Ne laissez personne en douter, les règles du jeu ont changé. Tony Blair
On pourrait dire que pendant trop longtemps nous avons employé des moyens du 19e siècle pour résoudre des problèmes du 21e siècle. Il nous faut plutôt des méthodes du 21e siècle pour traiter des défis du 21e siècle. Gordon Brown
C’est des gens qui ne suivent aucune règle organisée ou aucune forme de pensée ou de culture civilisée. C’est des gens qui dépassent toute espèce de décence. Leur truc, c’est la brutalité et de blesser, mutiler et faire du mal aux innocents au plus haut degré possible. Nous, on boxe à l’ancienne. On a des procédures légales, on a un système judiciaire. C’est tellement complètement différent et une pensée si étrangère. Porter Goss (président de la Commission sur le renseignement de la Chambre des Représentants, républicain)
Pourquoi recréer le voyage historique de Lincoln pour son investiture, surtout après avoir pris l’avion pour retourner en Illinois pour ensuite revenir à Washington en train à petite vitesse? Lincoln avait pris le train parce que c’était le seul moyen pratique d’arriver à Washington en 1861, pas pour rejouer l’arrivée d’un sauveur américain du passé. VDH
En dépit de tous les débats sur Guantánamo, la suspension européenne de l’habeas corpus, les déportations expéditives et les détentions préventives surpassent n’importe laquelle des mesures de l’Amérique de Bush. Victor Davis Hanson
Bush n’aurait jamais pu se permettre aux Etats-Unis l’incroyable étendue des mesures autoritaristes que Blair a imposé à ses propres citoyens. Dominic Raab
Après le faux sceau présidentiel (« Yes, we can » en latin?), le discours à la Kennedy à Berlin, les colonnes grecques factices à Denver, les annonces à la Zeus pour refroidir la planète et faire reculer les océans, le voyage d’investiture ferroviaire à la Lincoln (fondateur, faut-il le rappeler, du parti républicain) …
Et à l’heure où, après la bataille (largement gagnée par son prédécesseur) notre beau parleur et maitre-illusioniste semble d’autant plus acharné à marquer sa différence avec l’équipe Bush qu’il en a repris, ultime et involontaire hommage, la plupart des approches (gros effet d’annonce sur la fermeture annoncée de Guantanamo mais motus sur Bagram – même les mollahs ne s’y retrouvent plus!) quand ce n’est pas le personnel (le propre secrétaire à la Défense –excusez du peu – de W !)…
Petite remise des pendules à l’heure, avec la tribune libre d’un juriste britannique dans le NYT d’hier, sur la réalité de l’Etat-policier censé avoir été installé par le proto-fasciste président Bush que notre nouveau messie d’outre-atlantique prétend à présent démanteler.
Ainsi, comme l’avaient déjà constaté des spécialistes américains, l’approche américaine post-11/9 contre le terrorisme qui a été et continue à être tant décriée sous l’Administration Bush n’a aucune espèce de commune mesure avec les « énormes pouvoirs d’intrusion et de coercition » del’Etat français en matière de terrorisme (en gros un juge Bruguière est une impossibilité y compris dans l’Amérique de Bush).
D’abord du fait d’un « système plus compliqué de séparation des pouvoirs, d’indépendance de la justice et de droits présomptifs de l’individu contre le gouvernement » opposé du côté français à un « système légal fortement codifié ».
Mais aussi parce que l’origine de la menace est aussi différente: largement issue de son propre sol dans le cas de la France (d’où les quasi-pouvoirs d’exception du juge Bruguière), comme en grande partie venue de l’étranger pour les Etats-Unis (d’où ‘les défis ‘extrajudiciaires’ tels que Guantanamo, l’externalisation des interrogations ou la surveillance sans mandat’).
D’où aussi l’intérêt de la comparaison avec le grand oublié des indignations sélectives de nos belles âmes, à savoir le système britannique de lutte anti-terroriste mis au point sous le gouvernement Blair et largement repris sinon élargi par son successeur Gordon Brown (qui, pour la garde à vue, voulait 42 jours et a même imposé… des cartes d’identité nationale!).
Qui avait, on s’en souvient et attentats du 7/7 obligent, mis un terme aux heures de gloire du Londonistan et osé interdire à ses citoyens ou résidents sur son sol de « fomenter, justifier ou glorifier la violence terroriste », de « chercher à provoquer des actes terroristes » ou de « fomenter la haine pouvant mener à des violences entre les différentes communautés au Royaume-Uni ».
