France/USA: Sous les pavés des bonnes intentions, l’enfer socialiste (Where PC meets overweening government power, a terrible politics is born)

16 mars, 2014
https://i2.wp.com/www.weeklystandard.com/sites/all/files/imagecache/cover-small/magazines/coverimages/v19-27.Mar24.Cover_.jpgThere is nothing to drive a population rightward like the softening of its putatively conservative party. Most people in any society would like to be considered easy-going and accommodating. They will say the proper, tolerant things as long as they are confident someone else is willing to endure the social stigma of being the humorless keeper of order. When people lose confidence there is anyone more conservative hiding in the woodwork, they reluctantly take on the embarrassing job of expressing conservative thoughts themselves. That is what happened with the Tea Party. (…) About a year ago, though, the Manif pour Tous movement began to harden. Cast adrift from the French political system with no weapon but their numbers and their good intentions, by turns ignored and calumniated by an unpopular but steely government, certain marchers began to see the beautiful soul of Frigide Barjot as more of a liability than an asset. She was frozen out of her leadership position, replaced by Ludovine de la Rochère, an officer of the Jérôme-Lejeune Foundation. At the March 2013 demonstration of the Manif pour Tous, the one that drew 1.4 million people and ran for miles down the Avenue de la Grande Armée, police blocked the route. A group of marchers tried to end-run a police blockade and enter the Champs-Élysées, a nonauthorized parade route, to the chagrin of Barjot and some of the movement’s more orderly leaders. A businesswoman named Béatrice Bourges backed the marchers. (…) The French government has been speaking about sexual matters almost nonstop for two years now without ever giving a satisfactory explanation of its philosophy. So incoherent has Hollande been that many commentators assume he has chosen sex and gender arbitrarily, as a means of diverting attention from his economic-policy failures, or, more ambitiously, following a Leninist strategy of sowing confusion in the public. Compare him with Barack Obama. The president has backed gay marriage on the grounds that marriage is such a noble institution that it ought to be opened to everybody—a grounds that, while debatable, is also perfectly straightforward. Hollande appears bizarre by contrast. He married neither Ségolène Royal, the mother of his four children, nor Valérie Trierweiler, the journalist whom he publicly acknowledged as his companion in 2010. Nor has he announced any plans to marry Julie Gayet, the actress for whom he evicted Trierweiler from the Elysée Palace. He has shown himself willing to risk civil strife over an institution he does not believe in in the first place. (…) Political correctness came late to France, but the country has made up for lost time. France is now at the nadir of politically correct Zhdanovism, the stage America reached in about 1991, when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of harassment at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Antioch College required lovers making passes at one another to obtain verbal or written consent at each “base,” people said things such as “differently abled,” and elementary schools raised the consciousness of children by forcing them to read Heather Has Two Mommies. Yet PC has acquired institutional redoubts in France that it never did in the United States, and it now appears almost invincible. This may have to do with France’s Jacobin tradition, which centralizes everything governmental and discourages wiggle room. Right now the Ministry of Education is conducting a monomaniacal campaign to persuade schoolchildren that there is no difference whatsoever between boys and girls, other than the ones they have been taught by a sexist culture. The ministry aims to fight centuries of sexism and bigotry through a kind of counter-brainwashing: giving girls trucks and balls, boys bottles and dolls, and turning Little Red Riding Hood into a boy. So much for Vive la différence. Opponents call such teachings la théorie du genre, or gender theory. In February, conservative UMP leader Jean-François Copé publicly criticized a list of books that were either required or suggested for use in schools. It was a bold move, a real coup, and might have had more effect on French voters had not the UMP already introduced a certain amount of gender theory to the schools under Sarkozy. The books Copé publicized included Does Miss Zazie Have a Peepee?, Daddy Wears a Dress, and Everybody’s Naked!, which contained vivid pictures of children and adults (“The babysitter is naked,” “The policeman is naked,” “The teacher is naked”) and promptly rose to number one on Amazon’s French website. Two things turned the controversy over théorie du genre into a scandal. The first is that education minister Peillon and his associates claimed there was no such thing. Peillon professed himself “absolutely against” gender theory; he was just for teaching children about the interchangeability of the sexes at ever-younger ages. “You mustn’t confuse it with gender studies,” said women’s rights minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. “What they’re teaching [kids] is the values of the republic,” said finance minister Pierre Moscovici, “those of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” They were, it turns out, taking their voters for dummies. The conservative television gadfly Éric Zemmour claimed that what was being taught came not from child psychology but from gay political activism. The new school materials were “carbon copies” of activist documents, he said, and he began to produce them: a plan to have the national railways “educate against homophobia,” memos from the Socialist party group Homosexuality and Socialism, last year’s government “Teychenné Report” on “LGBT-phobic Discrimination in Schools.” The théorie du genre was the principle on which the government had been legislating in practice for the past two years—why on earth wouldn’t they avow it? If you accept that sexuality is chosen, not given, then there’s no shame in taking steps to broaden the options on a child’s sexual menu. It was obvious to everyone except the government that this new vision of the Rights of Man was precisely what parents did not accept. Normally in such circumstances, confronted with dug-in resistance, the government would adopt a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone and explain that the country was changing. It was getting more diverse. Our schoolbooks had to be opened to a greater variety of people. .  .  . But apparently there was a limit to diversity. In the weekly Marianne, the journalist Éric Conan noted a striking omission in this dynamic, multicultural time. “The Ministry of Education and the editors,” he wrote, “have carefully avoided Mohammed Has Two Daddies or Fadela Has Two Mommies.” (…) One of the mysteries of contemporary French political life is that the government has institutions for combating race prejudice patterned on American ones—but without having perpetrated slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, or any of the historic misdeeds that made the corresponding American remedies necessary. The political action group SOS Racisme was founded in the mid-1980s at the urging of President Mitterrand, just after his root-and-branch reforms had led the country into an economic collapse. It was what we would call an “Astroturf” group, a top-down movement designed by leaders to be passed off as grassroots. The first leader of SOS Racisme, Harlem Désir, is now the chairman of the Socialist party. A few people at the time, most forcefully the sociologist Paul Yonnet, suggested that the campaign against racism was a bizarre priority for France, having more to do with Mitterrand’s political needs than with France’s historic responsibility. (…) As communism once did, the French antiracism movement is producing renegades. Ex-Communists often took the menace of communism more seriously than they had taken the promise in their more credulous days; their exposure to both sides of certain arguments often gave them a more profound sense of ideological battles than their contemporaries on either side. (…) In a way that no one seems willing to acknowledge, Muslim politics is a key to Belghoul’s power. Although the JRE is small, it is one of those small things with the potential to bring an entire political coalition crashing down—in a U.S. context, imagine the Democratic party if its hold on the black vote were threatened. Hollande’s government was able to ignore the mostly Catholic Manif pour Tous, no matter how large its marches got, because he had never had and did not need the votes of devout Catholics. Muslims are a different story: In the first round of the last presidential election, 57 percent voted for Hollande, versus only 7 percent for Sarkozy. What is more, their power is magnified (and that of Catholics reduced) by a system meant to respect the rights of “minorities.” Should a silent majority of Catholics, by making common cause with Muslims, gain access to the same right to be heard, they will have picked the lock that has kept them out of politics since the 1990s. (…) All Western countries are becoming less politically free, but France is doing so at a faster rate than most. The government has many tools for enforcing conformity. Twitter is capable of suppressing tweets at the request of governments in certain extreme cases, the website Atlantico reported in February, and last year, of 352 such requests worldwide, 306 came from France. Valls, the justice minister, has looked into banning Bourges’s French Spring group. The activist group Collectifdom sued the director Nicolas Bedos for opinions expressed in a magazine column that it considered an assault on “the honor of the Antilles.” These are tip-of-the-iceberg cases. And consider what happened when Valls lectured the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the TV talk show Des paroles et des actes in February about France’s sterling record of welcoming the uprooted—Valls’s own family from Catalonia under Franco, Finkielkraut’s from Poland and Auschwitz. Finkielkraut agreed, but said that that didn’t entitle France to ignore those of French stock—the so-called français de souche. For having used that expression (and for having expressed the worry that France was turning into “the Soviet Union of antiracism”), Finkielkraut found himself in legal trouble—two high-ranking members of the Socialist party called for a sitting of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, a rough French equivalent of the FCC. It is a bad sign that, when the ruling party clashes with freedom of expression in this way, the media tend to take the side of the ruling party. Le Monde’s newly active blog section has covered the popular movement against théorie du genre not as a clash of political opinions but as an epidemic of intox, or collective insanity. In column after column, the paper of the ruling class mocks people who are utterly shut out of decision-making for their attempts, necessarily based on partial information, to make sense of the mandates imposed on them. There is little attempt to address the large kernel of truth in what they say, no attempt to address directly the question of whether teachers indeed are imposing on their children an ideology about sexual matters. And there is no acknowledgment whatsoever that parents could ever have a legitimate interest in what their children are taught about sex in school. There are only restatements of the government viewpoint and worries about the mental health of its opponents. (…)  A country whose intellectual and political leaders do not distinguish between Dieudonné and Élisabeth Lévy will have a hard time either disciplining extremists or accepting constructive criticism from any quarter. France has, through political correctness, maneuvered itself into a bad position. In rough times, people fall back on what they have—savings, family, faith, various things that no decent government feels entitled to violate. What France is doing in the name of equal citizenship is ripping up every last refuge and source of identity people have. Its political leaders have met legitimate popular opposition to their plans not just with punishment but with ridicule, ostracism, and exclusion. Many of its intellectual leaders have fallen into line behind the politicians. For now, France’s leaders have managed to insulate some of their wilder schemes from popular complaint. It would be a mistake to consider that a triumph in any but the very short term. Christopher Caldwell

Mariage homosexuel, adoption pour homosexuels, théorie du genre à l’école, non-repect de la liberté d’expression …

A l’heure où, pour dénoncer les turpitudes de leurs prédécesseurs, ceux qui nous servent actuellement de dirigeants se permettent à présent eux aussi les mensonges les plus éhontés …

Pendant que, de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, la francisation semble avancer à grand pas …

Comment ne pas voir avec le magazine de droite américain The Weekly standard …

Ce zèle de nouveau converti  avec lequel une France ayant découvert sur le tard le politiquement correct se rattrape actuellement …

Mais surtout, avec le risque de se couper un jour durablement de la population, cette étrange convergence de dirigeants et d’élites intellectuelles des deux côtés de l’Atlantique, toujours plus fermés aux problèmes réels de ladite population ?

French Undressing

Where PC meets overweening government power, a terrible politics is born

Christopher Caldwell

The Weekly Standard

March 24, 2014

Paris

On a bright Wednesday afternoon in late February a bunch of French Muslims gathered in an upstairs room at the Café du Pont Neuf on the Seine. They had summoned a group of Internet journalists before whom they intended to lay out a few grievances. Their leader, Farida Belghoul, a 55-year-old Frenchwoman of Algerian Kabyle background, is a veteran of the movement that, back in the 1980s, sought to rally North African immigrants’ children (known as beurs) behind Socialist president François Mitterrand. Belghoul was the eloquent and camera-friendly voice of the so-called Second March of the Beurs in 1984, but she drifted from view after that. She has spent the intervening years teaching, writing novels, making films, studying, and, most recently, living in Egypt. Journalists who have written about ethnicity, immigration, and left-wing politics in decades past retain a vague memory of her name.

Those who have reacquainted themselves with Belghoul in recent months have been shocked to see what has become of this onetime hope of socialism. She has seen a few things. She has drawn closer to God. And she has become the sworn enemy of the French Ministry of Education’s ideas about what children should be taught about sex. In the audience at the café, silhouetted against the windows that face across the Seine toward the towers of the Conciergerie, there were women in headscarves. But the speakers sitting at Belghoul’s side included leaders of Christian organizations, conservative politicians, a priest, and a former member of Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet. Many of them until quite recently thought of Muslim immigration as a menace to the Republic. All were there to pay their respects to a woman who, for now at least, has become one of the most important right-wing leaders in France.

An embitterment has entered French politics under the presidency of François Hollande, the first Socialist to run France since the last century. Voters chose Hollande in 2012 as a way of administering a slap to the brassy martinet Sarkozy, but Hollande’s popularity has fallen steadily since. The economy is flat. Hollande’s advisers—mostly people of retirement age—keep scolding the public about how they ought to work harder. The Red Bonnets, a movement of protest against the green taxes that are hitting farmers hard, have been on the march in Brittany. Economic inequality has worsened, and the Paris economist Thomas Piketty—whose new book on inequality has made bestseller lists—took to the pages of the daily Libération to describe Hollande as a “serial bumbler.” Hollande is his party’s most prominent champion of French involvement in the 28-nation superstructure of the European Union, at a time when a majority (58 percent) of Frenchmen want less of it. The country’s unemployment rate is over 10 percent, and Hollande’s approval ratings have fallen into the teens. Never in recent decades has a Western European leader been less popular.

It is not usually fruitful to compare foreign leaders with American presidents, but there is a reason Hollande hit it off so well with President Obama on his state visit last month. Both have a mild manner that is an inestimable asset when the leader of the party that likes to shake things up is courting swing voters. Both, though, are ideological adventurers, with a reverence towards what the university utopians in their party dream up, even if they are not dreamers themselves. But Obama has trump cards Hollande lacks: a reserve currency, an empire, a vast army. He also has Republican opponents who have restrained him from nominating too many Van Joneses and Debo Adegbiles. Hollande has had the personal good fortune, and the political bad fortune, to get the allies he has wished for. He has wound up beholden to the Europe-Écologie party (EELV), which is too radical for most French voters’ tastes.

It was partly at the EELV’s suggestion that Hollande went out on a limb last winter and legalized gay marriage. It was a mistake. The law has been more ferociously resisted in France than in any Western country. As with President Obama’s health care reform, the passage of the law has done nothing to settle the argument over it. The protests have continued. The problem, it is clear, was not just the law itself but also the spirit in which it was offered. “It’s a reform of society,” said justice minister Christiane Taubira in late 2012, “and you could even say a reform of civilization.” That remark, and others like it, awakened a section of political France that had been slumbering for decades—the Catholic part, the traditionalist part, the sort of people who have five kids, favor cardigans over hoodies, and can describe France as the “eldest daughter of the church” without snickering.

Unmitigated Gaul

It is hard to say what made Catholics in France more hostile to gay marriage than those in other countries. Perhaps they have been so long at a distance from power that they have not acquired the habit of political negotiation and compromise. One factor in the resistance is certainly the incentive gay marriage offers to irregular adoption. French people are uneasy about mixing up money values and human values. Surrogate motherhood is still not legal; in fact, one sees it likened to the slave trade in certain newspapers, although legal activists have sought to ease restraints on the practice.

Gay marriage in France is called mariage pour tous, “marriage for everybody.” The mostly church-inspired movement against it is called la manif pour tous, “the demonstration for everybody,” manifestation being the French for a political march or protest. After all, everybody used to be Catholic. In the spring of 1984, several hundred thousand marchers convinced François Mitterrand to withdraw his project of absorbing the country’s Catholic schools into the state system.

This was what the anti-gay-marriage protesters had in mind. The main voice of the marches when they started was Frigide Barjot, a gifted and gentle eccentric who had been growing more and more serious about her Catholic faith for a decade. Barjot was an admirer of Pope Benedict XVI. She wrote interesting memoirs, was married to the comic writer Basile de Koch (his name and hers are pseudonyms), and had even made racy music videos. She had (and retains) many gay friends, and she appeared not to have a milligram of ill-will in her body. (“Who am I to judge?” she often says, quoting the present pope.) She was good on TV and the Internet, a person of integrity, living poor as a church mouse with her husband and children in an apartment in a modest block near the Eiffel Tower. (The left-leaning city government of Paris has begun proceedings to kick them out of it; when I visited, it was crammed with dress racks and piled high with cardboard boxes.)

Barjot described gay couples as a blessing for France and even backed civil unions for them; she insisted only that every child was the product of a mother and a father and deserved to be raised that way. The universe of people ready to sign on to these views turned out to be vast. It ranged from the lay Catholic bloggers of Salon Beige to the Jérôme-Lejeune Foundation (which campaigns for those with Down syndrome) to former housing minister Christine Boutin’s pro-life group Alliance Vita. That is leaving aside Muslims, Jews, the “fundamentalist” Catholics who reject Vatican II, and those who reject gay marriage for reasons that are nonreligious.

By last winter, the Manif pour Tous showed itself capable of drawing millions—1.4 million showed up for its event in Paris in March 2013, almost double the turnout of the biggest marches in 1984. It was stunning—most polls put Mass attendance in France at around 5 percent, and Catholics themselves had come to think they were dying out. Many Catholics describe the spirit of the Manif pour Tous in exactly the same terms gays did when they began protesting after the Stonewall riots of 1969—they were shocked to discover how many people there were who felt just as they did. Some even described them as “Catholic Pride days.”

Just as Scott Brown’s election to a Massachusetts Senate seat in 2010 was assumed to signal the end of President Obama’s health reforms, these marches should have meant the end of gay marriage in France. The constitution of the Fifth Republic turns the French presidency into an elective monarchy, which was fine in 1958 when it was designed for Charles de Gaulle. But it has proved a bad fit for anybody who cannot write on his résumé: “Saved the nation in World War II.” France doesn’t have midterm elections (although the approaching municipal elections will permit the public to send a signal). It has little local ability to temper the will of the capital. What it does have, especially since 1968, is a virtually constitutional role for street protests. If you can put enough people in the street to protest a government action, the government will back down. No one understands that better than the 59-year-old Hollande, who was mentored by his party’s soixante-huitards, or ’68ers. Mitterrand had to let Catholics keep their schools in 1984. Chirac had to abandon budget cuts in 1995 and a youth jobs program in 2006.

That didn’t happen last time. The anti-gay-marriage protests of 2012 and 2013 drew record crowds, and yet the government didn’t relent. In fact, it dug in. The number of arrests at Manif pour Tous parades was high. In recent days, a Russian student has told reporters that police offered her help obtaining citizenship in exchange for spying on the movement. “The government saw it as a sign of their own virtue to have these people marching against them,” said one non-Catholic sympathizer of Frigide Barjot. If this really was a reform of civilization, then those families marching in the streets were the new civilization’s enemies.

Cold front

Oppponents often describe the social-issues protesters as being on the “extreme right” or even a “French equivalent of the Tea Party,” both of them labels that get applied to whatever force the political class is most eager to exclude. These epithets were not ones that the broad, pious, native-French upper-middle class would have chosen as descriptions of itself. In fact, these people seem to have no political allies at all—either in the center of French politics or on the extremes. The Gaullist UMP, the closest French equivalent to the U.S. Republican party, is no place for “values voters.” Sarkozy talked a good game to them but left them no less disappointed than the rest of his coalition of followers. His housing minister, Christine Boutin, the only outspoken pro-life politician in the party, has now left the party, gravitating to Christian Democracy and the world of Farida Belghoul. The party’s candidate for mayor of Paris, the yuppie ex-Sarkozy spokesperson Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, not only distrusts the Manif pour Tous but has demanded recantation from any candidate in her party who ever expressed the slightest sympathy for it. This included Hélène Delsol, whom Kosciusko-Morizet dropped from her list of candidates, allegedly for her links to a centrist candidate. Conservatives often speak of the political establishment as the “UMPS”—a jamming-together of the party acronyms of the Gaullists and the Socialists.

There is nothing to drive a population rightward like the softening of its putatively conservative party. Most people in any society would like to be considered easy-going and accommodating. They will say the proper, tolerant things as long as they are confident someone else is willing to endure the social stigma of being the humorless keeper of order. When people lose confidence there is anyone more conservative hiding in the woodwork, they reluctantly take on the embarrassing job of expressing conservative thoughts themselves. That is what happened with the Tea Party.

And it is part of the explanation for why the rightist National Front (FN)—which, while democratic in its conduct, has for decades spoken with fascist overtones—has gained popularity in recent years, and why 40 percent of the UMP are ready to form alliances with it, according to an IFOP poll. Purged of its anti-Semitic and some of its anti-immigrant elements by its new leader, Marine Le Pen, it is leading the polls for the upcoming European elections. But the FN never rallied to the Manif pour Tous. Some attribute this coldness to Le Pen’s excess of caution, others to a reluctance to offend the Front’s gay supporters and members. Whatever the reason, these were not the Manif’s people. The National Front’s rank and file opposed gay adoption, but only by 56 percent to 37, not far from the views of the French public at large.

About a year ago, though, the Manif pour Tous movement began to harden. Cast adrift from the French political system with no weapon but their numbers and their good intentions, by turns ignored and calumniated by an unpopular but steely government, certain marchers began to see the beautiful soul of Frigide Barjot as more of a liability than an asset. She was frozen out of her leadership position, replaced by Ludovine de la Rochère, an officer of the Jérôme-Lejeune Foundation. At the March 2013 demonstration of the Manif pour Tous, the one that drew 1.4 million people and ran for miles down the Avenue de la Grande Armée, police blocked the route. A group of marchers tried to end-run a police blockade and enter the Champs-Élysées, a nonauthorized parade route, to the chagrin of Barjot and some of the movement’s more orderly leaders. A businesswoman named Béatrice Bourges backed the marchers.

That was the beginning of Bourges’s explicitly political movement Printemps Français. The name, which means “French spring,” betrays an assumption, perhaps, that France is not much freer than the countries of the Arab world, where Bourges was born. Bourges wants to remove Hollande from office under the little-known Article 68 of the constitution for extreme dereliction of duty. She has not been specific about whether he most deserves ousting for his economic, his immigration, or his gender rights policies, nor has she been particular about whose company she travels in. In late January she organized a Day of Rage. The 17,000 people who gathered in the Place de la Bastille were not Frigide Barjot’s live-and-let-live types. There was a bit of humor. One held a sign reading “We want a state that is transparent, not a state of ‘trans’ parents.” But there was other stuff as well. “Jews!” read one placard. “France does not belong to you!”

M’Bad news

There have been incidents like this for at least 15 years in France, but they have tended to look like mere dérapages, moments when somebody loses his head and does something stupid. No longer. What seemed even two or three years ago to be only a serious potential problem has emerged as a present danger. There now exists an identifiable constituency for anti-Semitism in France. It is not necessarily broad, but it is not just a few fringe individuals, either. It is what you could call a “market.” Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a gifted and sometimes riotously funny comic of Cameroonian descent and pronounced left-wing views, began to attack Israel and Zionism at the turn of the century, just after the second intifada and the September 11 attacks. Since then his ideology has evolved in a Farrakhanite direction and beyond. The literary scholar Robert Faurisson, France’s highest-profile denier of the Shoah, as the Holocaust is known, participated in one of Dieu-donné’s onstage routines in a striped Auschwitz-style suit. Dieudonné sings a bouncy song called “Shoah-nanas” (a homonym for “Hot Pineapple”), complete with a dance. In December he said of one of his journalistic critics, “When I hear him talk, Patrick Cohen, I think .  .  . you know .  .  . the gas chambers .  .  . too bad .  .  .”

Dieudonné’s defenders often say he is not anti-Semitic, only “anti-system.” But at times like now, when France’s “system” seems bent on dismantling its old institutions and adapting its culture to the cyber-economy, the system has suited Dieudonné fairly well. He churns out homemade videos that get millions of hits on his theater’s website, on YouTube, and on EgalitéetReconciliation.fr. This last is the brainchild of Alain Soral, a bestselling underground author, the brother of a famous Swiss actress, and an inspired provocateur. In one sense he resembles the television commentator Glenn Beck, an apostle of autodidacticism who offers his presumably angry viewers long reading lists with which to arm themselves intellectually—in Soral’s case, an interesting mix of left and right that includes Kropotkin, Ezra Pound, the contemporary economist Satyajit Das, the Dréyfusard Bernard Lazare, and the Marxist philosopher Pierre Clouscard. But whereas Beck’s books are mostly attacks on Woodrow Wilson or New Deal statism, many of Soral’s favorites question the whole modern order, and would have been found congenial by French fascists in the 1930s. He, too, spends a good deal of his energy thinking about Zionism. He has moved from Communism to the National Front to what he calls a “national socialism à la française.”

At the turn of the year, word spread that Dieudonné was about to take a particularly rebarbative show on tour. Interior minister Manuel Valls—the Socialist party’s only public figure with a reputation for being tough on crime—decided to come down on him like a ton of bricks. Valls sought to have the show banned before it even opened. When the city of Nantes, the first stop on the tour, refused to ban it, on the grounds that this would constitute prior restraint, the Conseil d’État—a sort of supreme court that operates out of the country’s executive branch—overruled it. Tax authorities raided Dieudonné’s house.

The public’s response was nothing like what the government might have anticipated. Valls, who had started the week as the most popular politician in France, saw his approval ratings plummet. The French pollster BVA showed his approval among young people, who are disproportionately of immigrant background, falling from 61 percent to 37 percent. It may be that they were unnerved by the government’s weakness—the realization that it required the entire disciplinary apparatus of the state to constrain one Afro-French vaudevillian. On the other hand, they may have been unnerved by the government’s presumption. France’s tools for disciplining opinion have been so wantonly overused that many who sincerely deplored Dieudonné’s views may have felt they had less to lose from his opinions than from giving the state more means of control.

In such a context, though, the Day of Rage alarmed even the government’s most vocal opponents. They saw it as a pointless squandering of the Manif movement’s hard-earned reputation for constructive engagement, and a foolish opening, intentional or not, to extremists. The Figaro columnist Ivan Rioufol, usually a slashing opponent of political correctness and conformism, called the demonstration “the example not to follow” and faulted Bourges for failing to distance herself from the wackos a protest movement inevitably draws. Bourges said afterwards that she hadn’t seen the worst offending placards during the march. Rioufol had been used by the mainstream media, she said, adding: “The people are almost pre-revolutionary.” She insisted that channeling people’s rage was not the same thing as violence. What she didn’t do was apologize.

In this she sounded a bit like the Ukrainian boxer and political activist (and now presidential candidate) Wladimir Klitschko, who, when asked by the Guardian in January whether it bothered him to protest alongside the occasionally anti-Semitic extremist Oleh Tyahnybok, replied: “In order to land a punch, you need to bring your fingers together into a fist. We need to join all of our forces together. That is the only way that we can win.” In other words, no, it didn’t bother him. There are suddenly a lot of people talking and thinking this way in France. In forming political alliances, the extremism of one’s allies is becoming a second-order consideration.

