pourrait-on dire -, par un universitaire pro-iranien, William Luers, un ancien ambassadeur aux Nations Unies, Thomas Pickering et un homme politique républicain, Jim Walsh. Quant à Foreign Affairs, elle consacre sa couverture de septembre-octobre au chef véritable du régime iranien, l’ayatollah et Guide spirituel Ali Khamenei. Akbar Ganji, un journaliste prestigieux, souvent présenté comme le « Soljénitsyne iranien », y affirme à la fois que Rouhani ne peut se rapprocher des Etats-Unis sans l’accord préalable et l’appui de Khamenei, ce qui est vrai ; et que les Etats-Unis doivent saisir cette « chance », ce qui est plus discutable.

HAMODIA. Et à autre niveau ?

MG. A un autre niveau, à plus court terme, Obama a sans doute vu dans un rapprochement avec l’Iran le moyen d’effacer ou de faire oublier ses échecs répétés au Moyen-Orient : en Libye, en Egypte et finalement en Syrie. Une Grande Puissance, c’est un pays qui peut faire la guerre et qui, par voie de conséquence, est en mesure d’imposer sa volonté à d’autres pays. Et « pouvoir faire la guerre », en amont, cela suppose à la fois des moyens techniques (une armée, des armements, des technologies), et des moyens politiques ou moraux (une vision du monde, des objectifs, une détermination). L’Amérique d’Obama a toujours les moyens techniques d’une Très Grande Puissance, mais elle s’est comportée en Syrie, à travers ses tergiversations et finalement sa capitulation diplomatique devant la Russie de Poutine, comme si elle n’en avait plus les moyens politiques ou moraux. Ce que les alliés traditionnels des Etats-Unis ne sont pas près de pardonner au président sur le plan international (des Etats du Golfe à la France de Hollande), ni les Américains eux-mêmes en politique intérieure.

HAMODIA. Mais que pouvait faire Obama en Syrie ? Son opinion ne s’opposait-elle pas nettement à une intervention militaire ?

MG. En règle générale, les Américains font bloc derrière leur président quand celui-ci décide de mener une opération militaire à l’extérieur – quitte à critiquer par la suite la gestion de l’opération. C’est là un réflexe démocratique et patriotique ancré dans leur culture : un réflexe au moins aussi puissant que la tentation récurrente de l’isolationnisme, du repli sur soi. Mais sur la Syrie, ce réflexe n’a pas joué : l’Amérique n’avait plus confiance en Obama sur les questions du Moyen-Orient. Ni sur le fond (l’analyse des situations et des enjeux), ni sur la forme (la mise en place de politiques).

HAMODIA. Imaginons que sur l’Iran, Obama gagne tout de même son pari…

On compare souvent Rouhani à Mikhaïl Gorbatchev. Quand celui-ci a lancé sa perestroika en 1986 et décidé de mettre fin à la guerre froide, beaucoup d’Occidentaux ont cru à une ruse et refusé de lui faire confiance – sauf, curieusement, les deux leaders occidentaux les plus anticommunistes, l’Américain Ronald Reagan et la Britannique Margaret Thatcher. Mais Rouhani n’est pas à l’Iran actuel ce que Gorbatchev était à l’URSS des années 1980. Gorbatchev était le maître absolu, le « tsar rouge », de son pays : chef de l’Etat et du parti, commandant en chef des armées, chef suprême des services secrets. Rouhani, en dépit de son titre de chef d’Etat, n’est qu’un rouage relativement secondaire d’un régime théocratique dirigé par l’ayatollah Khamenei et la technostructure des Gardiens de la Révolution. Tout laisse donc à penser que son « ouverture » n’est – ne peut être – qu’une manœuvre permettant à l’Iran de desserrer l’étau des sanctions internationales, de gagner du temps sur le plan du nucléaire et de sauvegarder, avec la complicité active de la Russie, ses alliés syrien (Assad) et libanais (le Hezbollah). Dans son article de Foreign Affairs, Akbar Ganji note que Khamenei a laissé entendre publiquement dès mars 2013 – quatre mois avant l’élection présidentielle – qu’un arrangement avec les Etats-Unis était possible et donc souhaitable. Il y a lieu de penser que Rouhani a été choisi dès ce moment pour mener cette nouvelle politique. Et que les comités qui, dans le régime iranien, sélectionnent les candidats à la présidentielle, ont reçu l’ordre de le favoriser – en le faisant apparaître comme un « libéral ».

HAMODIA. Qui profite de la désagrégation de la position américaine au Moyen-Orient ? La Russie ?

MG. Poutine a manœuvré brillamment face à un président américain faible et incompétent. Mais la Russie de 2013, ce n’est pas grand chose. Son PNB ne représente que le huitième du PNB américain et ne repose que sur des ventes d’armes, d’énergie et de matières premières. Son budget militaire ne représente qu’un peu plus du septième du budget militaire américain. Elle est moitié moins peuplée que l’Amérique et semble engagée de surcroit dans un effritement démographique irréversible : de 149 millions d’habitants en 1990 à 143 millions aujourd’hui. A terme, le véritable rival, c’est la Chine qui, à la différence de la Russie, a su se doter depuis trente ans d’une base économique, technologique et militaire moderne. C’est vers elle que les déçus de l’Amérique seront tentés de se tourner. Sauf si un président fort et compétent – un nouveau Reagan – remplace Obama en 2017, ce qui n’aurait rien d’impossible.

HAMODIA. Vous mentionniez le « fantasme islamique » d’Obama. A quoi tient-il ?

MG. Les clés d’Obama se trouvent dans son livre autobiographique, Les Rêves de mon père. Deux faits, qu’il rapporte avec beaucoup de franchise : d’abord, un drame intime : il n’a pratiquement pas connu son père ; ensuite, un drame identitaire : l’Amérique traditionnelle – anglo-saxonne, judéo-chrétienne, blanche – est pour lui une sorte de pays étranger. Il est certes né aux Etats-Unis, mais il n’y a pas passé son enfance. Il n’a pas été élevé dans la foi chrétienne, mais dans un mélange d’humanisme athée et d’islam libéral. Et bien que sa mère soit blanche, il a toujours été considéré comme un Noir.

Comment surmonte-t-il ces deux drames ? A travers l’action politique en vue d’une Amérique nouvelle, multiraciale, multireligieuse, multiculturelle. En fait, il veut enfanter cette nouvelle Amérique qui lui ressemblerait, être à la fois son propre père et celui d’une nation remodelée à son image. Ce qui passe, entre autre choses, par une réconciliation – fusionnelle – avec un islam qui est le contraire même de l’Amérique traditionnelle.

Ce n’est là qu’un fantasme. La politique rationnelle d’Obama se réfère à d’autres considérations, d’autres raisonnements. Mais les fantasmes sont souvent aussi puissants ou plus puissants que la rationalité. Et qui plus est, les fantasmes personnels du président actuel recoupent ceux d’une bonne partie de la société américaine : les Noirs, les non-Blancs en général, mais aussi les milieux blancs d’extrême-gauche, une partie des élites intellectuelles…

HAMODIA. Comment Nethanyahu va-t-il réagir ? Son discours sur la persistance du danger iranien, à l’Onu, était-il à la hauteur ?

MG. Benjalin Nethanyahu est un leader prudent. Il a toujours su éviter un affrontement direct avec Obama. Son discours, à l’Onu, s’adressait avant tout, media voce, à une opinion publique américaine qui se méfie à la fois d’Obama et de Rouhani. Et aux réalistes arabes.

HAMODIA. Obama a lié le dossier iranien au processus de paix israélo-arabe…

Qui peut encore soutenir sérieusement qu’Israël est au cœur de tous les problèmes du Proche Orient et que tout passe, dans cette région, par la « résolution » du « problème palestinien » ? Depuis près de quatre ans, le monde arabe et islamique n’en finit pas de se décomposer et de se recomposer sous nos yeux, entraîné par ses pesanteurs propres. Une analyste géopolitique, Robin Wright, vient même de prédire dans le New York Times, le quotidien le plus pro-Obama des Etats-Unis, le remplacement de cinq Etats moyen-orientaux (la Syrie, l’Irak, l’Arabie Saoudite, la Libye, le Yemen) par quinze nouveaux Etats à caractère ethnoreligieux. Voilà qui merite au moins autant d’attention que les articles promouvant le « nouvel Iran » du président Rouhani. Et qui relativise le « processus de paix » Jérusalem-Ramallah.

(Propos recueillis par Daniel Haïk)

Voir aussi:

A Victory for Iran

The Obama administration’s “interim” agreement is an exercise in wishful thinking.

Mona Charen

National Review on line

November 26, 2013

Ninety percent of the American opinion elite will fall for the old “historic breakthrough” conceit every time. The appeal of getting enemies in a room together where they will shed their animosity and “reason together” is so profound that nothing as tiresome as experience can diminish its allure.

