WikiLeaks: Celui qui pille avec un grand navire s’appelle conquérant (The thing he seems to detest most is encoded in the site‘s DNA)

30 novembre, 2010
https://i2.wp.com/img0.mxstatic.com/wallpapers/2c0015383022669de9aaef8360371290_large.jpegCelui qui pille avec un petit vaisseau se nomme pirate ; celui qui pille avec un grand navire s’appelle conquérant. Proverbe grec
The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here. The NYT ( nov. 2009)
The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match. The NYT (nov. 2010)
[Ces révélations ] démontrent qu’Israël n’a pas un double langage et dit en privé ce qu’il dit en public. (…) Il s’avère que tout le Moyen-Orient est terrifié par la perspective d’un Iran nucléaire. Les pays arabes poussent les Etats Unis à une action militaire de manière bien plus effrénée qu’Israël. Haut responsable israélien
Julian Assange is worse than a fraud, he is an abject hypocrite. Unilaterally he establishes supposed moral guidelines that determine the nature of his disclosures, but provides no proof that the enemies of, say, exposed Afghan and Iraqi civilian informants will not seek deadly retribution. And, of course, Assange would not wish to see published the private e-mail, telephone transcripts, and internal discussions of the WikiLeaks board, though these would give us the neccessary “context” to form opinions about the motivations and methodology of such leaks. Much less would Assange like someone to leak the complete confidential judicial proceedings against him by the Swedish government, which has now issued a warrant for his arrest on sexual coercion and molestation charges. In short, once Assange destroys the protocols of confidentiality, there is no such refuge for anyone — himself especially. And why should Assange limit himself largely to Europe and the United States? As he jets about the secure Western world disclosing to free presses the secrets of Western military and diplomatic services, he might ponder whether he would like to move on to a new career working with Iranian, Russian, Chinese, Syrian, and  Hezbollah dissidents who could help him expose the far more lethal and dangerous covert activities of their authoritarian governments. Victor Davis Hanson
The big papers wouldn’t have the material without WikiLeaks. And WikiLeaks wouldn’t get the international exposure — and, perhaps more important, the credibility — that comes from having its material published in the world’s most important newspapers. (…) The collaboration began in June, when Nick Davies, a senior contributor to the Guardian, tracked down Assange in Brussels and suggested that the paper would devote a team to researching stories within WikiLeaks’ cache of documents, Clint Hendler reported in the Columbia Journalism Review. Assange suggested that The New York Times and Der Spiegel be involved as well. Editors from the three papers agreed to a deal in which they’d keep the documents under wraps for a few weeks and publish simultaneously with WikiLeaks. The result was the July 25 story of the Afghanistan war logs. A similar process was used in the release of the Iraq war logs last month and in Sunday’s release of the U.S. Embassy cables, though the list of papers had expanded to include Spain’s El Pais and France’s Le Monde. It might have expanded even further had CNN and The Wall Street Journal agreed to sign the confidentiality agreements that WikiLeaks required in exchange for advance. Politico
I want to set up a new standard: ‘scientific journalism.’ If you publish a paper on DNA, you are required, by all the good biological journals, to submit the data that has informed your research—the idea being that people will replicate it, check it, verify it. So this is something that needs to be done for journalism as well. There is an immediate power imbalance, in that readers are unable to verify what they are being told, and that leads to abuse.
Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations
WikiLeaks will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than WikiLeaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon. Assange
Assange also wanted to insure that, once the video was posted online, it would be impossible to remove. He told me that WikiLeaks maintains its content on more than twenty servers around the world and on hundreds of domain names. (Expenses are paid by donations, and a few independent well-wishers also run “mirror sites” in support.) Assange calls the site “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis,” and a government or company that wanted to remove content from WikiLeaks would have to practically dismantle the Internet itself. So far, even though the site has received more than a hundred legal threats, almost no one has filed suit.
Assange does not recognize the limits that traditional publishers do. Recently, he posted military documents that included the Social Security numbers of soldiers, and in the Bunker I asked him if WikiLeaks’ mission would have been compromised if he had redacted these small bits. He said that some leaks risked harming innocent people—“collateral damage, if you will”—but that he could not weigh the importance of every detail in every document. Perhaps the Social Security numbers would one day be important to researchers investigating wrongdoing, he said; by releasing the information he would allow judgment to occur in the open.
A year and a half ago, WikiLeaks published the results of an Army test, conducted in 2004, of electromagnetic devices designed to prevent IEDs from being triggered. The document revealed key aspects of how the devices functioned and also showed that they interfered with communication systems used by soldiers—information that an insurgent could exploit. By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices. I asked Assange if he would refrain from releasing information that he knew might get someone killed. He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.” Julian Assange
The Web site’s strengths – its near-total imperviousness to lawsuits and government harassment – make it an instrument for good in societies where the laws are unjust. But, unlike authoritarian regimes, democratic governments hold secrets largely because citizens agree that they should, in order to protect legitimate policy. In liberal societies, the site’s strengths are its weaknesses. Lawsuits, if they are fair, are a form of deterrence against abuse. Soon enough, Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most – power without accountability – is encoded in the site‘s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution. Raffi Khatchadourian

Paranoia du secret, déloyauté et perfidie, insensibilité aux « dommages collatéraux », fonctionnement en organisation criminelle, haine viscérale et piratage des services informatiques des seules sociétés ouvertes …

A l’heure où, craignant d’être à leur tour balayés par l’internet et les nouvelles sources d’information, nos médias se mettent d’eux-mêmes – jusqu’au recel de documents volés – sous la coupe de ces derniers …

Et où les révélations censées dénoncer le bellicisme occidental se trouvent confirmer les pires soupçons contre, de l’Iran au Hezbollah et de la Russie à la Chine, les ennemis des sociétés ouvertes et affirmer d’autant le parler vrai d’un bien seul Israël

Retour, avec le New Yorker et le NYT (qui en payera d’ailleurs apparemment le prix en se voyant refuser la dernière livraison pour avoir – à partir de mels piratés: les mêmes que pour Climategate ! – révélé les dissensions au niveau du groupe), sur le parcours d’un pirate informatique devenu pirate de l’information

Et surtout, dans les efforts mêmes de ce dernier pour se placer au-delà de tout recours juridique ou légal pour assurer l’impunité à sa tentative d’imposition de la transparence totale à tous, l’inquiétante transformation de sa Pirate Bay de l’information sensible et des médias qui la cautionnent en ce précisément qu’il dit combattre

A savoir un véritable petit modèle, à l’iranienne, la russe ou la chinoise, d’opacité et de refus de répondre de ses actes !

No Secrets

Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency.

Raffi Khatchadourian

June 7, 2010

The house on Grettisgata Street, in Reykjavik, is a century old, small and white, situated just a few streets from the North Atlantic. The shifting northerly winds can suddenly bring ice and snow to the city, even in springtime, and when they do a certain kind of silence sets in. This was the case on the morning of March 30th, when a tall Australian man named Julian Paul Assange, with gray eyes and a mop of silver-white hair, arrived to rent the place. Assange was dressed in a gray full-body snowsuit, and he had with him a small entourage. “We are journalists,” he told the owner of the house. Eyjafjallajökull had recently begun erupting, and he said, “We’re here to write about the volcano.” After the owner left, Assange quickly closed the drapes, and he made sure that they stayed closed, day and night. The house, as far as he was concerned, would now serve as a war room; people called it the Bunker. Half a dozen computers were set up in a starkly decorated, white-walled living space. Icelandic activists arrived, and they began to work, more or less at Assange’s direction, around the clock. Their focus was Project B—Assange’s code name for a thirty-eight-minute video taken from the cockpit of an Apache military helicopter in Iraq in 2007. The video depicted American soldiers killing at least eighteen people, including two Reuters journalists; it later became the subject of widespread controversy, but at this early stage it was still a closely guarded military secret.

Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org. Since it went online, three and a half years ago, the site has published an extensive catalogue of secret material, ranging from the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account. The catalogue is especially remarkable because WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency. It has no paid staff, no copiers, no desks, no office. Assange does not even have a home. He travels from country to country, staying with supporters, or friends of friends—as he once put it to me, “I’m living in airports these days.” He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials—M, for instance—even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries.

Iceland was a natural place to develop Project B. In the past year, Assange has collaborated with politicians and activists there to draft a free-speech law of unprecedented strength, and a number of these same people had agreed to help him work on the video in total secrecy. The video was a striking artifact—an unmediated representation of the ambiguities and cruelties of modern warfare—and he hoped that its release would touch off a worldwide debate about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was planning to unveil the footage before a group of reporters at the National Press Club, in Washington, on April 5th, the morning after Easter, presumably a slow news day. To accomplish this, he and the other members of the WikiLeaks community would have to analyze the raw video and edit it into a short film, build a stand-alone Web site to display it, launch a media campaign, and prepare documentation for the footage—all in less than a week’s time.

Assange also wanted to insure that, once the video was posted online, it would be impossible to remove. He told me that WikiLeaks maintains its content on more than twenty servers around the world and on hundreds of domain names. (Expenses are paid by donations, and a few independent well-wishers also run “mirror sites” in support.) Assange calls the site “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis,” and a government or company that wanted to remove content from WikiLeaks would have to practically dismantle the Internet itself. So far, even though the site has received more than a hundred legal threats, almost no one has filed suit. Lawyers working for the British bank Northern Rock threatened court action after the site published an embarrassing memo, but they were practically reduced to begging. A Kenyan politician also vowed to sue after Assange published a confidential report alleging that President Daniel arap Moi and his allies had siphoned billions of dollars out of the country. The site’s work in Kenya earned it an award from Amnesty International.

Assange typically tells would-be litigants to go to hell. In 2008, WikiLeaks posted secret Scientology manuals, and lawyers representing the church demanded that they be removed. Assange’s response was to publish more of the Scientologists’ internal material, and to announce, “WikiLeaks will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than WikiLeaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”

In his writing online, especially on Twitter, Assange is quick to lash out at perceived enemies. By contrast, on television, where he has been appearing more frequently, he acts with uncanny sang-froid. Under the studio lights, he can seem—with his spectral white hair, pallid skin, cool eyes, and expansive forehead—like a rail-thin being who has rocketed to Earth to deliver humanity some hidden truth. This impression is magnified by his rigid demeanor and his baritone voice, which he deploys slowly, at low volume.

In private, however, Assange is often bemused and energetic. He can concentrate intensely, in binges, but he is also the kind of person who will forget to reserve a plane ticket, or reserve a plane ticket and forget to pay for it, or pay for the ticket and forget to go to the airport. People around him seem to want to care for him; they make sure that he is where he needs to be, and that he has not left all his clothes in the dryer before moving on. At such times, he can seem innocent of the considerable influence that he has acquired.

Sitting at a small wooden table in the Bunker, Assange looked exhausted. His lanky frame was arched over two computers—one of them online, and the other disconnected from the Internet, because it was full of classified military documents. (In the tradecraft of espionage, this is known as maintaining an “air gap.”) He has a cyber-security analyst’s concern about computer vulnerability, and habitually takes precautions to frustrate eavesdroppers. A low-grade fever of paranoia runs through the WikiLeaks community. Assange says that he has chased away strangers who have tried to take his picture for surveillance purposes. In March, he published a classified military report, created by the Army Counterintelligence Center in 2008, that argued that the site was a potential threat to the Army and briefly speculated on ways to deter government employees from leaking documents to it. Assange regarded the report as a declaration of war, and posted it with the title “U.S. Intelligence Planned to Destroy WikiLeaks.” During a trip to a conference before he came to the Bunker, he thought he was being followed, and his fear began to infect others. “I went to Sweden and stayed with a girl who is a foreign editor of a newspaper there, and she became so paranoid that the C.I.A. was trying to get me she left the house and abandoned me,” he said.

Assange was sitting opposite Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch activist, hacker, and businessman. Gonggrijp—thin and balding, with a soft voice—has known Assange well for several years. He had noticed Assange’s panicky communiqués about being watched and decided that his help was needed. “Julian can deal with incredibly little sleep, and a hell of a lot of chaos, but even he has his limits, and I could see that he was stretching himself,” Gonggrijp told me. “I decided to come out and make things sane again.” Gonggrijp became the unofficial manager and treasurer of Project B, advancing about ten thousand euros to WikiLeaks to finance it. He kept everyone on schedule, and made sure that the kitchen was stocked with food and that the Bunker was orderly.

At around three in the afternoon, an Icelandic parliamentarian named Birgitta Jonsdottir walked in. Jonsdottir, who is in her forties, with long brown hair and bangs, was wearing a short black skirt and a black T-shirt with skulls printed on it. She took a WikiLeaks T-shirt from her bag and tossed it at Assange.

“That’s for you,” she said. “You need to change.” He put the T-shirt on a chair next to him, and continued working.

Jonsdottir has been in parliament for about a year, but considers herself a poet, artist, writer, and activist. Her political views are mostly anarchist. “I was actually unemployed before I got this job,” she explained. “When we first got to parliament, the staff was so nervous: here are people who were protesting parliament, who were for revolution, and now we are inside. None of us had aspirations to be politicians. We have a checklist, and, once we’re done, we are out.”

As she unpacked her computer, she asked Assange how he was planning to delegate the work on Project B. More Icelandic activists were due to arrive; half a dozen ultimately contributed time to the video, and about as many WikiLeaks volunteers from other countries were participating. Assange suggested that someone make contact with Google to insure that YouTube would host the footage.

“To make sure it is not taken down under pressure?” she asked.

“They have a rule that mentions gratuitous violence,” Assange said. “The violence is not gratuitous in this case, but nonetheless they have taken things down. It is too important to be interfered with.”

“What can we ask M to do?” Jonsdottir asked. Assange, engrossed in what he was doing, didn’t reply.

His concerns about surveillance had not entirely receded. On March 26th, he had written a blast e-mail, titled “Something Is Rotten in the State of Iceland,” in which he described a teen-age Icelandic WikiLeaks volunteer’s story of being detained by local police for more than twenty hours. The volunteer was arrested for trying to break into the factory where his father worked—“the reasons he was trying to get in are not totally justified,” Assange told me—and said that while in custody he was interrogated about Project B. Assange claimed that the volunteer was “shown covert photos of me outside the Reykjavik restaurant Icelandic Fish & Chips,” where a WikiLeaks production meeting had taken place in a private back room.

The police were denying key parts of the volunteer’s story, and Assange was trying to learn more. He received a call, and after a few minutes hung up. “Our young friend talked to one of the cops,” he said. “I was about to get more details, but my battery died.” He smiled and looked suspiciously at his phone.

“We are all paranoid schizophrenics,” Jonsdottir said. She gestured at Assange, who was still wearing his snowsuit. “Just look at how he dresses.”

Gonggrijp got up, walked to the window, and parted the drapes to peer out.

“Someone?” Jonsdottir asked.

“Just the camera van,” he deadpanned. “The brain-manipulation van.”

At around six in the evening, Assange got up from his spot at the table. He was holding a hard drive containing Project B. The video—excerpts of running footage captured by a camera mounted on the Apache—depicts soldiers conducting an operation in eastern Baghdad, not long after the surge began. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Reuters has sought for three years to obtain the video from the Army, without success. Assange would not identify his source, saying only that the person was unhappy about the attack. The video was digitally encrypted, and it took WikiLeaks three months to crack. Assange, a cryptographer of exceptional skill, told me that unlocking the file was “moderately difficult.”

People gathered in front of a computer to watch. In grainy black-and-white, we join the crew of the Apache, from the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, as it hovers above Baghdad with another helicopter. A wide-angle shot frames a mosque’s dome in crosshairs. We see a jumble of buildings and palm trees and abandoned streets. We hear bursts of static, radio blips, and the clipped banter of tactical communication. Two soldiers are in mid-conversation; the first recorded words are “O.K., I got it.” Assange hit the pause button, and said, “In this video, you will see a number of people killed.” The footage, he explained, had three broad phases. “In the first phase, you will see an attack that is based upon a mistake, but certainly a very careless mistake. In the second part, the attack is clearly murder, according to the definition of the average man. And in the third part you will see the killing of innocent civilians in the course of soldiers going after a legitimate target.”

The first phase was chilling, in part because the banter of the soldiers was so far beyond the boundaries of civilian discourse. “Just fuckin’, once you get on ’em, just open ’em up,” one of them said. The crew members of the Apache came upon about a dozen men ambling down a street, a block or so from American troops, and reported that five or six of the men were armed with AK-47s; as the Apache maneuvered into position to fire at them, the crew saw one of the Reuters journalists, who were mixed in among the other men, and mistook a long-lensed camera for an RPG. The Apaches fired on the men for twenty-five seconds, killing nearly all of them instantly.

Phase two began shortly afterward. As the helicopter hovered over the carnage, the crew noticed a wounded survivor struggling on the ground. The man appeared to be unarmed. “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon,” a soldier in the Apache said. Suddenly, a van drove into view, and three unarmed men rushed to help the wounded person. “We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly, uh, picking up bodies and weapons,” the Apache reported, even though the men were helping a survivor, and were not collecting weapons. The Apache fired, killing the men and the person they were trying to save, and wounding two young children in the van’s front seat.

In phase three, the helicopter crew radioed a commander to say that at least six armed men had entered a partially constructed building in a dense urban area. Some of the armed men may have walked over from a skirmish with American troops; it is unclear. The crew asked for permission to attack the structure, which they said appeared abandoned. “We can put a missile in it,” a soldier in the Apache suggested, and the go-ahead was quickly given. Moments later, two unarmed people entered the building. Though the soldiers acknowledged them, the attack proceeded: three Hellfire missiles destroyed the building. Passersby were engulfed by clouds of debris.

Assange saw these events in sharply delineated moral terms, yet the footage did not offer easy legal judgments. In the month before the video was shot, members of the battalion on the ground, from the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment, had suffered more than a hundred and fifty attacks and roadside bombings, nineteen injuries, and four deaths; early that morning, the unit had been attacked by small-arms fire. The soldiers in the Apache were matter-of-fact about killing and spoke callously about their victims, but the first attack could be judged as a tragic misunderstanding. The attack on the van was questionable—the use of force seemed neither thoughtful nor measured—but soldiers are permitted to shoot combatants, even when they are assisting the wounded, and one could argue that the Apache’s crew, in the heat of the moment, reasonably judged the men in the van to be assisting the enemy. Phase three may have been unlawful, perhaps negligent homicide or worse. Firing missiles into a building, in daytime, to kill six people who do not appear to be of strategic importance is an excessive use of force. This attack was conducted with scant deliberation, and it is unclear why the Army did not investigate it.

Assange had obtained internal Army records of the operation, which stated that everyone killed, except for the Reuters journalists, was an insurgent. And the day after the incident an Army spokesperson said, “There is no question that Coalition Forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.” Assange was hoping that Project B would undermine the Army’s official narrative. “This video shows what modern warfare has become, and, I think, after seeing it, whenever people hear about a certain number of casualties that resulted during fighting with close air support, they will understand what is going on,” he said in the Bunker. “The video also makes clear that civilians are listed as insurgents automatically, unless they are children, and that bystanders who are killed are not even mentioned.”

ikiLeaks receives about thirty submissions a day, and typically posts the ones it deems credible in their raw, unedited state, with commentary alongside. Assange told me, “I want to set up a new standard: ‘scientific journalism.’ If you publish a paper on DNA, you are required, by all the good biological journals, to submit the data that has informed your research—the idea being that people will replicate it, check it, verify it. So this is something that needs to be done for journalism as well. There is an immediate power imbalance, in that readers are unable to verify what they are being told, and that leads to abuse.” Because Assange publishes his source material, he believes that WikiLeaks is free to offer its analysis, no matter how speculative. In the case of Project B, Assange wanted to edit the raw footage into a short film as a vehicle for commentary. For a while, he thought about calling the film “Permission to Engage,” but ultimately decided on something more forceful: “Collateral Murder.” He told Gonggrijp, “We want to knock out this ‘collateral damage’ euphemism, and so when anyone uses it they will think ‘collateral murder.’ ”

The video, in its original form, was a puzzle—a fragment of evidence divorced from context. Assange and the others in the Bunker spent much of their time trying to piece together details: the units involved, their command structure, the rules of engagement, the jargon soldiers used on the radio, and, most important, whether and how the Iraqis on the ground were armed.

“One of them has a weapon,” Assange said, peering at blurry footage of the men walking down the street. “See all those people standing out there.”

“And there is a guy with an RPG over his arm,” Gonggrijp said.

“I’m not sure.” Assange said. “It does look a little bit like an RPG.” He played the footage again. “I’ll tell you what is very strange,” he said. “If it is an RPG, then there is just one RPG. Where are all the other weapons? All those guys. It is pretty weird.”

The forensic work was made more difficult because Assange had declined to discuss the matter with military officials. “I thought it would be more harmful than helpful,” he told me. “I have approached them before, and, as soon as they hear it is WikiLeaks, they are not terribly coöperative.” Assange was running Project B as a surprise attack. He had encouraged a rumor that the video was shot in Afghanistan in 2009, in the hope that the Defense Department would be caught unprepared. Assange does not believe that the military acts in good faith with the media. He said to me, “What right does this institution have to know the story before the public?”

This adversarial mind-set permeated the Bunker. Late one night, an activist asked if Assange might be detained upon his arrival in the United States.

“If there is ever a time it was safe for me to go, it is now,” Assange assured him.

“They say that Gitmo is nice this time of year,” Gonggrijp said.

Assange was the sole decision-maker, and it was possible to leave the house at night and come back after sunrise and see him in the same place, working. (“I spent two months in one room in Paris once without leaving,” he said. “People were handing me food.”) He spoke to the team in shorthand—“I need the conversion stuff,” or “Make sure that credit-card donations are acceptable”—all the while resolving flareups with the overworked volunteers. To keep track of who was doing what, Gonggrijp and another activist maintained a workflow chart with yellow Post-Its on the kitchen cabinets. Elsewhere, people were translating the video’s subtitles into various languages, or making sure that servers wouldn’t crash from the traffic that was expected after the video was posted. Assange wanted the families of the Iraqis who had died in the attack to be contacted, to prepare them for the inevitable media attention, and to gather additional information. In conjunction with Iceland’s national broadcasting service, RUV, he sent two Icelandic journalists to Baghdad to find them.

By the end of the week, a frame-by-frame examination of the footage was nearly complete, revealing minute details—evidence of a body on the ground, for instance—that were not visible by casual viewing. (“I am about twelve thousand frames in,” the activist who reviewed it told me. “It’s been a morbid day, going through these people’s last moments.”) Assange had decided to exclude the Hellfire incident from the film; the attack lacked the obvious human dimension of the others, and he thought that viewers might be overloaded with information.

The edited film, which was eighteen minutes long, began with a quote from George Orwell that Assange and M had selected: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” It then presented information about the journalists who had been killed, and about the official response to the attack. For the audio of this section, one of the film’s Icelandic editors had layered in fragments of radio banter from the soldiers. As Assange reviewed the cut, an activist named Gudmundur Gudmundsson spoke up to say that the banter allowed viewers to “make an emotional bond” with the soldiers. Assange argued that it was mostly fragmentary and garbled, but Gudmundsson insisted: “It is just used all the time for triggering emotions.”

“At the same time, we are displaying them as monsters,” the editor said.

“But emotions always rule,” Gudmundsson said. “By the way, I worked on the sound recording for a film, ‘Children of Nature,’ that was nominated for an Oscar, so I am speaking from experience.”

“Well, what is your alternative?” Assange asked.

“Basically, bursts of sounds, interrupting the quiet,” he said.

The editor made the change, stripping the voices of the soldiers from the opening, but keeping blips and whirs of radio distortion. Assange gave the edit his final approval.

Late Saturday night, shortly before all the work had to be finished, the journalists who had gone to Baghdad sent Assange an e-mail: they had found the two children in the van. The children had lived a block from the location of the attack, and were being driven to school by their father that morning. “They remember the bombardment, felt great pain, they said, and lost consciousness,” one of the journalists wrote. The journalists also found the owner of the building that had been attacked by the Hellfires, who said that families had been living in the structure, and that seven residents had died. The owner, a retired English teacher, had lost his wife and daughter. An intense discussion arose about what to do with this news: Was it worth using at the National Press Club, or was it a better tactic to hold on to it? If the military justified the Hellfire attacks by claiming that there were no civilian casualties, WikiLeaks could respond by releasing the information, in a kind of ambush. Jonsdottir turned to Gonggrijp, whose eyes had welled up.

“Are you crying?” she asked.

“I am,” he said. “O.K., O.K., it is just the kids. It hurts.” Gonggrijp gathered himself. “Fuck!” he said. Resuming the conversation about ambushing the Army, he said, “Anyway, let them walk into this knife—”

“That is a wonderful thing to do,” one of the activists said.

“Let them walk into this, and they will,” Gonggrijp said. “It is a logical response.”

Jonsdottir was now in tears, too, and wiping her nose.

“Now I want to reëdit the thing,” Assange said. “I want to put in the missile attack. There were three families living in the bottom, so it wasn’t abandoned.” But it was impossible to reëdit the film. The activists were working at capacity, and in several hours it would be Easter.

At half past ten in the morning, Gonggrijp pulled open the drapes, and the Bunker was filled with sunlight. He was wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt and black pants, freshly washed and ironed, and he was struggling to keep everyone on schedule. Last-minute concerns—among them finding a criminal-defense lawyer in the United States—were being addressed. Assange was at a computer, his posture upright as he steadily typed.

“How are we on time?” he asked no one in particular.

“We have three hours,” Gonggrijp said.

Assange wrinkled his brow and turned his attention back to the screen. He was looking at a copy of classified rules of engagement in Iraq from 2006, one of several secret American military documents that he was planning to post with the video. WikiLeaks scrubs such documents to insure that no digital traces embedded in them can identify their source. Assange was purging these traces as fast as he could.

Reykjavik’s streets were empty, and the bells of a cathedral began to toll. “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” Assange said, repeating a line from the English folk poem celebrating Guy Fawkes. He smiled, as Gonggrijp dismantled the workflow chart, removing Post-Its from the cabinets and flushing them down the toilet. Shortly before noon, there was a desperate push to clear away the remaining vestiges of Project B and to get to the airport. Assange was unpacked and unshaven, and his hair was a mess. He was typing up a press release. Jonsdottir came by to help, and he asked her, “Can’t you cut my hair while I’m doing this?”

“No, I am not going to cut your hair while you are working,” she said.

Jonsdottir walked over to the sink and made tea. Assange kept on typing, and after a few minutes she reluctantly began to trim his hair. At one point, she stopped and asked, “If you get arrested, will you get in touch with me?” Assange nodded. Gonggrijp, meanwhile, shoved some of Assange’s things into a bag. He settled the bill with the owner. Dishes were washed. Furniture was put back in place. People piled into a small car, and in an instant the house was empty and still.