A week after the Day of Rage, the Manif pour Tous held a much larger, much milder demonstration, amid threats from Valls that there would be a massive police reaction to any excesses. The following day, the Hollande government withdrew a law on the family that would have eased adoption rules and given new rights to stepparents. This occasioned another “day of rage” against Hollande, this one coming from his own party’s left wing. Was it the quiet, decent side or the unsavory side of French conservatism that had brought about this reversal? Was it the gentle Christians or the fuming radicals? Both sides claimed the credit.

Everybody’s naked

The French government has been speaking about sexual matters almost nonstop for two years now without ever giving a satisfactory explanation of its philosophy. So incoherent has Hollande been that many commentators assume he has chosen sex and gender arbitrarily, as a means of diverting attention from his economic-policy failures, or, more ambitiously, following a Leninist strategy of sowing confusion in the public. Compare him with Barack Obama. The president has backed gay marriage on the grounds that marriage is such a noble institution that it ought to be opened to everybody—a grounds that, while debatable, is also perfectly straightforward. Hollande appears bizarre by contrast. He married neither Ségolène Royal, the mother of his four children, nor Valérie Trierweiler, the journalist whom he publicly acknowledged as his companion in 2010. Nor has he announced any plans to marry Julie Gayet, the actress for whom he evicted Trierweiler from the Elysée Palace. He has shown himself willing to risk civil strife over an institution he does not believe in in the first place.

(A question that has interested French observers somewhat more is how the chubby 59-year-old has had such success as a .  .  . a .  .  . you could almost call him a sexagenarian. French women tend to explain it with reference to Hollande’s sense of humor, which is legendary in political circles. Une femme qui rit, runs the French proverb, est à moitié dans ton lit. If you can make a woman laugh, you’ve got her halfway into bed.)

On the eve of Hollande’s visit to the Vatican in January, which came just days after his household reshuffle, 120,000 Catholics wrote an online petition to Pope Francis, asking him to raise a long list of grievances with their president: a 1993 law against “hindering an abortion,” which has been used against antiabortion protesters and carries a prison sentence of up to two years; the desecration of churches by the Pussy Riot-style Ukrainian feminist group Femen; and the stated wish of the minister of education, Vincent Peillon, to “free the student of all determinisms.” This last bit of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo may not sound like much. But it is what drew those enraged Catholics and Muslims to the room over the Café du Pont Neuf in February.

Political correctness came late to France, but the country has made up for lost time. France is now at the nadir of politically correct Zhdanovism, the stage America reached in about 1991, when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of harassment at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Antioch College required lovers making passes at one another to obtain verbal or written consent at each “base,” people said things such as “differently abled,” and elementary schools raised the consciousness of children by forcing them to read Heather Has Two Mommies.

Yet PC has acquired institutional redoubts in France that it never did in the United States, and it now appears almost invincible. This may have to do with France’s Jacobin tradition, which centralizes everything governmental and discourages wiggle room. Right now the Ministry of Education is conducting a monomaniacal campaign to persuade schoolchildren that there is no difference whatsoever between boys and girls, other than the ones they have been taught by a sexist culture. The ministry aims to fight centuries of sexism and bigotry through a kind of counter-brainwashing: giving girls trucks and balls, boys bottles and dolls, and turning Little Red Riding Hood into a boy. So much for Vive la différence.

Opponents call such teachings la théorie du genre, or gender theory. In February, conservative UMP leader Jean-François Copé publicly criticized a list of books that were either required or suggested for use in schools. It was a bold move, a real coup, and might have had more effect on French voters had not the UMP already introduced a certain amount of gender theory to the schools under Sarkozy. The books Copé publicized included Does Miss Zazie Have a Peepee?, Daddy Wears a Dress, and Everybody’s Naked!, which contained vivid pictures of children and adults (“The babysitter is naked,” “The policeman is naked,” “The teacher is naked”) and promptly rose to number one on Amazon’s French website.

Two things turned the controversy over théorie du genre into a scandal. The first is that education minister Peillon and his associates claimed there was no such thing. Peillon professed himself “absolutely against” gender theory; he was just for teaching children about the interchangeability of the sexes at ever-younger ages. “You mustn’t confuse it with gender studies,” said women’s rights minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. “What they’re teaching [kids] is the values of the republic,” said finance minister Pierre Moscovici, “those of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” They were, it turns out, taking their voters for dummies. The conservative television gadfly Éric Zemmour claimed that what was being taught came not from child psychology but from gay political activism. The new school materials were “carbon copies” of activist documents, he said, and he began to produce them: a plan to have the national railways “educate against homophobia,” memos from the Socialist party group Homosexuality and Socialism, last year’s government “Teychenné Report” on “LGBT-phobic Discrimination in Schools.”

The théorie du genre was the principle on which the government had been legislating in practice for the past two years—why on earth wouldn’t they avow it? If you accept that sexuality is chosen, not given, then there’s no shame in taking steps to broaden the options on a child’s sexual menu. It was obvious to everyone except the government that this new vision of the Rights of Man was precisely what parents did not accept. Normally in such circumstances, confronted with dug-in resistance, the government would adopt a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone and explain that the country was changing. It was getting more diverse. Our schoolbooks had to be opened to a greater variety of people. .  .  . But apparently there was a limit to diversity. In the weekly Marianne, the journalist Éric Conan noted a striking omission in this dynamic, multicultural time. “The Ministry of Education and the editors,” he wrote, “have carefully avoided Mohammed Has Two Daddies or Fadela Has Two Mommies.”

That is where Farida Belghoul came in.

Path of Middle East resistance

Belghoul is a heroine of French antiracism. It is an odd-sounding role. One of the mysteries of contemporary French political life is that the government has institutions for combating race prejudice patterned on American ones—but without having perpetrated slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, or any of the historic misdeeds that made the corresponding American remedies necessary. The political action group SOS Racisme was founded in the mid-1980s at the urging of President Mitterrand, just after his root-and-branch reforms had led the country into an economic collapse. It was what we would call an “Astroturf” group, a top-down movement designed by leaders to be passed off as grassroots. The first leader of SOS Racisme, Harlem Désir, is now the chairman of the Socialist party. A few people at the time, most forcefully the sociologist Paul Yonnet, suggested that the campaign against racism was a bizarre priority for France, having more to do with Mitterrand’s political needs than with France’s historic responsibility.

More people think this now, and Belghoul is one of them. As communism once did, the French antiracism movement is producing renegades. Ex-Communists often took the menace of communism more seriously than they had taken the promise in their more credulous days; their exposure to both sides of certain arguments often gave them a more profound sense of ideological battles than their contemporaries on either side.

On a Sunday afternoon in February, Belghoul ex-plained her beliefs over sugar cookies in the sunny living room of her house a train ride into the modest banlieues (or suburbs) northwest of Paris. Fighting for the rights of second-generation North Africans in France made up a big part of her early life. Belghoul herself spent three uneventful years in the Communist party starting at age 17. She considers it a passing enthusiasm of little importance, but she retains from somewhere a gift for dialectics and wounding political invective. Taking the government literally in its insistence that there is no difference between a man and a woman, she calls the beautiful Najat Vallaud-Belkacem “Monsieur” and Vincent Peillon “Madame”—when she is not calling him the “minister of re-education.”

Belghoul studied at the Sorbonne and read a lot of history, philosophy, and literature. She marched with the groups that would eventually be swallowed up in SOS Racisme and spent the early 1990s working for Radio Beur. She now believes the antiracist movement was about securing the votes of the heavily Arab banlieues, not about solving their problems—particularly illiteracy, an obsession for her. On a personal level, too, she felt used and discarded. After leaving Radio Beur she disappeared off the Socialist party’s radar screen.

Belghoul sees a common thread between the anti-racism movements of the 1980s and gender theory: Both are means, in her view, of “destroying the basis of people’s identity.” Confusing children about their sexuality is just another way to break them of their ability to think clearly (déstructurer la pensée is her phrase), to make them more pliant before the state. Belghoul homeschooled her children, something that is easier to do in France than one might assume. Her response to the government’s gender theory has been to organize a movement of journées de retrait de l’école (JRE), when large numbers of parents keep their children home from school. To keep the government from organizing against the parents, she does not announce these days in advance. By February, the movement had spread to a hundred schools.

Obviously, antiracism aims explicitly to make native French people feel ashamed of their prejudices. For Belghoul it threatened the identity of minorities, too, including her own. In the 1980s, SOS Racisme and the Union of Jewish Students of France promoted a Jewish-Arab dialogue. This was an “illegitimate debate” in Belghoul’s view. “It was as if we were living in the Middle East,” she says. Many conservative Jews have made the same complaint—that the requirements of left-wing identity politics turned French Jews from citizens like anyone else into something they had not been in generations: a “minority.” The focus of Muslims’ attention on Israel is similarly the result of politicians’ need to blame someone other than France for the difficulties of French Muslims. There is a lot of truth in this.

But Belghoul has made many of these points on Soral’s EgalitéetReconciliation.fr—a website that few people visit for its sensitivity to the plight of the Jews. You don’t have to press her to get her views on why she has consented to be interviewed there—enough people have raised it with her that she anticipates the question. “You’ll see me alongside anyone who speaks out for the banning of gender theory in school,” she says, “even if I am in total disagreement with the rest of their opinions. We need to set priorities. Today’s attacks on the family put the future of our society at risk. When that goes, I don’t see what’s left. So we need to set aside—and maybe this is an instance of grace—all our quarrels, even those that seem most important to us, in order that the sacred priority of defending childhood may win out.” It is a very good answer. Whether it is a satisfactory one depends on whether you share Belghoul’s view of the seriousness of the threat to France’s children.

Belghoul is always talking about grace. She shouted a doggerel version of Romans 5:20 (La grâce est toujours là / Là où le péché sera / Là où le péché abonde / La grâce surabonde) at a television interviewer named Saïd on the network OummaTV in February. Anyone who thinks this way is bound to see Catholics and Muslims as involved in the same struggle—“même combat,” as French political activists are fond of saying. Almost all of the Christians who stood up at her press conference at the Café du Pont Neuf, from Christine Boutin to Béatrice Bourges to Alain Escada (of the Catholic fundamentalist Civitas movement), described themselves as converts of a sort—to the view that those who want to make France more Muslim and those who want to make it more Christian are not necessarily at odds.

One thing Belghoul says again and again is: “France is a Christian country.” It is a description that would have made sense any time between St. Irenaeus’ tenure as bishop of Lyon, less than a century after the death of Jesus, and a generation ago. But today Christianity has eroded in France in two ways. First, people have stopped going to Mass. Second, immigration has brought France its large and fast-growing Muslim minority. Two dozen young Frenchmen have been killed fighting with the Islamist rebels in Syria, and hundreds more are there now, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

In a way that no one seems willing to acknowledge, Muslim politics is a key to Belghoul’s power. Although the JRE is small, it is one of those small things with the potential to bring an entire political coalition crashing down—in a U.S. context, imagine the Democratic party if its hold on the black vote were threatened. Hollande’s government was able to ignore the mostly Catholic Manif pour Tous, no matter how large its marches got, because he had never had and did not need the votes of devout Catholics. Muslims are a different story: In the first round of the last presidential election, 57 percent voted for Hollande, versus only 7 percent for Sarkozy. What is more, their power is magnified (and that of Catholics reduced) by a system meant to respect the rights of “minorities.” Should a silent majority of Catholics, by making common cause with Muslims, gain access to the same right to be heard, they will have picked the lock that has kept them out of politics since the 1990s.

Peillon has called the JRE “an insult to the Ministry of Education and to teachers” and threatened to summon any parents who keep their children out of school. “There is a certain number of extremists who have decided to lie and to scare parents,” he told the press recently. “All we are trying to do in school is teach the values of the Republic and, thus, respect between men and women. I call on all the manipulators, all the sowers of trouble and strife, to stop.”

And that does not exhaust the government’s means of imposing its plans on schools.

Defending the sexbox

Alll Western countries are becoming less politically free, but France is doing so at a faster rate than most. The government has many tools for enforcing conformity. Twitter is capable of suppressing tweets at the request of governments in certain extreme cases, the website Atlantico reported in February, and last year, of 352 such requests worldwide, 306 came from France. Valls, the justice minister, has looked into banning Bourges’s French Spring group. The activist group Collectifdom sued the director Nicolas Bedos for opinions expressed in a magazine column that it considered an assault on “the honor of the Antilles.” These are tip-of-the-iceberg cases.

And consider what happened when Valls lectured the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the TV talk show Des paroles et des actes in February about France’s sterling record of welcoming the uprooted—Valls’s own family from Catalonia under Franco, Finkielkraut’s from Poland and Auschwitz. Finkielkraut agreed, but said that that didn’t entitle France to ignore those of French stock—the so-called français de souche. For having used that expression (and for having expressed the worry that France was turning into “the Soviet Union of antiracism”), Finkielkraut found himself in legal trouble—two high-ranking members of the Socialist party called for a sitting of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, a rough French equivalent of the FCC.

It is a bad sign that, when the ruling party clashes with freedom of expression in this way, the media tend to take the side of the ruling party. Le Monde’s newly active blog section has covered the popular movement against théorie du genre not as a clash of political opinions but as an epidemic of intox, or collective insanity. In column after column, the paper of the ruling class mocks people who are utterly shut out of decision-making for their attempts, necessarily based on partial information, to make sense of the mandates imposed on them. There is little attempt to address the large kernel of truth in what they say, no attempt to address directly the question of whether teachers indeed are imposing on their children an ideology about sexual matters. And there is no acknowledgment whatsoever that parents could ever have a legitimate interest in what their children are taught about sex in school. There are only restatements of the government viewpoint and worries about the mental health of its opponents.

Le Monde, for instance, notes that there is a rumor about children having to play with toy sex organs. False! “It’s probable that this rumor comes from Switzerland, where in the canton of Basel, sex-education teachers actually have at their disposal a ‘sexbox’ containing fabric stuffed sexual organs.” Le Monde’s blog linked to the left-wing site rue89 (recently bought by Le Monde), where a Swiss sexologist described the anti-gender-theory parents as groupuscules, or “splinter groups.” Parents, of course, are always groupuscules, usually consisting of two people, sometimes of one. The assumption here seems to be that parents are entitled to speak on their children’s behalf only as part of some nationwide patriotic front.

Probably the most interesting magazine in France now is the monthly Causeur, edited by Élisabeth Lévy, who has opened its columns to the best journalists, historians, and philosophers of left and right. Last month Lévy and her colleague Gil Mihaely interviewed Dieudonné. It was a hostile and highly enlightening conversation, Causeur having been more relentless than most French publications in attacking his (and others’) anti-Semitism over the past several years. But Bruno Roger-Petit of the Nouvel Observateur (also owned by Le Monde) saw interviewing Dieudonné as tantamount to endorsing him. He wrote of Lévy: “When you share the same goals—fighting ‘political correctness’—you wind up understanding one another.” So “fighting political correctness” (a fairly good synonym for “freedom of speech”) and Dieudonné’s kind of anti-Semitism are cast as virtual synonyms. Roger-Petit may well be interested in constraining Dieudonné. But he sounds less interested in constraining Dieudonné than in making sure that orthodox intellectuals not give up an iota of the professional advantage that political correctness affords them over independent thinkers like Lévy. A country whose intellectual and political leaders do not distinguish between Dieudonné and Élisabeth Lévy will have a hard time either disciplining extremists or accepting constructive criticism from any quarter.

France has, through political correctness, maneuvered itself into a bad position. In rough times, people fall back on what they have—savings, family, faith, various things that no decent government feels entitled to violate. What France is doing in the name of equal citizenship is ripping up every last refuge and source of identity people have. Its political leaders have met legitimate popular opposition to their plans not just with punishment but with ridicule, ostracism, and exclusion. Many of its intellectual leaders have fallen into line behind the politicians. For now, France’s leaders have managed to insulate some of their wilder schemes from popular complaint. It would be a mistake to consider that a triumph in any but the very short term.

Christopher Caldwell is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and the author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.

Voir aussi:

Anthony Weiner and the Frenchification of America

Richard Cohen

The Washington Post

May 23, 2013

Say what you will about Anthony Weiner — and I have — he is a stereotype buster. Until he announced this week that he would run for New York City mayor, it was still possible for anyone, particularly the French, to talk of American provincialism when it comes to sex and compare it to French sophistication, the prime example of that being François Mitterrand, president of the republic from 1981 to 1995. In addition to running the country and what was left of a once-vast colonial empire, Mitterrand kept a mistress with whom he fathered a daughter, Mazarine. This, not a baguette, was supposedly the essence of France.

Now, though, things have changed. Weiner is running for mayor only about two years after he was forced to quit Congress after tweeting pictures of himself in his undies to women across the county, none of whom he had met and some of whom might have been Republicans. The uproar over what he had done — he calls it a “mistake” — and his hounding from Congress fits very nicely with the old American stereotype about sex, but not his attempted comeback. Now we have become Frenchest of nations, and Weiner is running second in the polls — maybe on account of name recognition, maybe on account of recognition recognition.

Okay. We are talking New York. The front-runner is Christine Quinn, a lesbian who recently admitted to having been an alcoholic and bulimic. Another contender is Bill de Blasio, who is white and is married to Chirlane McCray, a black woman who in 1979 wrote an article for “Essence Magazine” entitled “I Am A Lesbian.” Presumably, she is now bisexual. Her husband should sweep the biracial bisexual vote, but only — because this is New York — if he is anti-police. On the other hand, Rudy Giuliani, who is definitely pro-police, opened his private life to public inspection back in 2000 when he ran — briefly — for the senate. He had had, like almost everyone, an affair.

Yes, New York is different — “The Bronx is up but the Battery’s down.” Still, take a look at South Carolina, not all that long ago a secessionist state. (You think I forgot?) There, Mark Sanford was elected this month to Congress after admitting an extra-marital affair while governor and disappearing from office. (He said he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail.) Like Weiner, he had to resign from everything while he was condemned, censored and ridiculed. But the voters, as opposed to the politicians, are more, well, French in their approach to such matters and cared more about Sanford’s loathing of taxes than his love for his once-mistress.

And then we come to David Vitter. He won re-election to the Senate from Louisiana in 2010 after being identified three years earlier as a client of a Washington, D.C., prostitution service. Without even Googling it, I can tell you that Vitter said he made a mistake and begged forgiveness. He also said the usual things about God. None of that matters. What matter is that he did a sex thing — and got away with it.

The most storied extramarital affair (or whatever) in American history has to be Bill Clinton’s whatever with Monica Lewinsky. He survived the attempt to oust him from office and left the presidency with highest ratings of any president since World War II. I have no doubt he could win election to any office in the country, including the presidency. (Okay, maybe not.)

As for the French, they are becoming more American. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was clearly relying on his country’s laissez-faire attitude toward sexual matters when he got caught giving a hotel maid an inappropriate tip and later admitting to a rambunctious sex life that had nothing to do with his wife. Not only did that abort Kahn’s political career — at least for now — but his extremely sophisticated wife divorced him. How thoroughly American of her!

Given the Frenchification of America — and given the dreariness of the mayoralty field in New York — Weiner might well win. He already has a $5 million war chest, but his chest, as we all know, is the least of him.

(I couldn’t help myself.)

The Frenchification of America

Onan Coca

Eagle rising

19 September 2013

In France being a jeweler is tough work – Christine Boquet, president of the union of jewelers and watchmakers, says that « The number of jewelry store robberies has been climbing for years. There’s one robbery a day in France… This creates enormous stress for the merchants. They live with this fear and insecurity every day. »

Earlier this summer, a lone gunman was able to get away with $136 million dollars worth of jewelry in the resort town of Cannes. Just last week in Paris, thieves drove an SUV into a store and stole $2.7 million dollars in goods. With one robbery a day happening in the country, and amounts like this being made off with… it’s enough to ruin a businessman.

Let all of that sink in as we learn the story of 67-year-old jeweler Stephan Turk. Turk is a jeweler in the city of Nice on France’s southern coast. A few days ago he was accosted by a thief in his store. As the thief made his escape, Turk pulled a gun and shot the man three times, killing him. An accomplice escaped on motorcycle. Now Turk is being brought up on charges of murder for the killing of the teenage criminal.

The prosecutor who is facing backlash from an angry public had this to say, « After he was threatened, the jeweler grabbed his firearm, moved toward the metal shutters, crouched and fired three times. He said he fired twice to immobilize the scooter and a third time he fired because he said he felt threatened… I’m convinced that he fired to kill his aggressor. When he fired, his life was no longer in danger.”

From the recounting of the story, I think the Prosecutor has the facts right, but the emotion wrong. The loss of millions or even thousands of dollars could be enough to drive a small businessman out of work. A crime like this could have a huge impact on the future of not just the business owner but the man’s family and employees as well. This is just one reason that in America, private property has always been sacrosanct… well, until very recently that is.

In the past couple of weeks we have seen a father in New Mexico charged with beating a man who was naked spying outside of his daughter’s window, and a Texas carjacking victim facing possible charges after killing his attacker. We must be careful to avoid the Frenchification of our justice system – our legal system is blind, but it is not stupid. Prosecutors and grand juries have the ability to look at the facts of the case and understand that in extreme situations, anything can happen. If a man or woman is accosted with a gun, then it is the criminal who has just turned the situation into a game of life or death. When the victim responds with deadly force, even if we outside observers believe the danger has passed… their psychic and emotional state must be taken into account.

Was deadly force necessary in the French jewelry heist? Maybe not, but the jeweler should not have to pay the penalty for the thief’s violent crime. No one would have lost their life that day, had the thief not attacked the jeweler. When we become confused about justice our entire social structure is put at risk.

Read more at http://eaglerising.com/1832/frenchification-america/#jSjTwR0jw5D4lRvL.99


Papauté: Après l’obamamanie, voici la papomanie ! (Esquire’s best dressed man of 2013 celebrates first year in office)

13 mars, 2014
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Nous vivons dans un système international injuste, au centre duquel trône l’argent-roi. (…) C’est une culture du jetable, qui rejette les jeunes comme les vieux. Dans certains pays d’Europe, […] toute une génération de jeunes gens est privée de la dignité que procure le travail. Pape François
Dans ce contexte, certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. En même temps, les exclus continuent à attendre. Pour pouvoir soutenir un style de vie  qui exclut les autres, ou pour pouvoir s’enthousiasmer avec cet idéal égoïste, on a développé une mondialisation de l’indifférence. Presque sans nous en apercevoir, nous devenons incapables d’éprouver de la compassion devant le cri de douleur des autres, nous ne pleurons plus devant le drame des autres, leur prêter attention ne nous intéresse pas, comme si tout nous était une responsabilité étrangère qui n’est pas de notre ressort. La culture du bien-être nous anesthésie et nous perdons notre calme si le marché offre quelque chose que nous n’avons pas encore acheté, tandis que toutes ces vies brisées par manque de possibilités nous semblent un simple spectacle qui ne nous trouble en aucune façon. Non à la nouvelle idolâtrie de l’argent. Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés. La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a à son origine une crise anthropologique profonde : la négation du primat de l’être humain ! Nous avons créé de nouvelles idoles. L’adoration de l’antique veau d’or (cf. Ex 32, 1-35) a trouvé une nouvelle et impitoyable version dans le fétichisme de l’argent et dans la dictature de l’économie sans visage et sans un but véritablement humain. (…) Alors que les gains d’un petit nombre s’accroissent exponentiellement, ceux de la majorité se situent de façon toujours plus éloignée du bien-être de cette heureuse minorité. Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des États chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et impla­cable. Pape François
Francis continues to talk about his wish for a “poor church”, a “church for the poor”. But lately he has spoken out on “greed” and “inequality”, social maladies due to “neoliberalism” and “unfettered capitalism”. If this is the direction in which he is going, one must worry about his view of the world. How does he understand it? Specifically, has he understood the basic fact: Capitalism has been most successful in producing sustained economic growth. And that it is this growth which has been most effective in greatly reducing poverty? Just where is there “unfettered capitalism” in the world today? It is in China. Since the economic reforms that began in 1979 China has been the clearest example of “unfettered capitalism” (or, if you will, of the “neoliberal Washington Consensus”). It is still “fettered” by the bulky presence of inefficient state-owned enterprises, debris of the socialist past, with privileged access to capital and government favors. Nevertheless the capitalist engine has been roaring on, the private sector of the economy that does not have to worry about the “fetters” imposed on it in Western democratic countries—an expensive welfare state, laws and regulations that inhibit growth, and free labor unions. And it is this capitalist sector of the Chinese economy that has lifted millions of people from degrading poverty to a decent level of material life. The Chinese regime is appalling in many ways, but not because of failure to deal with poverty. Does Francis understand any of this? Greed is a moral flaw that exists in any economic system. And inequality is not of great concern to most people; they are concerned about the quality of their own lives and the prospects for the future of their children, rather than the income or wealth of people across town (that concern is called envy, which, if I recall correctly, is also a sin). Peter Berger
Revenons sur l’analogie avec Obama. Comme Francois, le président américain a été une figure télégénique succédant à un prédécesseur impopulaire avec la promesse d’un changement radical. Comme Francois, il est passé incroyablement vite à la notoriété mondiale, avec une histoire personnelle compliquée pouvant être lue de plusieurs manières. Et comme Francois, il a inspiré un consensus presque étrange parmi les commentateurs. Les médias influents ont décidé qu’il était essentiellement un gars bien qu’ils ont jugé par la suite sur ses intentions et non sur ses réalisations, blamant largement ses échecs sur ses ennemis et l’appuyant à chaque fois qu’il en avait le plus besoin. Francois n’est pas, bien sûr, le nouvel Obama, mais il jouit de la même relation enchantée  avec les journalistes. Oui, la lune de miel se terminera, comme elle l’a fait avec le président, mais cela ressemble au début d’un long mariage heureux. (…) De toute évidence, les journalistes ont aussi un intérêt économique à poursuivre leur idylle avec le François fantasmagorique : les articles sur ce sujet se vendent bien. Après tout, il a été la personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet l’année dernière. Si l’on met en ligne une jolie photo de lui en train d’embrasser un enfant, ou si l’on arrive à se faire un selfie [autoportrait pris au téléphone portable] avec de jeunes admirateurs du pape au Vatican, le nombre de pages vues grimpe en flèche. François est devenu l’un des produits les plus vendeurs en ligne. Aucun blogueur ne voudrait casser le marché. Rush Limbaugh, conservateur américain et présentateur de radio, a accusé le pontife de prôner “un marxisme pur et dur”. De toute évidence, on avait affaire à un nouvel avatar du François fantasmagorique. Sous François, l’Eglise s’engage résolument à mettre en œuvre ce que les théologiens appellent “l’option préférentielle pour les pauvres”. Mais pour choisir cette option, l’Eglise doit courtiser les plus riches. Par exemple, quelques multimillionnaires généreux financent la plupart des initiatives catholiques en Angleterre et au pays de Galles. Il suffirait que l’un d’entre eux soit rebuté par l’image “marxiste” de François pour que l’Eglise soit en difficulté. Cet homme de 77 ans sait qu’il doit faire aboutir rapidement les réformes financières lancées par son prédécesseur Benoît XVI, remanier la curie romaine, imposer des normes mondiales rigoureuses sur la conduite à tenir face aux affaires de sévices sexuels commis par des prêtres, continuer à prôner la paix en Syrie, inviter les Israéliens et les Palestiniens à négocier pendant sa visite en Terre sainte, et superviser un synode marqué par les controverses, qui pourrait revoir la position de l’Eglise en ce qui concerne les catholiques divorcés et remariés. Entre-temps, le François fantasmagorique va supprimer des dogmes, attiser la lutte des classes et influencer les tendances de la mode masculine. Mais ne tombez pas dans le panneau : tout cela est une illusion tout aussi entretenue par les médias que l’idée selon laquelle l’Eglise catholique serait obsédée par le sexe et l’argent. Ce qui compte, ce sont les paroles et les actes du vrai François. Et cela devrait être plus intéressant que les inventions, même les plus captivantes. The Spectator

Après l’obamamanie, voici la papomanie !