Don’t talk to Secretary Kerry or President Obama about the League of Nations (which enjoyed such success ensuring world peace) or the Kellogg–Briand Pact, the 1928 treaty that outlawed war as an instrument of national policy. Fifty-four countries, including all of the major belligerents of World War II, signed the pact. Don’t mention the series of “breakthrough agreements” between the United States and North Korea, in which we thrice (1994, 2005, 2007) offered security guarantees, food aid, diplomatic concessions, and cash in exchange for North Korea’s promise to discontinue its nuclear program. The very same person who handled negotiations with North Korea for the Clinton administration, Wendy Sherman, is now heading up the U.S. team stroking the Iranians. (The Bush administration, more immune than most to the siren call of diplomatic breakthroughs, did fall into the trap with North Korea.)

Secretary Kerry, denying that the Geneva accord is a naïve exercise in wishful thinking, pleads that we need to “put to the test Iran’s words and intentions.” Any contract requires a meeting of the minds. Kerry keeps saying that we don’t need to trust the Iranians because we will be checking them at every stage. But if the parties do not even agree to what they’ve just signed in the 18 hours after inking a document, how well is verification going to go? Mohammed Zarif, Iran’s chief negotiator, asserted that the agreement takes the threat of force off the table, and enshrines Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium. Kerry flatly denies both. Nice start.

Secretary Kerry also challenged Iran to “prove” to the world that its nuclear program is only for “peaceful purposes.” Is that a question an adult, far less America’s chief diplomat, should pose? Iran controls the world’s fourth largest supply of oil and second largest reserve of natural gas. Are we to believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear power because of concern about climate change? How exactly would Iran’s active research on nuclear-weapons design and development of ballistic-missile technology suit that explanation?

It has been obvious for more than two decades that Iran is determined to join the nuclear club — a goal America’s allies in the region and right-thinking people the world over view with horror and dread. Five Security Council resolutions have demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment of uranium. The Obama administration itself has repeatedly and starkly declared that Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is “unacceptable.”

As with so many things President Obama has said, though, this pronouncement is nothing more than a windsock — it shows which way the wind is blowing, but doesn’t hold anything. Like the “red line” about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the stentorian injunctions against Iran’s nuclear pursuit are also just so much wind.

Both Kerry and Obama have repeatedly argued that negotiation is the only alternative to war. By blurting this in an attempt to dissuade Congress from passing further sanctions they completely neuter any implied threat of military force. Iran certainly notices the Obama administration’s eagerness for a deal as well as its rejection of military action.

Nor is it correct that the only alternative to this capitulation was war. The sanctions that this agreement supersedes were working well to force the Iranian regime to come to terms. Their nation is struggling with high prices, shortages, and a collapsing currency due to sanctions. This should have been a moment of maximum leverage for the United States and other powers. Yet the deal they’ve achieved does next to nothing to reverse Iran’s march to a bomb and does a great deal to undermine the fragile, painfully achieved world consensus to impose sanctions.

“For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Obama intoned. But we’ve seen this story unfold many times before, most recently with North Korea. Our eagerness for pieces of paper that can be brandished as “peace” trumps cold reality every time. Iran has slipped the sanctions noose. It will soon become a nuclear power — not despite our best efforts, but with our tacit acquiescence. We will look back on this agreement with bitterness in the very near future.

Voir également:

Peace for Our Time

Victor Davis Hanson

National review on line

November 24, 2013

The Iranian agreement comes not in isolation, unfortunately. The Syrian debacle instructed the Iranians that the Obama administration was more interested in announcing a peaceful breakthrough than actually achieving it. The timing is convenient for both sides: The Obama administration needed an offset abroad to the Obamacare disaster, and the Iranians want a breathing space to rebuild their finances and ensure that Assad can salvage the Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis. The agreement is a de facto acknowledgement that containing, not ending, Iran’s nuclear program is now U.S. policy.

After all, to what degree would an Iranian freeze really retard development of a bomb, or simply put it on hold? In other words, has Iran already met some of its requirements for weaponization, and now simply wishes to take a breather, rebuild its economy, and strengthen its image in the West — before the final and rather easy development of a deliverable bomb? If the sanctions are not only lifted, but incentives are added in place of them, why then would Iran not agree to dismantle completely elements of its program that exceed domestic energy purposes? (Or for that matter, why would a nation with among the world’s largest reserves of gas and oil feel the need to fund an expensive nuclear energy program in the first place?)

Aside from the details of this new Sword of Damocles pact, one wonders about the following: In the case of violations, will it be easier for Iran to return to weaponization or for the U.S. to reassemble allies to reestablish the sanctions? Will Israel now be more or less likely to consider preemption? Will the Sunni states feel some relief or more likely pursue avenues to achieve nuclear deterrence? Will allies like Japan or South Korea feel that the U.S. has reasserted its old global clout, or further worry that their patron might engage in secret talks with, say, China rather than reemphasize their security under the traditional U.S. umbrella?

The president’s dismal polls are only a multiplier of that general perception abroad that foreign policy is an auxiliary to fundamental transformation at home, useful not so much to create international stability per se, as to enhance Obama influence in pursuing his domestic agenda. Collate reset, lead from behind, “redlines,” “game-changers,” ”deadlines,” the Arab Spring confusion, the skedaddle from Iraq, Benghazi, the Eastern European missile pullback, and the atmosphere is comparable to the 1979–80 Carter landscape, in which after three years of observation, the opportunists at last decided to act while the acting was good, from Afghanistan to Central America to Tehran.

There is not a good record, from Philip of Macedon to Hitler to Stalin in the 1940s to Carter and the Soviets in the 1970s to radical Islamists in the 1990s, of expecting authoritarians and thugs to listen to reason, cool their aggression, and appreciate democracies’ sober and judicious appeal to logic — once they sense in the West greater eagerness to announce new, rather than to enforce old, agreements.

Voir encore:

Worse Than Munich

In 1938, Chamberlain bought time to rearm. In 2013, Obama gives Iran time to go nuclear.

Bret Stephens

The WSJ

Nov. 25, 2013

To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little.

Britain and France’s capitulation to Nazi Germany at Munich has long been a byword for ignominy, moral and diplomatic. Yet neither Neville Chamberlain nor Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. "Peace for our time" it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm.

The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 was a betrayal of an embattled U.S. ally and the abandonment of an effort for which 58,000 American troops gave their lives. Yet it did end America’s participation in a peripheral war, which neither Congress nor the public could indefinitely support. "Peace with honor" it was not, as the victims of Cambodia’s Killing Fields or Vietnam’s re-education camps can attest. But, for American purposes at least, it was peace.

By contrast, the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva on Sunday by Iran and the six big powers has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects.

Consider: Britain and France came to Munich as military weaklings. The U.S. and its allies face Iran from a position of overwhelming strength. Britain and France won time to rearm. The U.S. and its allies have given Iran more time to stockpile uranium and develop its nuclear infrastructure. Britain and France had overwhelming domestic constituencies in favor of any deal that would avoid war. The Obama administration is defying broad bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress for the sake of a deal.

As for the Vietnam parallels, the U.S. showed military resolve in the run-up to the Paris Accords with a massive bombing and mining campaign of the North that demonstrated presidential resolve and forced Hanoi to sign the deal. The administration comes to Geneva fresh from worming its way out of its own threat to use force to punish Syria’s Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The Nixon administration also exited Vietnam in the context of a durable opening to Beijing that helped tilt the global balance of power against Moscow. Now the U.S. is attempting a fleeting opening with Tehran at the expense of a durable alliance of values with Israel and interests with Saudi Arabia. "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" is the title of a hilarious memoir by British author Toby Young —but it could equally be the history of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

That’s where the differences end between Geneva and the previous accords. What they have in common is that each deal was a betrayal of small countries—Czechoslovakia, South Vietnam, Israel—that had relied on Western security guarantees. Each was a victory for the dictatorships: "No matter the world wants it or not," Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Sunday, "this path will, God willingly, continue to the peak that has been considered by the martyred nuclear scientists." Each deal increased the contempt of the dictatorships for the democracies: "If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella," Hitler is reported to have said of Chamberlain after Munich, "I’ll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach."

And each deal was a prelude to worse. After Munich came the conquest of Czechoslovakia, the Nazi-Soviet pact and World War II. After Paris came the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh and the humiliating exit from the embassy rooftop. After Geneva there will come a new, chaotic Mideast reality in which the United States will lose leverage over enemies and friends alike.

What will that look like? Iran will gradually shake free of sanctions and glide into a zone of nuclear ambiguity that will keep its adversaries guessing until it opts to make its capabilities known. Saudi Arabia will move swiftly to acquire a nuclear deterrent from its clients in Islamabad; Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made that clear to the Journal last week when he indiscreetly discussed "the arrangement with Pakistan." Egypt is beginning to ponder a nuclear option of its own while drawing closer to a security alliance with Russia.