The name Assange is thought to derive from Ah Sang, or Mr. Sang, a Chinese émigré who settled on Thursday Island, off the coast of Australia, in the early eighteen-hundreds, and whose descendants later moved to the continent. Assange’s maternal ancestors came to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century, from Scotland and Ireland, in search of farmland, and Assange suspects, only half in jest, that his proclivity for wandering is genetic. His phone numbers and e-mail address are ever-changing, and he can drive the people around him crazy with his elusiveness and his propensity to mask details about his life.

Assange was born in 1971, in the city of Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, but it is probably more accurate to say that he was born into a blur of domestic locomotion. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother—I will call her Claire—married a theatre director, and the two collaborated on small productions. They moved often, living near Byron Bay, a beachfront community in New South Wales, and on Magnetic Island, a tiny pile of rock that Captain Cook believed had magnetic properties that distorted his compass readings. They were tough-minded nonconformists. (At seventeen, Claire had burned her schoolbooks and left home on a motorcycle.) Their house on Magnetic Island burned to the ground, and rifle cartridges that Claire had kept for shooting snakes exploded like fireworks. “Most of this period of my childhood was pretty Tom Sawyer,” Assange told me. “I had my own horse. I built my own raft. I went fishing. I was going down mine shafts and tunnels.”

Assange’s mother believed that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority in her children and dampen their will to learn. “I didn’t want their spirits broken,” she told me. In any event, the family had moved thirty-seven times by the time Assange was fourteen, making consistent education impossible. He was homeschooled, sometimes, and he took correspondence classes and studied informally with university professors. But mostly he read on his own, voraciously. He was drawn to science. “I spent a lot of time in libraries going from one thing to another, looking closely at the books I found in citations, and followed that trail,” he recalled. He absorbed a large vocabulary, but only later did he learn how to pronounce all the words that he learned.

When Assange was eight, Claire left her husband and began seeing a musician, with whom she had another child, a boy. The relationship was tempestuous; the musician became abusive, she says, and they separated. A fight ensued over the custody of Assange’s half brother, and Claire felt threatened, fearing that the musician would take away her son. Assange recalled her saying, “Now we need to disappear,” and he lived on the run with her from the age of eleven to sixteen. When I asked him about the experience, he told me that there was evidence that the man belonged to a powerful cult called the Family—its motto was “Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard.” Some members were doctors who persuaded mothers to give up their newborn children to the cult’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The cult had moles in government, Assange suspected, who provided the musician with leads on Claire’s whereabouts. In fact, Claire often told friends where she had gone, or hid in places where she had lived before.

While on the run, Claire rented a house across the street from an electronics shop. Assange would go there to write programs on a Commodore 64, until Claire bought it for him, moving to a cheaper place to raise the money. He was soon able to crack into well-known programs, where he found hidden messages left by their creators. “The austerity of one’s interaction with a computer is something that appealed to me,” he said. “It is like chess—chess is very austere, in that you don’t have many rules, there is no randomness, and the problem is very hard.” Assange embraced life as an outsider. He later wrote of himself and a teen-age friend, “We were bright sensitive kids who didn’t fit into the dominant subculture and fiercely castigated those who did as irredeemable boneheads.”

When Assange turned sixteen, he got a modem, and his computer was transformed into a portal. Web sites did not exist yet—this was 1987—but computer networks and telecom systems were sufficiently linked to form a hidden electronic landscape that teen-agers with the requisite technical savvy could traverse. Assange called himself Mendax—from Horace’s splendide mendax, or “nobly untruthful”—and he established a reputation as a sophisticated programmer who could break into the most secure networks. He joined with two hackers to form a group that became known as the International Subversives, and they broke into computer systems in Europe and North America, including networks belonging to the U.S. Department of Defense and to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In a book called “Underground,” which he collaborated on with a writer named Suelette Dreyfus, he outlined the hacker subculture’s early Golden Rules: “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.”

Around this time, Assange fell in love with a sixteen-year-old girl, and he briefly moved out of his mother’s home to stay with her. “A couple of days later, police turned up, and they carted off all my computer stuff,” he recalled. The raid, he said, was carried out by the state police, and “it involved some dodgy character who was alleging that we had stolen five hundred thousand dollars from Citibank.” Assange wasn’t charged, and his equipment was returned. “At that point, I decided that it might be wise to be a bit more discreet,” he said. Assange and the girl joined a squatters’ union in Melbourne, until they learned she was pregnant, and moved to be near Claire. When Assange was eighteen, the two got married in an unofficial ceremony, and soon afterward they had a son.

Hacking remained a constant in his life, and the thrill of digital exploration was amplified by the growing knowledge, among the International Subversives, that the authorities were interested in their activities. The Australian Federal Police had set up an investigation into the group, called Operation Weather, which the hackers strove to monitor.

In September, 1991, when Assange was twenty, he hacked into the master terminal that Nortel, the Canadian telecom company, maintained in Melbourne, and began to poke around. The International Subversives had been visiting the master terminal frequently. Normally, Assange hacked into computer systems at night, when they were semi-dormant, but this time a Nortel administrator was signed on. Sensing that he might be caught, Assange approached him with humor. “I have taken control,” he wrote, without giving his name. “For years, I have been struggling in this grayness. But now I have finally seen the light.” The administrator did not reply, and Assange sent another message: “It’s been nice playing with your system. We didn’t do any damage and we even improved a few things. Please don’t call the Australian Federal Police.”

The International Subversives’ incursions into Nortel turned out to be a critical development for Operation Weather. Federal investigators tapped phone lines to see which ones the hackers were using. “Julian was the most knowledgeable and the most secretive of the lot,” Ken Day, the lead investigator, told me. “He had some altruistic motive. I think he acted on the belief that everyone should have access to everything.”

“Underground” describes Assange’s growing fear of arrest: “Mendax dreamed of police raids all the time. He dreamed of footsteps crunching on the driveway gravel, of shadows in the pre-dawn darkness, of a gun-toting police squad bursting through his backdoor at 5 am.” Assange could relax only when he hid his disks in an apiary that he kept. By October, he was in a terrible state. His wife had left him, taking with her their infant son. His home was a mess. He barely ate or slept. On the night the police came, the twenty-ninth, he wired his phone through his stereo and listened to the busy signal until eleven-thirty, when Ken Day knocked on his door, and told him, “I think you’ve been expecting me.”

Assange was charged with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes. While awaiting trial, he fell into a depression, and briefly checked himself into a hospital. He tried to stay with his mother, but after a few days he took to sleeping in nearby parks. He lived and hiked among dense eucalyptus forests in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which were thick with mosquitoes whose bites scarred his face. “Your inner voice quiets down,” he told me. “Internal dialogue is stimulated by a preparatory desire to speak, but it is not actually useful if there are no other people around.” He added, “I don’t want to sound too Buddhist. But your vision of yourself disappears.”

It took more than three years for the authorities to bring the case against Assange and the other International Subversives to court. Day told me, “We had just formed the computer-crimes team, and the government said, ‘Your charter is to establish a deterrent.’ Well, to get a deterrent you have to prosecute people, and we achieved that with Julian and his group.” A computer-security team working for Nortel in Canada drafted an incident report alleging that the hacking had caused damage that would cost more than a hundred thousand dollars to repair. The chief prosecutor, describing Assange’s near-limitless access, told the court, “It was God Almighty walking around doing what you like.”

Assange, facing a potential sentence of ten years in prison, found the state’s reaction confounding. He bought Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The First Circle,” a novel about scientists and technicians forced into the Gulag, and read it three times. (“How close the parallels to my own adventures!” he later wrote.) He was convinced that “look/see” hacking was a victimless crime, and intended to fight the charges. But the other members of the group decided to coöperate. “When a judge says, ‘The prisoner shall now rise,’ and no one else in the room stands—that is a test of character,” he told me. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges and six were dropped. But at his final sentencing the judge said, “There is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what’s the expression—surf through these various computers.” Assange’s only penalty was to pay the Australian state a small sum in damages.

As the criminal case was unfolding, Assange and his mother were also waging a campaign to gain full custody of Assange’s son—a legal fight that was, in many ways, far more wrenching than his criminal defense. They were convinced that the boy’s mother and her new boyfriend posed a danger to the child, and they sought to restrict her rights. The state’s child-protection agency, Health and Community Services, disagreed. The specifics of the allegations are unclear; family-court records in Australia are kept anonymous. But in 1995 a parliamentary committee found that the agency maintained an “underlying philosophy of deflecting as many cases away from itself as possible.” When the agency decided that a child was living in a safe household, there was no way to immediately appeal its decision.

The custody battle evolved into a bitter fight with the state. “What we saw was a great bureaucracy that was squashing people,” Claire told me. She and Assange, along with another activist, formed an organization called Parent Inquiry Into Child Protection. “We used full-on activist methods,” Claire recalled. In meetings with Health and Community Services, “we would go in and tape-record them secretly.” The organization used the Australian Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from Health and Community Services, and they distributed flyers to child-protection workers, encouraging them to come forward with inside information, for a “central databank” that they were creating. “You may remain anonymous if you wish,” one flyer stated. One protection worker leaked to the group an important internal manual. Assange told me, “We had moles who were inside dissidents.”

In 1999, after nearly three dozen legal hearings and appeals, Assange worked out a custody agreement with his wife. Claire told me, “We had experienced very high levels of adrenaline, and I think that after it all finished I ended up with P.T.S.D. It was like coming back from a war. You just can’t interact with normal people to the same degree, and I am sure that Jules has some P.T.S.D. that is untreated.” Not long after the court cases, she said, Assange’s hair, which had been dark brown, became drained of all color.

Assange was burned out. He motorcycled across Vietnam. He held various jobs, and even earned money as a computer-security consultant, supporting his son to the extent that he was able. He studied physics at the University of Melbourne. He thought that trying to decrypt the secret laws governing the universe would provide the intellectual stimulation and rush of hacking. It did not. In 2006, on a blog he had started, he wrote about a conference organized by the Australian Institute of Physics, “with 900 career physicists, the body of which were sniveling fearful conformists of woefully, woefully inferior character.”

He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.

These ideas soon evolved into WikiLeaks. In 2006, Assange barricaded himself in a house near the university and began to work. In fits of creativity, he would write out flow diagrams for the system on the walls and doors, so as not to forget them. There was a bed in the kitchen, and he invited backpackers passing through campus to stay with him, in exchange for help building the site. “He wouldn’t sleep at all,” a person who was living in the house told me. “He wouldn’t eat.”

As it now functions, the Web site is primarily hosted on a Swedish Internet service provider called PRQ.se, which was created to withstand both legal pressure and cyber attacks, and which fiercely preserves the anonymity of its clients. Submissions are routed first through PRQ, then to a WikiLeaks server in Belgium, and then on to “another country that has some beneficial laws,” Assange told me, where they are removed at “end-point machines” and stored elsewhere. These machines are maintained by exceptionally secretive engineers, the high priesthood of WikiLeaks. One of them, who would speak only by encrypted chat, told me that Assange and the other public members of WikiLeaks “do not have access to certain parts of the system as a measure to protect them and us.” The entire pipeline, along with the submissions moving through it, is encrypted, and the traffic is kept anonymous by means of a modified version of the Tor network, which sends Internet traffic through “virtual tunnels” that are extremely private. Moreover, at any given time WikiLeaks computers are feeding hundreds of thousands of fake submissions through these tunnels, obscuring the real documents. Assange told me that there are still vulnerabilities, but “this is vastly more secure than any banking network.”

Before launching the site, Assange needed to show potential contributors that it was viable. One of the WikiLeaks activists owned a server that was being used as a node for the Tor network. Millions of secret transmissions passed through it. The activist noticed that hackers from China were using the network to gather foreign governments’ information, and began to record this traffic. Only a small fraction has ever been posted on WikiLeaks, but the initial tranche served as the site’s foundation, and Assange was able to say, “We have received over one million documents from thirteen countries.”

In December, 2006, WikiLeaks posted its first document: a “secret decision,” signed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a Somali rebel leader for the Islamic Courts Union, that had been culled from traffic passing through the Tor network to China. The document called for the execution of government officials by hiring “criminals” as hit men. Assange and the others were uncertain of its authenticity, but they thought that readers, using Wikipedia-like features of the site, would help analyze it. They published the decision with a lengthy commentary, which asked, “Is it a bold manifesto by a flamboyant Islamic militant with links to Bin Laden? Or is it a clever smear by US intelligence, designed to discredit the Union, fracture Somali alliances and manipulate China?”

The document’s authenticity was never determined, and news about WikiLeaks quickly superseded the leak itself. Several weeks later, Assange flew to Kenya for the World Social Forum, an anti-capitalist convention, to make a presentation about the Web site. “He packed in the funniest way I have ever seen,” the person who had been living in the house recalled. “Someone came to pick him up, and he was asked, ‘Where is your luggage?’ And he ran back into the house. He had a sailor’s sack, and he grabbed a whole bunch of stuff and threw it in there, mostly socks.”

Assange ended up staying in Kenya for several months. He would check in with friends by phone and through the Internet from time to time, but was never precise about his movements. One friend told me, “It would always be, ‘Where is Julian?’ It was always difficult to know where he was. It was almost like he was trying to hide.”

It took about an hour on Easter morning to get from the house on Grettisgata Street to Iceland’s international airport, which is situated on a lava field by the sea. Assange, in the terminal, carried a threadbare blue backpack that contained hard drives, phone cards, and multiple cell phones. Gonggrijp had agreed to go to Washington to help with the press conference. He checked in, and the ticketing agent turned to Assange.

“I am sorry,” she said to him. “I cannot find your name.”

“Interesting,” Assange said to Gonggrijp. “Have fun at the press conference.”

“No,” Gonggrijp told the attendant. “We have a booking I.D. number.”

“It’s been confirmed,” Assange insisted.

The attendant looked perplexed. “I know,” she said. “But my booking information has it ‘cancelled.’ ”

The two men exchanged a look: was a government agency tampering with their plans? Assange waited anxiously, but it turned out that he had bought the ticket and neglected to confirm the purchase. He quickly bought another ticket, and the two men flew to New York and then rushed to catch the Acela to Washington. It was nearly two in the morning when they arrived. They got into a taxi, and Assange, who didn’t want to reveal the location of his hotel, told the driver to go to a nearby cross street.

“Here we are in the lion’s den,” Gonggrijp said as the taxi raced down Massachusetts Avenue, passing rows of nondescript office buildings. Assange said, “Not looking too lionish.”

A few hours after sunrise, Assange was standing at a lectern inside the National Press Club, ready to present “Collateral Murder” to the forty or so journalists who had come. He was dressed in a brown blazer, a black shirt, and a red tie. He played the film for the audience, pausing it to discuss various details. After the film ended, he ran footage of the Hellfire attack—a woman in the audience gasped as the first missile hit the building—and read from the e-mail sent by the Icelandic journalists who had gone to Iraq. The leak, he told the reporters, “sends a message that some people within the military don’t like what is going on.”

The video, in both raw and edited forms, was released on the site that WikiLeaks had built for it, and also on YouTube and a number of other Web sites. Within minutes after the press conference, Assange was invited to Al Jazeera’s Washington headquarters, where he spent half the day giving interviews, and that evening MSNBC ran a long segment about the footage. The video was covered in the Times, in multiple stories, and in every other major paper. On YouTube alone, more than seven million viewers have watched “Collateral Murder.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about the footage, and said, clearly irritated, “These people can put anything out they want and are never held accountable for it.” The video was like looking at war “through a soda straw,” he said. “There is no before and there is no after.” Army spokespeople insisted that there was no violation of the rules of engagement. At first, the media’s response hewed to Assange’s interpretation, but, in the ensuing days, as more commentators weighed in and the military offered its view, Assange grew frustrated. Much of the coverage focussed not on the Hellfire attack or the van but on the killing of the journalists and on how a soldier might reasonably mistake a camera for an RPG. On Twitter, Assange accused Gates of being “a liar,” and beseeched members of the media to “stop spinning.”

In some respects, Assange appeared to be most annoyed by the journalistic process itself—“a craven sucking up to official sources to imbue the eventual story with some kind of official basis,” as he once put it. WikiLeaks has long maintained a complicated relationship with conventional journalism. When, in 2008, the site was sued after publishing confidential documents from a Swiss bank, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and ten other news organizations filed amicus briefs in support. (The bank later withdrew its suit.) But, in the Bunker one evening, Gonggrijp told me, “We are not the press.” He considers WikiLeaks an advocacy group for sources; within the framework of the Web site, he said, “the source is no longer dependent on finding a journalist who may or may not do something good with his document.”

Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events. In an invitation to potential collaborators in 2006, he wrote, “Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations.” He has argued that a “social movement” to expose secrets could “bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality—including the US administration.”

Assange does not recognize the limits that traditional publishers do. Recently, he posted military documents that included the Social Security numbers of soldiers, and in the Bunker I asked him if WikiLeaks’ mission would have been compromised if he had redacted these small bits. He said that some leaks risked harming innocent people—“collateral damage, if you will”—but that he could not weigh the importance of every detail in every document. Perhaps the Social Security numbers would one day be important to researchers investigating wrongdoing, he said; by releasing the information he would allow judgment to occur in the open.

A year and a half ago, WikiLeaks published the results of an Army test, conducted in 2004, of electromagnetic devices designed to prevent IEDs from being triggered. The document revealed key aspects of how the devices functioned and also showed that they interfered with communication systems used by soldiers—information that an insurgent could exploit. By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices. I asked Assange if he would refrain from releasing information that he knew might get someone killed. He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.”

One member told me that Assange’s editorial policy initially made her uncomfortable, but that she has come around to his position, because she believes that no one has been unjustly harmed. Of course, such harm is not always easy to measure. When Assange was looking for board members, he contacted Steven Aftergood, who runs an e-mail newsletter for the Federation of American Scientists, and who publishes sensitive documents. Aftergood declined to participate. “When a technical record is both sensitive and remote from a current subject of controversy, my editorial inclination is to err on the side of caution,” he said. “I miss that kind of questioning on their part.”

At the same time, Aftergood told me, the overclassification of information is a problem of increasing scale—one that harms not only citizens, who should be able to have access to government records, but the system of classification itself. When too many secrets are kept, it becomes difficult to know which ones are important. Had the military released the video from the Apache to Reuters under FOIA, it would probably not have become a film titled “Collateral Murder,” and a public-relations nightmare.

Lieutenant Colonel Lee Packnett, the spokesperson for intelligence matters for the Army, was deeply agitated when I called him. “We’re not going to give validity to WikiLeaks,” he said. “You’re not doing anything for the Army by putting us in a conversation about WikiLeaks. You can talk to someone else. It’s not an Army issue.” As he saw it, once “Collateral Murder” had passed through the news cycle, the broader counter-intelligence problem that WikiLeaks poses to the military had disappeared as well. “It went away,” he said.

With the release of “Collateral Murder,” WikiLeaks received more than two hundred thousand dollars in donations, and on April 7th Assange wrote on Twitter, “New funding model for journalism: try doing it for a change.” Just this winter, he had put the site into a state of semi-dormancy because there was not enough money to run it, and because its technical engineering needed adjusting. Assange has far more material than he can process, and he is seeking specialists who can sift through the chaotic WikiLeaks library and assign documents to volunteers for analysis. The donations meant that WikiLeaks would now be able to pay some volunteers, and in late May its full archive went back online. Still, the site remains a project in early development. Assange has been searching for the right way not only to manage it but also to get readers interested in the more arcane material there.

In 2007, he published thousands of pages of secret military information detailing a vast number of Army procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and a volunteer spent weeks building a searchable database, studying the Army’s purchasing codes, and adding up the cost of the procurements—billions of dollars in all. The database catalogued matériel that every unit had ordered: machine guns, Humvees, cash-counting machines, satellite phones. Assange hoped that journalists would pore through it, but barely any did. “I am so angry,” he said. “This was such a fucking fantastic leak: the Army’s force structure of Afghanistan and Iraq, down to the last chair, and nothing.”

WikiLeaks is a finalist for a Knight Foundation grant of more than half a million dollars. The intended project would set up a way for sources to pass documents to newspaper reporters securely; WikiLeaks would serve as a kind of numbered Swiss bank account, where information could be anonymously exchanged. (The system would allow the source to impose a deadline on the reporter, after which the document would automatically appear on WikiLeaks.) Assange has been experimenting with other ideas, too. On the principle that people won’t regard something as valuable unless they pay for it, he has tried selling documents at auction to news organizations; in 2008, he attempted this with seven thousand internal e-mails from the account of a former speechwriter for Hugo Chávez. The auction failed. He is thinking about setting up a subscription service, where high-paying members would have early access to leaks.

But experimenting with the site’s presentation and its technical operations will not answer a deeper question that WikiLeaks must address: What is it about? The Web site’s strengths—its near-total imperviousness to lawsuits and government harassment—make it an instrument for good in societies where the laws are unjust. But, unlike authoritarian regimes, democratic governments hold secrets largely because citizens agree that they should, in order to protect legitimate policy. In liberal societies, the site’s strengths are its weaknesses. Lawsuits, if they are fair, are a form of deterrence against abuse. Soon enough, Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most—power without accountability—is encoded in the site’s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution.

After the press conference in Washington, I met Assange in New York, in Bryant Park. He had brought his luggage with him, because he was moving between the apartments of friends of friends. We sat near the fountain, and drank coffee. That week, Assange was scheduled to fly to Berkeley, and then to Italy, but back in Iceland the volcano was erupting again, and his flight to Europe was likely to change. He looked a bit shell-shocked. “It was surprising to me that we were seen as such an impartial arbiter of the truth, which may speak well to what we have done,” he told me. But he also said, “To be completely impartial is to be an idiot. This would mean that we would have to treat the dust in the street the same as the lives of people who have been killed.”

A number of commentators had wondered whether the video’s title was manipulative. “In hindsight, should we have called it ‘Permission to Engage’ rather than ‘Collateral Murder’?” he said. “I’m still not sure.” He was annoyed by Gates’s comment on the film: “He says, ‘There is no before and no after.’ Well, at least there is now a middle, which is a vast improvement.” Then Assange leaned forward and, in a whisper, began to talk about a leak, code-named Project G, that he is developing in another secret location. He promised that it would be news, and I saw in him the same mixture of seriousness and amusement, devilishness and intensity that he had displayed in the Bunker. “If it feels a little bit like we’re amateurs, it is because we are,” he said. “Everyone is an amateur in this business.” And then, his coffee finished, he made his way out of the park and into Times Square, disappearing among the masses of people moving this way and that.

Voir enfin:

WikiLeaks a media game changer

Keach Hagey

November 29, 2010

After the New York Times published stories based on the WikiLeaks’ Iraq war logs in October next to a tough profile of the organization’s founder, the paper’s public editor concluded that the paper had taken a “reputational risk in doing business with WikiLeaks, though it has inoculated itself somewhat by reporting independently on the organization.”

But that independent reporting got the paper left out of getting advance access to the latest round of leaked cables, despite being originally told that it would get them, New York Times Editor Bill Keller told POLITICO.

“Back when we got the original archive — the Afghanistan and Iraq war reports — the understanding was that the same group, Guardian, NYT and Der Spiegel, would eventually get the cables,” Keller said. “Why [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange chose to cut us out, he never explicitly said. He has a rather lengthy bill of grievances against the Times, which he has voiced in public, to journalists at the European papers and to me by phone.”

Assange thought the Times’ profile of Bradley Manning, who is suspected of providing the documents to WikiLeaks, “paid insufficient attention to Manning’s political motivation,” Keller said, and “strongly disliked John Burns’s piece on the internal strains within WikiLeaks.” Keller added, “I think he was unhappy with something the editorial page said about him.”

So, in one of the back story’s strangest twists, the Times had to get the leaked cables through something akin to a second leak — obtaining them from the Guardian of London. Guardian investigative editor David Leigh told Yahoo’s Michael Calderone that the British paper handed over the source material because British law « might have stopped us through injunctions [gag orders] if we were on our own. » Keller told readers in a Q & A Monday that the Guardian “considered it a continuation of our collaboration on earlier WikiLeaks disclosures.”

Either way, such international collaboration on a major story is unprecedented in the history of journalism and points to the new role that elite news organizations play in the Internet age — in this case, as conduits of material originally obtained not by their own investigative journalists but by others, such as WikiLeaks.

The big papers wouldn’t have the material without WikiLeaks. And WikiLeaks wouldn’t get the international exposure — and, perhaps more important, the credibility — that comes from having its material published in the world’s most important newspapers.

But the Times has come under some criticism from readers for the arrangement. One reader called it “disgusting” that the Times would act as a “media partner” to WikiLeaks, which Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wants to have designated as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Others wondered what the Times gave up by agreeing to work with WikiLeaks, after other news organizations declined early access because they did not want to abide by confidentiality agreements.

Keller defended the paper’s decision, saying that “WikiLeaks is not a ‘media partner’ of the Times” and that the paper “signed no agreement of any kind, with WikiLeaks or anyone else.” While WikiLeaks did not get a look at the Times’ stories in advance, the Times did try to influence what WikiLeaks plans to put up on its site over the course of this week.

Keller acknowledged the Times has “no control over what WikiLeaks will do” but said the paper told WikiLeaks and the other papers in possession of the cables about the State Department’s concerns, as well as the Times’ plans to edit out sensitive material. “The other news organizations supported these redactions,” Keller said. “WikiLeaks has indicated that it intends to do likewise — and as a matter of news interest, we will watch their website to see what they do.”

Such collaboration by major media organizations across international borders — both in agreeing to work together in publishing the material  and in agreeing what material should be kept out — is new for journalism.

“I know of no international efforts like this, a global kind of collaboration,” said Mark Feldstein, a professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and author of “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture.”

“It’s unprecedented and to be commended. The volume of the material that WikiLeaks obtained is unprecedented, so to tackle a subject this complicated is going to take more resources. And just as everything else has gone global — crime and multinational corporations — so we are starting to see the beginning of a more global investigative journalism, » he said.

The collaboration began in June, when Nick Davies, a senior contributor to the Guardian, tracked down Assange in Brussels and suggested that the paper would devote a team to researching stories within WikiLeaks’ cache of documents, Clint Hendler reported in the Columbia Journalism Review. Assange suggested that The New York Times and Der Spiegel be involved as well. Editors from the three papers agreed to a deal in which they’d keep the documents under wraps for a few weeks and publish simultaneously with WikiLeaks.

The result was the July 25 story of the Afghanistan war logs. A similar process was used in the release of the Iraq war logs last month and in Sunday’s release of the U.S. Embassy cables, though the list of papers had expanded to include Spain’s El Pais and France’s Le Monde.

It might have expanded even further had CNN and The Wall Street Journal agreed to sign the confidentiality agreements that WikiLeaks required in exchange for advance access.

CNN reported that it “declined a last-minute offer to discuss advance access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by WikiLeaks that CNN considered unacceptable.” A spokesperson for CNN would not go into specifics on the unacceptable terms of the requested agreement.

The Wall Street Journal also declined an offer of access made about a week ago, Russell Adams and Jessica E. Vascellaro reported. “We didn’t want to agree to a set of pre-conditions related to the disclosure of the WikiLeaks documents without even being given a broad understanding of what these documents contained, » a spokeswoman for the paper said.