Couverture de Rolling Stone, encensement par le Guardian (« nouveau héros évident de la gauche” pour remplacer remplacer les posters défraîchis d’Obama “sur les murs des chambres d’étudiants de par le monde”), personne de l’année à la fois du magazine d’information Time et du magazine homosexuel américain The Advocate, homme le mieux habillé de l’année pour Esquire, personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet …

Alors que, de Rolling Stone au Guardian et de Time à Esquire et à l’Advocate, la nouvelle idole de nos éditorialistes fait les couvertures de la presse de gauche bien-pensante …

Comment ne pas voir, en ce premier anniversaire de son élection et avec l’une des rares voix discordantes, la même image largement fantasmée qui nous avait été faite d’un certain messie noir et plus rapide prix Nobel de la paix de l’histoire?

VATICAN François l’illusionniste

Tolérant, progressiste, voire marxiste, le pape François est la nouvelle idole des éditorialistes de la gauche bien-pensante. Une image qui doit beaucoup à leur imagination, selon l’hebdomadaire conservateur.

The Spectator (extraits)

Luke Coppen

1I février 2014

Le 31 décembre 2013, les médias ont reçu une dépêche stupéfiante. Le Vatican démentait officiellement que le pape François ait l’intention d’abolir le péché. On aurait dit un canular, mais ce n’en était pas un. Qui avait poussé le Vatican à publier un commentaire sur quelque chose d’aussi improbable ? Il s’avère que c’est l’un des plus éminents journalistes d’Italie : Eugenio Scalfari, cofondateur du journal de gauche La Repubblica Son article s’intitulait “La Révolution de François : il a aboli le péché”.

Pourquoi un journaliste, et a fortiori un analyste aussi prestigieux que Scalfari, se serait-il imaginé que le pape avait jeté aux orties l’un des principes fondamentaux de la théologie chrétienne ? Eh bien, depuis son entrée en fonctions, l’année dernière, François a été promu au rang de superstar de la gauche libérale [libérale au sens anglo-saxon, c’est-à-dire réformiste]. Ses origines modestes (il a été videur), son aversion pour la pompe vaticane (il prépare lui-même ses spaghettis) et sa volonté de mettre en avant l’engagement de l’Eglise en faveur des pauvres a amené les gens de gauche, et même des athées comme ce Scalfari, à le croire aussi étranger qu’eux aux dogmes de l’Eglise. Autrement dit, ils pensent que le pape n’est pas catholique. L’année dernière, presque tous les commentateurs orientés à gauche sont tombés sous le charme de ce jésuite laveur de pieds. Article après article, ils projetaient leurs rêves les plus fous sur François.

En novembre, Jonathan Freedland, journaliste au Guardian, annonçait que François était “le nouveau héros évident de la gauche”. Pour lui, les portraits du souverain pontife devaient remplacer les posters défraîchis d’Obama “sur les murs des chambres d’étudiants de par le monde”. Quelques jours plus tard, François prononçait une homélie dénonçant ce qu’il appelait “le progressisme adolescent”. Mais les gens ne voient et n’entendent que ce qu’ils veulent et personne n’a rien remarqué.

Voilà comment on en est venu à faire du pape une idole de la gauche. Dès qu’il se montre fidèle à la doctrine catholique, ses fans de gauche font la sourde oreille. En décembre, le plus vieux magazine gay des Etats-Unis, The Advocate, a salué en François son homme de l’année, du fait de la compassion qu’il a exprimée envers les homosexuels. Ce n’était guère révolutionnaire : l’article 2358 du catéchisme de l’Eglise catholique appelle à traiter les gays “avec respect, compassion et sensibilité”. En se contentant de réaffirmer un enseignement catholique, François est devenu un héros. La palme de la glorification absurde revient aux journalistes d’Esquire, qui sont arrivés à faire passer pour l’homme le mieux habillé de l’année en 2013 une personnalité portant la même tenue tous les jours.

Certains experts ont remarqué le gouffre existant entre le François fantasmagorique, figure née de l’imagination de la gauche, et l’actuel occupant du trône de saint Pierre. James Bloodworth, rédacteur du blog politique Left Foot Forward, a récemment appelé ses pairs à tempérer leurs ardeurs. “Les positions du pape François sur la plupart des sujets ont de quoi faire dresser les cheveux sur la tête de n’importe quelle personne de gauche, écrit-il. Au lieu de cela, article après article, des journalistes dont on pourrait attendre un peu plus de vigilance nous servent la même guimauve.”

La remarque de Bloodworth annonce-t-elle un réveil des laïques ? Pendant un certain temps, il a paru inévitable que les fans du nouveau pape comprennent qu’il n’était pas sur le point de donner sa bénédiction aux femmes prêtres, à l’usage du préservatif, au mariage gay ou à l’avortement, et qu’ils se retournent alors contre lui. Or cela paraît peu probable. Maintenant qu’ils ont inventé le François fantasmagorique, ses sympathisants de gauche ne vont peut-être plus jamais vouloir tuer leur création.

De toute évidence, les journalistes ont aussi un intérêt économique à poursuivre leur idylle avec le François fantasmagorique : les articles sur ce sujet se vendent bien. Après tout, il a été la personnalité la plus débattue sur Internet l’année dernière. Si l’on met en ligne une jolie photo de lui en train d’embrasser un enfant, ou si l’on arrive à se faire un selfie [autoportrait pris au téléphone portable] avec de jeunes admirateurs du pape au Vatican, le nombre de pages vues grimpe en flèche. François est devenu l’un des produits les plus vendeurs en ligne. Aucun blogueur ne voudrait casser le marché.

Rush Limbaugh, conservateur américain et présentateur de radio, a accusé le pontife de prôner “un marxisme pur et dur”. De toute évidence, on avait affaire à un nouvel avatar du François fantasmagorique. Sous François, l’Eglise s’engage résolument à mettre en œuvre ce que les théologiens appellent “l’option préférentielle pour les pauvres”. Mais pour choisir cette option, l’Eglise doit courtiser les plus riches. Par exemple, quelques multimillionnaires généreux financent la plupart des initiatives catholiques en Angleterre et au pays de Galles. Il suffirait que l’un d’entre eux soit rebuté par l’image “marxiste” de François pour que l’Eglise soit en difficulté.

Cet homme de 77 ans sait qu’il doit faire aboutir rapidement les réformes financières lancées par son prédécesseur Benoît XVI, remanier la curie romaine, imposer des normes mondiales rigoureuses sur la conduite à tenir face aux affaires de sévices sexuels commis par des prêtres, continuer à prôner la paix en Syrie, inviter les Israéliens et les Palestiniens à négocier pendant sa visite en Terre sainte, et superviser un synode marqué par les controverses, qui pourrait revoir la position de l’Eglise en ce qui concerne les catholiques divorcés et remariés.

Entre-temps, le François fantasmagorique va supprimer des dogmes, attiser la lutte des classes et influencer les tendances de la mode masculine. Mais ne tombez pas dans le panneau : tout cela est une illusion tout aussi entretenue par les médias que l’idée selon laquelle l’Eglise catholique serait obsédée par le sexe et l’argent. Ce qui compte, ce sont les paroles et les actes du vrai François. Et cela devrait être plus intéressant que les inventions, même les plus captivantes.

Voir aussi:

Sorry — but Pope Francis is no liberal

Trendy commentators have fallen in love with a pope of their own invention

Luke Coppen

11 January 2014

On the last day of 2013, one of the weirdest religious stories for ages appeared on the news wires. The Vatican had officially denied that Pope Francis intended to abolish sin. It sounded like a spoof, but wasn’t. Who had goaded the Vatican into commenting on something so improbable? It turned out to be one of Italy’s most distinguished journalists: Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder of the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica, who had published an article entitled ‘Francis’s Revolution: he has abolished sin’.

Why would anyone, let alone a very highly regarded thinker and writer like Scalfari, believe the Pope had done away with such a basic tenet of Christian theology? Well, since he took charge last year, Francis has been made into a superstar of the liberal left. His humble background (he is a former bouncer), his dislike for the trappings of office (he cooks his own spaghetti) and his emphasis on the church’s concern for the poor has made liberals, even atheists like Scalfari, suppose that he is as hostile to church dogma as they are. They assume, in other words, that the Pope isn’t Catholic. Last year few left-leaning commentators could resist falling for the foot-washing Jesuit from Buenos Aires. In column after column they projected their deepest hopes on to Francis — he is, they think, the man who will finally bring enlightened liberal values to the Catholic church.

In November Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland argued that Francis was ‘the obvious new hero of the left’ and that portraits of the Supreme Pontiff should replace fading Obama posters on ‘the walls of the world’s student bedrooms’. Just days later Francis preached a homily denouncing what he called ‘adolescent progressivism’, but people see and hear what they want to, so no one took any notice of that.

That is how the Pope has come to be spun as a left-liberal idol. Whenever he proves himself loyal to Catholic teaching — denouncing abortion, for instance, or saying that same-sex marriage is an ‘anthropological regression’ — his liberal fan base turns a deaf ear. Last month America’s oldest gay magazine, the Advocate, hailed Francis as its person of the year because of the compassion he had expressed towards homosexuals. It was hardly a revolution: Article 2358 of the Catholic church’s catechism calls for gay people to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’. In simply restating Catholic teaching, however, Francis was hailed as a hero. When a Maltese bishop said the Pope had told him he was ‘shocked’ by the idea of gay adoption, that barely made a splash. Time magazine, too, made Francis person of the year, hailing him for his ‘rejection of Church dogma’ — as if he had declared that from now on there would be two rather than three Persons of the Holy Trinity. But for cockeyed lionisation of Francis it would be hard to beat the editors of Esquire, who somehow managed to convince themselves that a figure who wears the same outfit every day was the best dressed man of 2013.

Some pundits have noticed the gulf between what you might call the Fantasy Francis — the figure conjured up by liberal imagination — and the actual occupant of the Chair of St Peter. James Bloodworth, editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward, recently urged his journalistic allies to show some restraint. ‘Pope Francis’s position on most issues should make the hair of every liberal curl,’ he wrote. ‘Instead we get article after article of saccharine from people who really should know better.’

Is Bloodworth’s remark a sign of a coming secular backlash against the new Pope? For a while, it seemed inevitable that the new Pope’s fans would come to realise he is not about to bless women bishops, condom use, gay marriage and abortion — and then they would turn on him. Now, that seems unlikely. Having invented the Fantasy Francis, his liberal well-wishers may never want to kill off their creation.

Consider the Obama analogy. Like Francis, the US president was a telegenic figure who followed an unpopular predecessor with a promise of radical change. Like Francis, he rose to worldwide prominence with incredible speed, bringing a complicated personal history that could be read in multiple ways. And like Francis, he inspired an almost eerie consensus among the commentariat. The most influential media outlets decided he was essentially a decent guy and judged him thereafter on his intentions rather than his achievements, blamed his failures largely on his enemies and backed him whenever he needed it most. Francis is not, of course, the new Obama, but he enjoys the same charmed relationship with journalists. Yes, the honeymoon will end, as it did with the president, but this looks like the start of a happy, lifelong marriage.

There’s only one case I can think of in which the media would turn on Francis: in the unlikely event that his private character were dramatically at odds with his public persona. He would have to be caught, say, building a death ray in the Vatican Gardens. (Even then some outlets would present it in the best possible light: ‘Pope Francis develops radical cure for human suffering.’)

Journalists also have a clear economic motive for sticking with the Fantasy Francis narrative: people will pay to read about it. After all, he was the most discussed person on the internet last year. Post a cute photo of him hugging a child, or posing for a ‘selfie’ with young admirers in the Vatican, and you’ll see a satisfying spike in page views. Francis has become one of the world’s most reliable online commodities. What sensible hack would want to threaten that?

Actually, Pope Francis has already survived a secular backlash. Barely an hour after he first appeared on the balcony above St Peter’s Square last March, the editor of the Guardian tweeted: ‘Was Pope Francis an accessory to murder and false imprisonment?’ The answer was ‘no’, of course. But allegations about Francis’s behaviour during Argentina’s Dirty War featured in bulletins for the next 24 hours, before fizzling out. The backlash lasted one entire news cycle. The idea of a left-wing pope, who had come to tear down the temple he inherited, turned out to be a far better story.

Perhaps the real challenge for the Pope this year will come from a different quarter. In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis criticised ‘trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice’. In classic Vatican style, that was a mistranslation of the original Spanish, which rejected the theory that ‘economic growth, encouraged by a free market alone’, would ensure more justice.

Such nuances didn’t concern the American conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who accused the Pontiff of espousing ‘pure Marxism’. Clearly this was just another version of the Fantasy Francis — a misapprehension of the man and his message that the Catholic hierarchy has done little to correct. But there is a price to be paid in allowing such myths to grow — a price that may have been paid, for example, by the Archdiocese of New York, which may have lost a seven-figure donation. According to Ken Langone, who is trying to raise $180 million to restore the city’s Catholic cathedral, one potential donor said he was so offended by the Pope’s alleged comments that he was reluctant to chip in.

Under Francis, the church is deeply committed to what theologians call ‘the preferential option for the poor’. But in order to opt for the poor, the church has to court the super-rich. A few generous multi-millionaires, for example, fund most of the major Catholic initiatives in England and Wales (including a significant part of Benedict XVI’s state visit in 2010). If just one of them was put off by the distorted ‘Marxist’ image of Francis, the church here would be in trouble.

Of course if those who caricature the church as bigoted and uncaring are forced to take a second look, then Pope Francis can claim he is doing his job. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, says that Roman Catholicism had been ‘out-marketed’ by its Hollywood critics — but now Pope Francis is changing the tone, without changing the substance.

But while the Pontiff has succeeded in appealing to those outside the church, his boldness has upset some within it. The Vatican analyst John Allen describes this as the Pope’s ‘older son problem’ — a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the faithful brother gripes when his father welcomes back the wayward one. Allen writes that ‘Francis basically has killed the fatted calf for the prodigal sons and daughters of the postmodern world, reaching out to gays, women, non-believers, and virtually every other constituency inside and outside the church that has felt alienated.’ But some Catholics feel Francis is taking their loyalty for granted. ‘In the Gospel parable,’ Allen notes, ‘the father eventually notices his older son’s resentment and pulls him aside to assure him: “Everything I have is yours.” At some stage, Pope Francis may need to have such a moment with his own older sons (and daughters).’

You might think: why bother? The Pope should be focused on reaching out to the alienated, rather than on tending his followers’ wounded egos and stressing that he has not come to tear down Catholic teaching. But Francis needs an eager workforce if he is to realise his beautiful vision of the church as ‘a field hospital after battle’.

Catholics are having just as much trouble as everyone else distinguishing the real Francis. Just last week a devout, well–informed laywoman asked me if it was true that Francis had denied the existence of hell. It turned out that the Pope had overturned 2,000 years of Christian teaching at the end of the ‘Third Vatican Council’ — as reported exclusively by the ‘largely satirical’ blog Diversity Chronicle.

The true Francis will be moving fast throughout this year. The 77-year-old knows he must quickly finish the financial reforms launched by his predecessor Benedict XVI, overhaul the Roman Curia (which liberals and conservatives agree is in desperate need of reform), impose rigorous global norms on the handling of clerical sex abuse cases, continue to press for peace in Syria, nudge Israelis and Palestinians closer to an agreement during his Holy Land visit and oversee a contentious synod of bishops that could shift the Church’s approach to divorced and remarried Catholics.

Meanwhile, the Fantasy Francis will continue to throw out dogmas, agitate for class war and set trends in men’s fashion. But don’t be fooled: this is as much of a media-driven illusion as the idea that the Catholic church is obsessed by sex and money. What matters is what the real Francis says and does. And that should be more interesting than even the most gripping invention.

Luke Coppen is editor of the Catholic Herald.

Le Pape s’attaque à la « tyrannie » des marchés

Giulietta Gamberini

La Tribune

26/11/2013

Le capitalisme débridé est « une nouvelle tyrannie » selon le Pape François qui, dans un texte publié mardi, invite les leaders du monde entier à lutter contre la pauvreté et les inégalités croissantes.

Depuis son élection en mars, le Pape François avait déjà ponctué ses sermons de critiques contre l’économie capitaliste. Dans sa première exhortation apostolique, appelée Evangelii Gaudium (La joie de l’Evangile) et rendue publique ce mardi, il dessine nettement sa vision économique et sociale et appelle à l’action l’Eglise comme les leaders politiques. L’inégalité sociale y figure notamment comme l’une des questions tenant le plus à cœur au nouveau pontife, qui exhorte à une révision radicale du système économique et financier.

Non à une économie de l’exclusion

« Certains défendent encore les théories de la « rechute favorable », qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant ».

Les intérêts du « marché divinisé » sont transformés en règle absolue, condamne le Pape, produisant un système inégalitaire où les exclus, pire que les exploités, deviennent des « déchets ».

« Il n’est pas possible que le fait qu’une personne âgée réduite à vivre dans la rue meure de froid ne soit pas une nouvelle, tandis que la baisse de deux points en bourse en soit une. »

Contre l’économie de l’exclusion et de la disparité sociale, le chef de l’Eglise va jusqu’à invoquer le cinquième commandement du décalogue chrétien « Tu ne tueras point » puisque, souligne-t-il, un tel système finit aussi par tuer.

Non à la nouvelle idolâtrie de l’argent

« La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a à son origine une crise anthropologique profonde : la négation du primat de l’être humain ! »

Le Pape regrette surtout que les objectifs humanistes de l’économie soient perdus de vue et que l’être humain soit réduit à l’un seul de ses besoins : la consommation. La négation du droit de contrôle des Etats, chargés de préserver le bien commun, par la « nouvelle tyrannie invisible », « parfois virtuelle », de l’autonomie absolue des marchés et de la spéculation financière y est pour beaucoup selon le Pape, qui pointe aussi la corruption et l’évasion fiscale.

« Une réforme financière qui n’ignore pas l’éthique demanderait un changement vigoureux d’attitude de la part des dirigeants politiques, que j’exhorte à affronter ce défi avec détermination et avec clairvoyance, sans ignorer, naturellement, la spécificité de chaque contexte. »

Le pontife invite notamment à revenir à une économie et à une finance humanistes ainsi qu’à la solidarité désintéressée.

Non à la disparité sociale qui engendre la violence

« Quand la société – locale, nationale ou mondiale – abandonne dans la périphérie une partie d’elle-même, il n’y a ni programmes politiques, ni forces de l’ordre ou d’intelligence qui puissent assurer sans fin la tranquillité ».

Le Pape François met en garde contre la violence sociale, qui ne pourra jamais être éradiquée, au niveau national comme mondial, tant que l’exclusion et la disparité sociales persistent, empêchant tout développement durable et pacifique.

« Les revendications sociales qui ont un rapport avec la distribution des revenus, l’intégration sociale des pauvres et les droits humains ne peuvent pas être étouffées sous prétexte de construire un consensus de bureau ou une paix éphémère, pour une minorité heureuse ».

Une paix sociale obtenue par l’imposition serait fausse selon le suprême pasteur de l’Eglise, la dignité humaine et le bien commun se situant au-dessus de la tranquillité des catégories privilégiées.

Oui à une redistribution des revenus

« La croissance dans l’équité exige quelque chose de plus que la croissance économique, bien qu’elle la suppose ; elle demande des décisions, des programmes, des mécanismes et des processus spécifiquement orientés vers une meilleure distribution des revenus, la création d’opportunités d’emplois, une promotion intégrale des pauvres qui dépasse le simple assistanat »

Les plans d’assistance ne peuvent plus représenter que des solutions provisoires selon le Pape, qui appelle les gouvernants comme le pouvoir financier à agir pour assurer à tous les citoyens un travail digne, une instruction et une assistance sanitaire.

« L’économie, comme le dit le mot lui-même, devrait être l’art d’atteindre une administration adéquate de la maison commune, qui est le monde entier. »

Les conséquences que toute action économique d’envergure produit sur la totalité de la planète invitent les gouvernements à assumer leur responsabilité commune, rappelle le pontife.

Mais l’Eglise aussi, souligne le Pape, doit profondément se rénover et reprendre contact avec la réalité sociale, notamment la hiérarchie du Vatican.

Evangelii Gaudium

Cette fois, c’est sûr : le pape François est socialiste

Clément Guillou

Rue89

27/11/2013

Le pape François n’est pas encore marxiste, même s’il a déclaré il y a peu que les hommes étaient des esclaves devant « se libérer des structures économiques et sociales qui nous réduisent en esclavage ».

Mais depuis l’exhortation apostolique publiée mardi par le Vatican, on peut affirmer sans crainte que le pape François est farouchement antilibéral et même… socialiste.

Il est des passages encore plus révolutionnaires dans ce premier texte majeur du pontificat de François, à en croire les journalistes accrédités au Vatican, mais celui-ci m’intéresse davantage.

Dès le chapitre 2, il se lance dans une longue diatribe contre le modèle économique « qui tue ». Extraits :

« De même que le commandement de “ne pas tuer” pose une limite claire pour assurer la valeur de la vie humaine, aujourd’hui, nous devons dire “non à une économie de l’exclusion et de la disparité sociale”. Une telle économie tue. »

Notre confiance en la bonté des puissants

Le pape François s’en prend ensuite à la théorie libérale du « trickle down [l’expression employée dans la version anglaise, d’ordinaire traduite par “ruissellement”, ici par “rechute favorable”, ndlr] ».

Cette théorie économique, qui stipule que les revenus des plus riches contribuent indirectement à enrichir les plus pauvres, a justifié l’action de Margaret Thatcher et Ronald Reagan et les libéraux la considèrent encore comme valable :

« Dans ce contexte, certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde.

Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. En même temps, les exclus continuent à attendre. »

Puisqu’on ne peut pas faire confiance au marché ni à ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique pour enrichir les plus pauvres, il faut revenir à plus d’Etat. L’air de rien, le pape explique que ce sont la régulation économique et la redistribution des richesses qui peuvent diminuer l’exclusion, pas la charité :

« Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des Etats chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et implacable. »

« L’argent doit servir, non pas gouverner ! »

Et puis tant qu’à faire, François recommande aussi d’abandonner l’austérité et le dogme des 3% de déficit :

« De plus, la dette et ses intérêts éloignent les pays des possibilités praticables par leur économie et les citoyens de leur pouvoir d’achat réel. S’ajoutent à tout cela une corruption ramifiée et une évasion fiscale égoïste qui ont atteint des dimensions mondiales. »

Conclusion :

« Une réforme financière qui n’ignore pas l’éthique demanderait un changement vigoureux d’attitude de la part des dirigeants politiques, que j’exhorte à affronter ce défi avec détermination et avec clairvoyance, sans ignorer, naturellement, la spécificité de chaque contexte. L’argent doit servir et non pas gouverner ! »

De l’anticommunisme à l’anticapitalisme

Bien sûr, le Vatican délivre de plus en plus souvent des messages économiques depuis la crise financière de 2008, allant même jusqu’à proposer ses solutions pour la régulation.

Mais François semble leur accorder une importance primordiale, qualifiant le chômage des jeunes et la solitude des personnes âgées de « plus grandes afflictions du monde actuellement ».

Farouchement anticommuniste, Jean-Paul II avait défendu le rôle du marché et la propriété privée, tout en mettant en garde contre les leurres de la société de consommation et en insistant sur l’importance d’apporter un cadre législatif et éthique strict respectueux de la liberté humaine.

Benoît XVI, lui, « semblait critiquer autant l’Etat que le marché ; François oriente considérablement son propos, pour dire que le marché a bien plus de pouvoir que l’Etat », observe un professeur de théologie interrogé par le Wall Street Journal.

La journaliste de The Atlantic Heather Horn, qui maîtrise mieux que moi son histoire de l’économie, y voit beaucoup de rapprochements avec les thèses de l’économiste hongrois Karl Polanyi, adepte d’un socialisme démocratique :

au lieu que ce soit le marché qui aide les gens à vivre mieux, ce sont les gens qui s’adaptent au marché ;

nos problèmes [la Première Guerre mondiale pour Polanyi, la crise actuelle pour François, ndlr] viennent du fait que le marché est au cœur de l’économie, et non l’homme ;

la théorie du marché absolument libre, déconnecté de la société, « détruirait physiquement l’homme et transformerait son environnement en monde sauvage », écrivait Polanyi, tandis que le pape note que « dans ce système, qui tend à tout phagocyter dans le but d’accroître les bénéfices, tout ce qui est fragile, comme l’environnement, reste sans défense ».

Le passage de l’anticommunisme à l’anticapitalisme, raconté par The Atlantic, doit évidemment se lire à l’aune des ravages de l’une et l’autre doctrine. Il n’en reste pas moins que, pour le Vatican, c’est une sacrée évolution.

Is Liberation theology resurgent ?