Mais où l’on (re)découvre, pour en partie les mêmes raisons de différence d’origine de la menace, les énormes pouvoirs d’intrusion et de coercition de l’Etat britannique (garde à vue jusqu’à 28 jours, mise en résidence surveillée sans condamnation jusqu’à 18 h par jour, fichier national d’identité, écoutes téléphoniques et électroniques systématiques, pouvoirs de surveillance à la RG).
Et surtout l’incroyable fascisme d’un système américain qui, Patriot Act oblige, peut prolonger la garde à vue de ses citoyens jusqu’à (enfer et damnation)… deux journées entières!
Liberty vs. security
International Herald Tribune
January 27, 2009
Much has been made of President Obama’s strategic shift on security, reaching out to a broader international audience and signaling a change of approach from George W. Bush’s polarizing « war on terror. » As interesting as what Obama’s arrival says about America, is the reflection he casts on the rest of the world.
Take Britain and the so-called special relationship with the United States. That relationship has thrived from the era of Roosevelt and Churchill through that of Bush and Blair. Historically, Britain has served both as brake and bridge – combining the tempering common sense of a close friend with influence over European allies. The special relationship has often transcended the magnetic pull of domestic political allegiances – recently illustrated by the close relationship between the Republican Bush administration and Tony Blair’s Labour government.
When, in the aftermath of the July 2005 terrorist attacks on London, Blair announced « let no one be in any doubt, the rules of the game are changing, » he was speaking the same language on security as Bush. Both saw 9/11 as a historical turning point. Both drew the same conclusion – that when it comes to fighting terror, sometimes the end justifies the means.
True, Blair cannot be accused of the more unsavory tactics deployed by Bush, such as Guantánamo and the relaxation of the ban on torture that led to abuses at Abu Ghraib. Foreign nationals bore most of the brunt of Bush’s hawkish response to 9/11, because the principal threat to America comes from abroad, whereas in Britain it is home-grown. But Bush would never have gotten away with introducing in the United States the sweeping range of authoritarian measures Blair imposed on his own citizens.
Listening to U.S. officials on a visit to Washington in 2007, there was bemusement at the extent of the measures the British police and security services can deploy against its own people. The maximum detention without charge of U.S. citizens is two days. Blair quadrupled the British limit from 7 to 28 days – and tried to increase it to 90 days.
Blair introduced control orders – imposing house arrest on those not convicted of any crime for up to 18 hours per day. The FBI made it clear that this was unthinkable in the United States. Nor would a national identity register be possible there, as Blair passed into British law.
In America, one of the major domestic controversies under Bush was the Patriot Act. While this increased the scope for U.S. law enforcement agencies to bug phones and monitor other communications, it pales compared with the pervasive intrusions into personal privacy sanctioned by Blair’s surveillance legislation – and used by hundreds of public bodies and local councils in Britain, as well as counter-terrorism police and intelligence agencies.
Blair brushed aside criticism that his « ineffective authoritarianism » was proving counter-productive in practice – leaving Britain less free and less safe. His counter-terrorism strategy was based on a simplistic see-saw paradigm – and driven by a conviction that sacrificing personal freedom could improve security.
Obama has repudiated the zero-sum equation of the Bush-Blair era – rejecting « as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. » To prove the point, he ordered the closure of Guantánamo, banned torture and announced the end of CIA prisons.
In stark contrast, Gordon Brown happily inherited Blair’s authoritarianism with the British premiership in 2007, arguing that « for too long we have used 19th century means to solve 21st century problems » – castigating the « politics of complacency » of opposition parties and critics deemed « unwilling to face up to difficult choices, » and content « ultimately to neglect the fundamental duty to protect our security. »
To prove his point, Brown relished the opportunity to play on the politics of fear, seeking yet again to increase detention without charge, introducing ID cards, drawing up plans for a mammoth government communications database and continuing the recent attack on the role of juries in the justice system.
This would not pass muster in America, because her citizens enjoy the protections of the U.S. Constitution. And Obama has made it clear that he rejects – as both unprincipled and counter-productive – the idea of a Faustian trade-off between liberty and security. It seems that trans-Atlantic ships have passed in the night. For the first time in years, Britain and America are speaking a different language on security – and a British prime minister is at the bottom of the list to visit a new American president.