The five newspapers that did get advance access had been looking at the cables for some time. The Guardian has had access to them since August, while the Times has been reviewing them for “several weeks.”

Part of that review process, in both papers’ cases, included a process of redaction in consultation with U.S. officials.

“We have edited out any information that could identify confidential sources — including informants, dissidents, academics and human rights activists — or otherwise compromise national security,” Keller wrote in response to readers’ questions. “We did this in consultation with the State Department, and while they strongly disapprove of the publication of classified material at any time, and while we did not agree with all of their requests for omission, we took their views very seriously indeed.”

Both papers shared their redactions with each other, and with WikiLeaks, in hopes that the organization would make similar choices. WikiLeaks could not be reached for comment.

This kind of negotiation with U.S. officials has not always been part of the history of large leaks. The New York Times’ release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the most frequently cited precedent for the WikiLeaks revelations, had no input at all from the government, according to David Rudenstine, a professor of law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and author of “The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case.”

“In the Pentagon Papers case, The New York Times kept the fact that it had the Pentagon Papers secret from everybody, including the government,” he said. “The fear at the Times, in April, May and June of 1971, was that the government would find out that it had these documents and seek through the FBI to perhaps recover them. And so perhaps as a result, the Times took extraordinary steps to keep the stories confidential.”

He added that the Times “thought that they had more than adequate capacity to make these judgments without going to the government,” as did The Washington Post in its Pentagon Papers stories.

At the time, the Times was generally lauded for its courage in exposing a bad war.

More recent history does have the Times holding stories containing major revelations over government concerns, as was the case when the paper held the NSA warrantless surveillance story from 2004 until 2005, a move that provoked criticism because the story could have had an effect on the 2004 presidential elections.

But the deals the papers strike with WikiLeaks makes such holding impossible. The scope of action available to the papers is limited: They can provide context and verification, but they can’t stall or kill the story.

After the leak of the Afghan war documents, New York University professor Jay Rosen noted that this arrangement alters the role the press has traditionally played.

“Notice how effective this combination is,” he said. “The information is released in two forms: vetted and narrated to gain old-media cred and released online in full text, Internet style, which corrects for any timidity or blind spot the editors at Der Spiegel, the Times or the Guardian may show.”

Pointing to a request from the Times to WikiLeaks, urging the site to withhold harmful material from its website, Rosen wrote: “There’s the new balance of power, right there. In the revised picture we find the state, which holds the secrets but is powerless to prevent their release; the stateless news organization, deciding how to release them; and the national newspaper in the middle, negotiating the terms of legitimacy between these two actors.”

Voir aussi:

WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Turmoil/Notoriety

John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya

The NYT

October 23, 2010

LONDON — Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London’s rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.

He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own the way other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.

“By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I’ve wound up in an extraordinary situation,” Mr. Assange said over lunch last Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy stubble and trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker assigned to document any unpleasant surprises.

In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on Saturday, saying that the release “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization’s Web site some 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.

Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.

Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”

He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he characterizes the claims as “a smear campaign,” the scandal has compounded the pressures of his cloaked life.

“When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like,” he said over the London lunch.

Exposing Secrets

Mr. Assange has come a long way from an unsettled childhood in Australia as a self-acknowledged social misfit who narrowly avoided prison after being convicted on 25 charges of computer hacking in 1995. History is punctuated by spies, defectors and others who revealed the most inflammatory secrets of their age. Mr. Assange has become that figure for the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself and for the keepers of the world’s secrets.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale that might really make a difference,” said Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed a 1,000-page secret study of the Vietnam War in 1971 that became known as the Pentagon Papers.

Mr. Ellsberg said he saw kindred spirits in Mr. Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under detention in Quantico, Va., suspected of leaking the Iraq and Afghan documents.

“They were willing to go to prison for life, or be executed, to put out this information,” Mr. Ellsberg said.

Underlying Mr. Assange’s anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials.

Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge. Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a residence permit and protection under that country’s broad press freedoms. His initial welcome was euphoric.

“They called me the James Bond of journalism,” he recalled wryly. “It got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble.”

Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, said last week that the police were continuing to investigate.

In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has not resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted. From Germany, he traveled to London, wary at being detained on arrival. Under British law, his Australian passport entitles him to remain for six months. Iceland, another country with generous press freedoms and a strong WikiLeaks following, has also lost its appeal, with Mr. Assange concluding that its government, like Britain’s, is too easily influenced by Washington. In his native Australia, ministers have signaled their willingness to cooperate with the United States if it opens a prosecution. Mr. Assange said a senior Australian official told him, “You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules.”

He faces attack from within, too.

After the Sweden scandal, strains within WikiLeaks reached a breaking point, with some of Mr. Assange’s closest collaborators publicly defecting. The New York Times spoke with dozens of people who have worked with and supported him in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Britain and the United States. What emerged was a picture of the founder of WikiLeaks as its prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone whose growing celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial, eccentric and capricious style.

Internal Turmoil

Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive’s life, his leadership is enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In an online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was obtained by The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate without him. “We’ve been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months now,” he said.

When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”

Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.

In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason’s conclusion was stark. “He is not in his right mind,” he said. In London, Mr. Assange was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. “These are not consequential people,” he said.

“About a dozen” disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified “bad behavior.” Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from Mr. Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an organization that Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800 mostly unpaid followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers and to secure the system against attack — to guard against the kind of infiltration that WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.

Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.”

Even among those challenging Mr. Assange’s leadership style, there is recognition that the intricate computer and financial architecture WikiLeaks uses to shield it against its enemies has depended on its founder. “He’s very unique and extremely capable,” said Ms. Jonsdottir, the Icelandic lawmaker.

A Rash of Scoops

Before posting the documents on Afghanistan and Iraq, WikiLeaks enjoyed a string of coups.

Supporters were thrilled when the organization posted documents on the Guantánamo Bay detention operation, the contents of Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo email account, reports of extrajudicial killings in Kenya and East Timor, the membership rolls of the neo-Nazi British National Party and a combat video showing American Apache helicopters in Baghdad in 2007 gunning down at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists.

But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing the organization for risking people’s lives by publishing war logs identifying Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan using the pseudonym Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview that the Taliban had formed a nine-member “commission” after the Afghan documents were posted “to find about people who are spying.” He said the Taliban had a “wanted” list of 1,800 Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided.

“After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people,” he said.

Mr. Assange defended posting unredacted documents, saying he balanced his decision “with the knowledge of the tremendous good and prevention of harm that is caused” by putting the information into the public domain. “There are no easy choices on the table for this organization,” he said.

But if Mr. Assange is sustained by his sense of mission, faith is fading among his fellow conspirators. His mood was caught vividly in an exchange on Sept. 20 with another senior WikiLeaks figure. In an encrypted online chat, a transcript of which was passed to The Times, Mr. Assange was dismissive of his colleagues. He described them as “a confederacy of fools,” and asked his interlocutor, “Am I dealing with a complete retard?”

In London, Mr. Assange was angered when asked about the rifts. He responded testily to questions about WikiLeaks’s opaque finances, Private Manning’s fate and WikiLeaks’s apparent lack of accountability to anybody but himself, calling the questions “cretinous,” “facile” and reminiscent of “kindergarten.”

Mr. Assange has been equivocal about Private Manning, talking in late summer as though the soldier was unavoidable collateral damage, much like the Afghans named as informers in the secret Pentagon documents.

But in London, he took a more sympathetic view, describing Private Manning as a “political prisoner” facing a jail term of up to 52 years, without confirming that he was the source of the disclosed war logs. “We have a duty to assist Mr. Manning and other people who are facing legal and other consequences,” he said.

Mr. Assange’s own fate seems as imperiled as Private Manning’s. Last Monday, the Swedish Migration Board said Mr. Assange’s bid for a residence permit had been rejected. His British visa will expire early next year. When he left the London restaurant at twilight, heading into the shadows, he declined to say where he was going. The man who has put some of the world’s most powerful institutions on his watch list was, once more, on the move.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Dexter Filkins from Kabul, Afghanistan.


Sécurité aérienne: Plus dhimmi que moi, tu meurs ! (Welcome to the brave new world of unmentionables!)

28 novembre, 2010
The United States and Israel share a great deal of, information and techniques on air security, and we both use the same equipment, including the full-body scanner. The difference is that in the U.S., the scanner is the default security check method, while in Israel it is an exceptional method. (…) Since they don’t do profiling, they have no way to determine who is a greater and lesser risk – so they have to treat everyone as a potential security risk. (…) In the U.S., they don’t even profile on the basis of flight destination anymore, but they realize the bad people are out there – so they have no choice but to treat everyone as potentially guilty unless proven innocent, and check them in the scanners. (…) There’s no question that the Transport Safety Administration has a much harder job than us, and many of the things done in Israel would be much harder to implement in the U.S., given the much higher volume of passengers.  (…) But it is precisely for that reason behavioral profiling would be so helpful – to eliminate the large majority of passengers that are safe, and to use limited resources more efficiently. Alon Wainer
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most of today’s global terrorists are Muslims’ — given that terrorism of the age requires very few zealots. The miniscule percentage of .001% of the Muslim community as potential terrorists is quite a lot, given we never hear of the size of the pool from which we are postulating.
The fact is that in both theaters only military action can demoralize the terrorists and insurgents enough to back off to allow ongoing diplomacy and so-called nation building to proceed.
Iraq is fairly stable not just because of constitutional reform and Ryan Crocker’s inspired diplomacy or Gen. Petraeus’s brilliant efforts to assure civilians hope and safety, but also because the US military and the Sons of Iraq in the Anbar Awakening annihilated vast cadres of al Qaeda and radical Sunni terrorists. The history of war suggests gridlocked conflicts evolve to diplomatic solutions once one side fears losing or at least sees it cannot win.
The California papers are now heralding that the state’s schools have over a 50 majority of Hispanic students. But while that is good news to liberals who seem to see race as essential not incidental to larger society, it raises then some very uncomfortable corollaries for reporters — such as, is there any connection to why California’s once top-flight public schools had fallen to near dead last in test scores, given millions of non-English speakers? (…) Massive illegal immigration into the state — by millions over the last two decades from the interior of Mexico — has resulted in a sizable resident population with no English, no high school diplomas, and no legality. For most in these rubrics, an entry level, manual-labor job too often became a dead-end one at minimal wages — with all the ripples we’d expect into the second generation. (…) Those who voice the unmentionable will be branded as racists by those who are mostly a) terrified of living in a world like they see today in Mexico; and b) believe that they live in a neighborhood or earn an income or navigate in a world that insulates them from the concrete wages of their easy political correctness.
When George Bush gave his May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln, he infamously stated, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” Bush wanted to convey the thought that we had won the war and so spoke as he did. He also wished to qualify what he said, just in case violence again broke out. So he added all sorts of ad-ons and qualifiers in the speech, starting with the word “major” (as in maybe less major combat has not ended.) There were others like this in the speech, “And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” And this, “We have difficult work to do in Iraq.” And this, “The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.” Victor Davis Hanson
Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Charles Krauthammer
I always follows Asians in the security line. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip-on shoes, God love ’em. (..) I’m like my mother. I stereotype. It’s faster. George Clooney character (in Up in the air)
Everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; 3-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives – when everyone, everyone, knows that none of these people is a threat to anyone. The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn’t need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning « I rely on God, » killing all on board. (…) The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. Charles Krauthammer

Bienvenue au monde de ces choses qu’on ne mentionnera pas!

En ce lendemain de Thanksgiving où nombre des Américains qui n’ont pas encore jeté l’éponge devant la véritable course d’obstacles que sont devenus –  merci les Palestiniens et Ben Laden ! – les voyages aériens se préparent  à rentrer chez eux …

Après avoir tout récemment pu vérifier les ratés que pouvait entrainer le contre-profilage électoral …

Retour, avec l’éditorialiste du WP Charles Krauthammer et l’historien militaire Victor Davis Hanson, sur ce petit monument d’imbécilité bien-pensante auquel est en train d’aboutir le refus du simple profilage

A savoir le choix entre un visionnage de qualité X de son intimité et une palpation qui se rapproche de jour en jour de l’agression sexuelle …

Et ce, quand tout le monde sait qu’outre le blindage des cockpits et la vigilance plus grande des personnel et passagers, la mesure la plus efficace et retenue par les experts – israéliens – en la matière est très probablement le profilage approfondi …

Y compris pour l’équipage et les pilotes!

Don’t touch my junk

Charles Krauthammer

November 19, 2010

Ah, the airport, where modern folk heroes are made. The airport, where that inspired flight attendant did what everyone who’s ever been in the spam-in-a-can crush of a flying aluminum tube – where we collectively pretend that a clutch of peanuts is a meal and a seat cushion is a « flotation device » – has always dreamed of doing: pull the lever, blow the door, explode the chute, grab a beer, slide to the tarmac and walk through the gates to the sanity that lies beyond. Not since Rick and Louis disappeared into the Casablanca fog headed for the Free French garrison in Brazzaville has a stroll on the tarmac thrilled so many.

Who cares that the crazed steward got arrested, pleaded guilty to sundry charges, and probably was a rude, unpleasant SOB to begin with? Bonnie and Clyde were psychopaths, yet what child of the ’60s did not fall in love with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty?

And now three months later, the newest airport hero arrives. His genius was not innovation in getting out, but deconstructing the entire process of getting in. John Tyner, cleverly armed with an iPhone to give YouTube immortality to the encounter, took exception to the TSA guard about to give him the benefit of Homeland Security’s newest brainstorm – the upgraded, full-palm, up the groin, all-body pat-down. In a stroke, the young man ascended to myth, or at least the next edition of Bartlett’s, warning the agent not to « touch my junk. »

Not quite the 18th-century elegance of « Don’t Tread on Me, » but the age of Twitter has a different cadence from the age of the musket. What the modern battle cry lacks in archaic charm, it makes up for in full-body syllabic punch.

Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter. Don’t touch my junk, Obamacare – get out of my doctor’s examining room, I’m wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don’t touch my junk, Google – Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don’t touch my junk, you airport security goon – my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I’m a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?

In « Up in the Air, » that ironic take on the cramped freneticism of airport life, George Clooney explains why he always follows Asians in the security line:

« They pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip-on shoes, God love ’em. »

« That’s racist! »

« I’m like my mother. I stereotype. It’s faster. »

That riff is a crowd-pleaser because everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; 3-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives – when everyone, everyone, knows that none of these people is a threat to anyone.

The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn’t need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning « I rely on God, » killing all on board.

But we must not bring that up. We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

Voir aussi:

Dead Souls

Victor Davis Hanson

Pajamas Media

November 14, 2010

Millions of us shuffle around, sighing that most of what we hear pounded into our brains is either banal or as untrue as it is dangerous to identify it as such. So we ignore it, we the dead souls who live in the world of unmentionable thoughts.

The World of Banality

Here is a daily inanity: “The great majority of Muslims are moderates,” and its ancillary “Only a tiny percentage of Muslims are terrorists.” Both are true, but they have value as admonishments only if there were a widespread Western effort to demonize Islam and persecute Muslims, or we knew that mass destruction required millions of conventional troops. But neither is true.

Last year anti-Semitic hate crimes far outnumbered attacks in America on Muslims.

Let us do some hypothetical math to suggest a small minority can be a very great worry. If the common referent of a 1 billion Muslims in the world is roughly accurate, and if there are only, say, 10% of the number who are rather radical in their beliefs (e.g., the tens of millions in places like Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia), we may be talking only about 100 million Muslims who are indifferent to speaking out against terrorism (we saw that reflected in a number of polls after 9/11 tracking public opinion in the Middle East, in which only a quarter to a third of the respondents had a positive opinion of Bin Laden or the tactic of suicide bombing.)

And further if, of that 10%-100 million subset, only one in ten is actually sympathetic, or willing to offer aid, to terrorists, and if, among that population of about 10 million, another one in ten actually wishes to commit terrorist acts, then we would have 1 million Muslims worldwide to watch out for — or one in a thousand Muslims that might cause some worry.

In that context, I‘d prefer the other banality ‘not all Muslims are terrorists, but most of today’s global terrorists are Muslims’ — given that terrorism of the age requires very few zealots. The miniscule percentage of .001% of the Muslim community as potential terrorists is quite a lot, given we never hear of the size of the pool from which we are postulating.

No Military Solution!

I heard this banality four times this week on the air and at two lectures: “There is no military solution!”

Well, yeah, of course, you cannot bomb or blow up your way to democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan. But who ever embraced that straw man as the sole answer in our ongoing wars?

The fact is that in both theaters only military action can demoralize the terrorists and insurgents enough to back off to allow ongoing diplomacy and so-called nation building to proceed.

Iraq is fairly stable not just because of constitutional reform and Ryan Crocker’s inspired diplomacy or Gen. Petraeus’s brilliant efforts to assure civilians hope and safety, but also because the US military and the Sons of Iraq in the Anbar Awakening annihilated vast cadres of al Qaeda and radical Sunni terrorists.

The history of war suggests gridlocked conflicts evolve to diplomatic solutions once one side fears losing or at least sees it cannot win. The banality of “There is no military solution” among today’s elites has become synonymous with either “we are losing” or “we want out.”

The Unmentionables

Then there are the unmentionables that we dead souls carry around as well. All matters that even touch on race are good examples. The California papers are now heralding that the state’s schools have over a 50 majority of Hispanic students. But while that is good news to liberals who seem to see race as essential not incidental to larger society, it raises then some very uncomfortable corollaries for reporters — such as, is there any connection to why California’s once top-flight public schools had fallen to near dead last in test scores, given millions of non-English speakers?

Answers are offered in our major newspapers this week along the following lines. We are told in these articles that only 40% of Latino parents can vote (= if they could vote, would schools change for the better? And why did parents not take action to qualify to vote? And did not they already vote (with their feet) by the very fact they fled their homes to risk something entirely alien in the north?)

In order not to address those questions, an “expert” is introduced into the article to reference school board elections where noncitizens might vote (= if one does not follow the law, change it!). We are next reminded in these reports that few parents speak fluent English. Presto! another PhD is found to suggest that rather than illegal aliens learning English, California should learn Spanish (= If a century and a half of custom is bothersome, drop the custom).

We the dead souls read this and conclude just the opposite: Massive illegal immigration into the state — by millions over the last two decades from the interior of Mexico — has resulted in a sizable resident population with no English, no high school diplomas, and no legality. For most in these rubrics, an entry level, manual-labor job too often became a dead-end one at minimal wages — with all the ripples we’d expect into the second generation.

Therefore one should stop illegal immigration, restore respect for the law, push English emersion, and stress the traditional American melting pot of cultural assimilation — on the theory those who flee the nightmare of today’s Mexico, surely do not wish to recreate up here what they left down there, and instead are ready for a different social, economic, cultural, and political paradigm that explains why life changes radically from Tijuana to San Diego.

Then a nanno-second later, we the dead souls sigh that we know such a melting-pot paradigm would work, and yet will not be tired in this era of the ’salad bowl.’ Those who voice the unmentionable will be branded as racists by those who are mostly a) terrified of living in a world like they see today in Mexico; and b) believe that they live in a neighborhood or earn an income or navigate in a world that insulates them from the concrete wages of their easy political correctness.

Rhetorically Ignorant — or ‘He’s Back’

Andrew Sullivan is an iconic character of these depressing times — a sort of herky-jerky Paris Hilton of the blogosphere, in which brash amorality, such as accusing the Palins of faking pregnancies or smearing officials as “war criminals,” substitutes for any real thinking.

His latest attack last week offers another teachable moment. Sullivan claimed that I, and others, committed the “big lie” (note the characteristic Sullivan bombast [“liar,” “torturer,” “criminal” are favorite slurs]) by stating that Obama did not believe in American exceptionalism, based on president’s following remarks:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.

And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.

Here Obama engaged in what in American parlance is sometimes known as prebuttal (see below) — the anticipation of criticism to come through preemptive qualification.

But Sullivan thinks that the “context” and qualifiers that Obama tacked on, praising the U.S., nullify the force of his more dramatic and sarcastic introductory statement, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Therefore those of us who quoted Obama to the effect that the president felt American exceptionalism was simply a variant of what all countries profess were peddlers of the “big lie.”

Of course, Obama really did make it clear that exceptionalism is just a notion that every state claims, America no differently than any others in its belief in its own singularity. But Sullivan leaps to the puerile conclusion that the Obama ad-ons, the prebuttal, nullify the force of the controversial statement.

Yet such subsidiary amplification — sometimes known to the Greeks as prolepsis and sometimes more technically with elements of procatelepsis, and perhaps antanagoge — serves two purposes: the controversial theme can be voiced for the record, and yet the speaker is protected from criticism by preemptive qualification. We know what Obama meant since he otherwise need not have said anything about exceptionalism; we also know that the naïve or disingenuous partisan like Sullivan would immediately point to the qualifiers.

Most politicians do this. When George Bush gave his May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln, he infamously stated, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

Bush wanted to convey the thought that we had won the war and so spoke as he did. He also wished to qualify what he said, just in case violence again broke out. So he added all sorts of ad-ons and qualifiers in the speech, starting with the word “major” (as in maybe less major combat has not ended.) There were others like this in the speech, “And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” And this, “We have difficult work to do in Iraq.” And this, “The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.”

One could argue that Bush’s “major combat operations…have ended” statement referenced only more “major” combat operations in the three-week war against Saddam’s conventional forces and government alone, and not insurgencies or terrorism or non-conventional fighting, but I won’t argue that. I think even Bush regretted that premature assessment, which often had the later effect to discourage noting progress from the surge, given the public’s remembrance of the prior false hope.

I think instead Bush wanted to assure the nation that most fighting of all sorts was largely over, and yet he was not entirely certain of that — thus the qualifications. He was logically faulted for that speech by the Left, especially by the likes of Andrew Sullivan who posted repeated attacks on the controversial “major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” but who on that occasion ignored the qualifiers that followed throughout the speech. Sullivan, however, is never consistent in his criticism because he suffers, inter alia, from the worst trait of a commentator — the constant desire to adjust his own opinions, often in blatantly hypocritical and contradictory style, to the assumed prevailing view.

Bombast and hyperbole do not denote passion of belief or sincerity.

Voir enfin:

Why They Don’t Need To ‘Touch Your Junk’ At Israeli Airports

Jeff Dunetz

Big government

2010

Fighting against terrorism, an evil which rejects all the basic moral and legal norms of civilized society, is inherently difficult for liberal democracies such as the United States. It forces us  to find the right balance between the protection of civil liberties on one hand and the prevention of violence on the other. It is clear that the latest TSA policy which gives passengers the Hobson’s choice of losing your dignity or staying home is not “balanced.”

Many of the issues in front of our policymakers have previously been faced by Israel, a country that has been under the threat of terrorist attack since its inception in 1948. We keep hearing why can’t we run our airport security the same way they do in Israel. Most people, however do not have a clear idea of what is that “Israeli way.”

The real difference between the Israeli and American approach is the target.  Israel tries to identify and stop the terrorist while the U.S. targets the bomb or other weapon. This approach does not change whether there is a left or right wing Prime Minister in power because the government realizes for Israel, the fight against terrorism is a fight for its very survival. Thus her government and citizenry have a view of preventing terrorism that is unencumbered by the political correctness which restrains efforts in the United States. [1]

The ISA (Israeli Security Agency) calls it  “human factor.” Some part of that human factor would cause Al Sharpton to show up to picket the Airport if it was practiced in the US. Ethnic profiling of passengers plays a central role in Israel’s multi-level  approach. Not just ethnicity is profile, race religion, general appearance and behavior are also part of the information used to profile.  And  wherever that profile is being made, no matter what country  it is being made in, it is an Israeli doing the profile.

All passengers [2] travelling to and from Israel are questioned by security staff. For Jewish Israelis, the process takes a couple of minutes at most, with passengers being asked whether they packed their luggage alone, and whether anyone had access to the luggage once it was packed. Jewish tourists also usually pass through security within a few minutes.

When my family entered the El Al terminal at Newark Airport, we were met by someone who asked  where we came from and where were going. When we got into the terminal and on the line to check in,  an El Al employee asked my 12 year old son (out of my ear’s range) why we were going to Israel. He asked if we were Jewish and when my son answered yes, so followed up by asking the name of our Synagogue and our Rabbi’s name. But while he was asking questions I could feel his eyes gauging my reaction to our kid’s interrogation. The “interrogation” took no longer than thirty seconds.  When he was done with my son, he came to me and asked the same questions (plus the typical who packed your luggage-type queries)  once again gauging my reaction very closely.

Like the Mossad, tank drivers, and air force pilots, Israeli airport security have that super hero, no-nonsense, get to the point directness and efficiency. “Who packed your bags?” “What was your bar mitzah portion?” “Why are you even here visiting?” This quick-fire interrogation was not bothersome but reassuring. We got the feeling that we were dealing with people who knew what they were doing.

Non-Jewish [2] tourists tend to be questioned a bit more thoroughly, and may be grilled over the purpose of their visit and about their accommodation…

… the procedure for Arabs and Muslims can often be lengthy and irritating, ending with a full body and baggage search. Visitors who have passport stamps from countries hostile to Israel are also questioned intensively in what can be a traumatic experience for the uninitiated.

….Anyone admitting to leaving their luggage at an airport or bus station left-luggage area before check-in will have their suitcases stripped, with each item individually checked and re-packed.

In 2008, Israel’s supreme court rejected a petition presented by a group of disgruntled Israeli Arab citizens, backed by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, demanding an end to ethnic profiling as discriminatory and illegal.

If I had been more attentive when I was travelling to Israel,  I would have noticed that throughout the terminal there were “armed eyes” looking at my family as well as everyone else about to get on a plane. These observers were making the same behavioral profiles as the guy who questioned  people on line.

“It is mindboggling [3] for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy.,.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioral profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behavior. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

There are other differences, most importantly is that you don’t just come off the street and get a job  with the ISA (Israel Security Agency).  These security agents are all ex-military (as most of the country is) and they are selected based on their intelligence and their ability to behavior profile.

Shlomo Harnoy [2], vice president of the Sdema group, an Israeli security consultancy firm which specialises in aviation security, believes Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines aircraft on Christmas Day, would have been detained “within seconds ” at Ben Gurion airport. According to Harnoy, a young Muslim traveling alone, on a one-way ticket, with no luggage, was an obvious suspect.

Harnoy, who once headed the Israel Security Agency’s aviation security department, believes investing millions in new technology is not the answer. “Whoever is concentrating on stopping old ladies bringing a bottle of mineral water on to the plane will not find the terrorist, or the bomb. The old lady is not a suicide bomber and the bottle of water is not a bomb component.”

Not only do most Israeli security selectors have degree-level education, they are trained to the highest standards. The most important element in the “human factor” is that the security guards understand the threat.

And of course, on every El Al flight there are armed air marshals. You won’t know who they are, but I do not recommended you making a fuss mid-air just to find out.