Two German Cardinals, and a Peruvian Dominican

Peter Berger

The American interest

December 4, 2013

The British Catholic journal The Tablet (which I have found to be a reliable and balanced source for what goes on in the Roman world) carried a story in its November 23, 2013, issue by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, its correspondent in Germany. Titled “Mueller vs. Marx: Clash of the Titans”, the story reports on a public disagreement between Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, president of the European Bishops’ Conference and recent appointee to Pope Francis’ eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals. Whether these two men merit the label “titans” will not be immediately clear to non-Catholics; it will be to those who look to Rome for criteria for what is important: The CDF (which was headed by Benedict XVI before his elevation to the papacy) is the Church’s watchdog for doctrinal orthodoxy; Munich is the largest German diocese.

The disagreement is over the issue of whether divorced Catholics should continue to be barred from receiving communion, as canon law presently mandates. Mueller takes a hardline position on this: Appeals to “mercy” must not override this affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage. Marx, very much in tune with recent remarks by Pope Francis, has said that the issue should not be considered as closed. If there is a list of intra-Catholic issues that outsiders could not care about less, this probably heads the list. I have not thought about it, and I will hardly do so in the future: Catholics should be left alone to decide whom they admit to their sacramental commensality. But something else caught my attention: What Mueller and Marx have in common despite their doctrinal differences: an affinity with the teachings of Gustavo Gutierrez. That is a matter that everyone, Catholic or non-Catholic, with an interest in public policy should care about very much.

Gustavo Gutierrez was born in Lima, Peru, in 1928. A Dominican priest, he ministered to poor people in the slums. He also had higher education in his own country and in Europe, and is still on the faculty of Notre Dame in the US. In 1971 he published his enormously influential book, A Theology of Liberation, which became the founding document for the theological school of that name; Gutierrez is rightly seen as a founder of the school, which became a movement. He also advocated the so-called “preferential option for the poor” (“la opcion preferencial para los pobres”), which proposed that the Church should pay primary attention to the interests of the poor. It became the slogan for the Catholic left in Latin America and beyond, and was solemnly agreed upon at the conference of Latin American bishops (CELAM) in Medellin, Colombia, in 1968. Rome was from the beginning skeptical about the movement, not for its concern for the poor, but for its adoption of a Marxist interpretation of the contemporary world—“unjust social structures” equated with capitalism—and for the advocacy by some of its followers for class struggle and socialist revolution. The CDF, under then Cardinal Ratzinger, criticized Liberation Theology in 1984 and 1986. I don’t know how far Gutierrez himself endorsed the more radical versions of his theology, but he certainly became an idol for those who did.

Strange as this may seem, what the two cardinals in the Tablet story have in common is, precisely, sympathy with the ideas of Gustavo Gutierrez. Mueller met the latter on a visit to Lima, where he was impressed by his encounters with the “poorest of the poor”. He has repeatedly visited Peru and maintained his relationship with Gutierrez. He has not directly embraced Liberation Theology, but he has started the process toward the sanctification of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated by a right-wing death squad in 1980 and has become an object of veneration by the Catholic left. Marx has published a tongue-in-cheek letter to his namesake Karl, saying that the latter’s ideas have been rejected too broadly. He has sharply criticized “neoliberalism” and “turbo-capitalism”. Most interestingly, he has co-authored a book with Gutierrez! [I have not read this book. I spend some time reading things for my blog, but I’m afraid there are limits.] I understand that this book develops the core idea of Liberation Theology—the “solidarity with the poor”. Marx is apparently a folksy character; he enjoys attending the annual Munich Beer Festival, guzzling that beverage to the ear-shattering sound of Bavarian folk music. [Speaking as a Viennese, this doesn’t necessarily endear him to me.]

What emerges here is the possibility of an axis between theological conservatism and political leftism. Is this where the Catholic Church is heading?

A few months ago I wrote a post on this blog, asking whether the pontificate of Francis I heralds a new opening for Liberation Theology. I cautiously suggested that this may not be the case, though the jury is still out. Francis’ identification with the poor is not necessarily linked to leftist ideology. Even the “preferential option”, understood as a general moral rather than specifically political orientation, is hardly surprising in any follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

There is evidence that Francis showed little if any sympathy for Liberation Theology in his native Argentina. Then as now, he showed personal identification with the most marginal people in society—it is not accidental that as pope he chose the name of the saint known as “poverello” (“the little poor one”). So far, so good. So far, I don’t feel compelled to retract my earlier assessment of the present papacy. But I’m getting a bit worried.

Presumably worrisome: In September 2013 Francis received Gustavo Gutierrez in a private audience. A sign of personal favor? Or a move to avoid criticisms by conservatives? Or another attempt to draw back into the Church a constituency on the left with grievances? (After all, there has been a long campaign to reconcile the papacy with the right-wing critics of Vatican II.) Francis continues to talk about his wish for a “poor church”, a “church for the poor”. But lately he has spoken out on “greed” and “inequality”, social maladies due to “neoliberalism” and “unfettered capitalism”. If this is the direction in which he is going, one must worry about his view of the world. How does he understand it? Specifically, has he understood the basic fact: Capitalism has been most successful in producing sustained economic growth. And that it is this growth which has been most effective in greatly reducing poverty? Just where is there “unfettered capitalism” in the world today? It is in China. Since the economic reforms that began in 1979 China has been the clearest example of “unfettered capitalism” (or, if you will, of the “neoliberal Washington Consensus”). It is still “fettered” by the bulky presence of inefficient state-owned enterprises, debris of the socialist past, with privileged access to capital and government favors. Nevertheless the capitalist engine has been roaring on, the private sector of the economy that does not have to worry about the “fetters” imposed on it in Western democratic countries—an expensive welfare state, laws and regulations that inhibit growth, and free labor unions. And it is this capitalist sector of the Chinese economy that has lifted millions of people from degrading poverty to a decent level of material life. The Chinese regime is appalling in many ways, but not because of failure to deal with poverty. Does Francis understand any of this? Greed is a moral flaw that exists in any economic system. And inequality is not of great concern to most people; they are concerned about the quality of their own lives and the prospects for the future of their children, rather than the income or wealth of people across town (that concern is called envy, which, if I recall correctly, is also a sin).

I continue to think that Francis’ view of the world is to the right of the Liberation Theology movement. But the papacy is very much a “bully pulpit”. If the Pope continues to make leftist noises, he will give encouragement to the leftist wave that has (predictably) risen as a result of the economic crises of the last five years. These certainly are cause for reform of the capitalist economy, especially its financial industry, but not for a return to the poverty-enhancing policies of socialist utopianism. As far as I know, the agency called “Iustitia et Pax” (“Justice and Peace”) has been a niche of leftist ideas in the complex bureaucracy of the Vatican. It would be very unfortunate if Francis, wittingly or not, caused this niche to expand.

Voir aussi:

The Denominational Imperative

Peter Berger

The American interest

November 20, 2013

On November 11, 2013, Religion News Service reprinted an Associated Press story by Gillian Flaccus on the development of “atheist mega-churches”. These have the rather revealing name “Sunday Assemblies” (perhaps an allusion to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God—in the hope of emulating the success of the latter?). The story described a recent gathering of this type in Los Angeles: “It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.” Apparently there now are similar “churches” in other US locations. The movement (if it can be called that) began in Britain earlier this year, founded by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two prominent comedians (I am not making this up). The pair is currently on a fundraising tour in America and Australia.

The AP story links this development to the growth of the “nones” in the US—that is, people who say “none” when asked for their religious affiliation in a survey. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (a major center for religious demography) found that 20% of Americans fall under that category. But, as the story makes clear, it would be a mistake to understand all these people to be atheists. A majority of them believes in God and says that they are “spiritual but not religious”. All one can say with confidence is that these are individuals who have not found a religious community that they like. Decided atheists are a very small minority in this country, and a shrinking one worldwide. And I would think that most in this group are better described as agnostics (they don’t know whether God exists) rather than atheists (those who claim to know that he doesn’t). I further think that the recent flurry of avowed atheists writing bestselling books or suing government agencies on First Amendment grounds should not be seen as a great cultural wave, in America or anywhere else (let them just dream of competing with the mighty tsunami of Pentecostal Christianity sweeping over much of our planet).

How then is one to understand the phenomenon described in the story? I think there are two ways of understanding it. First, there is the lingering notion of Sunday morning as a festive ceremony of the entire family. This notion has deep cultural roots in Christian-majority countries (even if, especially in Europe, this notion is rooted in nostalgia rather than piety). Many people who would not be comfortable participating in an overtly Christian worship service still feel that something vaguely resembling it would be a good program to attend once a week, preferably en famille. Thus a Unitarian was once described as someone who doesn’t play golf and must find something else to do on Sunday morning. This atheist gathering in Los Angeles is following a classic American pattern originally inspired by Protestant piety—lay people being sociable in a church (or in this case quasi-church) setting. They are on their best behavior, exhibiting the prototypical “Protestant smile”. This smile has long ago migrated from its original religious location to grace the faces of Catholics, Jews and adherents of more exotic faiths. It has become a sacrament of American civility. It would be a grave error to call it “superficial” or “false”. Far be it from me to begrudge atheists their replication of it.

However, there is a more important aspect to the aforementioned phenomenon: Every community of value, religious or otherwise, becomes a denomination in America. Atheists, as they want public recognition, begin to exhibit the characteristics of a religious denomination: They form national organizations, they hold conferences, they establish local branches (“churches”, in common parlance) which hold Sunday morning services—and they want to have atheist chaplains in universities and the military. As good Americans, they litigate to protect their constitutional rights. And they smile while they are doing all these things.

As far as I know, the term “denomination” is an innovation of American English. In classical sociology of religion, in the early 20th-entury writings of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch, religious institutions were described as coming in two types: the “church”, a large body open to the society into which an individual is born, and the ”sect”, a smaller group set aside from the society which an individual chooses to join. The historian Richard Niebuhr, in 1929, published a book that has become a classic, The Social Sources of Denominationalism. It is a very rich account of religious history, but among many other contributions, Niebuhr argued that America has produced a third type of religious institutions—the denomination—which has some qualities derived from both the Weber-Troeltsch types: It is a large body not isolated from society, but it is also a voluntary association which individuals chose to join. It can also be described as a church which, in fact if not theologically, accepts the right of other churches to exist. This distinctive institution, I would propose, is the result of a social and a political fact. The denomination is an institutional formation seeking to adapt to pluralism—the largely peaceful coexistence of diverse religious communities in the same society. The denomination is protected in a pluralist situation by the political and legal guarantee of religious freedom. Pluralism is the product of powerful forces of modernity—urbanization, migration, mass literacy and education; it can exist without religious freedom, but the latter clearly enhances it. While Niebuhr was right in seeing the denomination as primarily an American invention, it has now become globalized—because pluralism has become a global fact. The worldwide explosion of Pentecostalism, which I mentioned before, is a prime example of global pluralism—ever splitting off into an exuberant variety of groupings.

The British sociologist David Martin has written about what he called the “Amsterdam-London-Boston axis”—that offspring of the Protestant Reformation that did not eventuate in state churches—the free churches, all voluntary associations, which played an enormous role in the British colonies in North America and came to full fruition in the United States. This form of Protestantism has pluralism in its sociological DNA. One could say that it has a built-in denominational imperative: “Go forth and multiply”. American Protestant history is one of churches splitting apart, merging, splitting apart again. Churches have divided over doctrinal differences, ethnic or regional ones, or because of moral or political differences. Almost all Protestant churches split over the issue of slavery in the 19th century, as they divide now over what I call issues south of the navel. American Lutheranism was for a long time split into ethnically defined synods, though this has now been replaced by basic doctrinal disagreements. Roman Catholicism has been protected from Protestant denominationalism by its centralized hierarchy, but it has become “Protestantized” in a different way: Against its deepest ecclesiological instincts, it has become de facto a voluntary association—with the result that its lay people have become vocally uppity. Even American Jews have organized in at least four denominations. (Joke: An American Jew stranded on a desert island built two synagogues, one in which he goes to pray, the other in which he would not be found dead), Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus in America have all fallen into the denominational pattern. The same pattern appears in secular movements (for example, the various “denominations” of American psychotherapy). Even witches have managed to create a denomination, Wiccan (I understand that they want the right to appoint chaplains for hospitals or in the military). Why should atheists be an exception?

The First Amendment is the icon invoked by all denominations in America. But its basic legal principle is reflected in everyday American mores. When I came to America as a young man, someone told me: “If you don’t want to do something, just say that it’s against your religion”. I had difficulty imagining a situation in which I could plausibly use this recommendation. I asked: “But won’t they ask what my religion is?” The response: “They wouldn’t dare.”

Voir également:

BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics

Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999, 135 p.

Sébastien Fath

p. 71-73

Référence(s) :

BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999, 135 p.

Cet ouvrage collectif, au titre provoquant, est le résultat d’une commande. Il répond au souhait de la Greve Foundation (alors présidée par John Kitzer), relayé par le Foreign Policy Institute de la John Hopkins University, d’inventorier (et d’expliquer) les nombreux phénomènes de vitalité religieuse sur la scène politique mondiale. C’est l’Ethic and Public Policy Center (présidé par Elliott Abrams, Washington D.C.) qui fut chargé de répondre à cette demande, ce dont il s’acquitta en confiant la tâche à P.L.B. et à une équipe de conférenciers. Ce livre, qui regroupe les différentes contributions rassemblées à l’initiative de Berger, défend une thèse : celle, non pas de la « désécularisation » du monde (contrairement au titre), mais du maintien vigoureux du religieux « traditionnel » sur la scène publique de très nombreux pays. Cette hypothèse est essentiellement présentée, et théorisée, par P.L.B. lui-même, dans une ample introduction.

D’après P.L.B., le monde d’aujourd’hui est « aussi furieusement religieux que toujours » (p. 2). Ce qui vaut à l’auteur un rapide mea culpa. dans la mesure où il s’est montré, par le passé, l’un des partisans les plus pénétrants de la théorie de la sécularisation, qu’il considère aujourd’hui comme globalement erronée. En effet, l’idée que la modernisation de la société conduise nécessairement au déclin de la religion dans l’espace public et dans la sphère individuelle s’est, d’après lui, avérée « fausse » (p. 3), les faits montrant au contraire une permanence vigoureuse (et parfois même un développement) du rôle des religions dans les sociétés humaines. Cette permanence n’a pas été uniforme : reprenant les hypothèses développées notamment par Roger Fink et Rodney Stark, il souligne que les religions qui ont cherché à s’aligner sur les valeurs de la modernité ont globalement « échoué », tandis que celles qui ont maintenu un « supernaturalisme réactionnaire » ont largement prospéré (p. 4). Partout, l’A. constate la vitalité des mouvements religieux « conservateurs, orthodoxes ou traditionalistes » (p. 6). Le choix d’une ligne catholique conservatrice par Jean-Paul II, la montée en puissance du protestantisme évangélique aux États-Unis, les succès du judaïsme orthodoxe (aussi bien en Israël que dans la diaspora), l’impact impressionnant de l’islamisme relèvent de ce phénomène, observable aussi dans l’hindouisme et le bouddhisme. En dépit de grandes différences, tous ces mouvements auraient pour point commun une posture « religieuse sans ambiguïté », et une démarche, « pour le moins », de « contre-sécularisation » (p. 6). L’essor de l’islam et celui du protestantisme évangélique constituent, pour l’A., les exemples les plus remarquables de cette « contre-sécularisation » (on est tenté de le suivre en partie sur ce point). Tous deux manifestent un dynamisme conversionniste considérable, même si celui de l’islam s’exprime surtout dans des pays déjà musulmans, ou comprenant d’importantes minorités musulmanes (comme en Europe), alors que le protestantisme évangélique connaîtrait un développement mondial, dans des pays où « ce type de religion était auparavant inconnu ou très marginal » (p. 9).

L’A. voit deux exceptions apparentes à la thèse de la « désécularisation » (sic). D’une part, l’Europe, aux taux de pratique religieuse très faibles. D’autre part, l’existence d’une « subculture internationale composée d’individus dotés d’une éducation occidentale supérieure » dont les contenus sont, « en effet sécularisés » (p. 10). Cette subculture, dominante dans les milieux médiatiques, académiques, politiques, constituerait une « élite globalisée », qui tenterait d’imposer ses normes (fondée sur les idéaux des Lumières) par le biais des médias et des institutions universitaires. P.L.B. n’hésite pas à critiquer (non sans humour) le « vase clos » relatif d’universitaires favorables au postulat de la sécularisation, mais incapables de prendre la mesure du décalage entre leur « monde » et celui des populations dont ils sont supposés analyser le rapport à la religion. Opérant un exercice radical de décentrage, il n’hésite pas à affirmer que cette « subculture » des élites occidentales sécularisées (à laquelle les universitaires participent) constitue, tout compte fait, une anomalie beaucoup plus étonnante que tel ou tel phénomène de radicalisme religieux. De ce fait, « l’Université de Chicago est un terrain beaucoup plus intéressant pour la sociologie des religions que les écoles islamiques de Qom » ! (p. 12) Les théories de la « dernière digue », défendues par ceux qui cherchent à sauver l’hypothèse de la sécularisation linéaire (les musulmans et les évangéliques constitueraient d’ultimes « digues » religieuses face à la marée de la sécularisation) ne tiennent pas, selon l’A. Il considère comme aberrante l’hypothèse selon laquelle « des mollah iraniens, des prédicateurs pentecôtistes, et des lamas tibétains penseront tous – et agiront – comme des professeurs de littérature dans les universités américaines » (p. 12). Cependant, il souligne la variété des relations à la modernité, qui peuvent aller d’une attitude « anti-moderne » (qui caractériserait selon lui l’islam) à une valorisation de la démocratie et de l’individu (qui caractériserait, d’après P.L.B., le courant évangélique). Quelles que soient les stratégies d’adaptation, les religions conservent une part essentielle dans les « affaires du monde » (p. 14), que ce soit sur le terrain politique, économique, social, humanitaire, tant il apparaît évident, pour l’A., que le sentiment religieux (et sa traduction intramondaine) constitue « un trait pérenne de l’humanité » (p. 13).

Les chapitres suivants (de moindre portée) proposent ensuite quelques éclairages partiels à partir de terrains spécifiques. La contribution de George Weigel (pp. 19 à 36) s’attache essentiellement à mettre en perspective l’impact de la pensée de Jean-Paul II (minutieusement exposée). Au passage, l’A. montre qu’à l’image de Léon XIII à la fin du XIXe siècle, le pape présente la vérité catholique comme une vérité « publique » (p. 25), bonne pour tous et pas seulement pour les catholiques. Mais il souligne en même temps (et c’est là un apport majeur) que sa posture apparaît désormais comme « post-Constantinienne » (p. 32). En d’autres termes, sans pour autant vouloir revenir au temps des catacombes (une sous-culture de repli), le catholicisme de l’an 2000 et de demain entend tenir une distance critique (qui n’a pas toujours été adoptée par le passé) face aux pouvoirs politiques. En clair, il s’agit de la fin d’un modèle moniste qui, en catholicisme, a longtemps voulu associer le politique et l’Église dans un modèle englobant. Cette analyse en terme de différenciation partielle des sphères, on le voit, ne paraît guère s’accorder avec l’hypothèse d’une « désécularisation » du monde : à la lumière de contributions comme celles de Weigel, on voit bien qu’une approche plus nuancée s’impose, une réelle vigueur religieuse n’étant pas incompatible avec certains phénomènes de sécularisation. C’est au même type de conclusion que parvient David Martin (pp. 37-49) dans son analyse du renouveau évangélique en protestantisme. En dépit d’un essor très significatif des Églises de type évangélique dans le monde, ces dernières lui paraissent surtout défendre « le rôle de commentateurs influents au sein d’une société pluraliste » (p. 48). L’idée d’une « société chrétienne », d’une Jérusalem évangélique terrestre a globalement décliné tout au long de l’époque contemporaine. Opposant lui aussi l’inspiration pluraliste et démocratique du courant évangélique à la perspective plus moniste de l’islam (p. 49), il considère donc, comme George Weigel, qu’une forme de « différenciation des sphères » (qui constitue une des caractéristiques fortes de la modernité sécularisée) joue à plein dans son terrain d’étude. La contribution de Jonathan Sacks (très engagé idéologiquement) développe ensuite la question de l’identité juive en modernité (pp. 51-63). Concluant sur le fait que les juifs survivront non par le nombre, mais « par la qualité et la force de la foi juive » (p. 63), il paraît déplorer, en attendant, le degré de sécularisation trop important qu’il constate en judaïsme, rapportant cette anecdote éclairante de Shlomo Carlebach en visite sur les campus américains : « je demande aux étudiants ce qu’ils sont. Si quelqu’un se lève et dit, « je suis un Catholique », je sais que c’est un Catholique. Si quelqu’un dit. « Je suis un Protestant », je sais que c’est un Protestant. Si quelqu’un se lève et dit, « Je suis seulement un être-humain », je sais que c’est un Juif » (p. 60). Il ne s’agit pas là, à proprement parler, d’un langage religieux identitaire, « désécularisé »… Là encore, le contenu de la contribution paraît apporter de sérieuses réserves à l’hypothèse liminaire défendue par P.L.B.

Grace Davie, quant à elle, semble davantage se situer dans cet axe. Dans son analyse de l’Europe, possible « exception qui confirme la règle » (pp. 65-83), elle s’attache minutieusement à montrer, qu’après tout, les Européens ne sont peut-être pas moins religieux, mais différemment religieux que les citoyens d’autres parties du monde. Appuyée principalement sur une analyse très fine des résultats de l’Enquête Européenne sur les valeurs, elle confirme à la fois le diagnostic d’une « déprise » de la religion sur les populations, et le maintien d’une demande religieuse « hors institution ». Elle précise aussi très opportunément que les données quantitatives disponibles sur la pratique religieuse en Europe ne sont pas assez étoffées, dans leur échantillonnage, pour rendre compte des minorités religieuses (comme le judaïsme, l’islam, l’hindouisme, les « nouveaux mouvements religieux »). Or, il est essentiel, selon elle, de tenir compte de ces minorités, qui font globalement preuve d’un réel dynamisme religieux. La prise en considération, d’autre part, des taux de pratique toujours élevés aux États-Unis l’invite, au contraire de Steve Bruce dont la thèse est présentée entre les pages 74 et 77, à considérer l’Europe comme l’exception occidentale… qui confirme la règle d’un vigoureux maintien du religieux en modernité. Se référant aux travaux de José Casanova, elle attribue ce particularisme européen aux liens séculaires entre l’Eglise et l’État. S’appuyant ensuite sur les analyses de Danièle Hervieu-Léger, elle souligne le « paradoxe de la modernité » européenne (p. 80), qui corrode les mémoires collectives (amnésie) mais ouvre de nouveaux espaces utopiques que seule la religion peut remplir. Sa conclusion laisse ouverte la question d’une poursuite, ou non, du recul du religieux eu Europe. Les dernières contributions (Tu Weiming sur la Chine, pp. 85-101, et Abdullahi A. An-Na’im sur l’islam (pp. 103-121) n’apportent pas d’éléments décisifs, tout en soulignant qu’en Chine comme dans l’espace islamique, le religieux s’avère plutôt plus présent aujourd’hui qu’il y a quelques décennies.

Dépourvu de conclusion, l’ouvrage laisse un goût d’inachevé : la thèse suggérée dans le titre (la « désécularisation ») n’y aura pas été démontrée, et les contributions, à l’orientation parfois plus confessionnelle que scientifique, suggèrent une interprétation nuancée de la réalité : réaffirmations religieuses parfois (Chine, essor de l’islam et du protestantisme évangélique), certes, mais aussi déclin continu du rôle social des Églises (dans le cas européen), sur fond de multiples négociations avec la modernité où une sécularisation interne des religions s’observe parfois (option pour un modèle « post-constantinien » en catholicisme, valorisation accrue du pluralisme chez les évangéliques). Au bout du compte, l’ouvrage dirigé par P.L.B. soulève plus de questions qu’il n’en résoud. Peut-être était-ce, au fond, son objectif ?

Référence papier

Sébastien Fath, « BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics », Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 112 | 2000, 71-73.

Référence électronique

Sébastien Fath, « BERGER (Peter L.), ed., The Desecularization of the World, Resurgent Religion and World Politics », Archives de sciences sociales des religions [En ligne], 112 | octobre-décembre 2000, document 112.6, mis en ligne le 19 août 2009, consulté le 08 décembre 2013. URL : http://assr.revues.org/20264

Stephens: Obama’s Envy Problem

Inequality is a problem when the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

That’s not happening in America.

Dec. 30, 2013

By BRET STEPHENS

As he came to the end of his awful year Barack Obama gave an awful speech. The president thinks America has inequality issues. What it has—what he has—is an envy problem.

I’ll get to the point in a moment, but first a word about the speech’s awfulness. To illustrate the evils of income inequality, the president said this:

« Ordinary folks can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s expense. And so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged, and that increases cynicism and polarization, and it decreases the political participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government. »

This is coming from the man who signs legislation, such as Dodd-Frank, that only high-priced lawyers can understand; who, according to the Guardian newspaper, has spent much of 2013 on a « record-breaking fundraising spree, » making « 30 separate visits to wealthy donors, » at « more than twice the rate of the president’s two-term predecessors. »

In my last column, comparing Jane Fonda with Pope Francis, I wrote that liberalism was haunted by its hypocrisy. Consider Mr. Obama’s campaign-finance pieties as Exhibit B.

Now about inequality. In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville noticed what might be called the paradox of equality: As social conditions become more equal, the more people resent the inequalities that remain.

« Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy, » Tocqueville wrote. « This complete equality eludes the grasp of the people at the very moment they think they have grasped it . . . the people are excited in the pursuit of an advantage, which is more precious because it is not sufficiently remote to be unknown or sufficiently near to be enjoyed. »

One result: « Democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy. » Another: « A depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304591604579290350851300782 1/3/2014

Bret Stephens: Obama’s Envy Problem – WSJ.com Page 2 of 3

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) saw the dark side of the politics of equality. Corbis

expense of the poor.

their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom. »

That is the background by which the current hand-wringing over inequality must be judged. Inequality is not a problem simply because the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer. It’s a problem only when the rich get richer at the

Mr. Obama tried to prove that in his speech, comparing present-day income with that halcyon year of 1979: « The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income—it now takes half, » he said, suggesting that the rich are eating a larger share of the national pie. « Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more. And meanwhile, a family in the top one percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country. »

Here is a factual error, marred by an analytical error, compounded by a moral error. It’s the top 20% that take in just over half of aggregate income, according to the Census Bureau, not the top 10%. That figure is essentially unchanged since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. And it isn’t dramatically different from 1979, when the top fifth took in 44% of aggregate income.