Dominic Raab was a legal adviser at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office between 2000 and 2006. He is the author of « The Assault on Liberty – What Went Wrong With Rights. »
America is a safer place thanks to his administration.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
January 20, 2009
A disinterested appraisal of Bush administration foreign policy will take years. For millions on the Left, events in Iraq, Guantánamo, and New Orleans rendered the 43rd president an ill-omened phantasma — omnipotent, ubiquitous, and responsible for all mischief big and small. “Bush Did It” soon became a sort of ritual throat-clearing that critics evoked at each new Florida hurricane, Israeli-Palestinian mini-war, or serial “revelation” from a Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, or Scott McClellan.
The fact remains, though, that most of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives shared Bush’s desire to remove Saddam Hussein after 9/11. They patted the president on the back when he finally did so (after 16 months of acrimonious debate between the fall of the Taliban and the invasion of Iraq), abandoned him when the postbellum insurgency arose, opposed the surge when he nearly alone supported it, and gave him no credit for Iraq’s eventual success. Now, in a sort of theater-of-the-absurd fashion, they claim Iraq worked largely because they once declared it lost and thereby prompted the necessary changes. The congressional opposition’s record on Iraq is largely one of opportunism, his of principle — and that too will become part of the historical record.
Yet, strangest of all, well before even assuming office, the ever-flexible President-elect Obama has done much to prompt reassessment of Bush’s tenure. He apparently has chosen to drop most of his primary-election rhetoric and instead intends to continue nearly all of the sitting president’s anti-terrorism and foreign-policy initiatives — albeit cloaked in far-more-winning mantras of hope and change, energized by youthful charisma, and predicated on subtle appeals to multiracial fides.
The only discontinuity seems to be with the stance of the mainstream media. Without apology, journalists have already gone from the narrative of Bush, the destroyer of civil liberties, to Obama the continuer of “problematic” and “complex” measures. So just as Bush once eagerly licked his chops and salivated over Gulag Guantánamo, so Obama now with wrinkled brow and bitten lip is himself tortured that he has to sorta, kinda keep it open for a while longer.
Abroad, Bush has had three major successes.
We were not attacked after 9/11, despite serial warnings that such a comparable terrorist assault was inevitable. Bush created a new methodology of anti-terrorism. In magnitude and comprehensiveness (though unfortunately not in explication), it was analogous to Truman’s similarly controversial promotion of anti-Soviet containment that proved successful for the subsequent near half-century.
For all the rhetoric about Bush’s manufactured war on terror, today it is much more difficult — as the dozens of failed plots during the last seven years attest — to pull off a terrorist act inside the United States. War abroad and new anti-terrorism vigilance at home have decimated those who would wage such attacks.
Even Obama recognizes the success of these measures. We can see this well enough with the president-elect’s shifting positions on FISA, renditions, the Patriot Act, Guantánamo, and withdrawal from Iraq (once envisioned by Obama to be completed by March 2008). Bob Gates II won’t be that different from Bob Gates I at Defense; Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State will be far closer to Condoleezza Rice than to Howard Dean or Al Gore. Gen. James L. Jones could easily have served as national security adviser in the Bush administration. Hamas and other Palestinian groups will probably not get better actual treatment from Obama than they got from Bush — just some soothing rhetoric about dialogue and engagement rather than dead-or-alive, smoke-’em-out lingo. Add all the foreign-policy alignments up, and either Bush was right then, or Obama is wrong now.
The tired neocon slur has been that a secretive group of pro-Likud Jewish advisers of dual loyalties — Feith, Libby, Perle, Wolfowitz, Wurmser, etc. — convinced the clueless Bush to remove a largely harmless and irrelevant Saddam and, soon after, to consider further regime change for a host of other dictators (all to help Israel and steal the region’s oil resources, of course). The truth was far different. Bush undertook just two operations to remove the two worst regimes in the region and, in a departure from Cold War–era policies, to encourage constitutional governments, not oligarchies, in their places.