As for Israel, it cannot afford to live in a neighborhood where Iran becomes nuclear, Assad remains in power, and Hezbollah—Israel’s most immediate military threat—gains strength, clout and battlefield experience. The chances that Israel will hazard a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites greatly increased since Geneva. More so the chances of another war with Hezbollah.

After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away. If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it’s because the West is being led by the same sort of men, minus the umbrellas.

Voir de même:

Hassan Rouhani: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Majid Rafizadeh

FrontPage Magazine

July 24, 2013

In the Western world, the media and political leaders have created a narrative averring that Iran’s seventh president, Hassan Rouhani, will introduce a new chapter to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s history of nuclear defiance. Meanwhile, under Ahmadinejad’s rule, Tehran will continue to spin its centrifuges in attempt to obtain nuclear weapons and arsenals until Rouhani assumes presidency. While the West and other regional countries have suspended all diplomatic initiatives, talks and pressures until Rouhani comes to power, Iranian leaders have taken advantage of this opportunity to speed up their enrichment of uranium so as to sooner reach the critical point of obtaining nuclear weapons.

The “logic” that the Obama administration and other liberal leaders are utilizing to uphold the argument that diplomatic initiatives have to wait until Rouhani comes to power is that Rouhani is a centrist, moderate, realist, and rational Iranian politician who comprehends the concerns and rules of the international community, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations, and P5+1. They argue that Rouhani will comply with rules and halt Iran’s nuclear program in several cities including Bushehr, Qum, Esfahan, Arak and Natanz.

Nevertheless, these arguments do not take into account the ideological nuances, political agenda and structure of the Iranian centrists. In addition, and more fundamentally, these arguments can easily be repudiated not only by the career, personal, ideological, and political background of Hassan Rouhani, but also by the most recent statements that Rouhani has made in Persian media and the state’s outlets.

In a recent interview, Hassan Abedini, the host of one of Iran’s state media channels, IRIB, criticized Rouhani by stating that Iran’s nuclear work had been halted as a result of the negotiations that Rouhani took part in when he was chief nuclear negotiator. Rouhani then immediately interrupted Abedini by exclaiming, “What you said is a lie. You know it’s a lie. This statement is what ignorant people say; you are taught in this….Maybe the person speaking to you in your earpiece doesn’t know, but you know.” After the television host pressured Rouhani further, Rouhani said “We suspended the [nuclear] program? We completed the [nuclear] program. This is unethical act of the IRIB [channel] that has permeated into you. And the person who is talking with you into your earpiece, this unethical act has permeated into him, as well.”

In this interview, Rouhani supported the position that although the West and international community believe that Iran was halting its nuclear program, Rouhani – as the chief nuclear negotiator – was in fact completing it. In addition, at the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, Rouhani further clarified, “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were [simultaneously] installing equipment in parts of the [nuclear] facility in Isfahan, but we still had a long way to go to accomplish the project. In fact, by creating a tranquil environment, we were able to finish the work in Isfahan.”

Furthermore, after Rouhani was elected as the Iran’s seventh president, he publicly declared that the United States must recognize Iran’s nuclear rights and pledge not to interfere in its internal and domestic affairs. Additionally, in his press conference, the president-elect clearly stated, “The era of [enrichment] suspension is gone.”

The critical fact remains that although on one hand the Iranian centrists support using softer and more diplomatic tones on regional and international platforms, on the other hand, they also strongly insist on preserving Tehran’s current political status quo, foreign policy objectives, and continued assistance towards the survival of the Shiite cleric-ruled regime. While Rouhani is nicknamed the diplomatic sheikh and while he calls for employing less hostile language when dealing with the West, it is nevertheless unrealistic to argue that Rouhani will alter Tehran’s nuclear program and foreign policies or challenge the Supreme Leader.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country would be the most affected if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, responded to Rouhani’s remarks about the era of nuclear suspension being gone. In an interview with CBS News, Netanyahu accurately characterized the political ideology of Rouhani and Iran’s centrist political spectrum by stating, “He [Rouhani] is criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf’s clothing. His strategy is to be a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Smile and build a bomb.” Netanyahu also stated previously, “Let us not delude ourselves. The international community must not become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.”

Hassan Rouhani and the centrist party are the founders and beneficiaries of the theocratic political system of Iran’s Ayatollahs. It would be irrational to argue that Rouhani will stand against the current system, which he assisted in creating, and it is illogical to believe that he will risk his power and accumulated wealth by halting the centrifuges from spinning. Rouhani was the chief advisor of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as the head of Iran’s National Security Council. It is thus inevitable that Rouhani will avoid challenging the Supreme Leader so as to preserve all the benefits and powers he has accumulated.

In a very Machiavellian-like approach, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue spinning its centrifuges under the rule of Rouhani, but in the meanwhile will use a much softer tone when interacting with the international community. This shrewdness will allow Iran to buy time, manipulate the international community, take advantage of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s loopholes, delude the rest of world and ultimately reach their nuclear and hegemonic ambitions.

Voir de plus:

Rohani, bilan d’une modération de façade en Iran

National Council of Resistance of Iran

12 Oct 2013

CNRI – Voilà près de 100 jours que Hassan Rohani a pris ses fonctions de nouveau président du régime iranien. Les médias font une grande place à l’offensive du lobby des mollahs pour donner à la dictature religieuse un vernir de modération via l’image de Rohani, un homme du sérail depuis 30 ans. Le but étant uniquement de desserrer l’étau des sanctions internationales qui l’étranglent. Cependant, on peut déjà se faire une idée de sa véritable identité à travers son bilan.

Avant son accession à la présidence

Hassan Rohani se vantait d’avoir réussi à tromper les Occidentaux dans les négociations sur le nucléaire. Voici son intervention, le 3 novembre 2003, au Conseil suprême de la Révolution culturelle, paru en septembre 2005 dans le semestriel RAHBORD, une publication du Centre de Recherche stratégique du Conseil de Discernement de l’État :

« Durant l’été 2002, des clameurs se sont levées dans les médias occidentaux affirmant que l’Iran s’emploie à construire une bombe atomique (…) Quand nous avons invité les trois ministres (des Affaires étrangères européennes) nous cherchions à savoir comment nous pourrions donner une vue d’ensemble du programme nucléaire et de nos précédentes activités, tout en évitant d’être renvoyés devant le Conseil de sécurité. Si nous avions refusé de déclarer nos activités passées, cela aurait signifié pour l’agence (AIEA) que nous n’avions pas l’intention de coopérer. Car la plupart des activités menées à l’insu de l’agence, lui avait été communiquées par les pays avec lesquels nous avions traité (…) Avec les renseignements venus de la Libye, ils se sont rendus compte que nous avions pu obtenir des choses de notre négociant sans les déclarer. En effet, nous avions déclaré les équipements reçus du négociant, à une exception : la (centrifugeuse) P2 (…)

«Graduellement, les Européens ont conclu que nous n’avions pas accepté la suspension dans les domaines où nous avions des difficultés technologiques, et que la suspension (de l’enrichissement) s’appliquait seulement aux cas où nous n’avions pas de difficultés techniques. C’est une question qu’ils ont soulevée récemment dans les négociations. Ainsi, s’agissant de l’U.C.F et de l’usine d’Ispahan qui transforme le yelow cake en du UF4 et UF6, nous avons réussi à le terminer pendant la période de la suspension. À l’époque, pendant que nous étions en train de discuter avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions des équipements dans certaines parties (de l’usine) d’Ispahan, et le projet était sur le point d’être complété. En réalité, c’est en créant un climat de sérénité, que nous avons pu achever Ispahan. Dieu soit loué, Ispahan a été complété et nous pouvons transformer le yellow cake en du UF4 et UF6, et c’est très important (…) Nous avions certaines choses et nous pensions que personne n’en était informé. Mais ces mêmes choses que nous avions dissimulées, avaient malheureusement été publiées dans le passé dans des thèses de doctorat et des articles scientifiques (iraniens). En outre, d’autres faits avaient été communiqués par la Chine et la Russie à l’Agence.»

Discours d’Hassan Rohani, premier vice-président du parlement, dans un rassemblement de la milice du Bassidj, publié le 17 mai 1995 par le quotidien officiel Etela’at:

« Si certains endiablés venaient dire jusqu’à récemment à nos chers jeunes gens que l’antiaméricanisme de la révolution s’est édulcorée, aujourd’hui cependant, il est avéré à la face du monde que ces paroles sont erronées et infondées. Notre système, notre gouvernement, notre parlement, nos responsables, et à leur tête notre vénérable Guide suprême, à l’instar de l’imam (Khomeiny), sont tous des antiaméricains convaincus. Aujourd’hui l’admirable slogan de "mort à l’Amérique" est de plus en plus une source d’unité dans notre pays. Aujourd’hui le slogan "mort à l’Amérique" a fait que notre cheminement est plus clair, plus transparent et plus défini que jamais.» https://khodnevis.org/article/52750#.Uk1VB4bwZpw

Après son arrivée à la présidence

Sur le programme atomique :

« Accepter le droit naturel, légal et inaliénable de l’Iran, comme l’ordonne avec sagesse le guide suprême, est le moyen le plus simple de résoudre le dossier nucléaire atomique. »

« La technologie nucléaire, notamment l’enrichissement de l’uranium, est parvenue au stade de production à grande échelle. Imaginer qu’en faisant obstruction au programme atomique de l’Iran par le biais de pressions illégales, on peut garantir que le programme est pacifique, relève de la fiction totale. »

Discours à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, New York, 24 septembre 2013.