Besides which, so what? In 1979 the mean household income of the bottom 20% was $4,006. By 2012, it was $11,490. That’s an increase of 186%. For the middle class, the increase was 211%. For the top fifth it’s 320%. The richer have outpaced the poorer in growing their incomes, just as runners will outpace joggers who will, in turn, outpace walkers. But, as James Taylor might say, the walking man walks.

As it is, to whom except the envious should it matter that the boss now makes a lot more, provided you, too, also make more? Class-consciousness has always been a fact of American life, but rarely is it about how the poor, or even the middle class, feel toward the very rich. It has been about how the professional class—lawyers, journalists, administrators, academics—feel toward the financial class. It’s what Volvo America thinks about S-class America.

That idiot you knew freshman year, always fondling a lacrosse stick, before he became the head of his fraternity—his bonus last year was how much?

The moral greatness of capitalism rests in the fact that it is the only economic system where one person’s gain can be another’s also—where Steve Jobs’s billions are his shareholders’ thousands. Capitalism cultivates a sense of admiration where envy would otherwise rule in a zero-sum economic system. It’s what, for the past 60 years, has blunted the democratic tendency toward envy in the U.S. and distinguished its free-market democracy from the social democracies of Europe. It’s what draws people to this country.

Somewhere in the rubble of Mr. Obama’s musings on inequality there was a better speech on economic mobility. Then again, under Mr. Obama the median income of the poorest Americans has declined in absolute terms, to $11,490 in 2012 from $11,552 in 2009, at the height of the recession. Chalk it up as another instance of Mr. Obama being the cause of the very problems he aspires to address.

Le pape François se défend d’être marxiste

Jean-Marie Guénois

Le Figaro

15/12/2013

«Je le répète, je ne me suis pas exprimé en technicien, mais selon la doctrine sociale de l’Église», a rappelé le pape François.

Après ses diatribes contre le libéralisme, le souverain pontife a précisé ses positions économiques dans une interview à La Stampa.

Le pape François n’est pas «marxiste». Il a dû le préciser explicitement dimanche dans une interview exclusive accordée au quotidien italien La Stampa en réponse à une vague d’accusations venues des États-Unis qui ont suivi l’Exhortation apostolique publiée le 26 novembre où François avait effectivement instruit un procès en règle contre l’économie libérale qui «tue». On apprend également dans cet entretien son opposition aux femmes «cardinal» et sa prudence sur l’évolution de l’Église en faveur des divorcés remariés.

Rush Limbaugh, un animateur de radio américain, avait en effet fustigé l’exhortation apostolique intitulée La Joie de l’Évangile, la qualifiant de… «marxisme pur». Stuart Varney, de la chaîne Fox News, y avait vu du «néo-socialisme». Jonathon Moseley, membre du Tea Party, avait renchéri: «Jésus n’était pas un socialiste!» En France, Clément Guillou titrait sa chronique sur le site Rue 89: «Cette fois, c’est sûr, le pape François est socialiste».

Mais la polémique s’est à ce point enflammée outre-Atlantique, y compris dans les milieux catholiques, étonnés par les positions économiques du Pape, que François a dû préciser sa pensée par cet entretien avec le journaliste Andréa Tornielli, l’un des vaticanistes italiens les plus en vue. «L’idéologie marxiste est erronée, lui confie le pape François, mais dans ma vie j’ai rencontré de nombreux marxistes qui étaient des gens bien.»

«  Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés»

Extrait de l’exhortation apostolique

En fait, le passage de l’exhortation apostolique qui a mis le feu aux poudres a été la critique du Pape contre la théorie de la «rechute favorable» (en anglais «trickle down», expression mieux traduite en français par «théorie du ruissellement»): «Certains défendent encore les théories de la “rechute favorable”, écrivait François, qui supposent que chaque croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire en soi une plus grande équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Cette opinion, qui n’a jamais été confirmée par les faits, exprime une confiance grossière et naïve dans la bonté de ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique et dans les mécanismes sacralisés du système économique dominant. Mais, pendant ce temps, les exclus continuent à attendre.»

Le Pape ajoutait, dans ce même chapitre: «Une des causes de cette situation se trouve dans la relation que nous avons établie avec l’argent, puisque nous acceptons paisiblement sa prédominance sur nous et sur nos sociétés. La crise financière que nous traversons nous fait oublier qu’elle a, à son origine, une crise anthropologique profonde: la négation du primat de l’être humain! Nous avons créé de nouvelles idoles. L’adoration de l’antique veau d’or a trouvé une nouvelle et impitoyable version dans le fétichisme de l’argent et dans la dictature de l’économie sans visage et sans un but véritablement humain.»

Prônant un renforcement de l’État dans le contrôle de l’économie, le Pape concluait: «Alors que les gains d’un petit nombre s’accroissent exponentiellement, ceux de la majorité se situent de façon toujours plus éloignée du bien-être de cette heureuse minorité. Ce déséquilibre procède d’idéologies qui défendent l’autonomie absolue des marchés et la spéculation financière. Par conséquent, ils nient le droit de contrôle des États chargés de veiller à la préservation du bien commun. Une nouvelle tyrannie invisible s’instaure, parfois virtuelle, qui impose ses lois et ses règles, de façon unilatérale et impla­cable.»

Des propos d’une fermeté inédite dans la bouche d’un pape – car la doc­trine sociale de l’Église a toujours défendu la responsabilité personnelle et la liberté d’entreprise – qui ont alors suscité une incompréhension certaine, car plusieurs observateurs nord-américains ont reconnu là les thèses de l’écono­miste hongrois d’inspiration socialiste Karl Polanyi (1886-1964).

D’où cette mise au point du Pape dans l’interview de La Stampa: «Il n’y a rien dans l’exhortation apostolique qui ne soit dans la doctrine sociale de l’Église. Je ne me suis pas exprimé d’un point de vue technique, mais j’ai cherché à présenter une photographie de ce qui se passe. L’unique citation spécifique est celle de la théorie de la “rechute favorable”, selon laquelle toute croissance économique, favorisée par le libre marché, réussit à produire, par elle-même, une meilleure équité et inclusion sociale dans le monde. Soit la promesse que quand le verre serait rempli, il déborderait, et les pauvres alors en profiteraient. Mais quand il est plein, le verre, comme par magie, s’agrandit et jamais rien n’en sort pour les pauvres. Ce fut là ma seule référence à une théorie spécifique. Je le répète, je ne me suis pas exprimé en technicien mais selon la doctrine sociale de l’Église. Cela ne signifie pas être marxiste.»

Voir par ailleurs:

Le pape François, un an au Vatican : une révolution en trompe-l’oeil ?

Le Plus-Nouvelobs

14-03-2014

Jean-Marcel Bouguereau

éditorialiste

LE PLUS. Premier pape argentin de l’histoire, le pape François a fêté, jeudi 13 mars, le premier anniversaire de son élection au Vatican. Porteur de nombreuses attentes de réformes et d’ouverture, celui qui a succédé à Benoît XVI est-il à la hauteur ? Notre éditorialiste Jean-Marcel Bouguereau dresse un premier bilan.

Édité par Sébastien Billard

Le pape François pourrait en remontrer à l’autre François (Hollande) : en un an, il a réussi à changer beaucoup de choses dans cette institution par nature conservatrice, l’Église. C’est le magazine « Rolling-Stone » qui titrait à propos de lui : « Les temps changent ».

On a beaucoup parlé de son style de vie, de sa simplicité, jusqu’à son refus de porter les traditionnels escarpins rouges, préférant rappeler son cordonnier argentin pour réparer ses vieilles chaussures. Il a bouleversé par son exemple les habitudes de la Curie romaine, en instaurant au Vatican une humilité qui n’était plus de mise chez ces prélats confits dans leurs ors et leurs brocards.

Transparence financière et gestes d’ouverture

Même si cela a beaucoup contribué à sa popularité, l’essentiel n’est pas là. Premier pape non européen, premier pape jésuite, premier pape de la mondialisation, il a montré sa volonté de réformer la toute-puissante Curie.

Son super ministère des finances va coiffer la fameuse banque du Vatican où il a commencé à faire le ménage : plus aucun laïc ne peut y ouvrir de compte ce qui, jusque-là, permettait à certains mafieux de blanchir au Vatican l’argent de trafics de drogue. Une transparence financière qui ne plait guère aux parrains de la mafia calabraise, qui lui auraient adressé des menaces de mort.

Il a multiplié les gestes de compréhension envers les homosexuels et envers les athées, demandant « l’ouverture et la miséricorde vis-à-vis des personnes divorcées, homosexuelles ou encore des femmes qui ont subi un avortement ».

Mais sa volonté, selon la formule de Kierkegaard, « de remettre un peu de christianisme dans la chrétienté », ne plait pas à tout le monde. Le Tea Party américain n’a-t-il pas dénoncé en lui un « marxiste » et même, horresco referens, un « libéral », c’est à dire une sorte de gauchiste !

Pensez donc ! Un homme qui parle de la différence entre pêcheurs et corrompus, qui dit « qui suis-je pour juger un gay qui cherche Dieu ? », qui critique une société qui fait de l’argent une idole !

Se transformer pour continuer à exister

Mais parce qu’il prépare lui-même ses spaghettis et qu’il s’échappe clandestinement du Vatican les soirs de grand froid pour visiter des SDF romains, faut-il, comme certains, en faire une nouvelle idole de la gauche dont les posters viendraient remplacer ceux de Guevara ?

Ce pape reste pape. Dans ses goûts cinématographiques figurent le néoréalisme italien, Fellini, Rossellini et « Le Guépard » de Visconti où l’on trouve cette phrase tirée du roman de Lampedusa « Il faut que tout change pour que rien ne change ».

Dans cette période du risorgimento (« Renaissance ») où l’aristocratie ne meurt pas mais se transforme, on peut trouver une analogie avec la situation d’une Église qui doit impérativement se transformer pour continuer à exister.

Voir encore:

Eglise : jusqu’où veut aller le pape François sur les dossiers sensibles ?

Marie Lemonnier

Le Nouvel Observateur

13-03-2014

La place des femmes et des laïcs, l’homosexualité, la réforme de la Curie… Le successeur de Benoît XVI amènera-t-il le renouveau ?

Elu il y a un an, le 13 mars 2013, après la renonciation de Benoît XVI, souverain pontife pris dans les tourments du Vatileaks, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 77 ans, a été désigné par ses pairs pour opérer la réforme nécessaire de l’appareil catholique. Avec ses prises de paroles, parfois tranchées, parfois ambiguës, et les premières décisions de sa première année de gouvernance, le pape argentin a ouvert plusieurs grands chantiers qui laissent entrevoir une forte volonté de renouveau, sans néanmoins toucher aux fondamentaux de la doctrine dont les papes sont les héritiers autant que les garants. Jusqu’où veut-il aller et jusqu’où pourra-t-il mener l’Eglise ?

1 La réforme de la Curie

Après le Vatileaks, les cardinaux électeurs ont clairement demandé au nouveau successeur de Pierre d’opérer un nettoyage et une rationalisation de la Curie romaine. Il s’agit d’une part d’alléger la structure, dans laquelle les dicastères (équivalent de ministères) se sont accumulés ces dernières décennies, mais aussi d’en changer la perspective. Au lieu de la laisser prospérer au-dessus des évêques comme un super-gouvernement tout puissant, François souhaite lui confier le rôle de médiateur entre les épiscopats et le pape. L’objectif ? Qu’elle soit véritablement au service des pasteurs de l’Eglise universelle et des Eglises locales. Une manière de faire vivre la collégialité, maître-mot de Vatican II que souhaite mettre en application Bergoglio, comme on le voit également à travers son usage du synode qui est l’occasion pour les évêques du monde entier de prendre part à la décision mais aussi avec la création de ce conseil permanent de 8 cardinaux venus des cinq continents, surnommé le G8 ou le C8, chargé de l’aider dans sa réforme de la Curie.

François veut ainsi que l’Eglise ne soit plus une monarchie absolue mais un organe de participation autour du pape, qui reste néanmoins seul détenteur de l’autorité. Etranger à l’institution romaine sur laquelle il porte un regard critique voire sévère, le pape argentin n’hésite pas à fustiger les querelles de pouvoir en son sein, les habitudes de cour et tous ceux qui s’y « prennent pour des dieux ». Il semble ainsi très déterminé à remplir sa mission. A cette fin, une nouvelle Constitution apostolique doit être écrite pour remplacer celle de Jean-Paul II appelée Pastor Bonus, en vigueur depuis 1988. Le père Lombardi, porte-parole du Saint-Siège, a déjà tenté de modérer les impatiences en avertissant qu’elle ne verrait pas le jour avant 2015.

2 La gestion et la transparence des finances

« Je veux une Eglise pauvre au service des pauvres », martèle le pape François. En créant fin février un « Secrétariat pour l’économie » (un super ministère aux pouvoirs étendus sur le Saint-Siège et l’Etat du Vatican), dirigé par le cardinal australien Pell, qui fait déjà partie des hommes forts du G8 du pape, ainsi qu’un « Conseil pour l’économie » ayant autorité pour contrôler toutes les instances vaticanes, le pape François donne enfin les premiers signes concrets de la réforme institutionnelle.

C’est comme s’il avait créé la Cour des comptes et l’Inspection des finances en même temps ! », souligne l’historien de la papauté Philippe Levillain.

Des bilans financiers seront rendus publics et les procédures moins bureaucratiques. Autre nouveauté, pour assurer une meilleure transparence, ce Conseil pour l’économie (CE) sera composé de 8 prélats mais aussi de 7 laïcs (dont le Français Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, patron de la société Incipit). C’est la première fois que des laïcs entrent ainsi dans une institution curiale. Enfin, le CE sera coordonné par l’archevêque de Munich et tout nouveau président de la Conférence épiscopale allemande Reinhard Marx, également auteur d’un livre intitulé… « Le Capital ». Ca ne s’invente pas.

Même si aucune décision n’a encore été prise concernant la très critiquée et opaque banque du Vatican, la commission chargée de sa réforme poursuit ses travaux et devrait faire des annonces courant avril. Plus de la moitié des 19.000 comptes de l’IOR (Institut pour les Œuvres de religion) a été contrôlée ; un millier a été fermé et moins d’une centaine de comptes suspects fait l’objet d’investigations plus approfondies. « Tout va changer dans la gestion économico-administrative du Saint-Siège », promet ainsi le site Vatican Insider.

3 La place des femmes et des laïcs

La femme « peut et doit être plus présente dans les lieux de décision de l’Eglise », affirme le Saint-Père dans le « Corriere della Sera » du 5 mars, laissant ainsi espérer que des femmes puissent être à l’avenir nommées à la tête de dicastères. Le pape faisait toutefois observer qu’il s’agit là d’une « promotion de type fonctionnel » qui ne fait guère « avancer les choses ». Il a également plusieurs fois exprimé sa volonté de promouvoir une « théologie de la femme » qui laisse dubitatif sur les réelles avancées à attendre sur le sujet. Surtout, il n’a pas caché qu’il n’ordonnera pas de femmes prêtres. Quant à nommer une femme Cardinal ? « D’où est sortie cette blague ? », a-t-il tout bonnement écarté dans « la Stampa » du 15 décembre.

Le pape ne dit rien, en revanche, sur l’ordination éventuelle d’hommes mariés. Cela peut-il faire partie des non-dits où les lignes peuvent bouger ?

Si le cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinateur du conseil des huit cardinaux chargé de la réforme, a émis l’idée de mettre un « couple marié » à la tête du Conseil pontifical pour la famille, l’hypothèse paraît là aussi douteuse. D’autant que ce Conseil pontifical pourrait se voir fondu dans un ensemble plus large. En revanche, une véritable Congrégation pour les laïcs pourrait voir le jour.

4 Les homosexuels

Si une personne est gay et cherche le Seigneur et qu’elle est de bonne volonté, mais qui suis-je pour la juger ? »

Lancée dans l’avion qui le ramenait du Brésil en juillet 2013, cette phrase est peut-être la plus connue et la plus commentée du pape François. Du moins dans sa version tronquée : « Qui suis-je pour juger ? ». Et décontextualisée. En effet, le pape répondait à une question précise, qui portait sur Mgr Battista Ricca, le prélat qu’il venait de nommer comme conseiller pour la réforme de la banque du Vatican et dont l’homosexualité venait d’être révélée dans les médias italiens. La phrase lui valut néanmoins les honneurs de la célèbre revue LGBT américaine Advocate et a été accueillie comme une phrase symbolique de la bienveillance papale. En invitant les pasteurs à mieux « accompagner » les homosexuels, François prône ainsi une Église qui « considère la personne » avant de « condamner ».

« La pensée de l’Eglise, nous la connaissons et je suis fils de l’Eglise, mais il n’est pas nécessaire d’en parler en permanence. Les enseignements, tant dogmatiques que moraux, ne sont pas tous équivalents, déclare Bergoglio. Nous devons donc trouver un nouvel équilibre, autrement l’édifice moral de l’Eglise risque lui aussi de s’écrouler comme un château de cartes, de perdre la fraîcheur et le parfum de l’Evangile ».

Même s’il souhaite étudier les raisons pour lesquelles des Etats ont pu adopter des unions civiles, le pape rappelle que le mariage est « l’union d’un homme et d’une femme ».

5 La famille et la question des divorcés-remariés

La question des divorcés remariés, très attendue par l’opinion publique, est une source de crispations actuellement au Vatican. On l’a vu dernièrement au consistoire préparatoire au synode sur la famille qui s’est tenu les 20 et 21 février à Rome et dont le cardinal français Paul Poupard redoutait qu’il se termine en « guerre civile ». « Les confrontations fraternelles et ouvertes font grandir la pensée théologique et pastorale. De ceci je n’ai pas peur, plutôt je le cherche »¸ a cependant assuré le pape François.

« Je crois que ce temps est celui de la miséricorde », avait-il déclaré au retour des JMJ de Rio. Ce qui ne veut pas dire suppression de l’interdiction pour eux de communier. Le « non » a été formulé par le préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, Mgr Gerhard L. Müller. Le pape argentin a néanmoins donné des signes d’espoir et d’ouverture, en choisissant le cardinal théologien Walter Kasper pour ouvrir le consistoire.

Dans son discours inaugural, ce dernier, connu pour ses positions progressistes, a en effet émis l’idée d’un « nouveau développement » concernant l’épineuse question des divorcés remariés, suggérant que la pratique actuelle serait « contre-productive ». Le cardinal propose ainsi des solutions vers un sacrement de pénitence. Cette voie ne serait cependant pas une solution générale mais s’adresserait au petit nombre de ceux qui seraient sincèrement intéressé par les sacrements. Des pistes de réflexion qualifiées de « théologie sereine » par le pape François qui défend par ailleurs la famille traditionnelle si « maltraitée, dépréciée », mais « plan lumineux de Dieu ».

La question n’est pas celle de changer la doctrine mais d’aller en profondeur et faire en sorte que la pastorale tienne compte des situations et de ce qu’il est possible de faire pour les personnes », a-t-il tenu à préciser dans sa dernière interview du 5 mars tout en saluant le « génie prophétique de Paul VI », auteur de l’encyclique Humanae Vitae qui fermait la question de la contraception.

Prudent, le pape François veut donc replacer la morale à sa « juste place » sans rien lâcher sur la doctrine. Ayant choisi le mode de la collégialité sous la forme de deux synodes en 2014 et 2015, aucune conclusion ne devrait voir le jour avant la fin des travaux ecclésiastiques.


Transport aérien: Quand l’avion était encore un plaisir (Back to the time when sex did sell seats)

13 mars, 2014
https://i2.wp.com/static03.mediaite.com/thejanedough/uploads/gallery/flight-attendent-vintage-ads/American%20Airlines.jpg
https://i2.wp.com/stuffo.ddmcdn.com/stuffmomnevertoldyou/wp-content/uploads/sites/86/2013/12/fly-me-jo.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.grayflannelsuit.net/retrotisements/travel/southwest-airlines-jul-1979-ad.jpghttp://www.trbimg.com/img-51951985/turbine/chi-history-stewardesses-flight-attendants-201-010/600https://i0.wp.com/i.haymarket.net.au/News/PRESS%20AD%2012x20_CT.jpghttp://thisisnotadvertising.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/lyar-direct2.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/8b36e-lynxjet1.jpg
https://i1.wp.com/9bytz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Vintage-Airline-Ads-2.jpghttps://www.ryanair.com/img/calendar/front.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/notaniche.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/pacific-airlines-ad.jpg https://i2.wp.com/www.panam.com/media/blog/PanAmABCBanner.jpgThe other truly transforming business invention of the first quarter of the century, besides the car, was the airplane–another industry whose plainly brilliant future would have caused investors to salivate. So I went back to check out aircraft manufacturers and found that in the 1919-39 period, there were about 300 companies, only a handful still breathing today. Among the planes made then–we must have been the Silicon Valley of that age–were both the Nebraska and the Omaha, two aircraft that even the most loyal Nebraskan no longer relies upon. Move on to failures of airlines. Here’s a list of 129 airlines that in the past 20 years filed for bankruptcy. Continental was smart enough to make that list twice. As of 1992, in fact–though the picture would have improved since then–the money that had been made since the dawn of aviation by all of this country’s airline companies was zero. Absolutely zero. Sizing all this up, I like to think that if I’d been at Kitty Hawk in 1903 when Orville Wright took off, I would have been farsighted enough, and public-spirited enough–I owed this to future capitalists–to shoot him down. I mean, Karl Marx couldn’t have done as much damage to capitalists as Orville did. Warren Buffett
Airlines have created value for their customers but not that much for their owners: the profit margin after 1970 has been only 0.1 per cent. Three in four airlines are privately owned but investors have more profitable alternatives. Airlines tend to put blame for poor results on external factors, such as high fuel prices, terrorist attacks or airport charges. However, the industry is in chronic disequilibrium with permanent overcapacity. Overcapacity is caused by many factors, including government policies and ease of acquiring new aircrafts (often with export credit guarantees by governments). This is reinforced by the obsession of airlines for higher market shares, often leading to falling yields. Passenger load factors have markedly risen during recent years, but at the expense of collapsing fares. ILO
Amotz Zahavi (1975), de l’Université de Tel Aviv, a trouvé que la valeur de certains ornements liés à la compétition sexuelle chez les animaux dépend de leur impact sur les chances de survie de leur porteur. L’idée est simple : une gazelle qui perd de l’énergie en faisant des bonds alors qu’elle est poursuivie par un lion n’est pas folle, elle prouve qu’elle a les moyens de le faire. Plus elle saute haut, plus ça lui coûte (de l’énergie) et plus elle prouve sa valeur. La sanction est directe : qu’elle se surestime et elle sera dévorée. C’est comme le Handicap (“Hand in Cap” = “Main au Chapeau”) de certains sports : seuls les meilleurs peuvent se permettre de gagner en s’imposant des contraintes supplémentaires et cette preuve aura d’autant plus de valeur qu’elle sera coûteuse. L’application est générale et les exemples sont innombrables : rouler en Rolls plutôt qu’en Golf prouve qu’on a les moyens de dépenser au delà de l’utilitaire (le coût ici est financier) et tout le marché du luxe bénéficie de ce besoin de “costly display” (c’est le terme). Le “costly display” a aussi été cité pour expliquer la mode de la minceur dans les pays riches, le bikini et la mode sexy, la poignée de main (prise de risque en l’éloignant de l’épée), le sourire honnête (…) et… la fortune des médecins urgentistes ! Neuromonaco
La compétition sexuelle est à l’intérieur de chaque sexe et l’habillement sert aux femmes d’abord à se positionner entre elles, le regard des hommes n’étant qu’un moyen dans cette guerre (…) Les mannequins Haute Couture ont des corps et des visages beaucoup plus masculins que les mannequins lingerie et les “pornstars” : en fait elles ressemblent à des garçons adolescents (…) La préférence des hommes pour des femmes plus ou moins “pulpeuses” est directement influencée par leur situation économique perçue : les plus riches préfèrent les plus minces (…) Les hommes ne privilégient la beauté du visage que pour des relations à long terme. Neuromonaco
De nombreuses études (…) montrent qu’il y a un lien entre la situation de séduction et l’achat de produits liés au statut : c’est l’affichage du statut (le “display”) pour montrer qu’on a suffisamment de ressources disponibles pour se permettre d’en dépenser sur des produits inutiles (encore le Handicap de Zahavi). L’effet est plus fort chez les célibataires pour les achats d’impulsion et Griskevicius et ses collègues (2011) ont même trouvé que le sex-ratio avait un impact direct : plus il y a d’hommes en concurrence, plus l’effet display sera marqué. Neuromonaco
According to one 1990 study by researchers at SUNY Binghamton and the University of the Witwatersrand (…) compliments from men were generally accepted, especially by female recipients, but « compliments from women are met with a response type other than acceptance »: as a threat. Men often see compliments as « face-threatening acts, » or acts intended to embarrass or patronize, the study authors found. What was meant as a nicety could be seen as a way to assert control. (…) Being the arbiter of someone’s attractiveness can be interpreted as an expression of masculinity that women are not traditionally expected to adopt. Further, it is possible that a good portion of men don’t want to be essentially « treated like women, » as their masculinity is dependent on being above the judgments women are often subjected to. (…) In life as well as in art, a man’s focus on his own appearance can be perceived as detracting from his perceived masculinity in the eyes of male reviewers. In her book, Extra-Ordinary Men: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Popular Cinema, Nicola Rehling points out that in the movie Gladiator, Maximus had a muscular build but was not sexualized on-screen. In the movie Troy, meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s Achilles was practically groomed for the enjoyment of straight female and gay male viewers. Crowe’s body was not nearly as exposed as Pitt’s was throughout the movie. Rehling writes, « In the majority of reviews of the film, Brad Pitt was compared unfavorably with Crowe, with many expressing disappointment that he failed to import the primal masculinity that was such a big box office attraction in Gladiator. The adulation of Crowe’s Maximus would seem to articulate a desire for an undiluted, corporeal, physical male presence. » The consequences for women giving men compliments are also different than those for men giving women compliments. In a 2006 study from Williamette University’s College of Liberal Arts, researchers Christopher Parisi and Peter Wogan found that college-aged men were generally given compliments on skills, while women were given compliments on their looks. Parisi and Wogan also found that women felt the need to be cautious when complimenting men on their appearance because they didn’t want to be « too forward » or attract « unwanted attention. » That fear is supported by a 2008 study, conducted in Australia by Griffith University, which hypothesized that men are more likely to interpret or misinterpret female compliments as seductive or flirtatious than women are male compliments. Who knew complimenting could be so complicated? The Atlantic
Les plus belles hôtesses de Ryanair font monter la température en cabine. Eddie Wilson (directeur des ressources humaines de Ryanair)
Ces uniformes sont vraiment très serrés et ne sont tout simplement pas pratiques du tout pour le travail physique que nous avons à faire. Hôtesse Qantas
Les hôtesses de l’air ont de 20 à 60 ans et beaucoup d’entre elles, notamment les plus âgées, ne souhaitent pas porter d’uniformes trop moulants. Nous aimions les anciens uniformes créés par Peter Morrissey. Ceux-là ils étaient vraiment confortables. Hôtesse Qantas
Nous sommes préoccupées car nous pensons que cet uniforme pourrait causer des problèmes à bord, y compris du harcèlement sexuel. La compagnie aérienne explique que cet uniforme sert à attirer plus de clients, mais cela montre qu’elle considère la femme comme une marchandise …la priorité numéro un ne devrait pas être de raccourcir les tenues mais d’augmenter la sécurité. Syndicat d’hôtesses de l’air japonaises
Je ne pourrais pas me concentrer sur mon travail parce que je serais toujours en train de me demander si on ne me regarde pas. Hôtesse japonaise

Ah, le bon vieux temps quand l’avion était encore un plaisir !