As for my families first brush with Israeli Airport Security, we arrived in Ben Gurion Airport twelve hours later, tired but not even realizing that we went through a more extensive security process than we ever had before. [4]

As the United States defends against the ever expanding threat of Muslim terror, right here on our home turf, success depends on throwing off the shackles of political correctness and adopting the methods of our ally Israel.

However the US is stuck in what seems to be an irreversible and deadly policy of treating everyone the same., even though we are all individuals and very different. The ultimate result is an airport security process that gives you a choice of being abused by a machine or the groping hands of an untrained TSA agent. The present TSA policies put passengers and the X-Ray appliances that reveal their bare bodies in the same category as they are both treated like machines.

During her 62 year fight against terror, Israel has achieved a balance between protection of civil liberties and the prevention of violence. Her decision was that the sanctity of saving human lives  and preserving personal dignity, outweighs the targeting and possible inconvenience of the extra questioning of a few.

Or in the words of that great philosopher from the band KISS, Gene Simmons [5] ;

I think we should be racially profiling anybody from the Middle East … and as an Israeli; I want you to look at me first. I want you to search my anal cavity and look at my tax records. I want you to look at me first, and then at every guy named Muhammad. [6]


Thanksgiving/389e: Attention, un Thanksgiving peut en cacher un autre! (Two whole years before Plymouth: Looking back at the first Virginian Thanksgiving)

25 novembre, 2010
Quand il est apparu clairement que la famine devait également se poursuivre l’année suivante, si rien ne venait l’en empêcher, les colons commencèrent à réfléchir aux moyens de faire pousser plus de maïs qu’auparavant afin d’obtenir une meilleure récolte et de ne plus continuer à vivre dans la misère. Après de longs débats, […] Nous avons donc accordé à chaque famille une parcelle de terre. Cela a été un grand succès, chacun est devenu plus travailleur, de telle sorte que plus de maïs a été planté que les années précédentes. […] À partir de ce moment, les récoltes devinrent abondantes et, à la place de la famine, Dieu donna beaucoup aux colons ; la face des choses avait changé, pour le bonheur de beaucoup. William Bradford
Quand les pèlerins ont d’abord fondé la colonie de Plymouth, ils ont organisé leur agriculture selon un principe de collectivisation des ressources. L’objectif était de tout partager de manière égale, aussi bien le travail que la production. Presque tous ont souffert de la faim. Pourquoi ? Quand des personnes peuvent obtenir la même chose avec peu d’efforts ou avec beaucoup, la plupart ne fourniront que de faibles efforts. Les colons de Plymouth feignaient la maladie plutôt que de travailler à l’accroissement de la propriété commune. Certains volèrent même, en dépit de leurs convictions puritaines. La production totale était trop faible pour l’ensemble de la population, et il en résulta la famine. (…) Cela dura deux ans. John Stossel
En 1623, la faiblesse des technologies accessibles aux cultivateurs de nouvelle Angleterre condamnait la collectivisation à la faillite rapide, ce qui força tout naturellement l’Amérique à faire le choix d’une société fondée sur la liberté, l’entreprise et la propriété privées. A l’opposé, au XXème siècle, lorsque les expériences collectivistes furent imposées à de nombreuses populations, les technologies accessibles à ces régimes, malgré le retard d’investissement que les pays communistes accumulaient au fil du temps, leur permirent d’éviter les famines extrêmes, sauf, naturellement, lorsque les dirigeants communistes s’en servirent comme d’une arme de répression de la paysannerie insoumise. Le communisme mit donc bien plus longtemps à s’effondrer, car les fragments de technologies péniblement copiés à l’ouest permettaient aux régimes communistes de reculer le « seuil de douleur » qui aurait rendu les soulèvements massifs inévitables. Les libéraux ne doivent donc pas croire que la bête immonde est morte à cause de ses échecs et crimes du passé : plus le progrès technologique – qui nait de la compétition des entreprises dans un monde libéral – ira croissant, plus les gens  pourront avoir l’impression que le collectivisme, rampant ou déclaré, n’est pas un facteur de misère insurmontable. Si nous venions à négliger de combattre les idées communistes avec détermination, si la mémoire du passé se brouillait à l’excès, alors nous serions, plus que les générations passées, vulnérables face à de nouvelles tentatives d’asservissement. Vincent Benard
 Wee ordaine that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be celebrated yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God. Captain John Woodliffe (proclamation, Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, Dec. 4, 1619)

Massachussets contre Virginie, Pèlerins contre Pocahontas. Bradford contre Woodliffe …

Attention, un Thanksgiving peut en cacher un autre!

En ce 389e anniversaire de ce jour d’automne 1621, avant de redécouvrir au prix fort les vertus du libre marché, les survivants du Mayflower fêterent leur première récolte …

Qui nous valent aujourd’hui dans toute l’Amérique les festivités que l’on sait …

Dont à nouveau un somptueux match de football américain qui vit d’autres survivants et Saints autoproclamés eux aussi arracher in extremis le succès à une défaite quasi assurée contre America’s team elle-même …

Quelle meilleure illustration de cette longue rivalité que n’ont cessé de se mener, aujourd’hui heureusement par seuls mythes interposés, le Nord et le Sud …

Que, plus de 2 ans avant le rocher de Plymouth, cette revendication virginienne… du premier Thanksgiving?

A Virginian View of Thankgiving

Inside nova

November 25, 2010

Since many Northern Virginians are not natives to the state and many of our readers are fairly new to the area each year, we think it annually appropriate to let them know that some folks think Thanksgiving Day began in the Old Dominion, not on some big rock in New England.

The story that most children learn explains that the first Thanksgiving occurred in Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts when, after a hard winter and a good harvest, Gov. William Bradford issued a proclamation of thanks in the fall of 1621.

His announcement sparked a three-day celebration during which the citizens and their native guests feasted  on wild turkey and other fixings. Special days set aside to give thanks to the Almighty continued rather haphazardly until President George Washington (a Virginian, it should be noted) named a national day in 1798.

Sarah hale, the editor of a Boston Women’s magazine,  nagged President Abraham Lincoln into naming it a formal holiday in 1863.

Almost 80 years later, Congress finally got into the act, as it were, and adopted a resolution making it official in 1941.

Virginians’ claim to the first Thanksgiving comes from an event two whole years before Gov. Bradford’s constituents gathered.

According to several reports, the REAL first Thanksgiving took place on Dec. 4, 1619, when Captain John Woodlief led the newly arrived English colonists off his ship and onto a hill by the James River. He told  them to drop to their knees and pray — thanking God for a safe arrival. Thirty-eight men from Berkeley Parish in England reportedly vowed:

« Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God. »

If you travel to Berkely Plantation in Charles City, Va., you will find these words etched in brick.

Now, some naysayers might point out that these guys basically just got off a boat, thanked God and moved on, so the Plymouth contingent should indeed get credit for the first celebration. There is no indication that the new Virginians whooped it up in a three-day blowout with the whole neighborhood.

However, one historical account does mention that the Pilgrims were actually headed to Virginia, but lost their way and drifted north. That could mean the first Thanksgiving party was INTENDED for Virginia, even if it did end up elsewhere.

We cling loyally to the idea that Captain Woodlief was way ahead of Gov. Bradford, but we know it really doesn’t matter today. It is more important to join the millions of those who came after and take time to recognize our many blessings of family, friends and liberty and to thank the One responsible.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Voir aussi:

The First Thanksgiving Likely Occurred Here, & Not at Plymouth . . .

Ross Mackenzie,

Richmond Times-Dispatch

November 26, 1998

It is altogether fitting and proper to conclude that the first Thanksgiving was held here.

Berkeley Hundred

Now begins the season for giving thanks — something that more of us could profit from doing more often. As an inevitable consequence, this also is the season for refueling the debate about where the first Thanksgiving occurred.

For centuries the New England version went practically unchallenged. Many children know the general story, even in this contemporary culture that so frequently reviles its past.

In 1621, at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims held a harvest festival. The colonists were ever so thankful for their safe passage, for their survival of that first awful winter, and for the good offices of the remarkable Indians — Samoset and Squanto.

As William Bradford, governor of the colony, described it: « For summer being done, all things [stood] upon them with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage view. » They were understandably thankful.

But at the risk of sounding chauvinistic, the truth is that the right to claim firstness, like so many other « firsts » attributed to New England, probably belongs to Virginia. Indeed, it is altogether fitting and proper to conclude that the first Thanksgiving was held here.

The Virginia version is not widely known — particularly outside the South.

ON SEPTEMBER 16, 1619, a group of 38 English colonists headed by Captain John Woodlief sailed from England aboard the Margaret. They landed at Berkeley Hundred 10 weeks later. The settlers were sent by the London Company; it owned thousands of acres in the area, and settled and supported Berkeley Plantation.

Exhibit A in the Virginia claim to firstness is this sentence in the company’s instructions to the settlers — instructions to be opened upon reaching Virginia:

We ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

These settlers held that Thanksgiving at Berkeley Hundred on December 4, 1619 — a year before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Surely Woodlief and his followers were equally as grateful as the Pilgrims — equally schooled in adversity, equally determined to renew themselves with roots in the land. Surely they were equally devout and equally thankful. To suggest that they were disobedient and did not give thanks requires a superabundance of credulity and moral pretension.

But lest we forget, there were numerous trips to Virginia prior to Woodlief’s: the Raleigh expeditions of the 1580s, and the London Company’s initial expeditions — beginning with the one under Christopher Newport that founded Jamestown in 1607.

The London Company’s charter of May 23, 1609, was written principally by Sir Edward Sandys with the concurrence of Sir Francis Bacon, the early philosopher of natural right. It was probably the first document to say that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. It was the closest thing to a constitution and bill of rights that colonists in Virginia had for three years, until refined in 1612. The Sandys charter was written 11 years before the first Pilgrim reached Plymouth.

On November 18, 1618, the London Company issued instructions to Sir George Yeardley upon his appointment as Governor of Virginia; those instructions provided for a liberal form of government. At Jamestown, in 1619, Yeardley convened the first legislative assembly in the New World. That was a year before the landing at Plymouth.

THOSE WERE firsts of considerable magnitude. They, and the events in Virginia during the 35 years prior to the Plymouth landing, tell us a good deal about the Virginia colonists.

They were God-fearing people. Just about every one of their existing documents speaks of their duties and obligations to a God almost always described as « almighty. »

These also were people of discipline and self-will. Contrary to so many of us today, they were people determined not to tear down the old to make way for the ersatz old. They retained their umbilical ties to the past, as Virginians — inhabitants of the most English of states — tend to do still. Their past was England, and central to England were the church and God.

Even without the instructions to Woodlief, is it not logical to assume that the colonists in Virginia regularly prayed and gave thanks prior to 1621? Do we not have to overlook too much to believe they did not? In 1962, the evidence proved overwhelming to Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., then an adviser to President John Kennedy. In December of that year he repented of « an unconquerable New England bias » on the question, and acknowledged that Virginia’s claim is « quite right. » But despite the evidence, the bias persists.

Voir aussi:

Possum Philosophy: The first Thanksgiving debate

Robert “Rocky » Cahill

November 19, 2010

« Wee ordaine that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be celebrated yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God. » This is a proclamation read Dec. 4, 1619 by Captain John Woodcliffe of the ship Margaret when he, his crew and some 38 colonists landed at what would become Berkeley Plantation along the James River in the future commonwealth of Virginia.

The folks at Berkeley, upon arriving, came ashore and held a worship service, with thankful prayers for a safe passage from England. The captain then read the above proclamation, which the company that owned and financed the expedition had sent along to be read on the day of landing. This was a year and 17 days before the Pilgrims arrived. Apparently the Pilgrims had a better public relations agent.

Thursday, Nov. 25, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a favorite holiday for many of us. On this day, most of us will gather together with family, eat far more than we should, watch football on TV and probably take a long food-induced nap.

Most Americans have always been taught that the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock and established the colony of Massachusetts originated this holiday. But then we were also taught that they always wore black and white clothing, wore funny hats and had huge buckles on their belts and shoes. Well, friends and neighbors, it ain’t necessarily so.

Black and white clothes were reserved for Sunday’s religious services. The Pilgrim clothing was likely red and other colors common in clothing in their day. Metals were too precious to use for decorative buckles. Any such items were more likely to have been from wood or even carved from bone. I have no idea where the funny looking hats came from.

The pilgrims came because of persecution for their religious differences with the Church of England, which was the official church of the English monarchy. Separatists as they were called, were not only fined for not attending services of the official church, they had even had leaders executed over their different beliefs.

The majority of them first migrated to Holland where they were tolerated, then later decided to try life in the New World. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia — en.wikipedia.org, younger, stronger members of the religious group were to sail first, allowing the older folks to get their financial affairs in order and to allow the younger folks to get the settlement started and the rougher work done.

This group set sail in July 1620 on two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower, but the Speedwell started taking on water so they stopped for repairs. They departed again and the Speedwell still had trouble so some of its passengers joined the folks on the Mayflower and sailed on. Later it would come to light that some crew members of the Speedwell were actually sabotaging the ship. The crew had signed year-long contracts for the voyage, and some were not happy about the length of time for the voyage.

Eventually, 102 people set out on in early September. About halfway they ran into bad weather, enough so that a main beam of the Mayflower cracked and the group considered turning back, but were able to make temporary repairs and sailed on. Along the way, two people, a crew member and a passenger would die. Also a child named Oceanus was born.

The Pilgrims first sighted land in mid-November. However, due to rough seas and damage to their landing craft, it would be mid-December before they actually landed. Small parties did wade ashore. In these early explorations, the settlers discovered abandoned buildings, most built by Native Americans, some apparently by Europeans, but the group did not find any inhabitants.

They did find mounds that would turn out to be burial mounds of the Native Americans. In exploring these, they discovered bodies of deceased natives. They also discovered pallets of supplies such as corn, beans and implements.

These not only replenished their depleted food supplies, but they also supplied seed for planting the following spring. By December most of the passengers and crew had become ill with a fever and coughing. Others suffered scurvy. During the first winter nearly half of the group died.

It would be some time before the colonists and natives had much contact. This was due in part to earlier visits by English ships fishing the rich waters of the area. During these early trips a Captain Thomas Hunt had kidnapped 27 natives, taking them back to Europe to sell as slaves. Fortunately, one of these natives, Squanto, would make his way back to his homeland. He eventually befriended the Pilgrims. It was mainly through his efforts that they learned to survive in America.

In 1621, after a bountiful harvest, the Pilgrims held a harvest festival, inviting their native neighbors. There were approximately 50 colonists and 90 natives attending. The feast ran for three days. The menu apparently contained wild turkeys, many types of waterfowl, fish and venison from deer the natives brought as their contribution to the party. Although they held a bigger event in 1623, many historians consider the 1621 feast as the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving (over a year after the one held in Virginia.)

Both these may now be in question however. A 2007 story in USA Today told about a fifth-grade teacher in Florida who had published a children’s book. In it she covered research done by Michael Gannon, a retired history professor and researcher from the University of Florida. Gannon wrote about Pedro Menendes de Aviles, a Spanish explorer. On Sept. 8, 1565, de Aviles landed in St. Augustine. The explorer celebrated a feast of thanksgiving with Timucua Indians. Their meal was bean soup. This was 56 years before the Pilgrims, 55 before the one in Virginia. (I’d have to say there’s not much to celebrate if you’re so hungry you consider bean soup a feast.)

Regardless of which feast you consider the first, Thursday we here in this region will celebrate Thanksgiving. In many ways it is still similar to the early days of our history. Many area residents like to deer hunt during this time. Traditionally, area farm families often kill hogs at this time. Most families gather for a big meal and a chance to visit with relatives they don’t always see very often.

Please remember not every family in the area has the wherewithal to celebrate with a huge feast. Area food banks are pressed heavily just to provide basic food for many families who, without this help would have nothing at all.

Be as generous as you can during this time. Let us forego that extra pumpkin pie, cut back on the size of the turkey or ham, let one dessert be enough, then donate the savings to area charities so that all our folks here in southwestern Virginia may have enough to eat. I can’t think of a better way to show thanks for the fact that most of us will have far more to eat than we actually should than by sharing with those less fortunate.

May this Thanksgiving find your home filled with the aroma of good food cooking, the sounds of family gathering and the warmth of friends visiting. May you all be blessed on this Thanksgiving Day.

One final note. Though it may be a day late when this is published, happy birthday to my youngest brother. Ron. whose birthday is Nov. 19. It is always easy for me to remember as he was born on the birthday of our Grandmother Bessie Smith.

A freelance journalist, Robert “Rocky” Cahill writes regularly for the News & Messenger. His Possum Philosophy column appears in each Saturday edition.

Voir enfin:

America’s First Thanksgiving — in Our Nation’s Oldest Port

Chuck Meide

November 25, 2009

Forget cranberry sauce, Plymouth Rock, and pilgrims. Think olives, garbanzo beans, and Spanish soldiers and sailors and settlers. The first Thanksgiving in our country took place in September 1565, when famed Spanish mariner Pedro Menéndez de Avilés along with 800 Spanish settlers celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the successful sea voyage and founding of the town of St. Augustine, which would go on to be the first and longest-lasting port within the present-day United States. Occurring as it did so soon after trans-Atlantic landfall, this was a maritime Thanksgiving, with sailor’s fare making up the bulk of the feast, probably along with native Timucuan food, which would likely have included oysters and fish. The local St. Augustine Timucua were known by the Spanish as the « Agua Salada, » or Salt Water, Timucua, a testament to the maritime culture that existed in St. Augustine even prior to European colonization. As is often the norm, our country’s history books and school rooms tend to forget our Spanish colonial and maritime roots, and we have ended up celebrating as our national holiday the Thanksgiving of the pilgrims which occurred some 56 years after St. Augustine’s first Thanksgiving.

Famed historian of Florida history Michael Gannon was dubbed « the Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving » by New England news media when, in 1985, he was interviewed live via satellite by WBZ-TV in Boston and informed their viewers that the first Thanksgiving was in Florida, not Massachusetts. He went on to tell them, in a quote made famous by countless St. Augustinian politicians, that « by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal. »

Our family here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse is preparing to close the site for tomorrow, and we all wish you and your families the best during this holiday. Before I leave you to it, I thought I’d include the complete essay written in 2002 by Dr. Gannon and published in the magazine St. Augustine Catholic (Volume XII, Issue 2, p. 8-9). Its a great summary of the origins of our national holiday with plenty of juicy historical details. Enjoy your traditional Thanksgiving meals of salt pork, garlic, and garbonzo bean soup!

We Gather Together…

Michael Gannon, Ph.D.

When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.

The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that « the Indians imitated all they saw done. »

What was the meal that followed? Again we do not know. But, from our knowledge of what the Spaniards had on board their five ships, we can surmise that it was cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If it happened that the Seloy contributed to the meal from their own food stores, fresh or smoked, then the menu could have included as well: turkey, venison, and gopher tortoise; seafood such as mullet, drum, and sea catfish; maize (corn), beans and squash.

What is important historically about that liturgy and meal was stated by me in a 1965 book entitled The Cross in the Sand: « It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent [European] settlement in the land. » The key word in that sentence was « permanent. » Numerous thanksgivings for a safe voyage and landing had been made before in Florida, by such explorers as Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 and 1521, Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in 1529, Father Luis Cáncer de Barbastro in 1549, and Tristán de Luna in 1559. Indeed French Calvinists (Huguenots) who came to the St. Johns River with Jean Ribault in 1562 and René de Laudonnière in 1564 similarly offered prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrivals. But all of those ventures, Catholic and Calvinist, failed to put down permanent roots.

St. Augustine’s ceremonies were important historically in that they took place in what would develop into a permanently occupied European city, North America’s first. They were important culturally as well in that the religious observance was accompanied by a communal meal, to which Spaniards and natives alike were invited. The thanksgiving at St. Augustine, celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts), did not, however, become the origin of a national annual tradition, as Plymouth would. The reason is that, as the maxim holds, it is the victors who write the histories.

During the 18th and 19th centuries British forces won out over those of Spain and France for mastery over the continent. Thus, British observances, such as the annual reenactment of the Pilgrims’ harvest festival in 1621, became a national practice and holiday in the new United States, and over time obliterated knowledge of the prior Spanish experiences in Florida, particularly at St. Augustine. Indeed, as the Pilgrims’ legend grew, people of Anglo-American descent in New England came to believe that Plymouth was the first European settlement in the country and that no other Europeans were here before the arrival of the Mayflower – beliefs that are still widespread in that region.

In recent years, Jamestown, Virginia has enjoyed some success in persuading its Anglo-American cousins in Plymouth that it was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims’ arrival, and that there were regular ship schedules from England to Jamestown before the Mayflower’s voyage of 1620. Furthermore, Berkeley Plantation near Charles City, Virginia, has convincingly demonstrated that it conducted a thanksgiving ceremony on December 4, 1619, nearly two years before the festival at Plymouth. Thought to have been on Berkeley’s menu were oysters, shad, rockfish, and perch.

Along the old Spanish borderlands provinces from Florida to California an occasional voice is heard asserting that this site or that was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the United States – a claim often made in Santa Fe, New Mexico which was founded in 1610 – or that it was the place where the first thanksgiving took place. An example of the latter claim appeared last year in the New York Times, which, while recounting the colonizing expedition of Juan de Oñate from Mexico City into what became New Mexico, stated that celebrations of Oñate’s party in 1598 « are considered [the Times did not say by whom] the United States’ first Thanksgiving. »

The historical fact remains that St. Augustine’s thanksgiving not only came earlier; it was the first to take place in a permanent settlement. The Ancient City deserves national notice for that distinction.

Perhaps most of New England is now willing to concede as much, though that was not the case in November 1985, when an Associated Press reporter built a short Thanksgiving Day story around my aforesaid sentence of 20 years before in The Cross in the Sand. When his story appeared in Boston and other papers, New England went into shock. WBZ-TV in Boston interviewed me live by satellite for its 6:00 p.m. regional news program.

The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was « freaked out, » and that, as he spoke, « the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts. »

I replied, « Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal. »

The somewhat rattled chairman of the Selectmen was quoted as saying: « I hate to take the wind out of the professor’s sails, but there were no turkeys running around in Florida in the 1500s. But there may be a few loose ones down there now at the University of Florida. » So there!

Within a few days of the tempest a reporter from the Boston Globe called to tell me that throughout Massachusetts I had become known as « The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving. »

Well, let’s hope that everyone up north has settled down now.

And let’s enjoy all our Thanksgivings whenever and wherever they first began.

Dr. Michael V. Gannon is a Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Florida. He has had a long interest in the early Spanish missions of Florida about which he has written extensively. Two of his books, Rebel Bishop (1964) and The Cross in the Sand (1965) treat of the early history of this state.

In 1990, Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, conferred on Dr. Gannon the highest academic honor of that nation, Knight Commander of the Order of Isabel la Católica.


Culture américaine: Vous avez dit Président Kumbaya ? (From gospel song and campfire favorite to ultimate idiom for idiocy: the long road of Kumbaya)

23 novembre, 2010
Hear me singing, Lord, Kumbaya! Hymne gospel
Il n’y a pas une Amérique libérale et une Amérique conservatrice — il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique. Il n’y a pas une Amérique noire, une Amérique blanche, une Amérique latino et une Amérique asiatique, il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique. Les érudits aiment à découper notre pays entre états rouges et états bleus ; les états rouges pour les Républicains, les États bleus pour les démocrates mais j’ai une nouvelle pour eux, moi aussi. Nous prions un Dieu magnifique dans les états bleus et nous n’aimons pas les agents fédéraux qui farfouillent dans nos bibliothèques dans les états rouges. On apprend le base-ball à nos enfants dans les États bleus et, oui, on a des amis homos dans les états rouges. Il y a des patriotes qui se sont opposés à la guerre en Irak et il y des patriotes qui l’ont soutenue. Nous formons un seul peuple, chacun d’entre nous prêtant serment à la bannière étoilée, chacun d’entre nous défendant les États-Unis d’Amérique. Obama (ouverture de la convention démocrate, juillet 2004)
Si les Latinos restent chez eux au lieu de dire ‘nous allons punir nos ennemis et nous allons récompenser nos amis qui se tiennent à nos côtés sur des questions qui nous sont chères’ (…) cela va être plus dur. Obama (octobre 2010)
The politics of hope is not about holding hands and singing, ‘Kumbaya.’ Obama
I’m a big believer in less of singing ‘Kumbaya’ together and going on retreats than in rolling up our sleeves and doing work together. Arne Duncan (education secretary)
You don’t respond with ‘Kumbaya’. Michael Moore
“Kumbaya” is now being sung not by naive junior functionaries, but by the president of the United States. The Spectator
The keynote of President Barack Obama’s recent trip to the Middle East was a speech in Cairo assuring Muslims around the world that we are not at war with them. It was pleasing to the ear; “Kumbaya” is a pretty song, even when transposed into the key of “P” for politics. But like the president’s speech, the song is sappy and lacks any specific call to action. The San Francisco Examiner
Nobody sang ‘Kumbaya’. John Bolton (after a private farewell dinner on December 5, 2006 at the White House for outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan)
I believe that elected officials on the Hill should govern from the state that elected them. They shouldn’t be up there holding hands singing Kumbayah in D.C. Chuck Henthorn (tea partier on a bus bound for a rally in D.C., summer 2010)
This will not be a Parliament where all of its history is turned on its head and we all sit around smoking a peace pipe singing Kumbayah. Christopher Pyne (député australien, Septembre 2010)

A l’heure où, derrière sa volonté affichée de rassemblement, l’un des présidents américains probablement les plus diviseurs – en des temps certes particulièrement divisés – se voit qualifié par ses détracteurs de « Président Kumbaya » …

Retour sur, d’hymne gospel et classique des feux de camp à ultime métaphore de l’inefficacité bien-pensante, la longue marche d’un terme forgé à l’origine par d’anciens esclaves du large des côtes de Caroline du sud …

How did ‘Kumbaya’ become a mocking metaphor?

JEFFREY WEISS

The Dallas Morning News

November 12, 2006

What do a recent Republican political ad, bubble gum commercial and British newspaper spoof of a soccer rivalry have in common?

All make fun of a well-known religious song. The GOP ad is typical: An impersonator of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sings « Kumbaya » with terrorists. Why is « Kumbaya » the designated silly-song to represent phony or ineffectual friendliness?

Where did the song come from? And what the heck is a « Kumbaya, » anyway?

The last question is the easiest to answer: « Kumbaya » is a pidgin version of « Come by here. » The word repeats as a prayer throughout the song. A typical verse runs:

Someone’s praying, Lord. Kumbaya./ Someone’s praying, Lord. Kumbaya./ Someone’s praying, Lord. Kumbaya./Oh, Lord, Kumbaya.

In other verses, someone’s singing, crying, sleeping and so on.

The song’s roots wind from South Carolina to Oregon to Angola to Ohio – and out to nearly every summer camp in America.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, offers an oft-repeated theory about the creation of « Kumbaya. » It says the song (also spelled « Kum Ba Yah ») was composed by the Rev. Marvin V. Frey (1918-1992) in the 1930s in New York City.