The Taliban was a nightmarish Murder Inc. masquerading as a fundamentalist theocracy that rented its soil to al Qaeda and other global terrorism networks. Saddam Hussein had been at war, in various manifestations, with the United States since 1991, using his oil to fund terrorists, build an arsenal, and attack his neighbors. Accordingly, the Clinton administration, when it was not bombing Iraq or taking over its air space, had passed legislation calling for regime change. Congress passed decrees citing 23 reasons why the United States president should be authorized to remove Saddam by force.
After a brilliant three-week victory, subsequent mistakes — to my mind the worst was the obsessive focus on WMD at the expense of the other Congressional articles authorizing the war, the reprieve given the Fallujah terrorists in April 2004, and the stand down accorded a trapped Muqtada al-Sadr — turned a temporary occupation into a counter-insurgency. That said, despite the great cost in blood and treasure, Bush’s persistence, and the heroism and competence of the American soldier, finally ensured both the permanent end of a murderous tyranny and the survival of a constitutional government. The idea in 2001 that Sunni Iraqi Arabs in 2007–08 would have been fighting with Americans to destroy al-Qaeda terrorists would have seemed fantasy. By 2007, the popularity of both bin Laden and the tactic of suicide bombing had plummeted throughout the Arab Middle East.
The evacuation from Lebanon by the Syrian army, the surrender of Dr. A. Q. Khan’s Pakistani nuclear franchise, and the shutdown of Libya’s bomb-making program were results of the humiliation and fall of the Hussein dictatorship, and fears of a new no-nonsense American policy.
Aerial incursions into Pakistan have decimated al-Qaeda leaders — and Obama, who will largely continue existing policies in Afghanistan, won’t stop them. In fact, Bush’s support for democratization in the Middle East will allow Obama a far-wider range of choices than would have been the case if Bush had followed most conservative realists and simply extended blanket support for existing oligarchies. After Bush, there is no longer a simple calculus that liberals encourage democracy abroad, while conservatives don’t.
Bush, it was alleged, foolishly empowered Iran. But that too is a premature conjecture. Iran is at present nearly bankrupt from the crash of oil prices. Despite being an oil-exporter, it is dependent on foreigners for much of its own gasoline supply. Its terrorist clients — Hezbollah and Hamas — have bad habits of provoking Israel, suffering tremendous damage, declaring premature victory by virtue that they survived the IDF, and then needing even more billions from Iran to replace terrible losses in men and materiel.
Because Iranian agents once nearly destroyed Iraqi democracy, the example of a constitutional Iraq may prove in the long run destabilizing to theocratic Iran. And with the demise of Saddam’s lunatic regime, which once attacked both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the Sunni Arab nations can far more readily rally to isolate Iran. The truth is that, in the post-Saddam climate, a new reality is emerging in the Middle East, with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran isolated from, and hated and feared by, their Muslim brethren.
The media narrative is that President-elect Obama inherits a world turned upside down by George W. Bush. If so, where exactly will come the radical corrective changes, other than soaring (and let us hope effective) rhetoric about global hope and change? Will there be a new American relationship with China and India — both of which seem to appreciate the free-trade policies of the Bush administration?
Europe clearly favors Obama, but its two anti-Bush governments of Chirac and Schroeder are long gone, having given way to staunchly pro-American replacements. Apart from offering some soothing “We are the World” rhetoric of deference to the U.N. and multilateral dialogue, it is hard to determine exactly what the Europeans want Obama to do differently than Bush did. I doubt they look forward to true shoulder-to-shoulder, share-the-risk solidarity in Afghanistan. They talk grandly about Kyoto but have hardly reduced their own carbon footprints. If in times of crisis Obama invites them to multiparty talks with the Iranians or Russians, they will probably prefer old-style American leadership to “we are right behind you” assurances.
For all the talk about Guantánamo, European suspension of habeas corpus, summary deportations, and preventative detentions outstrip anything in Bush’s America. So far, despite a larger economy, the European Union has not matched Bush’s $15 billon commitment for HIV, and other infectious disease, relief in Africa.
There can be legitimate criticism of Bush’s first-term spending spree and rising deficits, and his unwillingness to veto Congressional pork. He naively thought hard-core Congressional ideologues and partisans were analogous to the conservative Democrats with whom he had worked in Texas, and often appeased them so they wouldn’t cut off support for the war.
Often, Bush’s unnecessarily bellicose rhetoric was not commensurate with his tentative action. Too many of his closest associates were less than competent—the abject embarrassment of Scott McClellan is perhaps the best example of the apparent cronyism that hurt Bush terribly. There were too few in his circle willing or able to articulate in steady fashion exactly what our war against radical Islam was about—and how we could win it.