Paréos hawaiiens, kimonos japonais, mini-jupes suisses, brunes chevelures espagnoles …

A l’heure où, entre le prix du pétrole, les coûts induits toujours plus élevés de la sécurité post-11/9 (alors qu’on est toujours sans nouvelles d’un avion malaisien mystérieusement disparu des écrans radar) et l’arrivée de nouveaux concurrents à bas coût (calendrier de charmecaritatif – compris!), les compagnies aériennes dont la profitabilité sur 40 ans n’a jamais dépassé les 0, 1% rivalisent d’astuces pour attirer les passagers (jusqu’à transformer l’intérieur de leurs avions en supports publicitaires) …

Et où, accusant leur compagnie d’utiliser leurs corps comme des marchandises, un syndicat d’hôtesses de l’air japonaises refuse, après leurs homologues australiennes l’an dernier, de porter leur nouvel uniforme pour cause de risque de harcèlement sexuel …

Pendant qu’une des compagnies aériennes mythiques des années 60 se voyait récemment célébrer dans une série à  son nom à la télévision américaine …

Et que pour ses 70 ans, notre Catherine Deneuve nationale  reprend du service en lingerie fine et stilettos pour un magazine américain

Retour avec les archives du magazine américain The Atlantic …

Sur ces temps encore innocents où, avant les campagnes ouvertement sexuelles avec noms des hôtesses sur le nez des avions et badges suggestifs des années 70, hot pants et cuissardes ou petits carnets pour les numéros des hôtesses à la Fly me  (fantasmes récemment repris, fausse compagnie aérienne comprise, par le fabricant australien de déodorants pour hommes Lynx/Axe) …

Et, sauf exceptions régionales, avant le sérieux et professionalisme actuel …

Les stratégies sexuelles des compagnies aériennes, centrées sur une clientèle d’affaires majoritairement masculine et donc leur personnel féminin, rivalisaient en subtilité pour vendre leurs sièges …

‘Sex Sells Seats’: Magazine Airline Ads, 1959–79

From kimono-clad Japanese hostesses to miniskirted Swiss brunettes, companies have a long history of using women to sell air travel. Some examples from The Atlantic‘s archives.
The Atlantic
Dec 22 2013

These days, air travel is anything but sexy. TSA pat-downs, inflatable neck pillows, reruns of CBS sitcoms—it can get pretty grim at 35,000 feet.

There was a time, however, when flying was both the literal and figurative height of sexiness. “The good old days,” Mark Gerchick calls them wryly in the January/February Atlantic. “When travelers were ‘mad men’ and flight attendants were ‘sexy stews,’ when the ‘sex sells seats’ mantra drove some carriers to adorn ‘trolley dollies’ in hot pants and go-go boots.”

While air travel ads printed in The Atlantic in those days were a little more… buttoned up (than, say, this 1972 Southwest Airlines commercial), it’s clear the “sexy skies” gimmick was an advertising boon. The campaigns were wildly misogynistic, hopelessly fantastical, and maybe a little bit racist. But sell seats they did, from Narita to O’Hare. Gathered below are 10 such “sex sells seats” ads plucked from The Atlantic archives. (Click any ad to view a larger version.)


February 1968

British Overseas Airways Corporation “takes good care of you.” (By putting gyrating hula dancers front and center.)


February 1959

KLM: The premiere airline for tag-along wives and their crestfallen husbands.


May 1961

Japan Air Lines masters the art of marketing orientalism, ensuring flyers that the only “real desire” of its “kimono-clad stewardesses” is “to serve.”


July 1970

This Iberia Airlines ad bravely defies ethnic stereotypes by promising travelers a veritable rainbow of stewardess hair colorings: “blondes from Barcelona, redheads from Cádiz,” and for the traditional Hispanophile, “a liberal helping of the beautiful brunettes you pictured us having.”


October 1966

Swissair promises “lakeside cafes, casinos, nightclubs,” and—most prominently of all—“friendly natives.”


July 1971

This Japan Air Lines ad delivers a particularly cringe-worthy line: “She is our pride. And your joy.”


August 1966

Not looking for love? Never fly Alitalia.


February 1979

South African Airways offers one for the ladies: When Alec hits on you, he’s not being polite. “Merely sincere.”


February 1959

Japan Air Lines does it again, demonstrating just how well-versed its “fairest” of the fair stewardesses are in the womanly arts.


November 1970

Kris from Delta is “resourceful, alert, efficient, confident, and sociable.” But, most important, PRETTY.

Voir aussi:

Travel January/February 2014

A Brief History of the Mile High Club

Air travel hasn’t quite lost all its romance.

Mark Gerchick

The Atlantic

Dec 22 2013

Only true aviation geeks are likely to celebrate, or even notice, the milestone being celebrated this year in the history of aviation: the debut, a century ago, of the autopilot. In June 1914, at a historic aeronautical-safety competition in Paris, a 21-year-old American daredevil pilot-inventor named Lawrence Burst Sperry stunned the aviation world by using the instrument to keep a biplane flying straight and level along the Seine. According to his biographer, William Wyatt Davenport, Sperry stood on a wing as the plane, in effect, flew itself—a feat that won him the event’s $10,000 prize.

By eliminating the need for taxing “hand flying” on long journeys, and thereby reducing pilot fatigue, Sperry’s autopilot ultimately made flying much safer. But it had another, less obvious benefit. It freed up pilots to do other things with their hands—and bodies. The brilliant young Sperry himself soon grasped the possibilities. Legend has it that in late November 1916, while piloting a Curtiss Flying Boat C‑2 some 500 feet above the coast of Long Island, he used his instrument to administer a novel kind of flying lesson to one Cynthia Polk (whose husband was driving an ambulance in war-torn France). During their airborne antics, however, the two unwittingly managed to bump and disengage the autopilot, sending their plane into Great South Bay, where they were rescued, both stark naked, by duck hunters. A gallant Sperry explained that the force of the crash had stripped both fliers of all their clothing, but that didn’t stop a skeptical New York tabloid from running the famous headline “Aerial Petting Ends in Wetting.” For his caper, Sperry is generally considered the founder of the Mile High Club, a cohort that loosely includes all those who have ever “done it” in flight (though precisely what constitutes “it” remains a lurking definitional issue).

“Flying,” the 1930s stunt pilot Pancho Barnes is often quoted as saying, “makes me feel like a sex maniac in a whorehouse with a stack of $20 bills.” Today’s overcrowded, underfed, overstressed airline passengers, consigned to travel in “just a bloody bus with wings” as Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary puts it, are unlikely to share that enthusiasm. It’s all the more remarkable, then, that airborne sex remains on the bucket list of plenty of passengers, at least male ones. A “Sex Census” published in 2011 by the condom maker Trojan found that 33 percent of American men aspire to have sex on an airplane. (The top locale for women: a beach.) Similarly, nearly a third of the Brits who responded to a 2010 TripAdvisor poll said they wanted to try in-flight sex.

A lot of U.S. fliers may have already acted out that fantasy. In a global survey of more than 300,000 adults conducted in 2005 by the condom maker Durex, 2 percent of respondents worldwide (and 4 percent of American respondents) claimed to have had sex on an airplane. A 2010 survey commissioned by Sensis Condoms (when did condom makers become avid pollsters?) found a similar incidence of in-flight sex (3 percent) among its respondents. Assuming that about 100 million Americans have traveled by air, and discounting for lying braggarts, if even only 1 percent of them have indulged, then that’s a million or so Mile Highers.

Less-than-scientific anecdotes abound too. When Virgin Atlantic installed diaper-changing tables aboard its new Airbus A340-600 long-haul jets, in 2002, it wasn’t just mothers and children who found them useful. Within weeks, according to the airline, the tables were destroyed by “those determined to join the Mile High Club.” That said, the airline’s founder, the billionaire bad boy Sir Richard Branson, has waxed nostalgic about a tryst he had at age 19 in a Laker Airways lavatory (“It was every man’s dream”). Almost 20 years ago, Singapore Airlines, for its part, reported that a third of its cases of “unruly behavior” involved in-flight sex.

For the airlines, the “sexy skies” are all about marketing the fantasy. Actual in-flight sex is the last thing they want to deal with, especially since 9/11, when the preferred cabin ambience has become no-fun, no-drama—a shift more self-protective than puritanical. Is it just love, or is that couple huddled together in their seats trying to ignite explosive-filled sneakers? Even a visit to the bathroom can trigger a full-bore fighter-jet scramble, as it did on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when a pair of F‑16s shadowed a Frontier flight until it landed in Detroit after two passengers made for the lavatory at the same time. Cabin crews working chock-full flights now also have no time, much less the inclination, to play chaperone.

Almost perversely, as the reality of today’s air travel for the ordinary coach passenger moves from bearable to downright nasty, reviving the lost “romance” of flying makes marketing sense. Branson, the master marketer, beckons passengers to “get lucky” when they fly Virgin America jets outfitted with seat-back touch screens that let you send “an in-flight cocktail to that friendly stranger in seat 4A.” After all, if you’re busy punching your video screen to chat up some “friendly stranger,” you’re not griping about an airline’s $7.50 snack pack. And when Singapore Airlines proudly unveiled for global media its super-jumbo double-decker Airbus A380 jet, the hype was all about the glories of its 12 ultra-costly first-class “suites.” Combine two of the private pods (about $10,000 each for the round trip from New York to Frankfurt), and you can share a legit double bed, shown in publicity photos strewn with rose petals, alongside a gold tray holding an open bottle of Dom Pérignon and two half-full champagne flutes. What are you supposed to think? Then there’s Air New Zealand’s “Skycouch” (three adjacent coach seats that can be transformed into a flat, bed-like surface), popularly known as “cuddle class.” It comes with the coy admonition to “just keep your clothes on thanks!”

“Flying,” said the 1930s stunt pilot Pancho Barnes, “makes me feel like a sex maniac in a whorehouse with a stack of $20 bills.”

Could we return to the good old days when travelers were “mad men” and flight attendants were “sexy stews,” when the “sex sells seats” mantra drove some carriers to adorn “trolley dollies” in hot pants and go-go boots and to offer “executive” (men-only) flights between Chicago and New York? Not likely, at least in the United States, where women constitute more than 40 percent of frequent fliers and half of international air travelers, and make most travel-buying decisions. How many of these women are really looking to “get lucky” on their next flight? Being hit on by an unseen stranger while buckled into a seat at 35,000 feet, online commenters have complained, is at best “a little creepy” and at worst like being trapped in a “mile high stalker club.”

For those moved by the marketing, or otherwise compelled to act out the mile-high fantasy (Freud posited that the fantasy of flight itself has “infantile erotic roots”), there’s a better solution than flying commercial: your own plane. Think Playboy’s Big Bunny, a 1970s-era DC‑9 jet outfitted as a “party pit,” complete with a fur-covered oval bed, a shower, and a discotheque, all presided over by flight attendants (“Jet Bunnies”) in black-leather mini-jumpsuits: “Imagine Studio 54 with wings,” enthused a Playboy feature. That particular icon supposedly now resides, dismantled, in a small city in Mexico, but some air-charter services offer hour-long jaunts for adventurous couples wanting to live out the dream, or at least spice up their relationships. These outfits come and go, with names like Erotic Airways and Flamingo Air, but typically they equip their small Pipers or Cessnas with a mattress (in lieu of the customary four or six seats), overfly scenic spots like Cincinnati or western Georgia, and throw in a bottle of not-quite-vintage bubbly, all for about $500.

The sheets—no joke—are yours to take home as souvenirs.

Mark Gerchick, a former chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration, is the author of Full Upright and Locked Position.

Voir également:

Les hôtesses de Skymark Airlines dénoncent leurs robes trop courtes

AFP agence

Le Figaro

11/03/2014

La compagnie japonaise à bas coût a prévu pour son personnel de cabine un nouvel uniforme qui doit attirer davantage de clients. Le syndicat des hôtesses craint surtout les incivilités.

Skymark Airlines a peut-être pensé que petit prix pour le client rimait avec petite robe pour les hôtesses… Erreur: un syndicat de personnel navigant ne décolère pas contre un nouvel uniforme qui dévoile jusqu’aux cuisses. «Nous sommes préoccupées car nous pensons que cet uniforme pourrait causer des problèmes à bord, y compris du harcèlement sexuel», ont protesté les hôtesses à travers leur fédération de personnel de cabine.

«La compagnie aérienne explique que cet uniforme sert à attirer plus de clients, mais cela montre qu’elle considère la femme comme une marchandise», poursuit le syndicat selon lequel la priorité numéro un ne devrait pas être de raccourcir les tenues mais d’augmenter la sécurité. Skymark envisage de faire porter cette robe courte moulante qui couvre tout juste les fesses à l’occasion du vol intérieur inaugural de son premier Airbus A330 en mai prochain.

«Nous n’imposerons par l’uniforme aux hôtesses qui refuseraient de le porter», a déclaré récemment le président de Skymark, Shinichi Nishikubo, tout en regrettant que cette initiative vestimentaire ait été présentée «d’une façon déformée». Sur le site du syndicat, une hôtesse affirme «qu’elle ne pourrait pas se concentrer sur son travail parce qu’elle serait toujours en train de se demander si on ne la regarde pas», avec la crainte de photos prises par des mobiles et de mains baladeuses.

Voir aussi:

Les uniformes « trop serrés » de Miranda Kerr

Catherine Delvaux

7 sur 7

12/12/13

L’ex Ange de Victoria Secret a servi de modèle pour les nouveaux uniformes des hôtesses de l’air de Qantas Airlines. « L’uniforme va vraiment bien à Miranda Kerr, mais malheureusement nous ne lui ressemblons pas toutes », regrette une employée australienne.

Réalisés par Martin Grant sur base des mensurations parfaites du mannequin australien, les nouveaux uniformes de Qantas Airlines ont été présentés en septembre dernier et seront portés par les 12.000 hôtesses dès aujourd’hui. Mais ils ne plaisent pas à toutes. « Ces uniformes sont vraiment très serrés et ne sont tout simplement pas pratiques du tout pour le travail physique que nous avons à faire », se plaint d’une des employées sur le site News.com.au.

« Les hôtesses de l’air ont de 20 à 60 ans et beaucoup d’entre elles, notamment les plus âgées, ne souhaitent pas porter d’uniformes trop moulants. Nous aimions les anciens uniformes créés par Peter Morrissey. Ceux-là ils étaient vraiment confortables », ajoute une autre hôtesse mécontente. Un porte-parole d’une association rassure: « Nous avons demandé à Qantas de modifier un peu l’uniforme pour répondre aux plaintes des hôtesses. »

Voir encore:

Ryanair : le calendrier qui fait jaser

Amélie Gautier

le 14 décembre 2007

Présenté par la compagnie low cost comme le « calendrier 2008 le plus chaud », il met en scène ses hôtesses dans des poses osées. Du pur sexisme, selon des associations.En janvier, Julia assise dans le cockpit met le doigt sur l’un des nombreux boutons du tableau de bord, simplement vêtue d’un maillot de bain et de la casquette de pilote. En temps normal, la jeune femme assure la liaison vers Düsseldorf. Pas timorée pour un sou, en février, Jaroslava en bikini blanc se repose dans le creux d’un réacteur. Habituellement, la jolie brune travaille sur l’avion pour Rome. En avril, Nicola, hôtesse au sol à Londres montre, sifflet dans la bouche et tête ingénue, comment gonfler son gilet de sauvetage en cas de crash…. Et c’est comme ça douze mois durant sur le calendrier de Ryanair, baptisé Girls of Ryanair 2008.

Assurément très coquin mais aussi très malin de la part de la compagnie aérienne à bas tarifs d’Europe, qui fait parler d’elle tout en faisant sa B.A. : tous les bénéfices de la vente, 7 euros pièce, sont destinés à une œuvre de bienfaisance : l’association caritative Angels Quest, qui se charge de trouver des solutions d’hébergement provisoire pour des enfants atteints d’un handicap, afin de soulager leurs proches. Jusqu’à présent, 7 000 exemplaires – sur 10 000 – ont été vendus.

« Une atteinte à la dignité des femmes travailleuses »

« Quand nous avons lancé l’idée de mettre en scène des membres de l’équipage pour la bonne cause, 100 personnes se sont portées candidates, explique Peter Sherrard, de Ryanair. 12 ont été sélectionnées ». « Les plus belles hôtesses de Ryanair font monter la température en cabine », affirme le directeur des ressources humaines de Ryanair, Eddie Wilson, cité sur le site internet de la compagnie.

En tout cas, en voyant ces nymphes les mains dans le cambouis, le sang d’une association espagnole de consommateur n’a fait qu’un tour : Facua a ainsi accusé cette semaine la compagnie irlandaise d’utiliser ses hôtesses de l’air comme « des outils publicitaires ». Ce calendrier porte « atteinte à la dignité des femmes travailleuses en général et des hôtesses de l’air en particulier, en représentant des images stéréotypées de cette profession contre lesquelles on lutte depuis des années », a affirmé Facua.

Sexiste le calendrier ? Peter Sherrard de rétorquer : « On défend juste le droit des femmes à enlever leurs vêtements ». La dernière page montre une hôtesse dans un coin de l’avion, sourire pincé, peau fripée et maillot de bain fleuri, cette femme un peu défraîchie comparée aux donzelles précédentes est censée incarnée une hôtesse de Aer Lingus… Le principal concurrent de Ryanair, qu’elle a longtemps convoité jusqu’au « non » de Bruxelles. Charity business !

Love & Sexe : les métiers où on se fait le plus draguer

Valérie, hôtesse de l’air, 28 ans

Cosmopolitan

La dernière fois qu’on vous a draguée ?

L’an passé, sur un vol Paris-San Francisco. L’homme en question voyageait en Business. Pas un playboy, mais un quinqua plutôt classe qui parlait bien de son métier.

Il bossait chez Calvin Klein et, entre un café et une mignonnette de Baileys, m’a proposé de me faire envoyer le dernier parfum. Naïve, sur la passerelle, j’ai lâché ma carte de visite.

Sur la sienne, en échange, j’ai pu lire «?RDV à mon Novotel ??». Berk.

Pourquoi votre métier fait fantasmer ?

L’image de Natacha hôtesse de l’air tient bon. Et puis, il y a le prestige sexy de l’uniforme, du tailleur au foulard (exit le calot, par contre).

On sent les regards durant notre show sur les consignes de sécurité. On s’en amuse même, parfois.

Vous vous y attendiez ?

J’imaginais pire. Pas de la part des passagers, mais plutôt du personnel de bord.

Aujourd’hui, les escales sont plus courtes – quatre jours maxi – et la rotation des équipages ultra rapide. Moins le temps de se laisser séduire par le pilote !

Tactiques des garçons ?

Souvent affligeantes : le soda renversé dans la travée centrale, obligée d’éponger… en tailleur, la boucle de ceinture introuvable… Le must : un homme m’a même demandé de border sa couverture.

Comment vous vous défendez ?

Quand tu es hôtesse, tu dois faire preuve de diplomatie. Surtout sur un long-courrier. Donc, je réponds «?Non, merci?» sur le même ton et avec le même sourire que quand je propose «?Thé ou café ??».

Voir par ailleurs:

Le sexe ne fait pas vendre…

Jean-François Dortier

Sciences humaines

Décembre 2005

Prenez plusieurs groupes de personnes. Placez-les devant un téléviseur. A l’un des groupes, on montre une émission avec du sexe, à un autre de la violence ; un troisième regardera une émission familiale du type « Les animaux les plus drôles ». Interrompez alors chaque programme par quelques spots publicitaires. Puis demandez aux personnes de se souvenir des noms et des marques qu’ils ont vus. C’est le groupe « émission familiale » qui s’en souviendra le mieux. Moins perturbé par les scènes « chaudes », leur esprit est plus disponible. Répétez plusieurs fois pour vous assurer du fait. Et voilà : la démonstration est établie. Les publicités liées à des programmes télévisés de sexe ou de violence ont moins d’effets que celles qui sont associées à des programmes familiaux. L’expérience était simple. Elle a été réalisée par Brad Bushman de l’université du Michigan et publiée dans une récente livraison de Psychological Science. Conclusion : s’il est connu que le sexe ou la violence font grimper l’Audimat et si l’Audimat fait monter les recettes publicitaires, cela ne veut pas dire que le sexe ou la violence font vendre. CQFD.

Voir aussi:

6: Pourquoi le sexe vend ? (et quoi et à qui…)

Philippe Gouillou

December 12, 2011

Faut-il toujours mettre la photo d’une femme sexy pour vendre ? A voir les pubs on pourrait le croire, mais en fait si le sexe a bien un effet puissant, il est plus subtil que ça.

1. Pourquoi le sexe vend ? (et quoi et à qui…)

Tout le monde ne travaille pas dans le secteur de la pornographie et le sexe n’est pas le sujet principal des pensées des hommes (pas même celui des femmes), pourtant il est, de plus en plus semble-t-il, le support principal des publicités. Pourquoi ?

De nombreuses études (ex : Janssens et al., 2011 ; Sundie et al., 2011 ; Wilson et al., 2004) montrent qu’il y a un lien entre la situation de séduction et l’achat de produits liés au statut : c’est l’affichage du statut (le “display”) pour montrer qu’on a suffisamment de ressources disponibles pour se permettre d’en dépenser sur des produits inutiles (encore le Handicap de Zahavi). L’effet est plus fort chez les célibataires pour les achats d’impulsion et Griskevicius et ses collègues (2011) ont même trouvé que le sex-ratio avait un impact direct : plus il y a d’hommes en concurrence, plus l’effet display sera marqué.

Et pour les femmes ?

Griskevicius et al. (2007) ont trouvé le même effet chez les femmes mais moins brutal et pas sur le même type de dépense, elles donneront surtout à des causes et chercheront à aider, comme le montre le graphique :

En fait, ce qui influence le mode de consommation des femmes est leur position dans le cycle menstruel : en période d’ovulation elles dépenseront plus pour des produits liés à leur apparence (Durante et al., 2010).Un message sexuel est donc un priming efficace pour activer chez la cible les programmes de séduction (et notamment ce display), ceux-ci montrant des différences sexuelles marquées. C’est un Priming plus direct que la simple beauté qui provoque donc plus directement les mêmes effets.

Application pratique

Si vos produits correspondent, une publicité directement sexuelle sera particulièrement efficace, sinon le risque est grand que la cible n’en garde qu’une désagréable impression d’overdose (certes, vous pouvez encore espérer que quelques féministes augmenteront gratuitement votre notoriété mais ça ne durera pas : elles finiront pas le remarquer !)

Photo : Campagne Diesel 2010 (“Sex Sells* / *Unfortunately we sell jeans”) présentée sur BlogoPub : “Diesel Sex Sells : du sexe et des jeans par Nono – le 3 février 2010″

2. Photo : Top Model, le prochain métier remplacé par des ordinateurs

Photomontage 20 minutes

La dernière campagne H&M Suède a fait beaucoup de bruit : elle n’utilise plus que le visage des mannequins, collés sur des corps en plastique retouchés par ordinateur. 20 minutes traduit le journal suédois Aftonbladet :

«Ce ne sont pas de véritables corps. On prend des photos des vêtements sur un mannequin (en plastique, ndr), et ensuite, l’apparence humaine est générée par un programme informatique»

La beauté correspond à des critères et n’est pas que dans l’oeil de celui qui regarde (la page d’Evopsy la plus citée sur les sites féminins) et cela fait longtemps que les robots peuvent noter tout seul la beauté d’une femme mais deux choix de H&M pour cette campagne sont à noter :

H&M a choisi de garder des visages réels

H&M n’a fait aucune distinction régionale pour la forme du corps

Pour l’instant les seules critiques semblent être les (classiques) accusations d’incitation à l’anorexie mais j’imagine que le point 2 ci-dessus sera aussi très vite récupéré.

En fait le vrai jeu est maintenant de se demander combien de temps encore les visages réels seront utilisés et quand les femmes pourront vraiment être remplacées par de (parfaits) robots.

Pour rappel :

La compétition sexuelle est à l’intérieur de chaque sexe et l’habillement sert aux femmes d’abord à se positionner entre elles, le regard des hommes n’étant qu’un moyen dans cette guerre

Les mannequins Haute Couture ont des corps et des visages beaucoup plus masculins que les mannequins lingerie et les “pornstars” : en fait elles ressemblent à des garçons adolescents

La préférence des hommes pour des femmes plus ou moins “pulpeuses” est directement influencée par leur situation économique perçue : les plus riches préfèrent les plus minces (Herbert, 2010)

Les hommes ne privilégient la beauté du visage que pour des relations à long terme (Confer et al. , 2010 : synthèse sur Evopsy)

Application pratique

Si vous voulez utiliser le même genre de technique, assurez-vous de faire appel à d’excellents infographistes pour ne pas souffrir des deux risques célèbres : le “désastre photoshop” direct (exemples : Photoshop Disaster) et peut-être la “Vallée dérangeante” (“Uncanny Valley”) découverte par Masahiro Mori dès 1970, qui hypothétise que la “presque-ressemblance” humaine des robots fait (très) peur.