– Selon l’AIEA : les réserves d’uranium enrichi à 20% en Iran au mois de février avaient augmenté de 9 %

20 aout 2013, agence Reuters

- 28 aout : Dans son rapport trimestriel, l’AIEA a annoncé : en installant des centaines d’autres centrifugeuses, l’Iran a augmenté sa capacité à enrichir l’uranium. Ces centrifugeuses, qui sont d’un modèle plus avancé (IR-2), se trouvent dans le site nucléaire de Natanz, dans la province d’Ispahan. Le rapport ajoute : l’Iran a aussi commencé la production de combustible pour le réacteur d’eau lourde.

Rapport de l’AEIA, 28 aout

– Dans la visite que nous avons effectuée aujourd’hui au site de Fordo (…) les activités de ce site se poursuivent sans la moindre faille et l’enrichissement se fait à 20%. »

1 octobre, agences de presse officielles iraniennes

Sur les missiles balistiques :

Dans un défilé militaire en Iran en présence de Rohani, « les forces armée iraniennes ont présenté 30 missiles balistique de type Sejil et Ghadr d’une portée annoncée de 2000 km ».

AFP – 22 septembre 2013

Sur Israël :

« Le régime sioniste est depuis des années une plaie sur le corps monde musulman et il faut se débarrasser de cette plaie. » Quelques heures plus tard, la phrase a été corrigée de la manière suivante : « Dans notre région, dans l’ombre occupée du territoire palestinien et de notre chère Qods (Jérusalem), une plaie a été infligée au corps du monde musulman et cela nous rappelle que le peuple musulman n’oubliera pas son droit historique et résistera à l’oppression et à l’agression. »

3 aout 2013 – Discours à la manifestation annuel contre Israël du nom de « Journée Qods »

http://www.president.ir/fa/70000

Sur la Corée du Nord :

« L’Iran et la Corée du nord ont toujours entretenu de bonnes relations et il est certain que le niveau de relation de ces deux pays se développera dans le 11e gouvernement (…) Les relations de la république islamique d’Iran et de la Corée du Nord au fil des ans ont toujours été bonnes et en plein développement. Je suis certain que les relations entre les deux pays vont se poursuivre avec le 11e gouvernement et continueront de se développer plus qu’auparavant. »

3 aout 2013 – Dans une rencontre avec le président nord coréen

http://www.president.ir/fa/70017

Sur la Syrie :

« La république islamique d’Iran est préoccupée par la présence de terroristes et les ingérences étrangères en Syrie et le condamne. » « Le président de la république, adressant ses remerciements pour le message de Bachar Assad, le président syrien, a mis l’accent sur le développement des relations entre les deux pays dans divers domaines. »

4 aout 2013 – Rencontre avec le premier ministre syrien

http://www.president.ir/fa/70427

Sur le guide suprême et la constitution de la dictature religieuse :

« Nous sommes fiers de tous nous trouver en république islamique dont le pilier centrale est le guide suprême. »

19 aout 2013, lors de la présentation du ministre de l’Intérieur

http://www.president.ir/fa/70641

« La constitution est extrêmement progressiste et dynamique, le principe de la constitution peut parfaitement satisfaire les droits civils de la population. »

6 aout 2013, lors de sa première conférence de presse.

http://www.president.ir/fa/70470

Sur la situation économique :

« Deux années consécutives, la croissance économique du pays s’est révélée négative. C’est la première fois qu’après la guerre imposée [contre l’Irak], notre croissance économique est négative. C’est la première fois qu’à côté de la croissance négative, le pays connait une inflation extrêmement élevée, la plus haute inflation de la région, voire du monde. Le pays connait une inflation de 42%, le pays connait le chômage (…) Regardez les chiffres : de 2006 à 2011, quel est le nombre d’emplois ? 14.000 personnes par an ? C’est le nombre d’emplois de ces dernières années dans notre pays. »

3 aout 2013, dans une réunion avec les députés au Majlis.

http://www.president.ir/fa/70004

« La situation actuelle du pays dans tous les domaines est difficile et complexe. Dans le domaine économique, le pays connait une inflation élevée, un taux d’investissements réduit, une réduction des entreprises de production, et beaucoup de liquidités, en autres problèmes économiques.

« Dans le domaine de la politique étrangère, nous sommes confrontés aux sanctions qui nous oppriment, aux défis régionaux et aux tensions politiques aigues au Moyen-Orient. »

15 aout 2013, discours de clôture en défense des ministres présentés au parlement.

http://www.president.ir/fa/70547

Un dossier sur Hassan Rohani

Rohani au pouvoir en Iran quelles sont les conséquences

Voir enfin:

Iran Strongly Rejects Text of Geneva Agreement Released by White House

FARS

Nov 26, 2013

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called invalid a press release by the White House alleged to be the text of the nuclear agreement struck by Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) in Geneva on Sunday.

“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Tuesday.

She said that the four-page text under the name of the Joint Plan of Action (which has been released by the Iranian foreign ministry) was the result of the agreement reached during the Geneva talks and all of its sentences and words were chosen based on the considerations of all parties to the talks. In fact one of the reasons why negotiations between Iran and the G5+1 took so long pertained to the accuracy which was needed for choosing the words for the text of the agreement, Afkham said, explaining that the Iranian delegation was much rigid and laid much emphasis on the need for this accuracy.

Afkham said that the text of the Joint Plan of Action was provided to the media a few hours after the two sides agreed on it.

After the White House released a modified version of the deal struck by Iran and the six world powers in Geneva early Sunday morning, the Iranian Foreign Ministry released the text of the agreement.

The full text of the deal is as follows:

Geneva, 24 November 2013

Joint Plan of Action

Preamble

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons. This comprehensive solution would build on these initial measures and result in a final step for a period to be agreed upon and the resolution of concerns. This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-bystep process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

There would be additional steps in between the initial measures and the final step, including, among other things, addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council’s consideration of this matter. The E3+3 and Iran will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures and the comprehensive solution in good faith. A Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 and Iran will be established to monitor the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that may arise, with the IAEA responsible for verification of nuclear-related measures. The Joint Commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern.

Elements of a first step The first step would be time-bound, with a duration of 6 months, and renewable by mutual consent, during which all parties will work to maintain a constructive atmosphere for negotiations in good faith. Iran would undertake the following voluntary measures:

• From the existing uranium enriched to 20%, retain half as working stock of 20% oxide for fabrication of fuel for the TRR. Dilute the remaining 20% UF6 to no more than 5%. No reconversion line.

• Iran announces that it will not enrich uranium over 5% for the duration of the 6 months.

• Iran announces that it will not make any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant1, Fordow2, or the Arak reactor3, designated by the IAEA as IR-40.

• Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.

• No new locations for the enrichment.

• Iran will continue its safeguarded R&D practices, including its current enrichment R&D practices, which are not designed for accumulation of the enriched uranium.

• No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.

• Enhanced monitoring:

o Provision of specified information to the IAEA, including information on Iran’s plans for nuclear facilities, a description of each building on each nuclear site, a description of the scale of operations for each location engaged in specified nuclear activities, information on uranium mines and mills, and information on source material. This information would be provided within three months of the adoption of these measures.

o Submission of an updated DIQ for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40, to the IAEA.

o Steps to agree with the IAEA on conclusion of the Safeguards Approach for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40.

o Daily IAEA inspector access when inspectors are not present for the purpose of Design Information Verification, Interim Inventory Verification, Physical Inventory Verification, and unannounced inspections, for the purpose of access to offline surveillance records, at Fordow and Natanz.

o IAEA inspector managed access to:

centrifuge assembly workshops4;

centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities; and, uranium mines and mills.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Footnotes:

1 Namely, during the 6 months, Iran will not feed UF6 into the centrifuges installed but not enriching uranium. Not install additional centrifuges. Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.

2 At Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium, and not increase enrichment capacity. Not

feed UF6 into the other 12 cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections between cascades.

Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.

3 Iran announces on concerns related to the construction of the reactor at Arak that for 6 months it will not commission the reactor or transfer fuel or heavy water to the reactor site and will not test additional fuel or produce more fuel for the reactor or install remaining components.