While it’s commonly thought to be a « 19th-century African-American folksong, originating among the Gullah, a group descended from enslaved Africans living on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia … there is no evidence of the song before Frey’s publication, » Wikipedia says.

Concise, simple – and significantly wrong. (Lesson: The Wiki is handy, but not trustworthy.)

What may be the best chronicle of « Kumbaya » has been written by Lum Chee-Hoo, a doctoral student in music education at the University of Washington. His article is to be published in Kodaly Envoy, a scholarly music journal.

« I was interviewing some undergrads on camp songs they know and found out that ‘Kumbaya’ was top of the list, and so decided to do a little investigation, » he said.

Here’s what Mr. Lum found:

The earliest known threads of « Kumbaya » history are in Washington, D.C., at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Sometime between 1922 and 1931, members of an organization called the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals collected a song from the South Carolina coast. « Come By Yuh, » as they called it, was sung in Gullah, the Creole dialect spoken by the former slaves living on the Sea Islands.

Another version was preserved on a wax cylinder in May 1936 by Robert Winslow Gordon, founder of what became the American Folklife Center. Mr. Gordon discovered a woman named Ethel Best singing « Come By Here » with a group in Raiford, Fla.

The music and lyrics in both cases were similar, though not identical, to the modern version.

So how could Mr. Frey, a pastor and composer, claim authorship? According to Mr. Lum, Mr. Frey said that he had been inspired by a prayer he heard delivered by « Mother Duffin, » a storefront evangelist in Portland, Ore.

Mr. Frey’s first lines: « Come by here. Somebody needs salvation, Lord. Come by here. » A lyric sheet of Mr. Frey’s final version, printed in 1939, indicates it was written in 1936 – well after the versions collected by the music historians.

So was Mr. Frey inspired by a woman praying by using a song she had learned on the other side of the continent? Or was he one of many white artists of his era who piggybacked on the creativity of African-Americans without giving credit? The history is silent.

Mr. Frey went to his grave claiming the song was his own. In any case, by the early 1940s, Mr. Frey’s copyrighted version had made it into church hymnals and onto live radio broadcasts.

Next, according to Mr. Frey, he taught the song to missionaries headed for Africa. By the late 1940s, other missionaries had returned to America from Africa singing « Kum By Yah » – with no idea where it had originated.

Jump forward to the mid-1950s and the Cooperative Recreation Service, an Ohio-based publisher of songbooks for camps and scouts.

Joe Hickerson, a folksinger and former director of acquisitions for the American Folklife Center, credits Lynn Rohrbough, the owner of Cooperative Recreation, with getting « Kumbaya » to the masses.

If a camp wanted a music book with, say, 40 songs, Ms. Rohrbough would offer 30 from her stock inventory and add 10 new ones, Mr. Hickerson said.

« Kum By Yah » – described only as an « African » song – was part of the Rohrbough inventory by 1956. As a result, it showed up in countless books of camp songs used by the Girl Scouts , Boy Scouts and others.

« The camp counselors who played guitar liked it because it only has three chords, » Mr. Hickerson said.

In the 1950s, he was a student at Oberlin College, in Ohio, where he and some friends had formed a singing group, the Folksmiths. He said he first heard « Kumbaya » in 1957 from a folksinger named Tony Saletan, who had learned it from Ms. Rohrbough.

That summer, the Folksmiths played the song for thousands of campers, Mr. Hickerson said. When the group released an album in 1958, « Kumbaya » was included – the first commercial recording of the song.

Pete Seeger also recorded the song on an album released that year. Many other folksingers quickly followed suit, including the Weavers, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

In time, the song spread beyond summer camps to become a mainstay of the civil rights movement and Catholic folk masses. So « Kumbaya, » apparently, traveled from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Northwest, to central Africa and back, from a Midwest publishing house to campgrounds everywhere, and, finally, into the broad vernacular of American folkmusic.

For the next 25 years, it was just one folksong among many.

But in the early 1980s, something happened. « Kumbaya » became the English-speaking world’s favorite folksong to ridicule, the musical metaphor for corny camaraderie. How? Someone’s wondering, Lord.

An extensive (and we do mean extensive) search of databases of newspapers, magazines and other sources turned up what may be the first ironic reference to « Kumbaya » in print, from Aug. 16, 1985.

The line is from a Washington Post review by Rita Kempley of the comedy movie V

« Tom Hanks and John Candy make war on the Peace Corps in Volunteers, a belated lampoon of ’60s altruism and the idealistic young Kumbayahoos who went off to save the Third World. »

How did she settle on « Kumbaya? » Had she heard others mocking it? Was it something about the cynicism felt by liberals under Reagan? A commentary about the religious theme of the song, at a time when the Moral Majority was making its name?

Ms. Kempley can’t remember. « I guess that song was the ultimate expression of people in the ’60s who really cared, » said Ms. Kemply (who accepted a buyout last year from the Post).

« And then everyone decided, Let’s just make fun of that. »

Dissing « Kumbaya » caught on.

In 1988, a column in The Christian Science Monitor knocked a New Age performance: « Next he’ll want you to sing ‘Kumbaya.’… » Time to leave. »

In 1994, then-senatorial-candidate Rick Santorum dismissed the federal AmeriCorps program as « somebody … going to do one year of community service picking up trash in a park and singing ‘Kumbaya’ around the campfire. »

These days, a search for « Kumbaya » on Google or YouTube is almost as likely to turn up a joke as the song.

The recent bubble gum TV ad shows a bunch of tween-aged « summer campers » around a campfire.

« Let’s sing ‘Kumbaya,’  » a rainbow-clad « camp counselor » says.

« We don’t want no ‘Kumbaya!’ the kids yell. « All we want is bubble gum! »

Which doesn’t make a ton of sense. But neither does the decision to make « Kumbaya » the symbol of insincere bonhomie. After all, the lyrics have nothing to do with friendship or unity.

So why did « Kumbaya » – among all the folksongs written in the last 100 years – become an idiom for idiocy?

Here’s a partial list of etymologists, linguists and other experts who say they don’t know:

Paul Heacock, editor of the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms … Erin McKean, editor in chief of U.S. dictionaries for Oxford University Press … Cynthia Barnhart, senior general editor for the Third Barnhart Dictionary of New English … Grant Barrett, editor of The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English … Wayne Glowka, an editor at the journal American Speech and chair of the American Dialect Society’s committee on new words … Barry Popik, contributor to the Historical Dictionary of American Slang … Hugh Rawson, author of Rawson’s Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk.

Some guesses: It’s a one-word title that rolls easily off the tongue. It sounds foreign, and that makes it funny to many Americans. It’s African-American, so racists deride it. It’s African-American, so sappy white liberals couldn’t wait to suck the soul out of it. It’s a song that generations of summer campers (and folk-mass celebrants) were forced to sing, and they’re sick of it.

Since nobody really knows, let’s give the final word to Pete Seeger, from his liner notes to the 1958 album Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry at Carnegie Hall:

« At any rate, it is a beautiful example of how the world’s folkmusic continues to intermingle, sans passports or permission, across boundary lines of fear and prejudice. »

Kumbaya.

Voir aussi:

A Long Road From ‘Come by here’ to ‘Kumbaya’

SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

The NYT

November 19, 2010

Nearing 40 and nearly broke, ousted from his last job as an English professor, a folklore buff named Robert Winslow Gordon set out in the spring of 1926 from his temporary home on the Georgia seacoast, lugging a hand-cranked cylinder recorder and searching for songs in the nearby black hamlets.

One particular day, Mr. Gordon captured the sound of someone identified only as H. Wylie, singing a lilting, swaying spiritual in the key of A. The lyrics told of people in despair and in trouble, calling on heaven for help, and beseeching God in the refrain, “Come by here.”

With that wax cylinder, the oldest known recording of a spiritual titled for its recurring plea, Mr. Gordon set into motion a strange and revealing process of cultural appropriation, popularization and desecration. “Come By Here,” a song deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice, by the 1960s became the pallid pop-folk sing-along “Kumbaya.” And “Kumbaya,” in turn, has lately been transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground.

Conservative Republicans use the term to mock the Obama administration as naïve. Liberals on the left wing of the Democratic Party use it to chastise President Obama for trying to be bipartisan. The president and some of his top aides use it as an example of what they say their policies are not.

Yet the word nobody wants to own, the all-purpose put-down of the political moment, has a meaningful, indeed proud, heritage that hardly anyone seems to know or to honor. Only within black church circles can one, to this day, still hear “Come By Here” with the profundity that Mr. Gordon did almost a century ago.

“I find it troubling, but not surprising,” said Glenn Hinson, a professor of folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has studied the song. “Yet again, a product of African-American spirituality has been turned into a term of joking and derision. It’s a distortion, and it’s a sad reversal.”

The current political landscape — Red State, Blue State, Tea Party, MoveOn.org, Congressional gridlock — only adds to the insult’s appeal.

“ ‘Kumbaya’ lets you ridicule the whole idea of compromise,” said John G. Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who is an expert in negative campaigning. “And that ridicule is the latest manifestation of the polarization that the country is dealing with.”

Far from compromise, “Come By Here” in its original hands appealed for divine intervention on behalf of the oppressed. The people who were “crying, my Lord” were blacks suffering under the Jim Crow regime of lynch mobs and sharecropping. While the song may have originated in the Georgia Sea Islands, by the late 1930s, folklorists had made recordings as far afield as Lubbock, Tex., and the Florida women’s penitentiary.

With the emergence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, “Come By Here” went from being an implicit expression of black liberation theology to an explicit one. The Folkways album “Freedom Songs” contains an emblematic version — deep, rolling, implacable — sung by the congregation at Zion Methodist Church in Marion., Ala., soon after the Selma march in March 1965.

The mixed blessing of the movement was to introduce “Come By Here” to sympathetic whites who straddled the line between folk music and progressive politics. The Weavers, Peter Seeger, the Folksmiths, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary all recorded versions of the song.

By the late 1950s, though, it was being called “Kumbaya.” Mr. Seeger, in liner notes to a 1959 album, claimed that America missionaries had brought “Come By Here” to Angola and it had returned retitled with an African word.

Experts like Stephen P. Winick of the Library of Congress say that it is likely that the song traveled to Africa with missionaries, as many other spirituals did, but that no scholar has ever found an indigenous word “kumbaya” with a relevant meaning. More likely, experts suggest, is that in the Gullah patois of blacks on the Georgia coast, “Come By Here” sounded like “Kumbaya” to white ears.

So a nonsense word with vaguely African connotations replaced a specific, prayerful appeal. And, thanks to songbooks, records and the hootenanny boom, the black Christian petition for balm and righteousness became supplanted by a campfire paean to brotherhood.

“The song in white hands was never grounded in faith,” Professor Hinson said. “Its words were simplistic; its tune was breezy. And it was simplistically dismissed.”

Not surprisingly, much of the dismissiveness emanated from the political right.

Urbandictionary.com defines a “kumbaya liberal” as “knee-jerk thinkers, politicians and other individuals of the far left who tend to (a) believe force is never an answer, (b) talk about problems, rather than do something about them” and so on. The Web site RightWingStuff.com sells T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise that show a drill sergeant choking an antiwar demonstrator and shouting, “Kiss My Kumbaya, Hippie!”

Yet while running for president, Barack Obama once said, “The politics of hope is not about holding hands and singing, ‘Kumbaya.’ ” His education secretary, Arne Duncan, said last month, “I’m a big believer in less of singing ‘Kumbaya’ together and going on retreats than in rolling up our sleeves and doing work together.” The activist filmmaker Michael Moore said of President Obama’s appeal for bipartisanship after the Democrats’ “shellacking” in the midterm elections, “You don’t respond with ‘Kumbaya.’ ”

In the civil rights era, “Come By Here” was a call to action. In the cynical present, essentially the same song has become a disparagement of action.

“If you say someone’s engaged in ‘kumbaya,’ you’re saying that person isn’t serious,” said Thomas S. De Luca, a political scientist at Fordham University in New York who studies political rhetoric. “It’s designed to disempower someone who’s trying to do something.”

Voir enfin:

US midterm elections: Barack Obama’s world turned upside down as Democrats face electoral disaster

By abandoning his own rhetoric of bipartisanship, President Obama divided America and set the course for a heavy Democratic defeat in Tuesday’s midterm elections, argues Toby Harnden.

Toby Harnden

The Telegraph

30 Oct 2010

Welcome to the world as it was supposed to be for Barack Obama. Standing outside his campaign headquarters on St Charles Street in New Orleans, Cedric Richmond, the Democratic candidate, saluted a « great president » and rattled off the supposed benefits to his district of the Obama administration’s reforms.

Obama’s economic stimulus bill, he argued, created 39,000 jobs in New Orleans. Some 189,000 people in the city who had no health insurance will now be covered.

« He’s right on the issues and he’s creating the kind of change that people believed in two years ago, » said Richmond. « We didn’t think the change would be easy, but he’s initiated the type of reform to get us out of the hole Bush created. »

His campaign literature features him standing between Barack and Michelle Obama, grinning because he knows the Obama magic means votes and victory. Inside his headquarters, a team of Obama for America volunteers sent down from Washington to help Richmond were hitting phone lines to urge voters to turn out. Richmond, like two-thirds of the district’s voters, is black.

A couple of hours and a few blocks away on Magazine Street, Congressman Joseph Cao, Richmond’s Republican opponent and the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress when he won two years ago, cut a lonely figure. Having voted against Mr Obama’s final health care bill in March, he is widely expected to lose his seat.

The problem for Obama is that Cao might well be the only incumbent Republican in the country to do so. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District is an anomaly, the mirror image of what is happening across America.

Elsewhere, Democrats are denying links to Obama, running away from their votes for health care reform and conveniently leaving their party affiliation off their election literature.

Far from being an asset to his party, Obama is widely seen as a liability.

In the closing days of the campaign for Tuesday’s midterm elections, he is not wanted by the Democratic candidates in states like Kentucky, West Virginia or even Colorado, where there are knife-edge Senate battles.

While his predecessor Bill Clinton has held more than 100 events across the country, Obama is limiting himself to the friendly turf of Democratic « blue states ».

On Saturday night, he will campaign in Chicago. That he is being forced to defend his home city in deep-blue Illinois, where his old Senate seat is in danger of falling to Republicans, speaks volumes about his predicament.

The irony of Obama being the blue-state president is acute. Back in 2004, the then state senator shot to international attention by mocking the pundits who « like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States ».

He declared: « There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America. There’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America. There’s the United States of America. »

Central to Obama’s appeal in 2008 was his pledge to change Washington and to reach across the political aisle to work with Republicans in a new era of bipartisanship and co-operation.

Tell that to Congressman Cao. A softly-spoken, diminutive man who hates glad-handing and is too shy to ask people to vote for him, Cao is the antithesis of the bomb-throwing Tea Party candidate. A centrist, no Republican in the House of Representatives has proved more willing to work with the White House.

As a former Roman Catholic seminarian, he felt he could not support the final version of health care legislation out of conscience, believing it opened the door to taxpayer-funded abortion. It passed without a single Republican vote.

Talking about Obama, Cao sounds mournful, recalling how he had been invited to watch the Super Bowl with him (he missed it because he was caught in a blizzard) and had attended the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House. The last time the men spoke, he said, was when Mr Obama shouted out « Good to see you Joe » at a bill-signing ceremony in July.

But when I ask him about Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship, there was a flash of indignation. « He did talk about that, » Cao responds. « So I’m wondering why he endorsed my opponent and made an advertisement for him. »

As of last week, Richmond was the only candidate in the country for whom Obama cut a television ad. That was Cao’s reward for his attempts at bipartisanship in Washington.

Swept into power on a wave of adulation and talk of an historic new era, Obama never felt he needed to work with Republicans. It took him 18 months before he invited Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, to the White House.

Rather than Obama picking up the phone, the meeting was brokered by Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, two former Senate Majority leaders who are now lobbyists. Boehner, like Obama, is an avid golfer but the President has never seen fit to ask the Republican leader in the House to join him on the links.

Having moved serenely through life being complimented on being the first and the best at everything, Obama felt that his transcendent presence and intellect would be enough.

Believing he would be a great president, Obama wanted to tackle what he saw as the grand issues, not the small-bore concerns of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, he calculated, so deal-making was not necessary.

The problem was that his world view was that of a conventional liberal Democrat but he was president of a nation that was centre-right. His victory came from those who wanted him to change Washington, not America.

These days, it is not difficult to find Obama voters who are disillusioned.

« I voted for him and I believed in him but I’m beginning to feel that he’s overreached, » said Christopher Quail, an English-born former Dominican priest who has lived in New Orleans for 35 years. « Something’s gone wrong. He put his favourite projects ahead of the necessities. He tackled health care instead of the economy. »

If the likes of Cao and Quail are the lost centre then the small-government, anti-tax Tea Party is the resurgent Right.

In St George, Utah, Ray Carpenter, a retired electronics engineer and Tea Party supporter, said that Obama’s only great achievement was to reawaken America and to force a silent majority of conservatives to become activists.

« Obama has forced people to think faster than they would have done had he not engaged in such an active campaign to destroy the country. He’s had a shock effect. When he hit us so hard, he jolted people awake. »

Obama’s high-minded appeals for national unity are no more. His electoral strategy is one of desperate damage limitation. Most pollsters expect Democrats to lose more than 50 seats and control of the House of Representatives.

They will probably keep control of the Senate but at least six seats look lost. Obama’s response has been to « slice and dice » the electorate in the way he condemned. He endured the indignity of being called « dude » on Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central show as the price for enticing young voters.

He’s appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton’s internet radio show to woo black voters. On Univision radio, he told Latino voters of the need to « punish our enemies ». He routinely attacks Fox News and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s former adviser, as a way of energising liberals.

That is the way Obama is now dealing with the reality of world as it is, rather than as he expected it to be.


Mayflower Compact/390e: Attention, la liberté peut être dangereuse pour votre santé (In the name of God, Amen)

21 novembre, 2010
Je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jesus (Matthieu 10: 34-36)
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus-Christ. Shaoul dit Paul
Croire en un Dieu cruel rend l’homme cruel. Thomas Paine
Au nom de Dieu, amen. Nous soussignés, loyaux sujets de notre respecté souverain Jacques, par la grâce de Dieu Roi de Grande-Bretagne, de France et d’Irlande, défenseur de la foi, etc . Ayant entrepris, pour la gloire de Dieu, pour la propagation de la foi chrétienne, et l’honneur de notre roi et de notre pays, un voyage pour implanter la Première Colonie dans les régions septentrionales de Virginie, par la présente, nous convenons solennellement ensemble, devant Dieu et devant chacun d’entre nous, de nous constituer en un corps politique civil, pour notre administration et sauvegarde et par delà, aux fins susdites ; et en vertu de cela de nous conformer, de décider et de concevoir à l’occasion des lois, ordonnances, actes, décrets et obligations, aussi justes et équitables qu’il semblera à propos et convenable d’adopter pour le bien public de la Colonie, et auxquelles nous promettons toute la soumission et l’obéissance requises. En témoignage de quoi nous avons ci-dessous apposés nos noms à Cape Cod, ce 11 novembre de la quatrième année du règne de notre souverain seigneur Jacques, dix-huitième roi d’Angleterre, de France et d’Irlande, et cinquante-quatrième roi d’Écosse. Anno Domini 1620. Mayflower Compact
Les hommes sont inégaux par nature: voilà le point d’où il faut partir. Clémence Royer
Les athées ne commettent pas d’abominations au nom de l’athéisme. Richard Dawkins
High religiosity is not universal to human populations, and it is actually inversely related to a wide range of socio-economic indicators representing the health of modern democracies.
Once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities. This effect appears to be so consistent that it may prevent nations from being highly religious while enjoying good internal socioeconomic conditions. Gregory Paul
Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world. In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so. (…) Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states (…) The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted. Gregory Paul
Conservative religious ideology is a probable contributing causal factor of societal dysfunction. Specifically, the U.S. scores the most dysfunctional in homicide, incarceration, juvenile mortality, gonorrhea and syphilis infections, abortions, adolescent pregnancies, marriage duration, income disparity, poverty, (and) work hours. Gregory Paul
Prior research has emphasized the good consequences of religion and Paul emphasizes the negative aspects,  with the results often depending on what factors are picked to base a judgment on. God-versus-Satan religious cosmologies encourage homicide, while nations with belief in a benevolent God have low rates of homicide. Both the ‘religion good’ and ‘religion bad’ perspectives are great oversimplifications.Gary Jensen (sociologue, Vanderbilt University)

Attention: la liberté peut être dangereuse pour votre santé !

Criminalité, incarcération, maladies véneriennes, grossesses précoces, avortements adolescents, alcoolisme, divorces, disparités économiques, pauvreté, mortalité infantile, espérance de vie …

En ce 390e anniversaire du Mayflower compact …

Y aurait-il (mis à part étrangement les cambriolages et le suicide ou l’alcoolisme ou la cyrrhose du foie?) des maux que ne posséderait pas au plus haut point la societé, comme le rappellent  nos chercheurs les plus pointus à l’instar du paléontologue Gregory Paul, la plus mortifere du monde civilisé ?

Mais faut-il s’en étonner quand on sait l’origine chrétienne explicitement revendiquée de son peuplement ?

Le premier acte gouvernemental de la colonie de Plymouth du cap de la Morue et célèbre précédent de la démocratie en Amérique imposait-il en effet autre chose en ce fatidique 11 novembre de l’an de grace 1620  (calendrier julien) …

Que la servitude (certes à durée limitée) dont, sous prétexte du dépaysement accidentel de leur lieu de contrat, tentaient de se dégager une minorité de 18 colons ?

Et l’imposait-il autrement, comme en témoigne la débauche de terminologie chrétienne qu’il contient (« Au nom de Dieu, amen », « Ayant entrepris, pour la gloire de Dieu, pour la propagation de la foi chrétienne », ‘Anno Domini 1620″), qu’au nom d’une religion qui avait déja provoqué comme on le sait la Chute de l’Empire romain ?

Societies worse off ‘when they have God on their side’

Ruth Gledhill

The Times

September 27, 2005

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social performance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

Voir aussi:

Science, religion debated as evangelical takes top NIH post

Dan Vergano

USA TODAY

9/14/2009

Can we all get along? Maybe not when it comes to science and religion.

Just ask scientist Francis Collins, installed last month as head of the National Institutes of Health.

It wasn’t just newspaper editorials — scientists such as Harvard’s Steven Pinker, who called Collins an « advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs, » criticized placing an outspoken evangelical Christian in the post.

On his first day on the job, Collins stepped down from the BioLogos foundation he founded to foster a rapprochement between the spiritual and the scientific worlds, after such complaints. « I want to reassure everyone I am here to lead the NIH as best I can, as a scientist, » Collins said at an August briefing.

Amid the noise over books like Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion; the 2005 Kitzmiller court case that found « intelligent design » a form of creationism; and the Bush administration’s 2001 announcement of a (since-overturned) religiously motivated policy limiting human stem cell research funding to a few cell families, it’s easy to overlook what science says about religion itself. But it might explain why the religious-minded sometimes similarly view science with suspicion.

In the June Journal of Religion, Wendy Cadge of Brandeis University, for example, looks at the history of medical studies examining the « power of prayer » to heal the sick. Since 1965, about 18 studies have looked at the effect, to much controversy, with a 2006 re-analysis of past studies finding no health benefits to stranger’s prayers.

But the studies, positive or negative, likely say more about the scientists than about prayers themselves, Cadge concludes. The first studies looked only at Protestant prayers, while later ones added Jewish, Buddhist and other prayers, reflecting growing cultural awareness among researchers of religious variety. Studies used double-blind clinical trial methods to assess prayers, which Cadge in a statement called « fraught with problems. » Scientists couldn’t know for sure if people in their « no prayers » control groups were truly not being prayed for, for example. And they couldn’t agree on the right « dosage » of prayer.

« Scientists tried their best to study something that may be beyond their best tools, » said Cadge. « And reflects more about them and their assumptions than about whether prayer ‘works.’ « 

This kind of criticism doesn’t keep scientists from studying religion. In the journal Evolutionary Psychology in July, for example, independent scholar Gregory Paul constructed a « successful society index » to try and analyze the societal effects of religious belief. « What theological, social and economic arrangement produces the best possible societal conditions? » Paul asks in the study.

Scholars have argued this question at least since 1776, when Edward Gibbon’s first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire blamed Christianity for helping to sap the empire’s resolve against barbarian invasions. More recently, the German economist Max Weber argued in 1904’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that Protestantism, broadly speaking, led to the development of modern economies.

In his bid to answer the question, Paul looked at 25 indicators of economic well-being, crimes such as murder, corruption, alcoholism and life expectancy in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe and the United States, and then compared them to surveys of religious devotion in each nation.

« Conservative religious ideology is a probable contributing causal factor of societal dysfunction, » he concludes, bad news for the USA, the most religious country in his survey. « Specifically, the U.S. scores the most dysfunctional in homicide, incarceration, juvenile mortality, gonorrhea and syphilis infections, abortions, adolescent pregnancies, marriage duration, income disparity, poverty, (and) work hours, » says the study.

Looks bad for religion, then? Not so fast, says sociologist Gary Jensen of Vanderbilt University. « Prior research has emphasized the good consequences of religion and Paul emphasizes the negative aspects, » he says, with the results often depending on what factors are picked to base a judgment on.

Jensen’s own surveys paint a more mixed picture of religion’s impact on society. « God-versus-Satan religious cosmologies encourage homicide, while nations with belief in a benevolent God have low rates of homicide, » he says, based on a 2006 Journal of Religion & Society journal study. « Both the ‘religion good’ and ‘religion bad’ perspectives are great oversimplifications, » he says

Voir encore:

The Mayflower Compact

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

1. John Carver

2. William Bradford

3. Edward Winslow

4. William Brewster

5. Isaac Allerton

6. Miles Standish

7. John Alden

8. Samuel Fuller

9. Christopher Martin

10. William Mullins

11. William White

12. Richard Warren

13. John Howland

14. Stephen Hopkins

15. Edward Tilly

16. John Tilly

17. Francis Cooke (sic)

18. Thomas Rogers

19. Thomas Tinker

20. John Ridgdale

21. Edward Fuller

22. John Turner

23. Francis Eaton

24. James Chilton

25. John Craxton (sic)

26. John Billington

27. Joses Fletcher (sic)

28. John Goodman

29. Digery Priest (sic)

30. Thomas Williams

31. Gilbert Winslow

32. Edmund Margeson

33. Peter Brown

34. Richard Bitteridge (sic)

35. George Soule

36. Richard Clark (sic):37. Richard Gardiner

38. John Allerton

39. Thomas English

40. Edward Doten (sic)

41. Edward Leister

Traduction francaise :

Au nom de Dieu, amen. Nous soussignés, loyaux sujets de notre respecté souverain Jacques, par la grâce de Dieu Roi de Grande-Bretagne, de France et d’Irlande, défenseur de la foi, etc ».