Ou alors attendez un tout petit peu : Karsch & Forsyth (2011) ont développé un impressionnant programme d’incrustation d’images (fixes et animées) accessible à tous après seulement 10mn de formation (voir leur vidéo de présentation). A ce rythme d’évolution, les infographistes seront les suivants sur la liste à être remplacés par des ordinateurs…

Photo et liens : 20 minutes : “Quand H&M copie-colle de vrais visages sur des corps générés par ordinateur” (06/12/2011)

3. Nouveau : La mesure du fauxtoshoppage

Hasard du calendrier ou pas, une toute nouvelle étude (Kee & Farid, 2011) propose une méthode pratique pour mesurer la quantité de retouche d’une photo (voir quelques exemples d’avant/après), ses auteurs souhaitant que leur note soit publiée à côté des photos retouchée en tant qu’avertissement (exactement comme pour les marges d’erreur des sondages). Cela permettrait peut-être de répondre à une demande extrêmement fréquente : que la compétition sexuelle soit plus “loyale” (j’avais vu à la TV une femme maquillée et beaucoup refaite se plaindre du “manque d’honnêteté des hommes”…)

Il me semble cependant que ne s’intéresser qu’au fauxtoshoppage est beaucoup trop restrictif : il faudrait bien sûr étendre cette méthode à la chirurgie esthétique et surtout, par souci d’équité, noter aussi le degré d’embelllissement des reportages sur les hommes ayant réussi économiquement…

Articles cités :

Confer, J. C., Perilloux, C., & Buss, D. M. (2010). More than just a pretty face: men’s priority shifts toward bodily attractiveness in short-term versus long-term mating contexts. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(5), 5. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.04.002

Durante, K. M., Griskevicius, V., Hill, S. E., Perilloux, C., & Li, N. P. (2010). Ovulation, Female Competition, and Product Choice: Hormonal Influences on Consumer Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(April), 100827095129016-000. doi:10.1086/656575

Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Sundie, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Miller, G. F., & Kenrick, D. T. (2007). Blatant benevolence and conspicuous consumption: when romantic motives elicit strategic costly signals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 93(1), 85-102. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.93.1.85

Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Ackerman, J. M., Delton, A. W., Robertson, T. E., & White, A. E. (2011). The financial consequences of too many men: Sex ratio effects on saving, borrowing, and spending. Journal of personality and social psychology. doi:10.1037/a0024761

Herbert, W. (2010). Do poor and hungry men prefer heavier women? Do rich and full guys like skinny girls? On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits (p. 304). Crown. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Second-Thought-Outsmarting-Hard-Wired-Habits/dp/0307461637

Janssens, K., Pandelaere, M., Van Den Bergh, B., Millet, K., Lens, I., & Roe, K. (2011). Can buy me love: Mate attraction goals lead to perceptual readiness for status products. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(1), 1-35. Elsevier Inc. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.08.009

Karsch, K., & Forsyth, D. (2011). Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs. Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH ASIA (Vol. 30). Retrieved from http://kevinkarsch.com/publications/sa11.html

Kee, E., & Farid, H. (2011). A perceptual metric for photo retouching. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011, 1-6. doi:10.1073/pnas.1110747108

Mori, M. (1970). The Uncanny Valley. Energy, 7(4), 33–35. Retrieved from http://www.movingimages.info/digitalmedia/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/MorUnc.pdf

Sundie, J. M. J. M., Kenrick, D. T. D. T., Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M. J. M., Vohs, K. D. K. D., & Beal, D. J. D. J. (2011). Peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous consumption as a sexual signaling system. Journal of personality and social psychology, 100(4), 664. American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/a0021669

Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (2004). Do pretty women inspire men to discount the future? Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 271 Suppl, S177-9. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0134

Gallery: Sexy flight attendant uniforms of the past

Whither the years of « charm farms, » little black books, hot pants and go-go boots? Come along with us for a groovy trip in time and style

Max Kim

CNN

18 July, 2012

Southwest Airlines flight attendants in the 1970s

Southwest Airlines’ motto in the 1970s is said to have been « sex sells seats, » and flight attendants were dressed to fit the bill. Widely known as « The Love Airline, » Southwest resisted hiring males until after losing a class action lawsuit in 1980.

Flying used to be so sexy.

Back in the days when passengers had to walk across the tarmac to board a plane, they were greeted by « air hostesses » arrayed in knee-high boots, short skirts and white gloves.

In 1971, the now-defunct U.S.-based National Airlines ran a saucy and suggestive ad that featured a flight attendant named Cheryl, smiling affably and accompanied by the seductive slogan, “I’m Cheryl. Fly me.”

There was another one, this time with Jo.

Business reportedly jumped 23 percent, despite accusations of sexism.

Along with National Airlines’ advertising campaign (American Airlines may have given them a run for their money), Eastern Airlines encouraged flirting with stewardesses by handing out little black books to male passengers for storing phone numbers.

Flight attendants were trained at « charm farms » to maximize their feminine sex appeal and a book depicting the golden age of travel by two « adventurous » former flight attendants entitled « Coffee, Tea or Me? » further stoked the flames of the fantasy of flying.

The airline industry has since gone through some major overhauls.

Airlines have adopted a gender-neutral professionalism, austere security measures and the ever-widening gaps between the luxury seat and the cramped budget one.

Societal norms have changed for the better — it’s hard to imagine some of the outfits pictured here ever being approved.

Still, it’s interesting to recall the fashion ethos of yesteryear.

Lowe Hunt for Lynx Body Spray: The Lynx Jet Project

November 3, 2011

Author:

An essential ingredient of experimentation is not always knowing where things will lead you. In 2005 Lynx came up with a new marketing story to up the ante on it’s “sex appeal” image. In Australia, the launch of the fictitious airline LynxJet combined familiar features of air traval with elements of male fantasy including racy in -flight entertainment such as pillow fighting, spanking and mud wrestling. When Lynx tried to get the airline off the ground for real, with sexy Lynx air stewardesses, the high-flying fantasy of a private luxury jet came crashing to earth when it was grounded by the Australian Aviation Authority.

The Brief
Lynx (Axe globally) is a male targeted bodyspray with an irreverent brand personality that is focused around public, playful fantasies. Lynx’s problem was that guys 17-25yrs were dropping out of the brand because they perceived it to be for their younger brother. Lynx needed to actively engage 17-25yrs males

The Media Strategy
The first overseas trip (without parents) is an AUSTRALIAN rite of passage. It represents the move into adulthood and is associated with freedom, including sexual freedom. It starts when they get on the plane – the mile-high club is within reach (in their dreams!)
To feed this fantasy, we created an airline – LYNXJET. Our strategy was to BEHAVE EXACTLY LIKE AN AIRLINE in media targeting young males. This integrated campaign incorporated an actual branded airplane (the LynxJet), real life air hostesses (Mostesses), a mock check-in service online and other airline-style communication. Young guys believed their fantasies had become reality!

The Idea
Two distinct phases:
1/ CREATE THE MYTH: a plane was re-branded LynxJet; viral launched the ultimate mile high fantasy club; there was signage at check-in counters; locker/seat/ticket advertising; sampling girls (“Mostesses”) acted like air-hostesses and became walking billboards.


Human Moving Billboards, otherwise known as LYNXjet Mostess. On the streets of Australian cities, in bars and at the airport, you couldn’t miss them. They were flirting, they were handing out their business cards and guys fell at their feet. The boys would leave messages, SMSs and go to the website to fulfill their fantasy of an airline that never was. The Mile High Club Lounge travelled from city to city creating a live LYNXjet experience. Guys could get a massage, have their picture taken with a Mostess and then download it off the web. The Human Moving Billboards were designed to drive guys to the web and register for the Mile High Club. In total over 658,000 unique visits, 11,500 Mile High Club registratations, the airline was dicussed on weblogs globally along with significant coverage on TV current affairs shows and in the press which was calculated at almost a half a million dollars of free advertising.

2/ FEED THE MYTH: A playful edge was added to traditional airline infrastructure: we created a website (www.lynxjet.com) and mobile ‘Mile High Club’ lounge. Then we imitated traditional airline advertising, with messaging targeting males.
We copied airline behavior to fuel the fantasy and surround the target. We launched with TV in the World Cup Qualifier, crashing Qantas’s ‘airline’ exclusivity. We created content on targeted radio (e.g. interviews with ‘Mostesses’). Newspapers messaged Lynxjet prices.

Online, we created a mock booking system & we staged a recruitment drive for “Mostesses” on employment sites. We delivered an airline experience by taking a mobile ‘Mile High Club Lounge’ to the streets.

The Results
Controversy is a measure of success! The plane was pulled due to a threatened strike by actual cabin crew! Brand share jumped to 84.5% – an all time high! The measure ‘is a sexy brand’ increased by 10%. Over 658,000 unique page views (27% of the target!).

Anthony Toovey, Unilever’s Senior Brand Manager responsible for Lynx says,“In Lynx Jet we have the opportunity to make the fantasies that have always been a core part of the Lynx brand, come to life. This is a ground-breaking activation for Unilever globally and we’re enormously proud of it.”

Advertising Agency: Lowe Hunt, Sidney
Creative Director: Adam Lance
Direct Creative Director: Peter Bidenko
Copywriter:  Michael Canning
Art Director: Simone Brandse
Year: 2005
Grand Prix Media Lions
 5 Gold Lion (Media, Promo and Direct)
2 Bronze Lion for the Campaign (Film & Outdoor)

Voir enfin:

Why Men Can’t Take Compliments

Casey Quinlan

The Atlantic

December 18, 2013

Recently, a date said to me, « You haven’t given me any compliments yet. I’ve complimented you plenty of times. »

It made me think about how rare it is for a man to openly express a desire to be praised for his looks and question why I didn’t compliment men on their looks more often. When I Googled, « men given compliments on appearance, » Google suggested I try, « Men give compliments on appearance. »

The concept of women complimenting men on their appearance can still seem foreign. Men are often portrayed as using compliments as a social tool, but do they themselves want to be applauded for their physical attributes?

In wanting to be praised for his looks, it would appear my date falls into a minority, according to one 1990 study by researchers at SUNY Binghamton and the University of the Witwatersrand, which concluded that compliments from men were generally accepted, especially by female recipients, but « compliments from women are met with a response type other than acceptance »: as a threat.

Men often see compliments as « face-threatening acts, » or acts intended to embarrass or patronize, the study authors found. What was meant as a nicety could be seen as a way to assert control.

When it comes to compliments from their own sex, men often regard appearance-based praise as a come-on. In her 2003 book, Sociolinguistics: The Essential Readings, Christina Bratt Paulston writes that for heterosexual men, « to compliment another man on his hair, his clothes, or his body is an extremely face-threatening thing to do, both for the speaker and the hearer. »

In the book The Psychology of Love, Michele Antoinette Paludi points out that stepping outside of gender roles can reduce attraction between partners.

« Current research indicates that gender-atypical qualities are often turn-offs in intimate relationships … Women also experienced social costs for atypical gender behavior … both men who were passive and women who were assertive were evaluated as significantly less socially attractive by men than women who did not engage in self-promoting behaviors. »

Being the arbiter of someone’s attractiveness can be interpreted as an expression of masculinity that women are not traditionally expected to adopt. Further, it is possible that a good portion of men don’t want to be essentially « treated like women, » as their masculinity is dependent on being above the judgments women are often subjected to.

Men are also more reluctant to express behaviors such as envy, according to the 2012 book, Gender, Culture and Consumer Behavior, which suggests that men hesitate to display “low-agency” emotions such as anxiety, vulnerability and jealousy.

In life as well as in art, a man’s focus on his own appearance can be perceived as detracting from his perceived masculinity in the eyes of male reviewers. In her book, Extra-Ordinary Men: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Popular Cinema, Nicola Rehling points out that in the movie Gladiator, Maximus had a muscular build but was not sexualized on-screen. In the movie Troy, meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s Achilles was practically groomed for the enjoyment of straight female and gay male viewers. Crowe’s body was not nearly as exposed as Pitt’s was throughout the movie.

Rehling writes, « In the majority of reviews of the film, Brad Pitt was compared unfavorably with Crowe, with many expressing disappointment that he failed to import the primal masculinity that was such a big box office attraction in Gladiator. The adulation of Crowe’s Maximus would seem to articulate a desire for an undiluted, corporeal, physical male presence. »

The consequences for women giving men compliments are also different than those for men giving women compliments. In a 2006 study from Williamette University’s College of Liberal Arts, researchers Christopher Parisi and Peter Wogan found that college-aged men were generally given compliments on skills, while women were given compliments on their looks. Parisi and Wogan also found that women felt the need to be cautious when complimenting men on their appearance because they didn’t want to be « too forward » or attract « unwanted attention. »

That fear is supported by a 2008 study, conducted in Australia by Griffith University, which hypothesized that men are more likely to interpret or misinterpret female compliments as seductive or flirtatious than women are male compliments.

Who knew complimenting could be so complicated? Perhaps if we better understand the social norms behind compliments, women and men alike could begin to feel more comfortable praising each other in a non-sexual way, and to not expect anything in return.

http://jezebel.com/older-men-with-whom-we-would-go-to-bed-1485844445?utm_campaign=socialflow_jezebel_facebook&utm_source=jezebel_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Voir par ailleurs:

Pan Am: When air travel was sexy
Melissa Whitworth dons her girdle to welcome a new retro-glam series from the US.
Melissa Whitworth
16 Nov 2011

Inside a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, stands a vintage Boeing 707. A bell rings, someone shouts “turbulence” and a cast of actors dressed in immaculate Sixties costumes jiggle about as if the stationary plane has encountered some rough air.

This is the set of Pan Am, the latest retro-flavoured television drama to arrive from the United States, which starts on BBC Two this week. Like Mad Men before it, the series, which follows the lives of four Pan Am stewardesses as they travel the world, is set in the Sixties: the first season takes place in 1963.

Christina Ricci plays Maggie, a stewardess who compromises her bohemian ideals to wear the Pan Am uniform – a girdle was mandatory and the women were weighed regularly and admonished for any gains – to see the world.
“I think the Sixties is a really visually beautiful period. It’s gorgeous to watch,” says Ricci, during a break between scenes.
What sets Pan Am apart from Mad Men is its romanticised view of the period it depicts. While Mad Men’s plot lines highlight racism, anti-Semitism and wanton sexual harassment, Pan Am chooses instead to airbrush the Sixties. “I was aware of how misogynistic this period was,” says Ricci, 31. “And we don’t deal as harshly with that as some other shows do.”

As one American critic wrote when the series first aired in the US, “When the present isn’t very promising, and the future seems tapered and uncertain, the past acquires an enviable lustre.”

Nancy Hult Ganis, one of the show’s producers, was a Pan Am stewardess from 1969 to 1976 and is the in-house adviser on the precise details of air travel in the Jet Age. Passengers really were served seven-course meals, including turtle soup and caviar. Stewardesses were encouraged to interact with their charges, playing chess and cards with them.

Ganis also says that many of the storylines are taken from real life, including one that sees stewardess Kate (Kelli Garner) become a low-level CIA operative.

“It became known later that many [Pan Am] station managers around the world were somehow connected to the CIA. It was the perfect cover. Pan Am flew into Russia in the Fifties even though there were no official routes there until 1968.”

Pan Am is the latest American drama to focus not only on the Sixties but what The New Yorker recently identified as “the rise of the American female and the demise of the American male”.

Ricci believes there is still some way to go to eradicate misogyny. “We have just got a lot better about not writing these things down and handing out rules. It’s less overt,” she says. “The Sixties was definitely a very misogynistic time: women were not treated as equals.

“I love watching Mad Men,” she adds, “but that doesn’t mean I want to live in it.”

Voir encore:

Stewardess chic is a flight of fantasy – with a weight limit
From the retro glamour of the Sixties to Carole Middleton, air hostesses still fascinate. So will the new BBC drama series take off?
Hannah Betts
The Telegraph

16 Nov 2011

As a teenager at my staunchly academic girls’ grammar school, the daughter in our anachronistic French textbook boasted one ambition: to be a starched, suited and scarfed airline stewardess, à la the heroines of Pan Am, the airline that is the basis of a new drama series that starts on BBC Two tonight.

Back in the mid-Eighties, how we despised young Marie-Claude for the sexist sappiness of her ambition. Miss Bertillon waxed lyrical about the glamour, the jet-setting, the familiar platitude about seeing the world. While her brother, Philippe, the chauvinist cochon, satirised her inability to fit the job’s weight requirements. Role model for a group of gymslip-feminists the wannabe Gallic trolley dolly was not.
But, then, we had so much opportunity: with book learning came expectations regarding equality, education, economic and sexual independence. If we wanted to see the world, we would InterRail as casually as today’s youth accrue bucket-shop flights.

Originating some 20 years earlier, Marie-Claude was simply following the route to success of many a small-town girl. Among them have been several prime minister’s wives: Lyudmila Putina, wife of Vladimir Putin, Sara Netanyahu, wife of Benjamin, and Annita Keating, estranged wife of Paul. Others ensnared the rich: Irina, the second Mrs Abramovich, say; Alex Best, wife of George; Daylesford Organic supremo Lady Carole Bamford, and – most notoriously and most upwardly mobile – Mrs Carole “doors-to-manual” Middleton.

Time was when airline stewardesses were the girls most likely to succeed, by merit of being the girl with whom men would most like to succeed. These geishas of the air may have theoretically catered to both genders, but business flying meant businessmen, and their attendants, were schooled in the art of being the perfect mistress/wife. Accordingly, they learned how to mix cocktails, select wine, serve food and generally make their male passengers comfortable in the subservience-with-a-smile manner of a Fifties marital manual. As actor Robert Vaughn sighed in the BBC documentary Come Fly with Me (The Story of Pan Am): “I just remember the girls. They couldn’t do enough for you.”

The frisky addition was, of course, that these hostesses encouraged not only uxoriousness, but sexual fantasy, being – by contractual obligation – slim, single, under 30 and provocatively uniform-clad. “Fly me,” cooed the sirens in the jet age’s innuendo-laden adverts, encouraging mile-high fantasies everywhere. Air Singapore still trades off the beguilements of its Singapore Girls, albeit said campaigns exploit Orientalism as much as they do sexism. Fancy dress shops are awash with “naughty” stewardess uniforms, a guise that Britney Spears made her bottom-wiggling own in the mile-high-themed video for her hit single Toxic.

Pan Am, the TV series, relishes the full fetishism implied in this particular fantasy of flight. Hair is snipped to a regulation bounce, hats jauntily angled, white gloves pristinely laundered, bottoms pertly pattable, and every girl equipped with the compulsory Revlon Persian Melon smile. In the first episode, there is a weigh-in, a tweaking-based girdle inspection and a scandal over a snagged pair of stockings. As Mary Quant confessed in Come Fly with Me, passengers felt under equal pressure to scrub up: “You kind of dressed up to get on an aeroplane… It was glamorous. It was wonderful.”

Fashion is already experiencing a retro, besuited moment, in which such niceties do not seem entirely out of place. Indeed, modish Singapore-based label Raoul has based its current collection specifically on the Pan Am uniforms of the Sixties and Seventies: brisk blouses, A-line skirts and practical, across-the-body bags. Meanwhile, retailers are leaping on the bandwagon to flog their more traditional wares as “Pan Am-inspired” (thank you, John Lewis). Doubtless, the elevation of Carole Middleton’s daughter to spick-and-span poster girl/future Queen also has something to do with this, but neat-and-nippy suits, silk scarves, sensible courts and flesh-coloured hose are suddenly feeling minxily dapper rather than no-hopedly naff.

However, a TV series cannot flourish by fashion fix alone, and, for many of us, there will be something more than a tad depressing about American television’s fixation with a time when men were martini-swigging men, and women were resolutely second-class citizens. While Mad Men may have shown the struggle of our grandmothers’ generation to be accepted on equal terms, Pan Am lies back and thinks of (flying towards) England. Nevertheless, both celebrate a culture in which a pointy brassiere was more useful to a girl than a pointy head.

Why are conservative periods the only ones that attract producers’ interest? A suffragette drama could still feature frocks (in green, white and violet to symbolise Give Women Votes), a land girl mini-series could go big on headscarves and carmine pouts. However, at least in both we would be celebrating a situation in which women were more than Valiumed, barefoot and pregnant, or mile-high hot stuff.

Or why not opt for later in the history of the hostess? Female flight attendants were at the forefront of Seventies gender campaigning. American activist group Stewardesses for Women’s Rights objected to company discrimination and sexist advertising that encouraged a culture of harassment, carrying many cases to court. Under pressure, the industry went on to drop its age, marriage and – finally – weight restrictions. Hostesses were routinely grounded without pay when their weight exceeded what the airline deemed appropriate.

“Flight attendant”, or “cabin crew” are now deemed more acceptable terms than the servile “stewardess” or “hostess”. Indeed, in the wake of September 11, 2001, society’s image of said flight attendant radically altered again. The selfless heroism of the women who battled to protect passengers and provided vital information about the hijackings is a matter of public record. Today, staff are trained to be physically robust and to take the offensive under attack rather than obeying commands. The passive and compliant trolley dolly has been forever grounded.

Yet a testosterone tang of sexism still lingers around ritzier air travel. When I have been fortunate enough to be flown business class, it frequently has the atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club. I have been asked whether I am “off to a wedding”, “a model” or a “pop star”. I regret to add that – more than once – mention has been made of the mile-high club, as if I may be travelling purely for the sexual entertainment of said male passenger. One regretted having taking a sleeping pill, because otherwise he could have had intercourse with me. That such an act might require consent did not appear to have occurred to him.

The “retro glamour” – for which read antiquated gender stereotypes – played out in Pan Am seems unlikely to improve the situation for the female flier, be she a customer, or one of the industry’s goddesses of the skies.

Voir enfin:

The high life of the air hostess? Hardly
Today’s trolley dollies face abuse – and even violence – from passengers during the summer exodus. Sally Williams investigates
Sally Williams
Teh Telegraph

30 Jul 2011

School’s out, the holidays are here, and Maria Selwick, 28, smiles with relief, thinking, thank God, that’s over. For three years, she worked as an air hostess for a budget airline company, flying to holiday destinations around Europe, and summer turned every day into a living hell.
“The kids and babies scream because their ears are hurting. People get annoyed. Kids kick the back of chairs and run up and down the cabin. It’s just a nightmare,” she says.
“People on board aircraft turn into animals. They boil into sudden shouting if you suggest the ‘hand’ luggage is too big for the locker. They get drunk, leave dirty nappies on the seat. Once we were landing and couldn’t let a woman into the lavatory so she pulled down her pants and did a wee in the galley.”
All the time, she had to recall her most important guideline: Be polite. She had no choice but to roll a trolley through this bedlam because a large portion of her pay depended on how much alcohol she sold.
How life has changed. Back in the 1960s when the jet age was just beginning, air stewardesses had an aura of glamour. It meant flying to tremendously exotic places, meeting lots of people. They wore hats and white gloves; handed out warm bread rolls from a basket.

Libbie Escolme-Schmidt, a former flight attendant who wrote Glamour in the Skies: The Golden Age of the Air Stewardess, remembers escorting passengers to their seats and folding their coats – “and this was in the economy cabin!”

Then, in 1989, the liberalisation of air routes in Europe heralded a boom in budget air travel. The democratic years began. Last year 211 million of us passed through UK airports – a 100-fold increase since 1950. But it’s often a bumpy ride. In 2008-09, the Civil Aviation Authority received 3,529 reports of “disruptive” behaviour on board aircraft. These included 796 reports of passengers arguing with crew, 983 reports of passengers disobeying crew, and 106 who turned violent.

This isn’t to say that the cabin crew don’t flip, too. Frequent-flier blogs ring with tales of “flight attendant rage”. Last year, Steven Slater, a JetBlue attendant, finally decided he’d had enough on the tarmac of Kennedy International Airport. After an argument with a passenger who stood up to fetch his luggage too soon, he launched a four-letter zinger through the public address system, grabbed a beer from the drinks trolley and slid down the emergency chute.

So what’s going on? “The passenger clientele has changed dramatically,” says Judith Osborne, 47, who recently retired after spending 25 years working for such airlines as Dan Air and British Airways. “When I first started it was the elite few and then it was families on package holidays. Now you’ve got the people who are generally 18 to 25.” By which she means drunk quite a lot of the time.

“About seven years ago, I was on a flight to Ibiza, lots of drinking on board, and this couple who’d never met just got together in the loo. There was a queue outside and a passenger said, ‘Someone’s been in there a long time.’ ”

When the couple came out, she took things in hand. “I did a passenger announcement,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Could everyone applaud the couple coming out of the toilet. They’ve just joined the Mile High Club.’ The passengers all applauded and the couple looked embarrassed. In the early days it never happened. I’ve now come across it nine times.”

“It is extremes of human nature writ large in a tiny space,” explains Imogen Edwards-Jones, author of Air Babylon, an exposé of life in the sky. In an aeroplane, she says, you are sealed off from the outside, cocooned in another world. “It’s like when you go through the revolving door of a five-star hotel – normal rules no longer apply. People think they are perfectly entitled to be rude to the air hostess, have sex with the person next to them, and drink everything going.”

She thinks bad behaviour is cabin-specific. “There’s more sexual activity in first class. You are given a bed and for some reason people think it’s more private than it actually is. And it can be quite weird if you end up sleeping next to your boss in a confined space after three glasses of wine – which is basically a bottle, because one drink in the air is worth three on the ground.”

People in economy, on the other hand, are just aggressive, says Edwards-Jones. “I think passengers behaved better when you could smoke. You’ve had a stressful journey there, you’ve had to take your shoes off, your belt off, everyone has searched you. You are more cramped because they pile more people in and you are fed with too much alcohol. Then the person in front of you decides to put their chair back and you’re eating your food under your chin.”

“We’re demeaned and demoted,” agrees Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. “So we’re already irritated, bolshie and desperate to get our full rights in regards of the ticket we’ve paid for. And we perceive the poor flight attendants as enforcing the class division. They draw that curtain to hide us from our betters.”