4 Consistent with its plans, Iran’s centrifuge production during the 6 months will be dedicated to replace damaged machines.

In return, the E3/EU+3 would undertake the following voluntary measures:

• Pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, enabling Iran’s current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. Enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad. For such oil sales, suspend the EU and U.S. sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services.

• Suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on:

o Iran’s petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services.5 o Gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions on associated services.

• Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry, as well as sanctions on associated services.

• License the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services. License safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services.6

• No new nuclear-related UN Security Council sanctions.

• No new EU nuclear-related sanctions.

• The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the

Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.

• Establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad. Humanitarian trade would be defined as transactions involving food and agricultural products, medicine, medical devices, and medical expenses incurred abroad. This channel would involve specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian banks to be defined when establishing the channel.

o This channel could also enable:

transactions required to pay Iran’s UN obligations; and, direct tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad, up to an agreed amount for the six month period.

• Increase the EU authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Footnotes

5 "Sanctions on associated services" means any service, such as insurance, transportation, or financial, subject to the underlying U.S. or EU sanctions applicable, insofar as each service is related to the underlying sanction and required to facilitate the desired transactions. These services could involve any non-designated Iranian entities.

6 Sanctions relief could involve any non-designated Iranian airlines as well as Iran Air.

Elements of the final step of a comprehensive solution*

The final step of a comprehensive solution, which the parties aim to conclude negotiating and commence implementing no more than one year after the adoption of this document, would:

• Have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon.

• Reflect the rights and obligations of parties to the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Agreements.

• Comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon.

• Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon.

• Fully resolve concerns related to the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40.

No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.

• Fully implement the agreed transparency measures and enhanced monitoring. Ratify and implement the Additional Protocol, consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Majlis (Iranian parliament).

• Include international civil nuclear cooperation, including among others, on acquiring modern light water power and research reactors and associated equipment, and the supply of modern nuclear fuel as well as agreed R&D practices.

Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.

* With respect to the final step and any steps in between, the standard principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" applies.


Ecoutes américaines: Beau comme la rencontre fortuite de l’insigne incompétence et de la plus totalitaire des capacités d’interception (Lamb horns and dragon voice – the most ineffectual drone president and an apparatus that aspires to monitor no less than the entirety of the human race’s electronic communications !)

31 octobre, 2013
Photo : BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING US (Lamb horns and dragon voice - the most ineffectual drone president and an apparatus that aspires to monitor no less than the entirety of the human race's electronic communications !)And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.  And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his nameRevelation 13: 11-17The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us, Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. The difference is that we don’t have the same means as the United States - which makes us jealous.Bernard KouchnerOf course, Brazil, France, Germany, and Mexico do exactly the same thing. They want their leaders to gain a decision advantage in the give and take between countries. They want to know what U.S. policymakers will do before the Americans do it. And in the case of Brazil and France, they aggressively spy on the United States, on U.S. citizens and politicians, in order to collect that information. The difference lies in the scale of intelligence collection: The U.S. has the most effective, most distributed, most sophisticated intelligence community in the West. It is Goliath. And other countries, rightly in their mind, are envious.Marc Ambiderhttp://theweek.com/article/index/251628/why-the-nsa-spies-on-france-and-germanyBefore his disclosures, most experts already assumed that the United States conducted cyberattacks against China, bugged European institutions, and monitored global Internet communications. Even his most explosive revelation -- that the United States and the United Kingdom have compromised key communications software and encryption systems designed to protect online privacy and security -- merely confirmed what knowledgeable observers have long suspected.The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. ... "Hypocrisy is central to Washington’s soft power—its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions—yet few Americans appreciate its role, The reason the United States has until now suffered few consequences for such hypocrisy is that other states have a strong interest in turning a blind eye. Given how much they benefit from the global public goods Washington provides, they have little interest in calling the hegemon on its bad behavior. Public criticism risks pushing the U.S. government toward self-interested positions that would undermine the larger world order. Moreover, the United States can punish those who point out the inconsistency in its actions by downgrading trade relations or through other forms of direct retaliation. Allies thus usually air their concerns in private.http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140155/henry-farrell-and-martha-finnemore/the-end-of-hypocrisy#http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140155/henry-farrell-and-martha-finnemore/the-end-of-hypocrisy#Hypocrisy is crucial because the world order functions through a set of American-built institutions, such as the UN and the World Trade Organisation, which depend on America's commitment to their ideals to hold legitimacy. However, America, like other countries, is in practice often unable to pursue its national interests while adhering to these ideals. Because America is more important to the global order than other countries, its need to practise hypocrisy is greater. And, in general, allies have been willing to abet such hypocrisy:The Economisthttp://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/10/nsa-and-euhttp://www.nationalreview.com/article/362404/obama-still-president-victor-davis-hanson/page/0/1Puis je vis monter de la terre une autre bête, qui avait deux cornes semblables à celles d’un agneau, et qui parlait comme un dragon. Elle exerçait toute l’autorité de la première bête en sa présence, et elle faisait que la terre et ses habitants adoraient la première bête, dont la blessure mortelle avait été guérie. Elle opérait de grands prodiges, même jusqu’à faire descendre du feu du ciel sur la terre, à la vue des hommes.Et elle séduisait les habitants de la terre par les prodiges qu’il lui était donné d’opérer en présence de la bête, disant aux habitants de la terre de faire une image à la bête qui avait la blessure de l’épée et qui vivait. Et il lui fut donné d’animer l’image de la bête, afin que l’image de la bête parlât, et qu’elle fît que tous ceux qui n’adoreraient pas l’image de la bête fussent tués. Et elle fit que tous, petits et grands, riches et pauvres, libres et esclaves, reçussent une marque sur leur main droite ou sur leur front, et que personne ne pût acheter ni vendre, sans avoir la marque, le nom de la bête ou le nombre de son nom.  Apocalypse 13: 11-17
Beau comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d’une machine à coudre et d’un parapluie! Lautréamont
L’Iran devrait probablement atteindre une capacité nucléaire indétectable à la mi-2014 et peut-être même avant. Dennis Ross
C’est l‘importance des écoutes qui nous a choqué, mais soyons honnêtes, nous espionnons aussi. Tout le monde écoute tout le monde. La différence, c’est qu’on n’a pas les moyens des Etats-Unis, ce qui nous rend jaloux.  Bernard Kouchner
Pour ce qui est de l’espionnage par des moyens technologiques, les écoutes précisément ou les interceptions de flux internet, 2001 n’a pas vraiment changé les choses. 2001 a juste donné aux Etats-Unis un motif nouveau pour habiller leurs pratiques d’interception. Ce nouveau motif, c’est la guerre contre le terrorisme. Mais sur le plan des pratiques, depuis les années 1950, en pleine guerre froide, les Etats-Unis ont en permanence intercepté des communications, y compris celles de leurs partenaires et celles de leurs alliés. (…)  La NSA, d’un point de vue très pratique, en matière d’interception en dehors des Etats-Unis, a deux moyens. D’une part, elle se sert dans les grands serveurs des fournisseurs d’accès à internet, c’est une première façon d’aller directement puiser à la source. Ou alors, elle a un accès, je dirais plus pratique encore, qui est de se brancher sur les câbles eux-mêmes, et non pas sur les fermes (serveurs de données) dans lesquelles sont contenues toutes les données. Ensuite, comme d’autres agences, comme l’agence britannique et d’autres agences, toutes ces données ne sont pas exploitées par l’intelligence humaine mais sont exploitées grâce à des algorithmes, par des capacités informatiques, qui essaient de cibler des mots-clés. Alors, c’est tout l’enjeu du débat aujourd’hui. Est-ce que, comme le disent les Etats-Unis dans une défense mezzo voce, ils ne cherchent dans ces données que ce qui a trait à la lutte contre le terrorisme et à la sécurité des Etats-Unis? Ou est-ce que, sans le dire, ils utilisent aussi ces interceptions pour repérer les mots-clés touchant à des pratiques commerciales, à des brevets, à des litiges juridiques ? Ce que l’on peut dire, étant donné ce que l’on sait aujourd’hui du passé, c’est que la capacité d’interception de la NSA a servi, bien sûr, la sécurité des Etats-Unis mais elle a aussi servi les Etats-Unis dans la guerre économique mondiale qui est devenue une réalité plus forte après la fin de la guerre froide. (…) C’est un jeu de dupes, mais comme les relations entre les Etats sont un jeu de dupes. (…) en même temps il faut bien regarder ce qui est en cause, de la part de la NSA c’est quand même à l’égard de ses grands partenaires commerciaux et politiques, le Brésil, la France ou l’Allemagne. Et là, le jeu de dupes, qui est en partie dévoilé, peut avoir des incidences sur ce qui est la base de la relation entre des alliés et des partenaires : cela s’appelle la confiance. Sébastien Laurent
Of course, Brazil, France, Germany, and Mexico do exactly the same thing. They want their leaders to gain a decision advantage in the give and take between countries. They want to know what U.S. policymakers will do before the Americans do it. And in the case of Brazil and France, they aggressively spy on the United States, on U.S. citizens and politicians, in order to collect that information. The difference lies in the scale of intelligence collection: The U.S. has the most effective, most distributed, most sophisticated intelligence community in the West. It is Goliath. And other countries, rightly in their mind, are envious. Marc Ambider
Before his disclosures, most experts already assumed that the United States conducted cyberattacks against China, bugged European institutions, and monitored global Internet communications. Even his most explosive revelation — that the United States and the United Kingdom have compromised key communications software and encryption systems designed to protect online privacy and security — merely confirmed what knowledgeable observers have long suspected. … The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. … "Hypocrisy is central to Washington’s soft power—its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions—yet few Americans appreciate its role, …The reason the United States has until now suffered few consequences for such hypocrisy is that other states have a strong interest in turning a blind eye. Given how much they benefit from the global public goods Washington provides, they have little interest in calling the hegemon on its bad behavior. Public criticism risks pushing the U.S. government toward self-interested positions that would undermine the larger world order. Moreover, the United States can punish those who point out the inconsistency in its actions by downgrading trade relations or through other forms of direct retaliation. Allies thus usually air their concerns in private. Foreign Affairs
Hypocrisy is crucial because the world order functions through a set of American-built institutions, such as the UN and the World Trade Organisation, which depend on America’s commitment to their ideals to hold legitimacy. However, America, like other countries, is in practice often unable to pursue its national interests while adhering to these ideals. Because America is more important to the global order than other countries, its need to practise hypocrisy is greater. And, in general, allies have been willing to abet such hypocrisy … The Economist