« Ayant entrepris, pour la gloire de Dieu, pour la propagation de la foi chrétienne, et l’honneur de notre roi et de notre pays, un voyage pour implanter la Première Colonie dans les régions septentrionales de Virginie, par la présente, nous convenons solennellement ensemble, devant Dieu et devant chacun d’entre nous, de nous constituer en un corps politique civil, pour notre administration et sauvegarde et par delà, aux fins susdites ; et en vertu de cela de nous conformer, de décider et de concevoir à l’occasion des lois, ordonnances, actes, décrets et obligations, aussi justes et équitables qu’il semblera à propos et convenable d’adopter pour le bien public de la Colonie, et auxquelles nous promettons toute la soumission et l’obéissance requises. En témoignage de quoi nous avons ci-dessous apposés nos noms à Cape Cod, ce 11 novembre de la quatrième année du règne de notre souverain seigneur Jacques, dix-huitième roi d’Angleterre, de France et d’Irlande, et cinquante-quatrième roi d’Écosse. Anno Domini 1620. »

Voir enfin:

Religious Cosmologies and Homicide Rates among Nations: A Closer Look1
Gary F. Jensen
Department of Sociology
Vanderbilt University
Nashville TN 37235
gary.jensen@vanderbilt.edu

Abstract

Although religion has been viewed as playing an important role in the maintenance of moral order, the most recent analysis of variation in homicide rates among nations argues that homicide is facilitated by high levels of religiosity (Paul 2005). That analysis, however, was based on scatterplots for eighteen “prosperous nations” and focused primarily on the United States compared to asecular nations. Because there are numerous dimensions to religiosity and a variety of alternative explanations of homicide rates, a more complex analysis is required before more definitive conclusions can be reached. This study attempts such an analysis for a much larger sample of nations and tests Durkheim’s hypothesis that religious passion as a variable characteristic of nations is a positive correlate of homicide rates. A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it. The relationships found not only survive controls for variables proposed in prior research, but suggest major modifications to theories focusing on economic variables.

Religion and Homicide: Conflicting Themes

Any thorough attempt to assess the role of religion in relation to violence will encounter two conflicting themes. On the one hand, religious institutions, beliefs, and practices are commonly depicted as discouraging crime, either directly or indirectly through links with other social forces. The two sociologists who have written the most about religion and deviance, Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge argue that church attendance contributes to moral integration and, thus, inhibits a wide range of forms of deviance (1996). In fact, Bainbridge and Stark propose that the preventative effect of religiosity is one of the few general propositions in the sociology of deviance that applies at both the individual and the collective level. Indeed, a meta-analysis of research on religion and crime (Baier and Wright 2001: 3) concluded that “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior.” Stark and Bainbridge propose the same conclusion, but argue that it applies at both the individual and ecological level.

In contrast to the preventative argument, some dimensions of religiosity have been proposed as sources of violence in one form or another. Religious zeal has been cited as a source of national and international problems, ranging from homicide, hate crime and terrorism to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Reflecting upon When Religion Becomes Evil (2003), Charles Kimball proposes that religious belief systems tend to become destructive when they are characterized by absolute truth claims, notions of a cosmic struggle between God and the Devil (cosmic dualism), and rigid dichotomies between good and evil. In short, when certain types of religious attitudes predominate in a nation, Kimball’s argument suggests that they can contribute to an inclination towards interpersonal violence.

The view that religious variables can have negative consequences was highlighted most recently in an article by Gregory Paul (2005). In an analysis of eighteen “prosperous nations,” Paul reports positive relationships between a variety of measures of religiosity and homicide rates as well as other social problems. He concludes that secular nations have lower homicide rates and less serious social problems than found in the United States. His conclusions were based on an examination of scatter-plots for a small set of nations with no attempt to consider alternative explanations nor to encompass the research in the larger body of sociological theory and research on the topic.

Prior Theory and Research

The view that religion might play a role in encouraging homicide has a long history, beginning with Durkheim=s classic study of suicide over a century ago (1897). Although Durkheim is best known for his argument that religious integration inhibits suicide, he proposed a contrary argument for homicide. Depicting homicide as “a violent act inseparable from passion,” he proposed that passionate attachment to religious group life encouraged homicide (1951 edition: 340). The fact that he emphasized “passion” in his explanation suggests that his argument might not apply to all forms of religiosity.

A few clues about religious passion, dualist cosmologies and violence can be found in more recent theory and empirical research. For example, in an attempt to make sense of high rates of homicide and low rates of suicide in the American South, Luper, Hopkinson and Kelly (1985) suggest that southern Protestant fundamentalism ascribes intentionality to people’s actions, prompting people to react to a wide variety of situations as intentional attacks requiring a personal counter attack. Grasmick, Davenport, Chamlin and Bursik (1992) have developed similar arguments to explain southern support for punitive sanctions, and Unnithan, Huff-Corzine, Corzine and Whitt (1994: 149) have extended this line of argument by proposing that adherence to a fundamentalist doctrine would increase the chances of attributing the causes of one’s failures to the malevolent acts of others, thus resulting in aggression being directed outward rather than inward.

Recent research on homicide among cities in the United States reports findings quite compatible with the religious passion argument. Among southern cities, Ellison, Burr and McCall (2003) found the percent of evangelical Protestants to be a positive correlate of homicide rates when other relevant variables were controlled. As a type of social bond, a type of conventional activity, religion may inhibit a variety of types crime, but measures of religiosity that tap into religious passion, evangelical dualism, or belief in malevolent forces may have the opposite effect on homicide.

Religious Cosmologies

Much of the literature suggests that certain forms of religiosity are likely to contribute to high rates of homicide, and a far more complex assessment of that issue should be part of that future research. It seems reasonable to expand on Kimball=s perspective to propose that when the moral and religious universe encompassing individuals involves cosmic struggles between benevolent and malevolent forces, moral struggles between “good guys” and “bad-guys,” and dichotomous choices between good or evil, then there is little or no inclination to consider any middle ground, negotiation, or flexibility in dealing with lesser conflicts and struggles in everyday life. It may be that a religious cosmology with moral “wars” and “dueling deities” sets the stage for culture wars (Hunter 1991), facilitates interpersonal wars, and encourages people in conflict to think in terms of dueling contenders for righteousness. When moral boundaries are rigid, it may be easier to offend or “dis”others and harder to assume a personal responsibility for generating conflict. When there is only good and evil and there has to be a clear moral winner or immoral loser, then the options for controlling violent outcomes may be greatly restricted. In summary, there are precedents for proposing that different types of religiosity, differentially structured religious belief systems (religious cosmologies), and related dualistic world views can affect the structure of lethal violence among societies.

Such an elaboration may make sense of the disparate perspectives on religion reflected in Stark=s recent work as compared to Kimball,s and Paul,s arguments. In For the Glory of God (2003: 376), Stark rejects the notion that “religion is all about ritual” and proposes that “Gods are the fundamental features of religions.” However, the focus of that work is on “monotheistic” conceptions of God and his final argument is that such beliefs contribute to moral order. However, the dominant religious cosmology in many nations, including the United States, incorporates both benevolent and malevolent elements and passionate dualisms that cannot be encompassed under the simple notion of monotheism. Contrary to Stark’s exclusive emphasis on the positive consequences of features of Gods, this paper suggests that certain religious cosmologies characterized by contending Gods are associated with dualisms that facilitate high rates of homicide. The Gods do matter, but in a far more complex fashion than proposed.

A Multiple Regression Analysis

There has been very little research on religion and homicide among nations and Paul’s recent analysis is limited to eighteen nations with the primary focus on the United States compared to a few “secular” nations. Paul calls for further research and debate, but expresses a very negative view of the methodology necessary for progress in understanding the relation between religion and homicide–multivariate analysis.

Among reasons given for precluding a multivariate analysis is the argument that such analyses “risk manipulating the data to produce errant or desired results (2005: 12).” However, his presentation of simple scatter-plots focusing heavily on the United States runs the same risk. Without some form of multivariate analysis, the findings may be “errant” (e.g. spurious) and the bivariate analysis may be preferred because it produces desired results.

The key issues suggested in the theoretical and research literature cannot be addressed without a multivariate approach. The literature suggests that some forms or dimensions of religiosity are more conducive to homicide than others, an idea that requires an assessment of separable, independent associations between measures of religiosity and homicide. There are competing theories of variation among nations (e.g. institutional anomie) emphasizing economic characteristics that cannot be controlled fully by limiting the analysis to scatter-plots for a small set of prosperous nations. In short, multivariate analysis is mandatory for adjudicating among alternative perspectives and is a necessary tool for furthering research and debate. This study uses multiple regression techniques to isolate religious covariates of homicide among World Value Survey nations.

The World Values Surveys (WVS) were conducted between 1990 and 1993 and between 1995 and 1997.2 The surveys were limited to persons 18 years of age and older, randomly selected from randomly selected locations. Samples from as many as 54 nations provided data on several dimensions of religiosity in one or both of the surveys. In both waves, respondents were asked questions about the importance of God and religion in their lives, beliefs in the Devil, Heaven and Hell, belonging to a religious faith and attendance at religious services.

Measures of intensity are particularly important to tap the passion invoked in Durkheim’s argument, and other items are relevant to arguments about dichotomous conceptions of the religious cosmos with malevolent and benevolent dimensions. If arguments about the direction of violence are correct, measures of religiosity that tap intensity, dualism, or malevolence should be positive correlates of homicide and negative correlates of suicide. In contrast, measures of religiosity that tap mere acknowledgment of a belief in God’s existence, belief in Heaven, belonging to a religious faith, and attendance at services, should be less relevant to the structure of lethal violence.

Data on average homicide and suicide rates among nations are derived from reports posted on the Internet by the World Health Organization in their compilation of causes of death (World Health Statistics Annual 1997-1999, Online Edition, 2000). The homicide and suicide rates are based on the three most recent reports between 1992-1998 when possible and the estimate for one or two years when data for three years was missing. Interpol estimates were used to fill in missing cases when available and earlier WHO data were used as a last resort. The same procedure was followed for suicide rates.

Although some patterns for both homicide and suicide rates will be presented, the focus in this paper will be on homicide rates for several reasons. For one, there is a sizeable body of research on suicide while no definitive relationship has been established between any dimension of religiosity and rates of homicide (See Lester 1987). Hence, a thorough analysis relevant to the effects of religion on homicide is the first priority at this point in time. Second, Paul’s study has received national attention, despite its weaknesses, and a more elaborate assessment needs to be presented as soon as possible. Third, the analysis will contrast the impact of religious cosmologies with variables central to theories focusing on dimensions of economic culture specifically proposed to explain homicide rates (See Messner and Rosenfeld 1997). This set of goals is quite ambitious and a detailed analysis of the stream analogy and the direction of violence will have to be considered in future analyses.

Findings

Table 1 summarizes the bivariate correlations between logged homicide and suicide rates for eight WVS items tapping distinct features of religion. The findings are remarkably consistent with Durkheim’s argument in that fifteen of sixteen correlations are statistically significant and are patterned as predicted. Moreover, measures that tap intensity and belief in malevolent religious or cosmic forces are more strongly correlated with homicide rates than the measures tapping belonging, attendance, belief in God, and belief in Heaven.

The average correlation with homicide rates for the intensity and malevolence items is +.512 as compared to +.220 for the measures that tap institutional belonging, social involvement, and belief in God and Heaven. Consistent with Stark’s argument,
features of the Gods and the religious cosmos are stronger correlates than the measures of ritual (attendance and belonging).
(Table 1 about here) Because the measures of religiosity are positively correlated with one another, an analysis based solely on bivariate relationships could yield quite errant conclusions. Among nations, the percentage who believe in God is very highly correlated with the percentage who believe in the Devil. Belief in Heaven tends to be correlated with belief in Hell. In fact, the alpha index for all eight religiosity items in Table 1 exceeds .90 which would justify creating a single index of general religiosity. However, this analysis is guided by theoretical precedents that imply a structure to the relationships with homicide–a structure that may reflect Stark’s view that religion is far more than ritual and Durkheim’s emphasis on passion. Measures of religiosity may be highly correlated with one another, but still enter into quite distinct relationships with homicide.

Table 2 summarizes the results of regressing logged homicide rates on summed z-scores for 1) the two items relevant to a malevolent religious cosmos (the Devil and Hell), 2)the two items tapping intensity or passion (the importance of God and religion in respondents’ lives), 3) two items tapping relatively benevolent beliefs (God and Heaven), and 4) two items tapping more ritualistic dimensions of religion (belonging and participation).

The pattern of findings is remarkably consistent with both Kimball’s argument about the properties of religious cosmologies that facilitate violence and the implications of Stark’s arguments about the contribution of belief in God for moral order. When the different dimensions of the religious cosmos are introduced, measures of passion and malevolence are strong positive correlates of homicide rates among nations while the more benevolent beliefs are strong negative correlates. The measure of ritual is not related to homicide rates when included in the same analysis with the other measures.

Moreover, the pattern found is not a product of the effect of high levels of collinearity among independent variables on the coefficients isolating the impact of different sets of items. Not only do ridge regression tests uniformly indicate that multi-collinearity is not a significant problem for the analysis in Table 2, but ridge regression analysis correcting for any such problem do not alter the results. Although highly correlated with one another, the different measures appear to be tapping different features of religion that covary with homicide rates in different ways. (Table 2 about here)

God-Devil Dualism

In an attempt to assess Paul’s argument about the benevolent consequences of secularism and the implication of Kimball’s argument that religious dualism encourages homicide, nations were classified based on the percentages of respondents that believe in God and the percentage who believe in the Devil. The scatter-plot for these two items is reported in Figure 1 with the United States located in the upper right corner. The United States can be considered dualist in that 96 percent believe in God and 76 percent believe in the Devil.

South Africa, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic fall in the upper right corner as well. In contrast, the nations in the bottom left corner exhibit relatively low levels of belief in either God or the Devil. For example, 56 percent of the respondents from Sweden believe in God and 18 percent believe in the Devil. The nations in this quadrant tend to be viewed as secular. But, it should be noted that the sizeable percentages of respondents in these nations report they believe in God.

Hence, the nations designated as secular should be viewed as relatively more secular than other nations. (Figure 1 about here) The respondents in some nations exhibit a low level of belief in the Devil, but a relatively high belief in God. These nations might be considered as the most “monotheistic” in that respondents do not recognize the Devil as a significant actor in their religious cosmos. For example, 85 percent of respondents from Iceland indicate belief in God, but only 19 percent acknowledge a belief in the Devil. Spain (91 vs 32), Switzerland (84 vs 32), and Austria (87 vs 23) exhibit similar disparities. These nations are neither secular nor dualist and, for the sake of simplicity, will be categorized as “God-Only.”

There are several nations that might be considered dualist because of the combination of belief in both God and the Devil, but do not exhibit particularly high levels of belief in God. For example, 80 percent of Australians express belief in God and 47 percent express belief in the Devil. Australia is certainly more dualist than Iceland, but does not fall in the top third in terms of belief in God and belief in the Devil. Seventy-seven percent of Ukrainians express belief in God and 47 percent express belief in the Devil. Again, there is greater dualism than for the God Only nations. Hence, two categories of dualism were created to encompass the nations that did not fall towards the two ends of the continuum. That middle set was differentiated into those where the ratio of God to the Devil exceeded the median (Hi Dual) and those below the median (Dual). (Table 3 about here)

As summarized in Table 3, the high dualist nations have the highest homicide score followed by the lesser dualist nations with God-Only and secular nations exhibiting lower scores. However, the statistically significant contrast is between the dualist nations and the God-Only and secular nations. Relative to dualist nations, nations with a sizeable percentage believing in God (but not the Devil) have a significantly lower score. The most secular nations exhibit a significantly lower score than dualist nations as well. But, contrary to Paul’s emphasis on secular versus religious nations, there is no difference between the non-dualist, God believing nations, and the relatively more secular nations. These patterns are quite consistent with the multivariate analysis reported above. Some features of religious belief systems are negative correlates of homicide and some features of religion are positive correlates.

Alternative Explanations

A legitimate response to the findings involving religiosity is to propose that there is a reasonable probability that the relationships reported are spurious; that is, the relationships may be attributable to other variables that have not been taken into account. This criticism is legitimate and some attempt should be made to eliminate plausible alternatives. One approach to the issue is to consider the relationships involving religious variables together with other variables that have been proposed as crucial to the explanation of international variation in homicide rates and the high rate in the United States. If the relationships endure when incorporated into such models, then the patterns observed gain credibility.

A particular brand of criminological theory called “institutional anomie theory” has dominated analysis of homicide rates among nations in recent years and should provide a strong contender for eliminating or explaining the patterns reported. Messner and Rosenfeld (1997, 2001) attribute variation in homicide among nations to variations in the strength of national investments that free citizens from market forces. Such investments are referred to as “decommodification,” and their analysis supports the argument that there is a negative relationship between such investments and homicide rates. In Crime and the American Dream, Messner and Rosenfeld apply their argument to the high rate of homicide in the United States. From this perspective, the United States has an exceptionally high rate as a product of stresses and strains stemming from “economic dominance,” a form of “institutional imbalance” that generates high rates of crime.

Two economic variables central to institutional anomie theory, welfare funding and income inequality, are significant bivariate correlates of logged homicide rates in this analysis. Consistent with Messner and Rosenfeld’s perspective, the greater the national investment in decommodification (based on welfare expenditures relative to GDP) the lower the homicide rate ( r= -0.351). Moreover, the greater the income inequality (based on a gini score) of a nation, the higher the homicide score ( r = +.546). Greater income equality and national investments in decommodification are associated with lower homicide scores.

Table 4 summarizes the results of a multiple regression analysis incorporating a score designated “passionate dualism” (PASSDUAL) combining z-scores for intensity, dualism (aGod/Devil ratio, and malevolence), the benevolence score, and the two economic variables. The findings continue to support the relevance of religious variables to homicide. The two religious variables persist as strong correlates of logged homicide rates, while the coefficients for the two economic variables are not statistically significant. The economic variables may have an indirect effect with religious variables acting as mediating mechanisms, or their association with homicide is spurious due to shared connections with religious variables. Regardless of the interpretation, the relationships involving the religious variables cannot be attributed to spurious shared associations with economic variables. (Table 4 about here)

Table 5 summarizes the results for a model regressing logged homicide rates on the two religious scores together with four other variables (Latin American nation, civil war, newly established government, and cultural diversity) found to correlate with variation in homicide rates in prior research (Jensen and Akers 2003). Each of the six variables is a significant independent covariate of homicide. The measure of passionate dualism is a strong positive correlate while the benevolence score is a strong negative correlate.

Categorization as a Latin American nation, the presence of civil war in a nation, a relatively new form of government, and cultural diversity are all positive correlates of homicide, explaining nearly 75 percent of the variation in logged homicide rates among 41 nations. In short, the relationships involving religious variables persist and are not spuriously attributable to other variables examined in prior literature. (Table 5 about here)

The United States

Paul focuses primarily on the high homicide rate and other selected ills characterizing the United States in a set of eighteen prosperous nations, attributing that unique position to a high level of religiosity. This approach can be badly misleading and a similar approach could be taken to highlight problems in more secular nations. For example, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and seven other nations have higher burglary rates than the United States (based on Interpol and United Nations data). The United States ranks ninth in cirrhosis death rates with at least four of the secular nations, including Japan, Denmark, France, and Germany exhibiting higher rates. The United States ranks thirteenth in suicide rates, seventh in estimates of daily consumption of narcotic drugs (Interpol estimates), and fourteenth in estimates of net annual alcohol consumption (Interpol estimates). In short, Paul’s analysis generates the “desired results” by selectively choosing the set of social problems to include to highlight the negative consequences of religion.

The more complex analysis in this study applies to the set of nations studied and does not allow a conclusive determination of the fundamental source of the high rate of homicide in the United States. The model reported in Table 4 persists when the United States is dropped from the nations in the analysis. The patterns found apply to variations among nations included in the World Values Surveys where data on homicide and other data are available. Those nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be those that can be characterized as high in religious passion or passionate dualism and the United States falls in that set. Moreover, that religious cosmology appears to be the most prominent shared characteristic of nations with high homicide rates.
However, the United States also has a high rate of income inequality, a relatively under-funded welfare safety net, and other characteristics that could explain the high homicide rate. Indeed, religious passion and dualism could be intimately intertwined with other characteristics of the United States. High levels of inequality and economic insecurity may encourage religious cosmologies and passions that facilitate homicide.

Conclusions and Discussion

There are obvious limitations to this analysis, and just as sociologists should not over-generalize about the positive effects of religion based on prior research, negative consequences have not been established conclusively. The data are cross-sectional and the temporal links among the variables studied have not been established. Moreover, the analysis is a secondary analysis of data that have already been collected which limits their applicability to more complex arguments.

Yet, this analysis is the first step towards a more meaningful specification of the complex links between religiosity and homicide rates at the ecological level using nations as units of analysis. Some of the results are remarkably consistent with Durkheim’s passion hypothesis about religion and homicide and are contrary to over-generalizations about religion as a barrier to crime. On the other hand, relatively secular nations do not have lower homicide rates than nations where people accept God and Heaven, but do not embrace their malevolent counterparts, the Devil and Hell.

Collective beliefs suggesting a relatively benevolent religious cosmos are negatively correlated with homicide when included in a regression analysis with more malevolent, dualist dimensions of the religious cosmos. These patterns were supported using nations as units of analysis, and should not be used to reach conclusions about the characteristics of individuals and their involvement in violence. Yet, the findings certainly have implications for reasonable speculation about homicide at other levels of analysis. The findings are consistent with Ellison, Burr, and McCall’s (2003) analysis of the strength of “Evangelical Protestantism” and city homicide rates. It seems quite reasonable to hypothesize that the evangelical movement encourages high levels of passion and moral and/or religious dualisms. It is plausible to propose that religious and moral dualisms may coincide with other forms of dualism at the individual level. As Luckenbill and Doyle (1989) argue, homicide is one outcome of situated transactions where honor is at stake with a narrow range of options for responding and heightened sensitivity to what might appear to be minor affronts. Whether called a “culture of violence” or a “code of the street” (Anderson 1999), disputes are easily triggered and there is little flexibility in acceptable responses. In short, other cultural or sub-cultural dualisms may help explain variation in behavior at the individual level. If a youth grows up in a world where there are rigid boundaries for attaining honor, a wide range of situations that are interpreted as disrespect, and limited cultural means for reestablishing honor, the range of situations generating interpersonal violence are enhanced.

Similarly, if there is only one appropriate way for a spouse to behave with dualist “macho” conceptions of the male as the lord of the household, then challenges to such authority may elicit passionate attempts to reestablish “moral order.” Although it may seem to be a huge step from dualist cosmologies to forms of interpersonal violence, there may be a great deal of asymmetry between dualisms that can operate to generate violence in the family, on the street, and elsewhere.

At a minimum, this research suggests that far more attention needs to be paid to moral and religious cosmologies in criminology, including their etiology and consequences at ecological and individual levels of analysis. The findings are significant for current controversies in sociological criminology as well. For example, institutional anomie theorists argue that it is a disparity between widely shared cultural aspirations for pecuniary success and realities of limited opportunities that generate high levels of homicide. In short, it is economic culture that contributes to a high rate of homicide unless ameliorated by state decommodification policies. Not only is there little or no support for the decommodification argument, but recent attempts to assess such economic values as a source of variation in homicide have failed to support that argument, whether applied to international variations or to the unusual rate of homicide in the United States (See Jensen 2003).

A more reasonable explanation for the high homicide rates would focus on religious and moral cosmologies. Indeed, it is reasonable to propose that variables such as inequality may have significant, but indirect, consequences for homicide by reinforcing dualistic moral cosmologies. High levels of inequality may be associated with high levels of us-versusthem views of the moral cosmos and tendencies to blame external forces for interpersonal problems. This paper does not establish the sources of such dualist cosmologies, but does point to promising avenues for further research.

It is interesting to consider the possibility that Messner and Rosenfeld may have located the United States in the wrong category in terms of their conceptions of “institutional imbalance.” They argue that within a social system “dominance by family and religion generate crimes in defense of the immediate, parochial social order such as vigilanteeism, hate crimes and violations of human rights.” Such offenses allegedly reflect a climate of “extreme moral vigilance” and “a strong sense of interpersonal obligations… restricted to those with whom they share particular social statuses or identities (2001: 156).” The extra-ordinary primacy accorded both the family and religion by U.S. respondents to World Value Survey items could justify categorizing the United States as parochially organized and dominated by strong in-group-out-group distinctions as well as extreme moral vigilance. Such characteristics are likely to coincide with familial, religious, and moral dualisms.

Moreover, these dualisms should be far more relevant to homicide than to instrumental offenses, an argument supported by the fact that the United States does not have an unusual rate of the very forms of instrumental crime that would reflect a dominance of economic values and institutions. As Zimring and Hawkins note “Crime is not the problem (1997).” Rather, it is lethal violence that distinguishes the United States from other industrial nations.

Finally, this analysis supports Stark=s proposal for a reconsideration of the ways in which religion affects moral order. He chides Durkheim for putting too much emphasis on ritual rather than “features of the Gods.” However, when Durkheim introduces the notion of “passion,” he appears to go beyond simple ritual. If the dimension of the religious cosmos captured by belief in God and Heaven is a form of public embracement of monotheism, then Stark=s argument that such features of the Gods encourage morality and discourage deviance is consistent with the findings reported above. On the other hand, findings that other dimensions of the religious cosmos are positive correlates of homicide are consistent with arguments that religion can “become evil.” Paul’s “first look” at popular religion as a positive correlate of homicide is partially correct. But, a “closer look” supports a more complex, but quite meaningful, set of findings that accord some validity to each perspective.

Footnote

1. The author is grateful for support and encouragement for this project from the Center for Religion and Culture at
Vanderbilt University, Volney Gay and Douglas Knight, Directors.
2. The World Values Surveys were administered a third time in 2002, but the homicide data and other measures are from the
mid- to-late 1990s. Hence, this analysis is limited to the first two waves of surveys. The survey data can be found in the MicroCase data Archive available through Thomson Learning.