All that said, these are the debates that take place in times of relative peace and security—they would be impossible had we suffered a series of 9/11s. And it is largely to the honest and steady Bush’s everlasting credit that we did not. The next president already appears to appreciate that as well as anyone.
President Obama Asked for Them
Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services
January 26, 2009
For nearly three months since the election, we have been warned by President Obama, his staff and the media not to burden him with unreal expectations that no mere mortal could meet.
But why then consciously borrow from Abraham Lincoln’s speeches? And why re-create Lincoln’s historic train ride to his inauguration especially by flying back from Washington to Illinois to then return to D.C. by slow-moving railcar? Lincoln took the train because it was the only feasible way to get to Washington in 1861, not to copy the grand arrival of some earlier American savior.
Candidate Obama once adopted a presidential-like seal. He held a mass rally at Berlin’s Victory Column (after his request for the more dramatic Brandenburg Gate was refused).
He adopted Greek temple sets at the Democratic convention. And like Zeus on Mt. Olympus, he talked about making the planet cool and the oceans recede.
And now he’s capped all that by warning us to lower our expectations!
But if Obama deliberately takes on the trappings of a messiah, why shouldn’t we expect messianic solutions?
The alterations in positions during Obama’s pre-presidency were praised as « flexible » and « bipartisan. » Perhaps. But Obama did not adjust on just an issue or two. Instead, he went whole hog.
It would be difficult to find a single major policy position that he hasn’t backtracked somewhat on, especially on matters of foreign policy and the war against terror. Yet throughout the campaign, Obama and the media argued that the manner in which Bush waged the war against terror was harmful to the republic. So, were Bush’s polices wrong then, but suddenly right now?
Successfully having it both ways has been evident again on matters of his appointments. Obama defeated Hillary Clinton by running as a Washington outsider who promised new hope and radical change — and anything other than more Bush or Clinton.
Then he imported much of the old Clinton team for governance — Rahm Emanuel, Leon Panetta, John Podesta, Larry Summers, Hillary herself and a score of others — to put a far more articulate and hip veneer on George Bush’s current foreign policy. The Obama team has drafted more old-style former congressional insiders than any administration in memory.
What is going on here? Apparently, Obama accepts that the country is both still center-right and yet eager for a nontraditional national spokesman — glib, young, cool and able to charm a hostile world that is often hypocritical toward and envious of America.
In times of economic uncertainty and war, once Obama moved toward the center voters could see him as a trans-racial healer who offered vague change, made them feel good about themselves and, unlike John McCain, was the antithesis of the stodgy old white guy George Bush.
But Obama’s hard-left base had promoted Obama the liberal activist for different reasons. They want much more of a state role in the economy, while making American society, at home and abroad, look a lot more European.
So to satisfy both left and center constituencies, Obama seems to stick with the status quo on major issues while offering symbolic gestures and low-profile appointments to radical environmentalists, gay and minority activists, open-borders reformers and labor unionists.
In return, progressives will stick with Obama for a while, on the assumption that he alone can carefully prep and hypnotize the country to soon accept a more left-wing agenda.
And when anyone seems to object to this off-putting balancing act, Obama returns to soaring rhetoric to soothe away the acrimony the way he once did with the Rev. Wright mess last spring.
This triangulation may or may not work at home. Yet abroad it is a different story, where one cannot vote present or charm tough guys and thugs who do not always appreciate flexibility — and may interpret it as weakness to be exploited.
The Iranians prefer to talk, talk, and talk — while they get the bomb. Vladimir Putin wants consensus and dialogue — about re-establishing a right-wing version of the Soviet Empire. China loans us trillions to buy its goods — with the idea that it will soon leverage our financial policy. Europe wants to be courted while expecting America to both lead and be criticized for leading. The Palestinians for now want Israel gone from the West Bank and Gaza — and, at a not-so-future date, gone, period.
The much-maligned George Bush handled all these characters with often unambiguous, if inelegant, talk, and a no-nonsense toughness. If Obama, in contrast, feels he can offer them vague hope-and-change great-expectations rhetoric, and make himself agreeable to the world abroad in the manner he did so to us at home — well, then, lots of luck!