Pour ceux qui n’avaient pas encore compris qu’à l’instar de la politique de Clausewitz, l’économie est devenue la continuation de la guerre par d’autres moyens …

Et à l’heure ou, pour donner le change à leurs opinions publiques, nos dirigeants et médias font mine de découvrir le secret de polichinelle des écoutes américaines …

Pendant que derrière son bluff nucléaire, Téhéran pourrait sous peu passer le point de non-retour concernant son insistante promesse de rayer Israel de la carte …

Comment ne pas s’émerveiller, derrière le jeu de dupes officiel, de l’incroyable combinaison qui aurait ravi Lautréamont lui-même ?

A savoir mis à part le droit de vie ou de mort via ses drones sur tout ce que le monde peut compter de terroristes …

Celle du président américain, dument confirmé par Forbes, probablement le plus incompétent depuis Carter …

Et d’un appareillage qui, entre les interceptions téléphoniques, satellitaires et électroniques, prétend surveiller rien moins que la totalité des communications électroniques de la race humaine ?

Is Obama Still President?

His cadences soar on, through scandal after fiasco after disaster.­

Victor Davis Hanson

National review

October 29, 2013

We are currently learning whether the United States really needs a president. Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms.

Abroad, American policy in the Middle East is leaderless and in shambles after the Arab Spring — we’ve had the Syrian fiasco and bloodbath, leading from behind in Libya all the way to Benghazi, and the non-coup, non-junta in Egypt. This administration has managed to unite existential Shiite and Sunni enemies in a shared dislike of the United States. While Iran follows the Putin script from Syria, Israel seems ready to preempt its nuclear program, and Obama still mumbles empty “game changers” and “red line” threats of years past.

We have gone from reset with Russia to Putin as the playmaker of the Middle East. The Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are now mostly anti-American. The leaders of Germany and the people of France resent having their private communications tapped by Barack Obama — the constitutional lawyer and champion of universal human rights. Angela Merkel long ago grasped that President Obama would rather fly across the Atlantic to lobby for a Chicago Olympic Games — or tap her phone — than sit through a 20th-anniversary commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are beginning to see that the U.S. is more a neutral than a friend, as Obama negotiates with Putin about reducing the nuclear umbrella that protects America’s key non-nuclear allies. Perhaps they will soon make the necessary adjustments. China, Brazil, and India care little that Barack Obama still insists he is not George W. Bush, or that he seems to be trying to do to America what they seek to undo in their own countries.

The world’s leaders do not any longer seem much impressed by the president’s cat-like walk down the steps of Air Force One, or the soaring cadences that rechannel hope-and=change themes onto the world scene. They acknowledge that their own publics may like the American president, and especially his equivocation about the traditional role of American power in the world. But otherwise, for the next three years, the world is in a holding pattern, wondering whether there is a president of the United States to reckon with or a mere teleprompted functionary. Certainly, the Obama Nobel Peace Prize is now the stuff of comedy.

At home, the signature Affordable Care Act is proving its sternest critics prescient. The mess can best be summed up by Republicans’ being demonized for trying to delay or defund Obamacare — after the president himself chose not to implement elements of his own law — followed immediately by congressional Democrats’ seeking to parrot the Republicans. So are the Democrats followers of Ted Cruz or Barack Obama? Is Obama himself following Ted Cruz?

The problem is not just that all the president’s serial assurances about Obamacare proved untrue — premiums and deductibles will go up, many will lose their coverage and their doctors, new taxes will be needed, care will be curtailed, signups are nearly impossible, and businesses will be less, not more, competitive — but that no one should ever have believed they could possibly be true unless in our daily lives we usually get more and better stuff at lower cost.

More gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration legislation depends on Republicans’ trusting a president who for two weeks smeared his House opponents as hostage-takers and house-breakers. Moreover, just as no one really read the complete text of the Obamacare legislation, so too no one quite knows what is in the immigration bill. There are few assurances that the border will be first secured under an administration with a record of nullifying “settled law” — or that those who have been convicted of crimes or have been long-time recipients of state or federal assistance will not be eligible for eventual citizenship. If the employer mandate was jettisoned, why would not border security be dropped once a comprehensive immigration bill passed? Or for that matter, if it is not passed, will the president just issue a blanket amnesty anyway?

In the age of Obama, we just ran up a $700 billion annual deficit and called it restraint, as if success were to be defined as not adding another $1 trillion each year to the national debt. The strange thing is that after the end of the Iraq War and the winding down in Afghanistan, forced sequestration, new taxes on high earners, and a supposedly recovering and revenue-producing economy, we are still running up near-record deficits. Stranger still, Obama is bragging that the deficit has been cut by billions — as if the 400-pound heart patient can be content that he lost 50 pounds in record time and so trimmed down to a manageable 350 pounds.

The Federal Reserve is pretty well stuck with near-zero interest rates. Even a slight rise would make servicing the huge debt nearly unmanageable. Yet continued record low interest, along with Obamacare, is strangling the economy. Millions of older Americans are learning that a mid-level government employee draws more in pension compensation than a private retiree receives in interest on 40 years’ worth of life savings.

“Millions of green jobs,” “cash for clunkers,” and “stimulus” are all now recognized as cruel jokes. Oddly, the more scandals come to light, the more immune the virtual president becomes. After the politicization of the IRS, the snooping on AP reporters, the Benghazi mess, the NSA eavesdropping, Fast and Furious, the multibillion-dollar overpayment in income-tax credits by the IRS, the Lisa Jackson fake e-mail identities, and the Pigford payments, the public has become numb — as if it to say, “Of course the Obama administration is not truthful. So what else is new?”

Three considerations are keeping the U.S. afloat without an active president. First, many working Americans have tuned the president out and simply go on about their business despite rather than because of this administration. If gas and oil leases have been curtailed on federal lands, there is record production on private land. Farmers are producing huge harvests and receiving historically high prices. Wall Street welcomes in capital that can find no return elsewhere. American universities’ science departments and professional schools still rate among the world’s best. There is as yet no French or Chinese Silicon Valley. In other words, after five years of stagnation, half the public more or less ignores the Obama administration and plods on.

Second, the other half of Americans gladly accept that Obama is an iconic rather than a serious president. Given his emblematic status as the nation’s first African-American president and his efforts to craft a vast coalition of those with supposed grievances against the majority, he will always have a strong base of supporters. With huge increases in federal redistributive support programs, and about half the population not paying federal income taxes, Obama is seen as the protector of the noble deserving, who should receive more from a government to which the ignoble undeserving must give far more. And if it is a question of adding another million or so people to the food-stamp or disability rolls, or ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon or that China does not bully Japan, the former wins every time.

Finally, the media accept that Obama represents a rare confluence of forces that promotes a progressive agenda. His youth, his charisma, his background, his exotic nomenclature, and his “cool” all have allowed a traditionally unpopular leftist ideology to enter the mainstream. Why endanger all that with a focus on Benghazi or the disaster of Obamacare? We have had, in the course of our history, plenty of Grants, McKinleys, Hardings, Nixons, and Clintons, but never quite an administration of scandal so exempt from media scrutiny.