References

Anderson, E. 1999. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York: W. W.
Norton and Company.
Baier, Colin J. and Bradley R. E. Wright. 2001. “’If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments’: A Meta-Analysis of the Effect
of Religion on Crime.” Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency 38: 3-21.
Durkheim, E. 1951.[1897]. Suicide. Translated by J. A. Spaulding and G. Simpson. New York: The Free Press.
Ellison C.G., J. A. Burr, and P. McCall. 2003. “The Enduring Puzzle of Southern Homicide: Is Regional Religious Culture the Missing Piece?” A Homicide Studies 2003; 7: 326-352
Grasmick, Harold G.,Elizabeth Davenport, Mitchell B. Chamblin and Robert J.Bursik, Jr. 1992. AProtestant Fundamentalism
and the Retributive Doctrine of Punishment. Criminology 30: 21-45.
Gold, Martin. 1958. “Suicide, Homicide, and the Socialization
of Aggression.” American Journal of Sociology 63: 651-61.
Henry, Andrew and James Short. 1954. Suicide and Homicide: Some Economic, Huff-Corzine, L., J. Corzine and D.C. Moore. 1991. Deadly Connections: Culture, Poverty, and the Direction of Lethal Violence. Social Forces 69: 715-732.
Hunter, James Davison. 1991. Culture Wars. The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books.
Jensen, Gary F. 2003. “Institutional Anomie and Societal Variations in Crime: A Critical Appraisal.”
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. Special Issue, Rebecca Block Editor.
_____ and R. L. Akers. 2003. “Taking Social Learning Global.”
Pp. 9-37 in R.L. Akers and G.F. Jensen (Eds.), Social
Learning and the Explanation of Crime. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Kimball, Charles. 2003. When Religion Becomes Evil. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers.
Lester, David. 1987. “Cross-national Correlations among Religion, Suicide and Homicide.” Sociology and Social
Research 71: 103-4.
Luckenbill,D.F. and D. P. Doyle. 1989. “Structural Position and Violence: Developing a Cultural Explanation.”
Criminology 27: 419-436.
Luper, M., P. J. Hopkinson and P. Kelly. 1988. “An Exploration of the Attributional Styles of Christian Fundamentalists and Authoritarians.” Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion 27: 389-98.
Messner S. F. and and R. Rosenfeld. 1997. “Political Restraint of the Market and Levels of Criminal Homicide:
A Cross-national Application of Institutional Anomie Theory.” Social Forces 75: 1393-1416.
Paul, G. S. 2005. “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism
in the Prosperous Democracies, A First Look.” Journal of Religion and Society. Volume 7: Online.
Stark, Rodney. 2003. For the Glory of God. Princeton, New
Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Stark, Rodney and William Sims Bainbridge. 1996. Religion, Deviance, and Social Control. New York: Routledge.
Unnithan, N. Prabha, Lin Huff-Corzine, Jay Corzine and Hugh Whitt. 1994. The Currents of Lethal Violence: An
Integrated Model of Suicide and Homicide. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
World Health Organization. 2000. World Health Statistics
Annual
1997-1999, Online Edition.
TABLE 1: HOMICIDE AND SUICIDE RATES (NATURAL LOGARITHMS)
BY MEASURES OF RELIGIOSITY (WORLD VALUE SURVEY NATIONS)
___________________________________________________________


Gettysburg Address/143e: Il y a quatre-vingt-sept ans (Four score and seven years ago)

19 novembre, 2010

The Gettysburg Address

Lincoln

Un des discours les plus célèbres de l’histoire des Etats-Unis est celui prononcé par Abraham Lincoln à Gettysburg. C’est un discours simple mais éloquent, qui résume en quelques paragraphes la cause de l’Union.

Il a été prononcé le 19 novembre 1863, pendant la guerre de Sécession, sur le site de la bataille de Gettysburg en Pennsylvanie. Il s’agissait d’inaugurer un cimetierre dédié aux 8000 soldats tombés pendant la bataille.

Les personnes présentes et les journalistes de l’époque ne se sont pas toutes rendues compte de l’importance de ce discours. Il faut dire que Lincoln s’est exprimé ce jour là après le président de l’université d’Harvard qui avait déclamé un discours fleuve de deux heures. A côté les trois minutes du discours du président paraissaient bien légères.

Et pourtant, en quelques mots Lincoln a rappelé les valeurs sur lesquelles son pays avait été fondé et pour lesquelles il était prêt à lutter. Cette force de conviction et ce rappel à l’union et la démocratie sont donc restés gravés dans l’histoire.

Vous pouvez trouver un scan du manuscrit ici et une transcription (Gettysburg Address).

Abraham Lincoln est un des présidents ayant le plus marqué l’histoire américaine et il fait partie du groupe des quatre présidents dont le visage est gravé sur le Mont Rushmore.

Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln est un des présidents ayant le plus marqué l’histoire américaine et il fait partie du groupe des quatre présidents dont le visage est gravé sur le Mont Rushmore.Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Gettysburg address

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Discours

« Il y a quatre-vingt-sept ans, nos pères ont donné naissance sur ce continent à une nouvelle nation, conçue dans la liberté, et vouée à l’idée que tous les hommes sont créés égaux. Maintenant, nous sommes engagés dans une grande guerre civile, examinant si cette nation ou toute nation ainsi conçue et destinée peut longtemps survivre. Nous sommes rassemblés sur un grand champ de bataille de cette guerre. Nous sommes venus pour consacrer une partie de cette terre comme dernière demeure à ceux qui ont donné leur vie afin que cette nation puisse vivre. Ce n’est somme toute que convenance et justice que nous fassions ceci.

Mais plus généralement, nous ne pouvons destiner, nous ne pouvons consacrer, nous ne pouvons sanctifier cette terre. Les braves, vivants et morts, qui ont lutté ici, l’ont consacré si loin de notre pauvre pouvoir d’ajouter ou de retrancher. Le monde n’accordera pas beaucoup d’importance, ni ne se souviendra longtemps de ce que nous avons dit ici, mais ce qu’ils ont fait ici ne pourra jamais être oublié.

C’est à nous les vivants, d’être voués ici à la tâche inachevée pour laquelle ils ont jusqu’ici lutté si noblement. C’est plutôt à nous, d’être ici voués à la grande tâche qui nous revient: que de ces honorés défunts nous portions une dévotion grandissante à cette cause pour laquelle ils ont donné la dernière et grande mesure de dévouement, que nous sommes ici hautement résolus à ce que ces morts ne seront pas morts en vain, que cette nation, si Dieu le veut, verra renaître la liberté, et que le gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple, pour le peuple, ne disparaitra pas de la terre. »

Abraham Lincoln, 19 novembre 1863

 


Diplomatie: Les Français ont tendance à être français mais on peut faire du business avec eux (Release of secret documents from Reagan Bush sr. libraries confirm extent of US-French cooperation under Mitterrand)

19 novembre, 2010

Reagan, je l’ai trouvé comme il est : habité de certitudes. Américain typique, il n’est pas très exportable. Mitterrand (sommet d’Ottawa, 1981)
Son étroitesse d’esprit est évidente. Cette homme n’a que quelques disques qui tournent et retournent dans sa tête. Mitterrand (sommet de Williamsburg, 1983)
Avoir des ministres communistes au gouvernement leur fait perdre leur originalité. Ils devraient donc être de moins en moins capables de rallier des voix au-delà [de leur électorat de base]. Ils vont rester longtemps au gouvernement, se cramponnant à leur postes, et leur érosion sera grande. Mitterrand (a Bush sr., envoyé par Reagan)
Les Français ont tendance à être… français, c’est-à-dire irritants. Cependant, même quand leur rhétorique est détestable, on peut faire du business avec eux», surtout en coulisses, lorsque cette coopération « n’est pas visible ». En fait, « leur air de supériorité vient de leur sentiment d’insécurité vis-à-vis des Etats-Unis. C’est particulièrement vrai pour Mitterrand, qui vient d’un milieu provincial et qui n’a pas le côté cosmopolite d’un Giscard». «A la différence des Britanniques, des Allemands et des Italiens, les Français ne cherchent pas à entretenir une «relation spéciale» avec les Etats-Unis. Ils coopèrent avec nous quand nos intérêts coïncident et se démarquent de nous, voire s’opposent à nous, quand ce n’est pas le cas. » Mais, quoi qu’il en soit, « regardez ce qu’ils font, pas ce qu’ils disent », et « ce qu’ils font » est « dans l’ensemble probablement mieux que ce que la plupart d’entre nous attendaient d’un président socialiste français. William Clark (Directeur du département Europe à la Maison-Blanche et ancien de la CIA, au secretaire d’Etat george Schulz)
Ses vues sur nombre de sujets sont vagues. Son leadership sur une large coalition s’est construit par l’ambiguïté et un style philosophique qu’il n’a pas changé en entrant à l’Elysée. Très peu d’officiels, même parmi les plus proches, savent ce qu’il pense. Et moins encore peuvent prédire ce qu’il va décider. […] Si bien que les fonctionnaires de niveau inférieur ignorent ce qu’ils doivent faire. » La preuve : « Même notre requête concernant la délivrance de plaques d’immatriculation banalisées pour les voitures de l’ambassade […] a dû être traitée par Mitterrand en personne. » (..) Les Etats-Unis sont un bouc émissaire pratique aux problèmes économiques français et nous devons nous attendre à de nouvelles critiques publiques. [D’autant plus que] les socialistes (et Mitterrand lui-même) semblent penser que Washington préférerait un gouvernement de droite ici et que nous serions même prêts à précipiter un tel changement. L’expérience d’Allende hante les socialistes français comme un cauchemar lointain. […] C’est pourquoi nous devons éviter d’être trop identifiés à l’opposition. Evan Galbraith (ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France, note sur Mitterrand au secrétaire d’Etat George Shultz)
Chirac se vante de sa connaissance de l’Amérique. Il a écrit une thèse sur le port de La Nouvelle-Orléans, a suivi des cours d’été à Harvard et a fait du stop à travers les Etats-Unis. Il apprécierait particulièrement tout compliment sur sa compréhension de notre pays. Conseiller à Reagan
Nous n’avons pas toujours été d’accord. Mais dire non permet de dire oui. J’ai apprécié votre courtoisie et votre élégance. Dans un mois, vous ne serez plus président des Etats-Unis, mais vous le serez toujours dans le coeur des Américains. Et vous le serez également dans le mien. Mitterrand (a Reagan)
Nous sommes des amis, Nous formons un vieux couple. C’est toujours difficile de se séparer. Reagan.
Si Saddam continue son offensive, il consolidera son hégémonie sur le monde arabe. La France soutient totalement votre idée de sanctions économiques, et je pense que très bientôt nous devrons discuter de mesures militaires. (…) La psychologie de Saddam Hussein est strictement incompréhensible. Je ne vois pas comment un homme peut ainsi exposer son peuple à tant de malheur. (…) Sachez que nous restons profondément mobilisés. Je pense beaucoup à vous, aux soldats américains et aux dangers qu’ils traversent. Nos collaborateurs les plus proches restent en contact pour qu’il y ait une chaîne complète d’information. (…) C’est bien la première fois qu’on est obligé de mener une guerre devant les médias, qui ont tendance à tout exagérer. (…) Pour nous, les pays du Maghreb constituent un problème délicat car ce sont des pays francophones qui nous connaissent bien. Donc, dès qu’il y a une opposition, il est naturel qu’elle s’exprime contre la France. Le fait de gagner la guerre est important, car dans ces pays-là on a quand même tendance à se tourner vers le vainqueur. (…)Evidemment, ce que l’on sait de lui peut faire penser qu’il refusera, et ce sera désastreux pour l’Irak. Il va devoir choisir entre la mort et la défaite ou l’acceptation. Il peut aussi chercher à valoriser son prestige. Il faut l’en empêcher. (…) Tant qu’il n’aura pas répondu, il faut faire la guerre, et même avec plus de force encore. Il faut continuer la guerre, bombarder les troupes et menacer l’Irak et Saddam Hussein tant que le retrait ne sera pas effectif. Mitterrand (a Bush sr., 1ere Guerre du Golfe, janvier-fevrier  1991)
Vous savez mon attachement à Israël. J’ai été le premier chef d’Etat français à m’y rendre. Lorsqu’une attaque israélienne a détruit cette centrale en Irak qu’un gouvernement français malheureux avait construite, j’ai refusé de la reconstruire. C’est pourquoi je n’ai jamais rencontré Saddam Hussein. J’essaie de dire la vérité à Israël. En refusant tout accord, tout compromis, Israël est également responsable de la situation au Proche-Orient. Mitterrand (a Bush sr., 1ere Guerre du Golfe, janvier-fevrier  1991)
Je vous ai déjà raconté mon entretien avec Assad [le président syrien, père de l’actuel]. Pour lui, le Liban, c’est la Syrie, Israël, c’est la Syrie, Jésus-Christ était syrien…. (…)  J’ai reçu un appel de Rafsandjani [le président iranien]. Il m’a invité à Téhéran. On n’a pas conclu. Je voulais vous le signaler. (…) Il veut être un partenaire. Il y a la guerre civile en Irak et beaucoup ont dit chez vous qu’il voulait prendre le pouvoir là-bas. Mais je crois que les journaux américains ont fait un contresens. En fait, il a peur que les chiites du Sud gagnent, car ce sont des fondamentalistes ; et il n’en veut pas. Ce sont pour lui des adversaires. (…) L’Europe n’est pas en état de disposer d’une force commune pour assurer sa sécurité, voilà la réalité. Il n’y a pas encore assez d’unité politique. C’est donc une dispute d’école de savoir si on choisit la défense commune à la place de l’Otan. La seule force, actuellement, c’est l’Otan. Pensons au XXIe siècle. Oui, je souhaite que l’Europe ait progressivement les moyens de se défendre elle-même. Si cette espérance est à payer au prix d’une rupture, d’un désaccord grave avec les Etats-Unis, cela ne vaut pas la peine. Mitterrand (a Bush sr., printemps  1991)
Cher François, le soleil se couche sur ma vie publique, une vie pendant laquelle j’ai apprécié travailler avec vous si étroitement. Une vie privée s’annonce. Je vous envoie mes remerciements et mon respect et cette amitié que je chérirai toujours. George. Bush (à Mitterrand, apres sa defaite electorale de nov  1992)

Pour ceux qui se demanderaient a quoi peut bien servir une bibliotheque presidentielle …

A l’heure ou sortent les memoires et ou commencent les travaux de la Bibliotheque de l’ancien president Bush

En attendant que la trahison de Bush par Chirac lors de la 2e Guerre du Golfe apparaisse un jour a la face du monde …

Pendant qu’en France certains nous refont le coup du plus gaulliste que moi tu meurs …

Tests secrets d’éléments de la bombe atomique française dans le désert du Nevada, accords secrets d’utilisation americaine de bases militaires françaises et de soldats français » pour ses entraînements », «arrangement spécial» sur l’utilisation de l’arme nucléaire tactique en cas de guerre, volonte deliberee d’erosion du PCF, restriction de l’acces des ministres communistes aux secret de la défense nationale, partage d’informations ultrasecretes, participation à la force multinationale au Liban, soutien à la politique de réarmement des Etats-Unis, fourniture de données de reconnaissance aérienne et de matériel de transport lourd dans le cadre du bombardement americain de la Lybie …

Il s’en passait des choses, comme le confirme l’ouverture  d’une partie des bibliothèques présidentielles de Reagan et Bush père, dans la France socialiste de Mitterrand …

Mais bien sur, en tout bien tout honneur, derriere le retrait officiel du commandement intégré de l’OTAN, les refus de survol du territoire et les empoignades sur le cognac et le fromage ou les fournitures d’armes aux apprenti-Castro latino-americains …

Mitterrand vu de Washington

Vincent Vauvert

22 août 2010

Il y a vingt ans, Saddam Hussein envahissait le Koweït et, pour l’y déloger, la France de François Mitterrand s’engageait aux côtés de l’Amérique de George Bush père dans la première guerre chaude de l’après-guerre froide. A l’occasion de cet anniversaire, j’ai voulu en savoir davantage sur les rapports qu’a entretenu le président socialiste avec ses homologues d’outre Atlantique pendant quinze ans. Mon travail dans les archives américaines a fait l’objet de deux publications dans les « Nouvel Observateur » du 12 et du 19 août. Les voici.

Mitterrand dans les dossiers secrets de la Maison-Blanche (1)

Tout n’est pas encore accessible. Mais la masse de documents qui ont été déclassifiés ces derniers mois dans les « bibliothèques présidentielles » de Ronald Reagan et George Bush père présente d’ores et déjà un intérêt historique majeur. Ces centaines de notes confidentielles – dont nous publions ici des extraits pour la première fois – racontent les coulisses de cette relation si particulière, à la fois tourmentée et hautement stratégique, qu’ont entretenue l’Elysée et la Maison-Blanche pendant plus d’une décennie. On y découvre des Américains tour à tour intrigués, fascinés ou exaspérés par le président français, « un provincial» qui prend des « airs supérieurs », un « intellectuel», un « leader ambigu », mais aussi un « allié sûr », un « ami » ; et un François Mitterrand très attaché à l’alliance avec les Etats-Unis, qui entretenait avec ses homologues d’outre-Atlantique des relations plus étroites qu’on ne l’a cru à l’époque. Ces dossiers mettent aussi en lumière des épisodes inconnus d’affrontement ou de collaboration entre Paris et Washington, épisodes qui, à l’insu de l’opinion publique, ont profondément marqué la relation franco-américaine. Les archives révèlent enfin l’une des facettes les plus secrètes des années Mitterrand : la coopération entre Paris et Washington dans le domaine du nucléaire militaire et du renseignement. On y apprend, par exemple, que durant le premier septennat, alors que des ministres communistes siégeaient au gouvernement de la France, le CEA a fait tester des éléments de la bombe atomique française aux Etats-Unis, dans le désert du Nevada, sans que ni les citoyens ni le Parlement français en aient été informés. Jusqu’à ce jour. V.J.

21 mai 1981

Ce Mitterrand est-il fiable ?

A Paris, le peuple de gauche exulte. Enfin un socialiste accède à l’Elysée. A Washington, on tremble. Qui est vraiment ce Mitterrand ? Est-il fiable ? Le président américain veut en avoir le coeur net. Au moment où le nouveau chef de l’Etat dépose des roses sur les tombes de ses héros au Panthéon, Ronald Reagan reçoit le chancelier allemand Helmut Schmidt dans le bureau Ovale. Inquiet, il le presse de questions sur ce mystérieux Français qui a fait alliance avec les communistes et dont le «mauvais» exemple risque de faire tache d’huile en Europe, en Italie surtout. Sera-t-il un bon allié ? Sa politique étrangère sera-t-elle compatible avec celle de Washington ?

Le chancelier fait son possible pour le rassurer. Bien sûr, «beaucoup de choses vont changer» en France; bien sûr, aucun de ses nouveaux dirigeants « n’a eu d’expérience de pouvoir depuis vingt ans » ; mais, rassurez-vous, «Mitterrand va garder la France dans l’Otan et respecter tous les engagements de son pays vis-à-vis de la Communauté économique européenne ». Et puis, « il sera probablement plus pro-israélien et plus anti-arabe que son prédécesseur », même s’il ne pourra pas « se permettre de suivre une politique moyen-oriental très différente», étant donnée «la dette de la France envers les pays arabes »… Plus important encore, Schmidt assure au chef du «monde libre» que l’attitude de Mitterrand envers l’URSS « sera plus dure » que celle de Giscard. Bref, pas de panique, le socialiste sera « atlantiste », comme il l’a toujours été. «Les alliés occidentaux devraient donc l’accueillir à bras ouverts. » A moitié convaincu, Reagan dit qu’il va «essayer» d’établir de « bonnes relations » avec le nouveau locataire de l’Elysée.

24 juin 1981

George Bush et les ministres communistes

Un mois après l’investiture de François Mitterrand, Reagan dépêche son vice-président, George Bush père, en mission d’information à Paris. Celui-ci tombe plutôt mal. Le matin même, l’Elysée a annoncé qu’il y aura quatre ministres communistes dans le gouvernement. Comment le numéro deux de la Maison-Blanche, qui fut directeur de la CIA, va-t-il réagir ? Son équipe lui conseille la plus grande prudence. Se mêler ouvertement de la politique intérieure française serait «contre-productif». «Depuis la victoire de François Mitterrand, lui écrit un diplomate, nous avons évité de dire trop ouvertement aux leaders français notre inquiétude au sujet des communistes, nous l’avons seulement exprimée en privé. » Il est donc vivement recommandé au vice-président « de ne pas évoquer lui-même le sujet lors de sa rencontre avec François Mitterrand». En revanche, si le Français aborde lui-même la question, il faudra dire que cette participation des communistes aura un « effet négatif» sur les relations bilatérales. Mais surtout ne pas aller trop loin. Car « nous ne pouvons pas couper les ponts avec la France, dont la coopération nous est nécessaire dans plusieurs domaines ».

Lesquels ? On apprend qu’en matière de défense les deux pays ont, sous Giscard, passé plusieurs accords secrets majeurs, qui écornent sérieusement l’héritage gaulliste. A l’insu des citoyens français, l’armée américaine «peut utiliser des bases militaires françaises pour ses entraînements » et même « des soldats français » dans certains cas. Ce n’est pas tout. Entre l’Otan et Paris, il existe un «arrangement spécial» sur l’utilisation de l’arme nucléaire tactique en cas de guerre, arrangement peu conforme à la décision du général de Gaulle de retirer la France du commandement intégré de l’Alliance atlantique. «L’opinion publique française ignore l’étendue de l’activité de la France au sein de l’Otan », écrit un conseiller de Bush. Il note aussi que «le nouveau ministre de la Défense [Charles Hernu] a été surpris de découvrir l’étendue de cette coopération avec l’Otan », mais que les socialistes n’ont, semble-t-il, pas l’intention de revenir sur ces décisions de Giscard. Le conseiller ne le sait pas encore : il est en dessous de la vérité Au cours de son entretien avec François Mitterrand, George Bush laisse donc son hôte aborder de lui-même le sujet qui fâche : «Avoir des ministres communistes au gouvernement leur fait perdre leur originalité, explique le nouveau chef de l’Etat. Ils devraient donc être de moins en moins capables de rallier des voix au-delà [de leur électorat de base]. » Et Mitterrand, sûr de son fait, fait un pari : « Ils vont rester longtemps au gouvernement, se cramponnant à leur postes, et leur érosion sera grande. » Tranquillisez-vous, ajoute-t-on à l’envoyé de Ronald Reagan, les ministres communistes n’auront accès à aucun secret de la défense nationale. En particulier Charles Fiterman, le ministre des Transports, ne contrôlera pas les gazoducs de l’Otan qui traversent la France, et il n’aura pas connaissance des plans de mobilisation des chemins de fer en cas de guerre, comme c’était le cas jusqu’à présent. Bush est épaté par la stratégie du «florentin». Il le dira à plusieurs reprises à l’ambassadeur de France à Washington Bernard Vernier-Palliez, qui en fera régulièrement part dans ses notes à l’Elysée.

19 juillet 1981

Un poisson nommé « Farewell

Sommet du G7 à Ottawa. Sur la pelouse de l’hôtel Montebello, François Mitterrand prend Ronald Reagan à part. Il veut l’entretenir d’une affaire ultrasecrète, dont il vient tout juste d’être informé. Le 14 juillet, après la garden-party de l’Elysée, il a longuement reçu, à sa demande, le directeur de la DST Marcel Chalet. Celui-ci lui a confié un secret de la plus haute importance : depuis huit mois, le contre-espionnage français dispose d’une source exceptionnelle au sein du KGB. Cette taupe miraculeuse – nom de code «Farewell» fournit à la DST les plans les plus confidentiels de l’espionnage soviétique, ses réseaux en Occident et les résultats qu’il obtient. « C’est donc le plus gros poisson de ce genre depuis 1945 !», s’exclame le président des Etats-Unis, médusé.

François Mitterrand lui fait part d’une nouvelle alarmante : grâce à « Farewell », la DST a appris que le KGB avait percé le système de couverture radar du territoire américain et que donc l’URSS pourrait bloquer celui-ci en cas d’attaque surprise contre les Etats-Unis. Le président français propose que Paris fournisse à Washington toutes les informations collectées par « Farewell » qui ont trait à la sécurité de l’Amérique et à celle de l’Otan, et en particulier la liste des agents du KGB aux Etats-Unis ainsi que les cibles de l’espionnage soviétique outre-Atlantique. Reagan le remercie chaleureusement. Mitterrand lui demande que, pour éviter les fuites, l’affaire ne soit connue que d’un nombre très restreint de personnes. Enfin, il lui propose de dépêcher Marcel Chalet à Washington afin d’informer en détail une personnalité que le directeur de la DST connaît déjà très bien et respecte : le vice-président Bush, avec lequel il a travaillé quand celui-ci dirigeait la CIA. Reagan acquiesce.

On ne perd pas de temps. Le 5 août, les deux hommes de l’art, Bush et Chalet, se retrouvent dans la résidence privée du vice-président. Ils se mettent d’accord sur un système de courrier très protégé, qui permettra aux Français d’apporter au siège de la CIA, régulièrement et en toute sécurité, les meilleures «productions» du colonel Vetrov alias « Farewell », et cela jusqu’à ce que la taupe tombe en 1982. A son retour d’Ottawa, Ronald Reagan écrira à Mitterrand : « Cher François, je pense que vous savez combien j’ai attaché de l’importance à notre première rencontre au sommet d’Ottawa. Cette rencontre a donné le ton de nos futures relations… » Liés par ce secret, les deux hommes ne reparleront cependant plus jamais de l’affaire « Farewell ».

6 janvier 1982

Faut-il arrêter la coopération nucléaire secrète ?

Encore un secret d’Etat. Celui-là, c’est Valéry Giscard d’Estaing en personne qui l’a révélé à François Mitterrand, lors de la passation de pouvoir à l’Elysée. Il concerne la défense nationale : durant les dernières années du septennat de Giscard, des experts américains de l’arme atomique ont secrètement aidé leurs homologues du CEA à mettre au point la force de frappe française. Ces échanges ultraconfidentiels – une opération au nom de code «Apollon» – ont permis aux ingénieurs français de peaufiner au moindre coût le missile stratégique M4 et sa tête thermonucléaire, qui doivent entrer en service en 1984. Après le changement de locataire de l’Elysée, que va devenir «Apollon», dont l’existence n’est connue, à Paris comme à Washington, que de quelques dizaines d’initiés ?

Ce 6 janvier, une note « sensible », adressée au conseiller de Ronald Reagan pour la sécurité nationale, William Clark, aborde la question. Elle débute ainsi : «L’un de nos programmes gouvernementaux les plus secrets est notre coopération avec les Français dans le domaine du nucléaire militaire. » Le rédacteur poursuit : «L’arrivée au pouvoir du nouveau gouvernement Mitterrand comprenant des ministres communistes nous a poussés à réexaminer la poursuite de ce programme. Nous avons décidé de continuer à deux conditions : que les Français nous donnent des assurances sur le fait que la sécurité de l’information sera renforcée ; et que, dans l’ensemble, la politique étrangère et de défense de la France demeurera en conformité avec la nôtre. » «Jusqu’à présent, conclut-il, ces deux conditions ont été remplies, nous avons donc commencé les discussions préliminaires [avec les nouvelles autorités françaises] sur Apollon». »

Mais, patatras, quelques jours plus tard, la CIA apprend que, fin décembre 1981, la France a signé un contrat d’armement avec les sandinistes du Nicaragua, les bêtes noires de Reagan. A la Maison-Blanche, on enrage. Des Français, socialistes de surcroît, agissent à notre insu, dans notre pré carré ! La sanction est immédiate : «Au vu des actions de la France en Amérique centrale », la coopération nucléaire est suspendue. On attend que François Mitterrand vienne à Washington et s’explique. Le chef de l’Etat arrive en Concorde le 12 mars avec une délégation très restreinte. Au cours du déjeuner, Ronald Reagan aborde la question du Nicaragua de façon on ne peut plus abrupte. Il dit qu’il ne peut supporter la présence de communistes « au sud du Rio Grande », qu’il y va de l’intérêt supérieur des Etats-Unis. Il demande donc au président français de renoncer à cette vente d’armes, soulignant solennellement que l’avenir des relations stratégiques franco-américaines est en jeu.