As far as his image goes, it does not really matter to what degree Obama actually “fundamentally transforms America.” For the media, that he seeks to do so, and that he drives conservatives crazy trying, is seen as enough reason to surrender their autonomy and become ancillary to the effort. The media believe that once he is out of office, they can regain their credibility by going after the next president with renewed vigor as recompense.

In other words, the presidency has become a virtual office. Almost half the people and most of the media do not mind, and those who do just plod onward.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is The Savior Generals, published this spring by Bloomsbury Books.

Voir aussi:

The NSA and the EU

Who do I wiretap if I want to wiretap Europe?

M.S.

The Economist

Oct 25th 2013

HENRY KISSINGER never actually asked who he should call when he wanted to call Europe; in fact, Gideon Rachman pointed out a few years ago, he probably didn’t even want there to be such a person, since he generally thought European leaders would be more tractable to American diplomacy if they remained divided. So he may well have been pleased to see, as Charlemagne observes, that European leaders’ reactions to recent spying revelations have been as fractured and tentative as they often were during his own era at the top. Edward Snowden’s revelations of the breadth of NSA spying have certainly damaged America’s reputation among its allies, and they may yet force Barack Obama to finally push back against his intelligence agencies on an issue. But the uproar in Europe seems softer than might have been predicted.

The most interesting explanation of how Mr Snowden’s revelations are likely to affect American foreign policy is the contention by Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore, in an article in Foreign Affairs, that they reduce America’s space for hypocrisy. "Hypocrisy is central to Washington’s soft power—its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions—yet few Americans appreciate its role," they write. Hypocrisy is crucial because the world order functions through a set of American-built institutions, such as the UN and the World Trade Organisation, which depend on America’s commitment to their ideals to hold legitimacy. However, America, like other countries, is in practice often unable to pursue its national interests while adhering to these ideals. Because America is more important to the global order than other countries, its need to practise hypocrisy is greater. And, in general, allies have been willing to abet such hypocrisy:

The reason the United States has until now suffered few consequences for such hypocrisy is that other states have a strong interest in turning a blind eye. Given how much they benefit from the global public goods Washington provides, they have little interest in calling the hegemon on its bad behavior. Public criticism risks pushing the U.S. government toward self-interested positions that would undermine the larger world order. Moreover, the United States can punish those who point out the inconsistency in its actions by downgrading trade relations or through other forms of direct retaliation. Allies thus usually air their concerns in private.

The problem with Mr Snowden’s revelations is that they bring such hypocrisy into the open, which puts democratic pressure on allies to criticise it.

This, at least, is the theory. In fact, there has been a curiously gleeful tone to much of the European public’s reception of America’s spying on their leaders. Coverage in Le Monde has been divided between editorials demanding that "the work of security agencies be delimited by effective parliamentary or judicial procedures of control", and breathless accounts of communications between French and American security forces over whether the Americans were behind the cyberattacks on the French president’s office in 2012. Mark Ambinder cites a radio interview with Bernard Kouchner, the former French foreign minister: "Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else… [The difference is that] we don’t have the same means as the United States—which makes us jealous."

Reactions in the Netherlands have been similarly ambiguous. The most aggressive and well-informed Dutch political response on issues of digital freedom tends to come from the left-liberal D66 party. Yesterday on Dutch TV, Sophie in ‘t Veld, who in addition to leading the D66 delegation at the European Parliament has one of the coolest names in international politics, took a sharp line against NSA surveillance and demanded a full explanation from America of whom it is spying on and why. At the same time, she joked in a self-deprecating fashion about how much leverage a Dutch European Parliament member could hope to have over the global superpower, shaking her fist and declaiming with a mock grin: "Ms in ‘t Veld is warning America for the last time!" In the laughs she got from the audience, one could hear a bit of resigned satisfaction, as though they enjoyed confirming the secondary global rank that makes it ill-advised for the Dutch to get too worked up about issues over which they are unlikely to exercise much control. The exchange put me in mind of the great European-American conflict of the post-Kissinger era, over the deployment of short-range nuclear missiles, an issue that served as a mobilising touchstone for the European left for years without any real need to ever affect policy in any noticeable way.

Dutch reactions to the NSA scandal may be atypical for Europe, because the Dutch generally have a higher tolerance for government surveillance than many other countries. And none of this is to say that anyone in Europe is defending NSA wiretapping, or that the revelations have done anything but harm to the public image of America and of Barack Obama personally. It’s just that there is a certain ambiguity in the European public reaction, and for that matter in the American one. In America too, one can often sense an emotional "double-feeling", as the Dutch would call it, between the public’s dread of the government’s all-embracing surveillance capabilities, and the public’s vicarious awe at the perspective afforded by an apparatus that aspires to monitor the entirety of the human race’s electronic communications. Perhaps, to update Walter Benjamin, mankind’s self-alienation has reached such a degree that we can experience our own wiretapping as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.

Voir egalement:

How to negotiate with Iran

A deal struck for its own sake on Tehran’s nuclear program would be worse than no deal at all.

Dennis Ross, Eric Edelman and Michael Makovsky

Los Angeles Times

October 29, 2013

This month in Geneva, at the first negotiations over its nuclear program since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, Iran took an unprecedented step: It negotiated. For the first time, Tehran presented an actual vision of the endgame for the talks with six world powers, and how to get there. However, contrary to expectations, it offered no concessions, leaving serious questions about Iranian purposes. With another round of talks scheduled for next week, U.S. negotiators would do well to follow principles that signify the core interests at stake.

FOR THE RECORD:

Diplomacy: In an Oct. 29 Op-Ed article regarding Iran, the affiliation for Dennis Ross, one of the authors, was incomplete. It is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The most pressing national security threat facing the United States remains preventing a nuclear-capable Iran. The preferred way to achieve that objective is through a diplomatic agreement. But diplomacy can only be that — a means to an end.

As Secretary of State John F. Kerry has said, a "bad deal is worse than no deal." A deal struck for its own sake would still allow for a nuclear Iran; undermine the legitimacy of any subsequent U.S. attempts or, much more likely, Israeli attempts to arrest Iran’s progress by military action; discredit and compromise U.S. credibility; and weaken, if not destroy, the decades-old international nonproliferation regime.

Therefore, the United States should only pursue an agreement within certain parameters, to ensure the deal actually furthers the interests of the U.S. and its allies. As we explain in a new JINSA Gemunder Center report, there are six such principles that should guide the negotiations with Iran.

First, Iran must resolve outstanding international concerns. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly complained that Iran has not been forthcoming about its nuclear activities. Indeed, the IAEA in 2011 expressed its "deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions." Iran must quickly address all outstanding IAEA concerns as part of any deal.

Second, Iran must adhere to international legal requirements. The IAEA’s repeated condemnations of Iran have spurred the U.N. Security Council to pass six resolutions requiring Tehran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities" and "to implement without delay all transparency measures as the IAEA may request in support of its ongoing investigations."

Iran has repeatedly disputed the legality of these resolutions, claiming the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, grants it a right to enrich uranium. But no such right exists. Iran’s defiance and distortion of international legal demands threatens to unravel the nonproliferation regime. To preserve it, negotiators must reassert the Security Council’s authority and the NPT’s true purpose.

Third, deny Iran nuclear weapons capability. The main concern about Iran’s nuclear program is that it is on the verge of producing enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear device. An acceptable deal must not just freeze but tangibly roll back its ability to do so. This will require limits on size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile, number and type of operating and installed centrifuges, design of enrichment facilities and possible plutonium production at the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Fourth, impose a strict inspections regime. Just because Iran agrees to a deal does not mean it will stick to it. It has tried to build each of its current enrichment facilities covertly. To prevent it from attempting to do so again, negotiators should require Iran to agree to more rigorous monitoring of its nuclear program.

Fifth, negotiate from a position of strength. Too often, Iran has used negotiations to extract concessions, undermine international resolve and play for time. In the few instances it has compromised, it has been because of the threat of force. The success of these talks will hinge on Iran understanding that there will be very real and damaging consequences if negotiations fail.

This will require at least these U.S. actions: Intensify sanctions and incentivize other countries to do the same, issue more forceful and credible statements that all options are on the table, initiate new military deployments and make clear the support for Israeli military action if conducted.

Finally, do not waste time. Iran will likely attain an undetectable nuclear capability by mid-2014, and perhaps even earlier, leaving scant time to both negotiate and verifiably implement a deal. It appears that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif may have offered a timeline at Geneva for wrapping up negotiations. But given Iranian nuclear progress over the last 18 months and earlier unexplained activities, negotiators ought not accept a schedule that stretches beyond the point when it becomes impossible to prevent a nuclear Iran by other means. Implementing and making known a strict deadline for talks can dissuade Iran from using diplomacy as a cover while sprinting for the bomb, and reassure Israel so it does not feel compelled to act alone.

Negotiators should hew to these principles to avoid mistaking rhetoric for action, and must walk away from any agreement that violates them.