François Mitterrand se justifie. Il explique qu’à ses yeux les sandinistes ne sont pas des communistes et qu’en leur vendant des armes, il espère justement les détourner des Soviétiques. Il ajoute que, de son point de vue, la politique américaine en Amérique centrale est «contre-productive ». Mais il ne veut pas d’affrontement avec Washington sur un sujet qu’il juge mineur pour les intérêts de la France. Comment en sortir ? Il ne peut annuler le contrat, dit-il, sous peine de mettre gravement en cause la parole de la France. Il propose un compromis : il ne signera pas de nouveaux contrats et, surtout, pour l’ancien, il s’engage à ce que ses services informent la Maison-Blanche des dates et lieux de livraison des armes commandées ; libre ensuite à la CIA de procéder à tous les sabotages qu’elle entend…

Cette promesse suffit aux Américains. Pour eux, la politique étrangère de la France est de nouveau «en conformité» avec celle de Washington. L’opération « Apollon » est donc relancée un mois plus tard. Elle est même approfondie. Dans un mémo «top secret», William Clark demande à Ronald Reagan, le 14 avril, d’« autoriser une nouvelle étape dans notre programme de coopération nucléaire stratégique avec la France ». Il s’agit de permettre aux ingénieurs du CEA de faire tester la résistance des nouvelles têtes atomiques françaises à des explosions thermonucléaires. Où ? Dans le polygone d’essai du Nevada. Reagan accepte. Le citoyen français n’en saura rien – jusqu’à ce jour.

26 octobre 1982

« Nous avons les moyens de leur faire mal »

Jusqu’où ira la brouille ? Libye, Namibie, Salvador, gazoduc soviétique… Depuis quelques mois, les sujets de dispute s’accumulent. La crise devient publique. Lang, Cheysson, Mauroy et même Mitterrand – à la tribune des Nations unies ! – dénoncent ouvertement les visées «hégémoniques» des Etats-Unis. La Maison-Blanche enrage. Ronald Reagan décide d’envoyer secrètement son plus proche conseiller, William Clark, à Paris. Sa mission : demander à Mitterrand de mettre un terme à cette « campagne anti-américaine ». Avant de partir, Clark sollicite l’avis de plusieurs personnes. Le numéro deux du Département d’Etat, Lawrence Eagleburger, un dur parmi les durs, lui conseille la manière forte : «Nous devons être prêts à mettre en garde les Français sur les conséquences de leur attitude. Nous avons les moyens de leur faire mal et ils le savent : nous pouvons couper le programme spécial [l’opération Apollon] et gêner leur commerce d’armement. »

Le directeur du département Europe à la Maison-Blanche, un ancien de la CIA, est beaucoup plus mesuré. La longue note qu’il adresse à Clark, le 26 octobre 1982, demeure d’une étonnante actualité. C’est vrai, écrit-il, « les Français ont tendance à être… français, c’est-à-dire irritants. Cependant, même quand leur rhétorique est détestable, on peut faire du business avec eux», surtout en coulisses, lorsque cette coopération « n’est pas visible ». En fait, explique-t-il, « leur air de supériorité vient de leur sentiment d’insécurité vis-à-vis des Etats-Unis. C’est particulièrement vrai pour Mitterrand, qui vient d’un milieu provincial et qui n’a pas le côté cosmopolite d’un Giscard». «A la différence des Britanniques, des Allemands et des Italiens, ajoute-t-il, les Français ne cherchent pas à entretenir une «relation spéciale» avec les Etats-Unis. Ils coopèrent avec nous quand nos intérêts coïncident et se démarquent de nous, voire s’opposent à nous, quand ce n’est pas le cas. » Mais, quoi qu’il en soit, « regardez ce qu’ils font, pas ce qu’ils disent », et « ce qu’ils font » est « dans l’ensemble probablement mieux que ce que la plupart d’entre nous attendaient d’un président socialiste français ».

Fort de ces conseils, l’émissaire de Reagan entre dans le bureau de Mitterrand le 28 octobre à 18h30. L’atmosphère est tendue. En préambule, William Clark reconnaît que tout ne va pas si mal entre Paris et Washington. Il dit que son patron est satisfait que Mitterrand ait réitéré son opposition aux divers mouvements pacifistes et antinucléaires en Europe. Il remercie le président français de sa participation à la force multinationale au Liban et de son soutien à la politique de réarmement des Etats-Unis. Mais le ton change quand il en vient aux attaques publiques de la France contre les Etats-Unis. Si cette campagne continue, menace-t-il, « nous n’aurons pas d’autre choix que d’y répondre publiquement ». Mitterrand ne veut pas d’escalade. «Je suis en désaccord» avec le président Reagan sur l’Amérique centrale, dit-il, mais je ne souhaite pas que l’action de la France dans la région soit «un facteur de trouble » de la relation entre Paris et Washington. Je vais donc «réduire la présence française dans la région ». Et d’ajouter, conciliant : «Nous devons tous apaiser notre vocabulaire, Français et Américains. » Après deux heures de discussion, la brouille semble apaisée…

23 novembre 1982

« L’expérience d’Allende hante les socialistes »

Dans l’administration Reagan, certains considèrent François Mitterrand comme l’incarnation du diable, ou presque. Evan Galbraith, ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France, est de ceux-là. Dans une note au secrétaire d’Etat George Shultz, qui s’apprête à venir à Paris enterrer la hache de guerre, Galbraith dit tout le mal qu’il faut penser du président français. « Ses vues sur nombre de sujets sont vagues, écrit-il Son leadership sur une large coalition s’est construit par l’ambiguïté et un style philosophique qu’il n’a pas changé en entrant à l’Elysée. Très peu d’officiels, même parmi les plus proches, savent ce qu’il pense. Et moins encore peuvent prédire ce qu’il va décider. […] Si bien que les fonctionnaires de niveau inférieur ignorent ce qu’ils doivent faire. » La preuve : « Même notre requête concernant la délivrance de plaques d’immatriculation banalisées pour les voitures de l’ambassade […] a dû être traitée par Mitterrand en personne. »

Sur l’avenir des relations transatlantiques, l’ambassadeur n’est guère plus encourageant. «Les Etats-Unis sont un bouc émissaire pratique aux problèmes économiques français et nous devons nous attendre à de nouvelles critiques publiques. [D’autant plus que] les socialistes (et Mitterrand lui-même) semblent penser que Washington préférerait un gouvernement de droite ici et que nous serions même prêts à précipiter un tel changement. L’expérience d’Allende hante les socialistes français comme un cauchemar lointain. […] C’est pourquoi nous devons éviter d’être trop identifiés à l’opposition. » Dommage, semble-t-il penser.

Mitterrand dans les dossiers secrets de la Maison-Blanche (2)

25 février 1986.

Renverser Kadhafi

Parfait francophone, le général Vernon Walters est un habitué de l’Elysée. Sous de Gaulle, il était déjà l’interprète de Kennedy. Dans les années 1970, il était le numéro deux de la CIA, où il suivait de près les affaires européennes. Le voilà ambassadeur américain aux Nations unies et, de temps à autre, émissaire discret de la Maison-Blanche en France pour les affaires diplomatico-militaires. Ce 25 février, il a rendez-vous avec Mitterrand pour parler de la Libye. Sous le sceau de la confidence, il dit que les Etats-Unis veulent frapper le colonel Kadhafi, qui multiplie les actes terroristes en Occident. La Maison-Blanche aimerait que la France, qui a déjà affronté les forces libyennes au Tchad, participe aux opérations.

François Mitterrand ne veut pas s’engager sur des frappes. Mais il pourrait accepter que la France soutienne une action américaine contre la Libye en « tenant » le flanc sud, au Tchad. Pour cela, suggère-t-il, « les Etats-Unis pourraient nous fournir des données de reconnaissance aérienne et du matériel de transport lourd, mais cela doit être fait discrètement». « I l ne faut pas, insiste-t-il à deux reprises, que l’on donne l’impression qu’une superpuissance et une puissance majeure se liguent contre la [petite] Libye. Ce serait une erreur psychologique. » Plus tard, dans ses interviews, François Mitterrand niera toujours avoir demandé quoi que ce soit aux Américains. D’après le compte rendu de Vernon Walters, Mitterrand dit aussi «qu’il ne verrait pas d’inconvénient à une opération américaine visant à renverser Kadhafi ou à l’humilier, mais il répète que cela doit être fait de «manière très adroite» ».

Le 15 avril, la Maison-Blanche s’apprête à lancer l’opération «El Dorado Canyon», une série de frappes aériennes contre la Libye en représailles à un attentat commis dans une boîte de nuit à Berlin. Quelques heures avant l’heure H, Walters revient à Paris. Il sollicite le droit de survol du territoire français pour les avions américains basés en Grande-Bretagne – qui vont bombarder les cibles libyennes et notamment la propre maison de Kadhafi. François Mitterrand et son nouveau Premier ministre, Jacques Chirac, disent non. Ronald Reagan est outré par ce refus. Dans les Mémoires de l’ancien comédien, cet épisode fera l’objet de l’une des rares mentions des deux Français…

Le 29 avril 1986.

« Le patron, c’est toujours Mitterrand »

Délices de la cohabitation. Alors que Chirac s’est installé il y a un mois à Matignon, le «principal conseiller politique» de François Mitterrand prend un petit déjeuner avec un diplomate de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Paris. L’émissaire de l’Elysée est porteur « d’un message » de son patron. Il veut faire savoir à la Maison-Blanche qu’« en matière de politique étrangère, le patron c’est toujours lui». Prenez l’affaire du survol de la France par les F-111 en route vers la Libye, dit l’émissaire élyséen à l’Américain. Jacques Chirac vient de déclarer à la télévision que c’était lui qui avait pris la décision de refuser ce survol. N’en croyez rien. Sur cette question, lisez l’article du « Monde » daté de ce jour. « Cet article, rapporte le diplomate à son secrétaire d’Etat, montre en effet que François Mitterrand était au centre de toutes les décisions prises dans cette opération. » L’Américain note toutefois que, pour son enquête, le journaliste du « Monde » « a reçu un briefing complet, sur ordre direct du chef de l’Etat»…

Le conseiller de l’Elysée fait aussi des confidences à l’Américain sur la stratégie politique de son patron en matière de cohabitation : pour l’instant, «nous laissons le gouvernement gouverner, explique-t-il. Le président joue le rôle du défenseur de la Constitution et des institutions. Il a posé quelques marqueurs sur les privatisations, les libertés civiles. Mais le vrai clash aura lieu plus tard». Il n’est pas sûr de remporter ce futur bras de fer. Car « si la popularité de Mitterrand est élevée – 56 à 59% d’après les sondages -, environ 10% de ces personnes ne sont pas prêtes à voter maintenant pour lui à une élection présidentielle. Pour la gagner, il doit attendre une erreur de Chirac – le plus probablement en politique intérieure ».

31 mars 1987.

Chirac « l’extraverti » face à Reagan

A un an de son duel présidentiel avec François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac est reçu à la Maison-Blanche. Les Américains ne sont pas dupes de ses motivations. « Comme il partage toujours le pouvoir avec le président Mitterrand, écrit un conseiller à Reagan, Chirac tient spécialement à apparaître comme un homme d’Etat aguerri capable de défendre les intérêts français tout en cultivant une relation harmonieuse avec vous.» Délicat équilibre.

Un conseiller dresse à Reagan un portrait plutôt flatteur de son visiteur. « A la différence de beaucoup de Français, Chirac est un extraverti, écrit-il ; il aime aller à la rencontre de l’homme de la rue. A la différence du président socialiste, il n’est pas un intellectuel et, en général, il aborde les problèmes de façon pragmatique. » Avec lui, cependant, tout ne sera pas facile. « Il est aussi fortement nationaliste et présentera son pays avec force et persistance comme la victime dans les différends commerciaux avec nous. » Mais on sait comment l’amadouer : « Chirac se vante de sa connaissance de l’Amérique. Il a écrit une thèse sur le port de La Nouvelle-Orléans, a suivi des cours d’été à Harvard et a fait du stop à travers les Etats-Unis. Il apprécierait particulièrement tout compliment sur sa compréhension de notre pays. »

«Je suis toujours heureux de venir aux Etats-Unis », déclare d’emblée Jacques Chirac à son hôte. «Je sais, répond Ronald Reagan, sa fiche à la main, vous connaissez bien ce pays; après tout, vous y avez étudié et beaucoup voyagé, n’est-ce pas ?» Le Français biche, mais ne fléchit pas… Il dit ses différends avec l’Amérique. Il est inquiet des négociations en cours entre Gorbatchev et Reagan sur le désarmement nucléaire en Europe. Il redoute qu’elles ne conduisent à un découplage stratégique entre les Etats-Unis et le Vieux Continent. Et il prévient que la France «s’opposera à toute politique qui aboutirait à une dénucléarisation de l’Europe ». Martial, il dit que, grâce à l’aide secrète des Etats-Unis, la force de frappe de la France « nous donnera bientôt la possibilité de détruire 50% des villes soviétiques » et qu’il n’entend absolument pas se séparer de cette capacité de dissuasion.

Sur les affaires commerciales, le ton monte encore. Jacques Chirac attaque brutalement Ronald Reagan. «La France est furieuse contre les techniques de négociation employées par les Etats-Unis », dit-il. Les mesures prises par l’Amérique contre le cognac et le fromage sont des «prises d’otages» et «les accusations contre Airbus sont infondées ». « Tout cela peut aboutir à une confrontation sérieuse entre nous », prévient- il. Enfin, Chirac fait la leçon au président des Etats-Unis sur l’un de ses dadas : « Si nous ne faisons rien pour régler la dette du tiers-monde, dit- il, les pays les moins avancés se tourneront vers le marxisme à la mode Gorbatchev. » Dans les archives, il n’est pas dit si Reagan a vraiment apprécié ce Français si extraverti… La veille de l’élection présidentielle, en mai 1988, on lui a préparé le texte du coup de fil qu’il devra passer au vainqueur, l’un à l’attention de Mitterrand, l’autre de Chirac. Ils étaient identiques.

29 septembre 1988.

« Nous formons un vieux couple »

Dernière rencontre entre François Mitterrand, fraîchement réélu, et Ronald Reagan, qui achève son second mandat. Au cours du dîner à la Maison-Blanche, les deux chefs d’Etat se font d’émouvants adieux.

« Nous n’avons pas toujours été d’accord, déclare François Mitterrand. Mais dire non permet de dire oui. J’ai apprécié votre courtoisie et votre élégance. Dans un mois, vous ne serez plus président des Etats-Unis, mais vous le serez toujours dans le coeur des Américains. Et vous le serez également dans le mien.» «Nous sommes des amis, répond Ronald Reagan. Nous formons un vieux couple. C’est toujours difficile de se séparer. »

Mitterrand-Bush : conversations privées

Tout au long de la  première guerre du Golfe, il y a vingt ans, Mitterrand et Bush n’ont cessé de discuter du conflit et de ses conséquences. En exclusivité des extraits du verbatim.

3 août 1990.Les troupes irakiennes viennent d’envahir le Koweït et semblent se diriger vers l’Arabie Saoudite. Bush appelle Mitterrand sur un téléphone sécurisé.

George Bush. – Cette invasion est totalement inacceptable. Elle représente une grave menace pour nos intérêts nationaux et la sécurité de nos amis dans la région.

François Mitterrand. – Oui, c’est ce que je pense.

G. B. – Il est difficile de croire que Saddam va s’arrêter au Koweït. Et même s’il le faisait, il contrôle maintenant assez de pétrole et d’avoirs financiers pour modifier en profondeur la situation géostratégique.

F. M. – J’ai le même sentiment. Si Saddam continue son offensive, il consolidera son hégémonie sur le monde arabe. La France soutient totalement votre idée de sanctions économiques, et je pense que très bientôt nous devrons discuter de mesures militaires.

16 janvier 1991.L’ultimatum international pour le retrait du Koweït a expiré à minuit. La guerre va commencer.

G. B. – Tous les efforts pour raisonner Saddam Hussein ont échoué. Rien n’a pu lui faire entendre raison. Je vous appelle à propos du début des opérations militaires. Elles commenceront à 3 heures du matin, heure de Bagdad. C’est-à-dire dans quatre heures. J’espère que vous serez d’accord.

F. M. – Je n’ai pas d’objection. Ce serait illogique de ma part. J’ai toujours été explicite, tout en essayant d’éviter ce moment. Mais il est venu. Nous sommes à vos côtés. Je donnerai toutes les instructions.

G. B. – Merci, mon ami. Je suis heureux de pouvoir être ainsi aux côtés d’un excellent partenaire.

F. M. – La psychologie de Saddam Hussein est strictement incompréhensible. Je ne vois pas comment un homme peut ainsi exposer son peuple à tant de malheur.

G. B. – Ce qu’il faut espérer, c’est qu’il sera chassé rapidement.

F. M. – Sachez que nous restons profondément mobilisés. Je pense beaucoup à vous, aux soldats américains et aux dangers qu’ils traversent. Nos collaborateurs les plus proches restent en contact pour qu’il y ait une chaîne complète d’information.

20 janvier 1 99 1 .L’opération Tempête du Désert dure depuis trois jours. Le président français appelle la Maison-Blanche.

F. M. – Où en est la campagne aérienne ?

G. B. – J’ai l’impression qu’elle se déroule bien, encore mieux qu’espéré. [ … ] Ce qui me préoccupe, c’est ce qui se passe à l’ouest de l’Irak, d’où peuvent partir des attaques sur Israël.

F. M. – Je pense que ce sont des attaques plutôt symboliques.

G. B. – Sans doute. Je fais de gros efforts pour obtenir de Shamir [le Premier ministre d’Israël] qu’il évite d’avoir des réactions excessives.

F. M. – C’est bien la première fois qu’on est obligé de mener une guerre devant les médias, qui ont tendance à tout exagérer.

G. B. – Il y a eu même au début une euphorie.

F. M. – Cette euphorie est assez fâcheuse. Les médias entretiennent un débit incessant, jour et nuit.

G. B. – Je pense que CNN, en particulier, rend un fier service à Saddam Hussein. Où en est votre opinion publique ? Est-ce qu’elle tient le coup ?

F. M. – Elle résiste bien. J’ai sous les yeux un sondage d’aujourd’hui qui approuve mon action à 75%. Et la vôtre ?

G. B. – A 74%.

F. M. – Pardonnez-moi ce point d’écart !

5 février. La campagne aérienne entre dans sa quatrième semaine. Le Maghreb bouge. Bush vient aux nouvelles.

G. B. – Cher François, j’ai l’impression que les choses vont bien. La coalition tient bon. Il faut que les Irakiens évacuent totalement le Koweït, sans concession. A ce propos, nous n’avons décelé aucun changement dans la position irakienne. En avez- vous noté de votre côté ?

F. M. – Non, tous nos contacts directs et indirects confirment le même fait. Dès lors qu’on parle de trêve, je dis toujours : peut-être, mais il faut d’abord l’évacuation du Koweït. Et là, plus rien.

G. B. – Pour le Maghreb, je me sens un peu fautif, parce que vous m’en aviez parlé et j’avoue que je n’ai rien fait. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

F. M. – Pour nous, les pays du Maghreb constituent un problème délicat car ce sont des pays francophones qui nous connaissent bien. Donc, dès qu’il y a une opposition, il est naturel qu’elle s’exprime contre la France. Le fait de gagner la guerre est important, car dans ces pays-là on a quand même tendance à se tourner vers le vainqueur. Pour le reste, pas de problème particulier. Nous attendons comme tout le monde le signal de l’offensive terrestre. Nous ne sommes pas pressés.

19 février 1991 .Gorbatchev vient de soumettre un ultime plan de paix à l’Irak Que va faire Saddam ?

G. B. – J’ai écrit à Gorbatchev pour lui dire que la réponse devait être sans condition.

F. M. – Il faut une réponse très rapide de Saddam Hussein. Demain ou avant, car tout retard nous mettrait dans des situations difficiles par rapport aux armées et à l’opinion et aussi au sein de la coalition. Je pense à l’Allemagne et à l’Italie. Avez-vous vu ce qu’ils ont dit ?

G. B. – Non.

F. M. – Ils réagissent avec enthousiasme et sans discernement. Il faut donc une réponse immédiate, claire et sans condition. Tant qu’il n’aura pas répondu, il faut faire la guerre, et même avec plus de force encore. Il faut continuer la guerre, bombarder les troupes et menacer l’Irak et Saddam Hussein tant que le retrait ne sera pas effectif.

G. B. – Vous qui connaissez Saddam Hussein, que va-t-il faire ?

F. M. – Je ne le connais pas ! Evidemment, ce que l’on sait de lui peut faire penser qu’il refusera, et ce sera désastreux pour l’Irak. Il va devoir choisir entre la mort et la défaite ou l’acceptation. Il peut aussi chercher à valoriser son prestige. Il faut l’en empêcher.

14 mars 1991 .La guerre est finie depuis deux semaines. Les deux présidents se retrouvent en tête à tête à la Martinique.

G. B. – Quand on repense aux débuts de la crise, on a l’impression que cela fait des années ! Où va-t-on maintenant ? Quelles sont vos idées ?

F. M. – Vous occupez l’essentiel du théâtre en raison du rôle de votre pays dans le monde et dans cette crise. Ce que je pense : le seul vrai problème est celui des Palestiniens. Tout le reste est, en comparaison, facile à régler. Vous savez mon attachement à Israël. J’ai été le premier chef d’Etat français à m’y rendre. Lorsqu’une attaque israélienne a détruit cette centrale en Irak qu’un gouvernement français malheureux avait construite, j’ai refusé de la reconstruire. C’est pourquoi je n’ai jamais rencontré Saddam Hussein. J’essaie de dire la vérité à Israël. En refusant tout accord, tout compromis, Israël est également responsable de la situation au Proche-Orient.

G. B. – Je suis d’accord. Je sais que vous pensez que nous avons été les otages d’Israël. Si un président a été prêt à prendre en main le problème, c’est bien moi. Nous avons diminué la menace contre Israël. Et pourtant ils essaient encore de nous entraîner au-delà de ce qui est raisonnable, par le biais du Congrès.

F. M. – Il y a un pays clé pour la situation, c’est la Jordanie.

G. B. – Il faut garder le roi. [Pourtant] les Arabes de la coalition sont convaincus qu’il y avait un accord entre le roi de Jordanie et Saddam Hussein sur les champs de pétrole du Koweït. J’ajoute un élément anecdotique, mais qui compte quand même, c’est le comportement de la reine Nour de Jordanie.

F. M. – C’est une belle Américaine !

G. B. – Elle est pas mal.

F. M. – Mieux que pas mal.

G. B. – Eh bien, elle est encore plus ferme que lui. Elle l’a poussé dans des sentiments anti-occidentaux. Il faudrait lui enlever sa reine !

F. M. – On sera alliés pour cela aussi.

G. B. – Pour le Liban, croyez-vous qu’on peut y arriver ?

F. M. – Je vous ai déjà raconté mon entretien avec Assad [le président syrien, père de l’actuel]. Pour lui, le Liban, c’est la Syrie, Israël, c’est la Syrie, Jésus-Christ était syrien….

G. B. – C’est pas mal.

F. M. – J’ai reçu un appel de Rafsandjani [le président iranien]. Il m’a invité à Téhéran. On n’a pas conclu. Je voulais vous le signaler.

G. B. – Qu’est-ce qu’il veut ?

F. M. – Il veut être un partenaire. Il y a la guerre civile en Irak et beaucoup ont dit chez vous qu’il voulait prendre le pouvoir là-bas. Mais je crois que les journaux américains ont fait un contresens. En fait, il a peur que les chiites du Sud gagnent, car ce sont des fondamentalistes ; et il n’en veut pas. Ce sont pour lui des adversaires.

G. B. – Que pensez-vous de la situation en Irak ?

F. M. – Ne renversons pas les rôles ! C’est vous qui avez des services compétents. Que pensez- vous ?

G. B. – Ce sera un peu Ceausescu. On dansera dans les rues quand il partira. Mais [en Irak] nos renseignements ne sont pas très bons…

Au cours du déjeuner, les présidents font un tour d’horizon planétaire.

G. B. – Castro est-il raisonnable ou dogmatique ?

F. M. – Assez raisonnable. Je le connais. Je l’ai vu en 1975. Je ne pense pas qu’un « hispanique » puisse rester vraiment marxiste. Mais il devient le dernier.

G. B. – Vous vous intéressez à la Yougoslavie ? Il y a des troubles…

F. M. – En Europe, il y a partout des sources de guerre. Il faut développer de grands ensembles qui s’organisent. Au fond, l’empire austro-hongrois était bien commode. On a eu tort de le défaire.

G. B. – L’Algérie, on peut aider ?

F. M. – Je ne suis pas inquiet, sauf s’il y a un risque de coup d’Etat au bénéfice d’intégristes exaltés. Mais ils vieillissent aussi. Je vous ai raconté mon entretien avec Kadhafi. C’était la première fois qu’il me téléphonait, au début de la guerre. Il m’a dit : je vous téléphone car il y a tellement de fous dans le monde en ce moment ; il faut que les gens raisonnables se parlent !

G. B. – Je suis inquiet pour la stabilité du Maroc.

F. M. – Le roi a réussi à se faire beaucoup d’ennemis. Il a une conception traditionaliste, médiévale de

sa fonction. Il est moderne pour tout le reste, sauf pour les structures de la monarchie. Il ne se rend pas compte que cela commence à être dépassé. Il retient des prisonniers d’opinion depuis vingt-cinq ans !

G. B. – Pouvons-nous parler de la sécurité en Europe ?

F. M. – Volontiers. L’Europe n’est pas en état de disposer d’une force commune pour assurer sa sécurité, voilà la réalité. Il n’y a pas encore assez d’unité politique. C’est donc une dispute d’école de savoir si on choisit la défense commune à la place de l’Otan. La seule force, actuellement, c’est l’Otan. Pensons au XXIe siècle. Oui, je souhaite que l’Europe ait progressivement les moyens de se défendre elle-même. Si cette espérance est à payer au prix d’une rupture, d’un désaccord grave avec les Etats-Unis, cela ne vaut pas la peine.

4 novembre 1992. Bush vient de perdre l’élection présidentielle face à Bill Clinton. De son avion Air Force One, il écrit à Mitterrand. « Cher François, le soleil se couche sur ma vie publique, une vie pendant laquelle j’ai apprécié travailler avec vous si étroitement. Une vie privée s’annonce. Je vous envoie mes remerciements et mon respect et cette amitié que je chérirai toujours. George »


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