Dennis Ross is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and was a senior Middle East advisor to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. Eric Edelman was undersecretary of Defense for policy in 2005-09. Michael Makovsky is chief executive of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, or JINSA, and served in the Office of Secretary of Defense in 2002-06. They are members of JINSA’s Gemunder Center Iran Task Force.

Voir encore:

«L’espionnage entre Etats: un jeu de dupes qui, dévoilé, peut avoir des incidences»

Chantal Lorho

RFI

2013-10-24

La NSA, la National Security Agency en anglais, est au coeur de nombreuses polémiques ces derniers mois, de Edward Snowden à l’espionnage supposé de pays de l’Union européenne ou de ses dirigeants, comme Angela Merkel… Comment travaille cette fameuse agence de renseignements américains ? Sébastien Laurent, professeur à l’université de Bordeaux et à Sciences Po, spécialiste des questions de renseignements et de sécurité, propose son analyse.

RFI: Est-ce qu’on peut rappeler comment est née cette fameuse NSA ?

Sébastien Laurent : La NSA, c’est un peu une vieille dame. Elle est née il y a un peu plus de 60 ans et ça a été la réunion, aux Etats-Unis, de toutes les composantes de l’administration américaine qui procédaient à des interceptions téléphoniques puis plus tard, bien plus tard, des interceptions satellitaires, et aujourd’hui des interceptions sur les câbles du réseau internet. Donc aujourd’hui, c’est certes une vieille dame, mais c’est une vieille dame qui se tient toujours à la page, qui actualise en permanence ses compétences techniques, qui sait coopérer avec d’autres pays qui sont parties prenantes de la coopération de la NSA. Et c’est surtout, on le sait aujourd’hui, la plus riche de toutes les agences de renseignements américaines.

Peut-on dire qu’il y a un avant et un après 11-Septembre dans la façon dont les Américains pratiquent l’espionnage ?

Pas vraiment. Pour ce qui est de l’espionnage par des moyens technologiques, les écoutes précisément ou les interceptions de flux internet, 2001 n’a pas vraiment changé les choses. 2001 a juste donné aux Etats-Unis un motif nouveau pour habiller leurs pratiques d’interception. Ce nouveau motif, c’est la guerre contre le terrorisme. Mais sur le plan des pratiques, depuis les années 1950, en pleine guerre froide, les Etats-Unis ont en permanence intercepté des communications, y compris celles de leurs partenaires et celles de leurs alliés.

Très concrètement, comment travaille la NSA, qui surveille-t-elle, quels sont les mots-clés qu’elle utilise pour intercepter telle ou telle communication ?

On pouvait jusqu’alors faire des suppositions, mais maintenant on a les documents publiés par Edward Snowden, et le fait qu’il soit pourchassé par les autorités américaines permet de donner du crédit aux documents que Snowden a diffusé dans différents supports de presse. La NSA, d’un point de vue très pratique, en matière d’interception en dehors des Etats-Unis, a deux moyens. D’une part, elle se sert dans les grands serveurs des fournisseurs d’accès à internet, c’est une première façon d’aller directement puiser à la source. Ou alors, elle a un accès, je dirais plus pratique encore, qui est de se brancher sur les câbles eux-mêmes, et non pas sur les fermes (serveurs de données) dans lesquelles sont contenues toutes les données. Ensuite, comme d’autres agences, comme l’agence britannique et d’autres agences, toutes ces données ne sont pas exploitées par l’intelligence humaine mais sont exploitées grâce à des algorithmes, par des capacités informatiques, qui essaient de cibler des mots-clés. Alors, c’est tout l’enjeu du débat aujourd’hui. Est-ce que, comme le disent les Etats-Unis dans une défense mezzo voce, ils ne cherchent dans ces données que ce qui a trait à la lutte contre le terrorisme et à la sécurité des Etats-Unis? Ou est-ce que, sans le dire, ils utilisent aussi ces interceptions pour repérer les mots-clés touchant à des pratiques commerciales, à des brevets, à des litiges juridiques ? Ce que l’on peut dire, étant donné ce que l’on sait aujourd’hui du passé, c’est que la capacité d’interception de la NSA a servi, bien sûr, la sécurité des Etats-Unis mais elle a aussi servi les Etats-Unis dans la guerre économique mondiale qui est devenue une réalité plus forte après la fin de la guerre froide. Donc la défense qui consiste à dire « la NSA assure la sécurité du monde libre comme au temps de la guerre froide », c’est un argument qui ne tient absolument pas la route.

D’où ce chiffre astronomique qu’on a évoqué à propos de la France. 70 millions de données interceptés par la NSA du 10 décembre 2012 au 8 janvier 2013. C’est ce que vous appelez la « méthode du chalut », on ratisse le plus large possible ?

Exactement, cette comparaison maritime est tout à fait adaptée. C’est du chalutage, on lance les filets au loin, et ensuite on tire les filets vers le navire, en l’occurrence la NSA, et on essaie de trier. Mais il est assez probable que dans l’interception pratiquée « au chalut », on recueille effectivement des éléments qui soient utiles à la sécurité des Etats-Unis. Il est tout aussi probable qu’ensuite d’autres données qui puissent être exploitées commercialement ou juridiquement, ou en termes d’ingénierie, soient aussi prises en compte. La NSA n’est pas un service de renseignement mais un service d’interception. Ensuite, la NSA fournit la « production » – les interceptions – à différentes agences américaines, notamment la CIA mais pas seulement. Donc c’est vraiment une énorme machine d’interception technique qui, en fait, ne procède pas à l’utilisation du renseignement mais qui utilise toute sa production pour la diffuser à différentes agences américaines.

Le Brésil, le Mexique, la France et aujourd’hui l’Allemagne, tous victimes présumées de la NSA, dénoncent publiquement les pratiques américaines. Mais quelqu’un comme Bernard Kouchner, l’ancien chef de la diplomatie française, affirme que nous faisons la même chose, « Nous espionnons, nous écoutons, mais avec moins de moyens ». Est-ce que tout cela n’est pas, selon vous, un jeu de dupes ?

C’est un jeu de dupes, mais comme les relations entre les Etats sont un jeu de dupes. Quand vous regardez la norme internationale qui est le droit international, depuis que les pratiques d’espionnage existent, les Etats ont signé entre eux des traités pour faciliter certaines choses et pour interdire d’autres choses. Du point de vue du droit international, l’espionnage n’est pas interdit. Donc il est licite. Et les Etats se sont, bien sûr, dès la fin du XIXe siècle, bien gardés de s’interdire mutuellement la pratique de l’espionnage à l’extérieur de leur territoire. Donc effectivement, on peut dire que c’est un jeu de dupes, en même temps il faut bien regarder ce qui est en cause, de la part de la NSA c’est quand même à l’égard de ses grands partenaires commerciaux et politiques, le Brésil, la France ou l’Allemagne. Et là, le jeu de dupes, qui est en partie dévoilé, peut avoir des incidences sur ce qui est la base de la relation entre des alliés et des partenaires : cela s’appelle la confiance.

Voir enfin:

Poutine supplante Obama comme la personne la plus puissante du monde

Le Vif

Source: Belga

30 octobre 2013

Le président russe Vladimir Poutine a évincé son homologue américain Barack Obama de la première place du classement Forbes 2013 des personnes les plus puissantes au monde, publié mercredi par le magazine américain.

Le président Obama figure à la deuxième place de cette liste, suivi du président du parti communiste chinois Xi Jinping, et du pape François, qui y fait son apparition pour la première fois.

"Poutine a solidifié son contrôle sur la Russie, et tous ceux qui ont regardé le jeu d’échecs autour de la Syrie ont une idée claire du glissement de pouvoir vers Poutine sur la scène internationale", écrit Forbes pour expliquer sa première place.

La première femme à y figurer est la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel, à la 5e place. Le président français François Hollande, dont Forbes souligne qu’il est au plus bas dans les sondages de popularité, passe de la 14e à la 18e place.

Le pouvoir des 72 personnes – dirigeants politiques, chefs d’entreprise ou philanthropes – qui figurent sur cette liste annuelle consultable sur le site du magazine (www.forbes.com) a été déterminé à partir de quatre critères: le nombre de personnes sur lesquelles elles ont du pouvoir, les ressources financières qu’elles contrôlent, l’étendue de leur influence et comment elles exercent leur pouvoir pour changer le monde.

On y trouve le cofondateur de Microsoft Bill Gates à la 6e place, Ben Bernanke, le président sortant de la réserve fédérale américaine à la 7e, le roi Abdallah d’Arabie saoudite à la 8e, le Premier ministre britannique David Cameron à la 11e.

Les autres Européens de la liste sont notamment l’Italien Mario Draghi, président de la Banque centrale européenne (9e), le président du groupe Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn qui fait son entrée à la 49e place, et Bernard Arnault, le patron du groupe français de luxe LVMH (54e).


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