But we also “eroticise” air travel, he says – “we’re in a flying phallus!” – more specifically the flight attendants themselves. After all, Ralph Fiennes had sex with an Australian stewardess on flight QF123 from Darwin to Mumbai. And Ashley Cole was recently revealed to have slept with air hostess Kerry Meades.

“I heard lots of stories of businessmen hitting on the hostesses,” confirms Edwards-Jones. This is partly because advertising campaigns have always played up their sexual allure. In the 1970s, the motto of Southwest Airlines of Texas was “sex sells seats”. Hotpants were part of the uniform. At the same time, another US airline, the now-defunct National Airlines, ran a famous ad with a pouting stewardess proclaiming, “I’m Cheryl. Fly me.”

To be fair, it wasn’t just companies. Coffee, Tea or Me?, the alleged memoirs of two fictitious stewardesses, published in 1967, launched three sequels, a TV film – and a million male fantasies.

“There’s a great deal of bending over, so it’s a question of cleavage and bottom, I’m afraid,” says Hodson. “But the men are also chosen for their looks, and there’s a market for that. You’ve got somebody serving you and it engenders fantasies.”

Because, of course, we now live in a different era. People have realised that those with a Y chromosome are equally able to serve drinks and stow luggage.

But still stewardesses must look a certain way. “If your hair is longer than your collar you have to wear it up,” says one. “If your ponytail is longer than six inches you have to wear it in a French pleat. You always have to wear high heels.” Even budget airlines, which make cabin crew buy their own uniforms (usually around £300), dictate the colour of tights. “Hazelnut,” says Selwick.

But the job has definitely changed. Rising oil prices, commercial pressure, heightened security and budget cuts mean the whole reason for pushing trolleys through different time zones at 35,000 feet – namely, actually seeing the world – has gone. A trip to Venice, say, is followed almost immediately by the trip home again. “We used to have two whole days in Nairobi and you were free to go off on safari,” remembers one stewardess. “Now it’s a night stop in a cheap hotel.”

“Air hostesses used to be glamorous,” agrees Edwards-Jones. “Now they wear an orange bib and people chuck rubbish at them as they walk up and down the aisle.”

*Some names have been changed

Voir enfin:

Now that was the high life: The ex-Pan Am hostesses recall life at the airline as new drama recreates golden age of flying

Barbara Mcmahon
The Daily Mail

5 October 2011

Sheila Riley will never forget the moment the jaw-droppingly handsome man flashed her a dazzling smile and politely asked: ‘You wouldn’t care to join me for dinner, would you? I hate eating alone.’

The invitation came from movie star Paul Newman and the only reason Sheila hesitated was because she was meant to be working.

It was the summer of 1963 and British-born Sheila was a Pan Am air hostess. She was accustomed to meeting famous passengers, but nothing prepared her for the meal she shared at 35,000ft with one of greatest film heart-throbs of all time.

Newman had already set hearts fluttering when he boarded the plane, quietly storing his bag in the overhead locker before settling into seat 2F in the first-class cabin.

‘I took his coat to hang it up and offered him a drink,’ says Sheila. ‘I was all of a dither, even though I tried not to show it.

‘He was devastatingly good-looking and I had him all to myself because I was the only hostess working first-class that day.’

Sheila had to seek the permission of the captain before taking a seat opposite Newman to share a meal of caviar, lobster and profiteroles, washed down with Dom Perignon champagne.

‘I wasn’t meant to drink alcohol on duty, so I swigged my champagne out of a coffee cup so no one would notice,’ says Sheila.

Despite his fame and good looks, Newman didn’t flirt with 25-year-old Sheila. Instead he spoke about his joy at being a husband and father.

‘He was the perfect gentleman. He was happily married to Joanne Woodward and it was obvious how in love he was. It was so refreshing to hear a man talk about his wife in such a loving way,’ says Sheila.

Glamorous: The stars of Pan Am, set to be screened on the BBC this autumn

‘He wanted to know all about me and the places I had travelled to. It was a couple of years after he’d made The Hustler and he was a big star. He said he envied me my freedom.

‘After 45 minutes I said I had better get back to work. He thanked me for my company and settled down for a snooze before landing.’

Sheila was a stewardess during the golden age of flying when service always came with a dazzling smile.

Pan Am, a TV series to be screened by the BBC this autumn, captures that glamorous heyday. The show takes a romanticised look at the lives and loves of the handsome pilots and beautiful air stewardesses who travelled the world seeking adventure and romance.

In their smart, sky-blue uniforms and pillbox hats, Pan Am air hostesses were the envy of women the world over.

‘It wasn’t a job, it was a lifestyle,’ says Sheila. ‘We shopped for gloves and shoes in Rome, perfume in Paris, pearls in Tokyo and had our clothes made in Hong Kong.

‘We had a knees-up on every stop-over — the first thing we would do on landing was buy bottles of gin.’

Now based in New York, 73-year-old glamorous grandmother Sheila was born in Bolton. She started working for the U.S. airline in 1960 at the age of 22 — one of only three applicants out of 2,000 to make the grade in that round of hiring.

She applied out of a spirit of adventure. ‘All my friends were getting engaged and married, but I didn’t want to do that. When I saw an advert for the job, I knew it was my escape route,’ she says.

It is a sentiment shared by Bronwen Roberts, also now in her 70s. Brought up in Porthmadog, she was heading for a staid life as a teacher when she applied to Pan Am in 1958.

The jobs were so coveted that both women became mini-celebrities in their home towns and appeared in the local press. ‘Now she’s to be an air girl!’ exclaimed a headline in Bronwen’s local newspaper.

They were flown first-class to New York on Pan Am flights to start their new lives. Training for the coveted winged badge was rigorous — it included being dumped in the ocean and having to swim to a life-raft. But mostly it was about learning the art of serving the lucky passengers who could afford to fly in that era.

Golden age: Pan Am recreates the time when air travel was the height of glamour

Meals in first-class were provided by the famous Maxim’s restaurant in Paris: seven-course affairs presented on fine china and table linens.

For this, they earned £80 a month — a small fortune in those days and far more than a teacher or secretary.

Such privilege came at a price: Pan Am girls were subject to a beauty inspection before each flight.

‘When you checked in for work you’d go into the office and there would be a grooming supervisor on duty all the time,’ says Bronwen.

‘She could say « Your hair’s too straggly » or « You’ve put on weight » and send you home until you fixed it.  We all tried to conform and look our best because none of us wanted to be grounded.’

All the stewardesses were given a long list of grooming requirements in the flight service manual they had to follow at all times. Everyone wore the tailored blue two-piece Pan Am uniform, designed by Don Loper of Hollywood, along with a crisp white blouse. Underwear had to be a white bra, full slip, girdle and stockings.

There was even regulation make-up: Revlon’s Persian Melon lipstick and matching nail polish. Charles Revlon was on the Pan Am board of directors.

Sky high ratings: Pan Am stars American actress Christina Ricci as a stewardess
‘If you were caught wearing, say, blue eye-shadow or scarlet lipstick you were told to wipe it off because they wanted us to look natural and wholesome,’ says Sheila.

You had to be single. Married, divorced or separated women were banned. These petty rules seem laughable today, but Pan Am cabin crew in the Sixties thought it was a small price to pay for the freedom to travel abroad, still a relatively rare experience for most people.

Pan American World Airways — as the airline was officially known — was unique among airlines in that it focused on international flights. Celebrities flocked to fly on its Clippers, as its planes were known.

Bronwen remembers The Stratocruiser, which had a spiral staircase leading down to a bar, a bridal suite up front and pull-down beds for passengers.

On one occasion in 1961, she was on board a 707, one of the early jets, when Sir Winston Churchill flew back from New York to London after cruising in the Caribbean with Aristotle Onassis.

The Greek ship-owner had bought out the entire first-class section of the aircraft for the former prime minister and his entourage, which included his private secretary, two nurses, a bodyguard — and a budgerigar.

‘We were waiting at the top of the steps to greet Sir Winston when a bodyguard came on board carrying a little bird in a cage,’ says Bronwen.

‘It turns out Onassis had bought Sir Winston the budgie as a present. It was called Byron and chirped throughout the whole flight, which was rather annoying.

‘Sir Winston ploughed his way through lobster thermidor and roast beef and drank several glasses of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. He followed that up with cognac and smoked two cigars — everyone smoked on flights in those days.’

Bronwen remembers Churchill as being ‘absolutely delightful’ and also recalls the cleaners rushing on to the plane after he disembarked in London, searching the ashtrays for his cigar butts as souvenirs.

Though nothing tops her dinner with Paul Newman, Sheila met many celebrities during her time. She looked after David Niven on a flight to the South of France.

‘He was so charming and impeccably dressed,’ she says.

‘He came to join me at the back of first-class and said: « Let’s play a game. » For about 15 minutes we had to match the faces of all the passengers to imaginary dogs. So a lady with curly hair looked like a poodle and a man who was scowling looked like a boxer. I laughed  so much I thought I might get  in trouble.’

Peter Sellers and his then wife Britt Ekland were on another flight. ‘This was just after he had appeared as an Indian doctor in The Millionairess with Sophia Loren and I complimented him on his accent. For the rest of the flight, he spoke to me in an Indian accent and kept wobbling his head. He had us all in stitches,’ says Sheila.

But not every celebrity was as entertaining. According to the former stewardesses, Bing Crosby was ‘a miserable so and so’ while Joan Crawford, whose husband was on the Pan Am board, travelled with her own coolbox containing Pepsi and vodka.

‘To be blunt, she was a complete lush,’ says Sheila. ‘She started downing the booze from the minute she boarded.’

Predictably, Warren Beatty flirted with every stewardess he laid eyes on. ‘He hung around the galley all night on one New York to London flight,’ says Bronwen.

‘He was chasing a very pretty German stewardess, asking her what she was doing when she got to London and if she wanted to go out with him.

‘When she said she had a boyfriend, he wasn’t in the least discouraged — he just went on to the next stewardess.

‘He worked his way through all of us, but we knew his reputation and weren’t going to fall for it.’

Romance, of course, played a huge part in the lives of Pan Am stewardesses.

‘We had these long trips when we would be away with the same crew for 21 or 24 days,’ says Bronwen. ‘We’d be in romantic places such as Hong Kong or Istanbul, so romance — and affairs — were inevitable. The captains were nicknamed Sky Gods and that’s how we regarded them. They were rugged, virile, attractive men so, of course, we flirted outrageously. If you caught the eye of a captain, it was a feather in your cap.’

Sheila’s love life flourished when she was a Pan Am stewardess.

‘We were the supermodels of the day and every important man wanted a Pan Am stewardess on his arm, so we didn’t go short of offers,’ she says.

American-born Anne Sweeney, who worked for Pan Am from 1964 to 1975, says: ‘I remember walking as a group through airports and crowds would part to let us through.

‘Little girls would come up to me and say: « I’m going to be like you when I grow up. »‘

However, the airline went out of business in 1991. The downing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie by terrorists was a contributing factor, but bad management, rising fuel prices, the introduction of costly 747s and competition on international routes also played a part.

Today, many former Pan Am stewardesses are members of World Wings International, a philanthropic organisation that raises money for charity. They meet regularly at destinations around the world to do good deeds and remember the glory days.

‘We were a kind of sisterhood,’ says Sheila. ‘And we really did have the best job in the world.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2045365/Pan-Am-Former-hostesses-recall-life-airline-new-TV-airs-US.html#ixzz3Mngd8OPZ
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De Staline à Poutine: Une longue pratique d’assassinats secrets et un effort mondial de désinformation (From JFK to Litvinenko: Romanian top spy defector Ion Mihai Pacepa looks back on the Kremlin’s killing and disinforming ways)

8 mars, 2014
https://i2.wp.com/i1.sndcdn.com/artworks-000034189888-rl6yse-t500x500.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02582/LITVINENKO_2582317b.jpgI shouted out, Who killed the Kennedys?  When after all  It was you and me. The Rolling Stones (1968)
Il n’aura même pas eu la satisfaction d’être tué pour les droits civiques. Il a fallu que ce soit un imbécile de petit communiste. Cela prive même sa mort de toute signification. Jackie Kennedy
En affirmant que l’Amérique a le droit d’agir parce qu’elle mène une guerre, qui ne s’applique pas à un territoire précis, contre un ennemi multiforme, la Maison-Blanche crée aussi un dangereux précédent, qui pourrait bien être utilisé à l’avenir par la Russie, la Chine ou l’Iran pour aller éliminer leurs propres ennemis. Pourquoi, dès lors, les alliés de l’Amérique restent-ils silencieux, alors qu’ils accablaient Bush? Le Figaro
Depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de Vladimir Poutine, pas moins de 29 professionnels des médias ont été assassinés en lien direct avec leurs activités professionnelles. Agressions et assassinats se perpétuent à un rythme égal, nourri par l’impunité générale. RSF
Les Russes ont monté de toutes pièces des « séparatistes » ossètes, et abkhazes, pour casser la Géorgie, coupable de lèse-Russie. Moscou préparait depuis des mois l’assaut qui vient de se produire. La 58ème armée, qui s’est ruée sur la Géorgie, avait été préparée de longue main. (…) Poutine a préparé l’action (…) dès le mois d’avril, nous dit le spécialiste russe des affaires militaires Pavel Felgenhauer. On ne lance pas à l’improviste une opération combinée des commandos, des unités de blindés, de la marine et de l’armée de l’air, sans oublier une vaste cyber-attaque commencée une ou deux semaine avant l’assaut. Vu l’état général des forces russes, où les officiers vendent les pneus, les munitions, les carburants et les équipements, il a fallu préparer spécialement l’invasion pendant des mois. Laurent Murawiec
Quel autre pays au monde peut en effet se permettre de raser des villes, de spolier les étrangers, d’assassiner les opposants hors de ses frontières, de harceler les diplomates étrangers, de menacer ses voisins, sans provoquer autre chose que de faibles protestations? Françoise Thom
La politique de « redémarrage » des relations russo-américaines proposée par le président Obama a été interprétée à Moscou comme l’indice de la prise de conscience par les Américains de leur faiblesse, et par conséquent comme une invitation à Moscou de pousser ses pions (…) Le contrat d’achat des Mistrals présente un triple avantage: d’abord, la Russie acquiert des armements de haute technologie sans avoir à faire l’effort de les développer elle-même ; deuxièmement, elle réduit à néant la solidarité atlantique et la solidarité européenne ; troisièmement, elle accélère la vassalisation du deuxième grand pays européen après l’Allemagne. Un expert russe a récemment comparé cette politique à celle de la Chine face aux Etats-Unis : selon lui, à Washington le lobby pro-chinois intéressé aux affaires avec la Chine est devenu si puissant que les Etats-Unis sont désormais incapables de s’opposer à Pékin; la même chose est déjà vraie pour l’Allemagne face à la Russie et elle le sera pour la France après la signature du contrat sur les Mistrals. Françoise Thom
« Dix », me fit remarquer Ceausescu. « C’est dix dirigeants internationaux que le Kremlin a tué ou tenté de tuer »,  m’expliqua-t-il, les comptant sur ses doigts. Laszlo Rajk et Imre Nagy de Hongrie ; Lucretiu Patrascanu et Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej de Roumanie ; Rudolf Slansky, le dirigeant tchèque et Jan Masaryk, le chef de la diplomatie de ce pays ; le shah d’Iran ; Palmiro Togliatti d’Italie ; le Président américain John F. Kennedy ; et Mao Tse Tong. Ion Mihai Pacepa
Quand l’Union soviétique s’est effondrée, les Russes avaient une chance unique de se libérer de leur ancienne forme d’État policier byzantin, qui avait, pendant des siècles, isolé le pays et l’avait laissé complètement démuni devant la complexité de la société moderne. Malheureusement, les Russes n’ont pas été à la hauteur de cette tâche. Depuis la chute du communisme, ils ont été confrontés à une forme indigène de capitalisme dirigé par un ensemble de vieux bureaucrates communistes, spéculateurs et impitoyables mafiosi qui a creusé les inégalités sociales. Par conséquent, après une période de bouleversements, les Russes ont progressivement — et peut-être heureusement — glissé dans leur forme historique du gouvernement, le samoderzhaviye russe traditionnel, une forme d’autocratie remontant à Ivan le Terrible au XIVe siècle, dans laquelle un seigneur féodal dirigeait le pays avec l’aide de sa police politique personnelle. Bonne ou mauvaise, l’ancienne police politique peut apparaître à la plupart des Russes comme leur seul moyen de défense contre la rapacité de leurs nouveaux capitalistes. Il ne sera pas facile de rompre avec une tradition de cinq siècles. Cela ne signifie pas que la Russie ne peut pas changer. Mais pour cela, les Etats-Unis ont leur rôle à jouer. Nous devrions arrêter de faire semblant que le gouvernement russe est démocratique et l’évaluer pour ce qu’il est vraiment : une bande de plus de 6 000 anciens officiers du KGB, une des organisations les plus criminelles de l’histoire — qui a saisi les postes les plus importants dans les gouvernements fédéraux et locaux, et qui perpétuent la pratique de Staline, Khrouchtchev et Brejnev d’assassinats secrets de ceux qui se dressent sur leur chemin. Tuer a toujours un prix, et il faudrait forcer le Kremlin à le payer jusqu’à ce qu’il arrête le massacre. Ion Mihai Pacepa
À partir de ses 15 ans, selon ses propres déclarations, Oswald s’intéresse au marxisme. Peu après, à La Nouvelle-Orléans, il achète le Capital et le Manifeste du Parti communiste7. En octobre 1956, Lee écrit au président du Parti socialiste d’Amérique une lettre où il se déclare marxiste et affirme étudier les principes marxistes depuis quinze mois. Pourtant, alors même qu’il lit toute la littérature marxiste qu’il peut trouver, Oswald prépare son entrée dans les marines en apprenant par cœur le manuel des marines de son frère aîné, Robert, qui est marine. Oswald adore ce frère dont il porte fièrement la bague du Corps et rêve depuis longtemps de l’imiter en le suivant dans la carrière. Alors même qu’il se considère comme un marxiste, Oswald réalise son rêve d’enfance et s’engage dans les marines une semaine après son dix-septième anniversaire. Après les entraînements de base, d’octobre 1956 à mars 1957, Oswald suit un entraînement spécifique destiné à la composante aérienne des marines. Au terme de cet entraînement, le 3 mai 1957, il devient soldat de première classe, reçoit l’accréditation de sécurité minimale, « confidentiel »9, et suit l’entraînement d’opérateur radar. Après un passage à la base d’El Toro (Californie) en juillet 1957, il est assigné à la base d’Atsugi, au Japon, en août 1957. Cette base est utilisée pour les vols de l’avion espion Lockheed U-2 au-dessus de l’URSS, et quoique Oswald ne soit pas impliqué dans ces opérations secrètes, certains auteurs ont spéculé qu’il aurait pu commencer là une carrière d’espion. (…)  En février 1959, il demande à passer un test de connaissance du russe auquel il a des résultats « faibles ».C’est alors qu’Oswald commence à exprimer de manière claire des opinions marxistes qui n’améliorent pas sa popularité auprès de ses camarades. Il lit énormément de revues en russe, écoute des disques en russe et s’adresse aux autres soit en russe soit en contrefaisant un accent russe. Ses camarades le surnomment alors « Oswaldskovich ». Mi-1959, il fait en sorte de rompre prématurément son engagement dans l’armée en prétextant le fait qu’il est le seul soutien pour sa mère souffrante. Lorsqu’il peut quitter l’armée en septembre 1959, il a en fait déjà préparé l’étape suivante de sa vie, sa défection en URSS. Oswald a été un bon soldat, en tout cas au début de sa carrière, et ses résultats aux tests de tir, par exemple, sont très satisfaisants. Ses résultats au tir se dégradent cependant vers la fin de sa carrière militaire, élément qui fut ensuite utilisé pour faire passer Oswald pour un piètre tireur. Ainsi, avec un score de 191 le 5 mai 1959, Oswald atteint encore le niveau « bon tireur », alors qu’il envisage déjà son départ du Corps. Lors de cette séance de tir, Nelson Delgado, la seule personne qui affirma devant la commission Warren qu’Oswald était un mauvais tireur, avait fait 19212. En fait, selon les standards du Corps de Marines, Oswald était un assez bon tireur. Le voyage d’Oswald en URSS est bien préparé : il a économisé la quasi-totalité de sa solde de marine et obtient un passeport en prétendant vouloir étudier en Europe. Il embarque le 20 septembre 1959 sur un bateau en partance de La Nouvelle-Orléans à destination du Havre, où il arrive le 8 octobre pour partir immédiatement vers Southampton, puis prend un avion vers Helsinki (Finlande), où il atterrit le 10 octobre. Dès le lundi 12, Oswald se présente à l’ambassade d’URSS et demande un visa touristique de six jours dans le cadre d’un voyage organisé, visa qu’il obtient le 14 octobre. Oswald quitte Helsinki par train le 15 octobre et arrive à Moscou le 16. Le jour même, il demande la citoyenneté soviétique, que les Soviétiques lui refusent au premier abord, considérant que sa défection est de peu de valeur. Après qu’il a tenté de se suicider, les Soviétiques lui accordent le droit de rester, d’abord temporairement, à la suite de quoi Oswald tente de renoncer à sa citoyenneté américaine, lors d’une visite au consul américain le 31 octobre 1959, puis pour un temps indéterminé. Les Soviétiques envoient Oswald à Minsk en janvier 1960. Il y est surveillé en permanence par le KGB17 pendant les deux ans et demi que dure son séjour. Oswald semble tout d’abord heureux : il a un travail dans une usine métallurgique, un appartement gratuit et une allocation gouvernementale en plus de son salaire, une existence confortable selon les standards de vie soviétiques. Le fait que le U2 de Francis Powers ait été abattu par les Soviétiques après l’arrivée d’Oswald, en mai 1960, a éveillé la curiosité de certains auteurs se demandant quel lien cet évènement pouvait avoir avec le passage d’Oswald sur la base d’Atsugi, une des bases d’où des U2 décollaient. Cependant, outre qu’Oswald ne semble jamais avoir été en contact avec des secrets sur Atsugi, personne n’a jamais réussi à établir un lien entre Oswald et cet évènement. Ainsi, le U2 de Powers a été abattu par une salve de missiles SA-2 chanceuse (à moins que Powers ait été sous son plafond normal) et aucun renseignement spécial n’a été nécessaire à cet effet. (…) En mars 1961, alors qu’il a eu quelques contacts avec l’ambassade américaine à Moscou en vue de son retour aux États-Unis, Oswald rencontre Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova, une jeune étudiante en pharmacie de 19 ans, lors d’un bal au palais des Syndicats. Ils se marient moins d’un mois plus tard et s’installent dans l’appartement d’Oswald. Oswald a écrit plus tard dans son journal qu’il a épousé Marina uniquement pour faire du mal à son ex-petite amie, Ella Germain. En mai 1961, Oswald réitère à l’ambassade américaine son souhait de retourner aux États-Unis, cette fois avec son épouse. Lors d’un voyage en juillet à Moscou, Oswald va avec Marina, enceinte de leur premier enfant, à l’ambassade américaine pour demander un renouvellement de son passeport. Ce renouvellement est autorisé en juillet, mais la lutte avec la bureaucratie soviétique va durer bien plus longtemps. Lorsque le premier enfant des Oswald, June, naît en février 1962, ils sont encore à Minsk. Finalement, ils reçoivent leur visa de sortie en mai 1962, et la famille Oswald quitte l’URSS et embarque pour les États-Unis le 1er juin 1962. La famille Oswald s’installe à Fort Worth (près de Dallas) vers la mi-juin 1962, d’abord chez son frère Robert, ensuite chez sa mère, début juillet, et enfin dans un petit appartement fin juillet, lorsque Lee trouve un travail dans une usine métallurgique. Le FBI s’intéresse naturellement à Lee et provoque deux entretiens avec lui, le 26 juin et le 16 août. Les entretiens ne révélant rien de notable, l’agent chargé du dossier demande à Oswald de contacter le FBI si des Soviétiques le contactaient, et conclut ses rapports en recommandant de fermer le dossier. Cependant, dès le 12 août, Lee écrit au Socialist Workers Party, un parti trotskiste, pour leur demander de la documentation, et continue de recevoir trois périodiques russes. Vers la fin août, les Oswald sont introduits auprès de la petite communauté de Russes émigrés de Dallas. Ceux-ci n’aiment pas particulièrement Oswald, qui se montre désagréable, mais prennent en pitié Marina, perdue dans un pays dont elle ne connait même pas la langue que Lee refuse de lui apprendre. C’est dans le cadre de ces contacts qu’Oswald rencontre George de Mohrenschildt (en), un riche excentrique d’origine russe de 51 ans qui prend Oswald en sympathie. Les relations entre Oswald et Mohrenschildt ont été source de nombreuses spéculations, et certains ont cru voir dans Mohrenschildt un agent ayant participé à une conspiration, sans jamais trouver d’élément factuel qui démontre cette hypothèse. (…) En février 1963, alors que les relations entre Lee et Marina s’enveniment jusqu’à la violence, Oswald prend un premier contact avec l’ambassade d’URSS en laissant entendre qu’il souhaite y retourner. C’est aussi au cours de ce mois que les Oswald rencontrent Ruth Paine, qui allait devenir, avec son mari Michael, très proche des Oswald. Rapidement, Ruth et Marina deviennent amies au cours du mois de mars 1963, et c’est à la fin du mois que Lee demande à Marina de prendre des photos de lui avec ses armes. C’est également au cours de ce mois qu’Oswald commence à préparer l’assassinat du général Walker, que les deux armes commandées lui furent livrées, que Lee perdit son travail chez Jaggers et que l’agent Hosty du FBI commença un réexamen de routine du dossier de Oswald et Marina (six mois s’étant écoulés depuis son dernier entretien avec Oswald), au cours duquel il découvrit une note du FBI de New York sur un abonnement de Lee au Worker, journal communiste, ce qui l’intrigua et le poussa à rouvrir le dossier. Toutefois, avant que Hosty ait pu traiter le dossier, il se rendit compte que les Oswald avaient quitté Dallas. Le général Edwin Walker (en), un héros de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, est un anticommuniste virulent et partisan de la ségrégation raciale. Walker a été relevé de son commandement en Allemagne et muté à Hawaï en avril 1961 par le président Kennedy après qu’il eut distribué de la littérature d’extrême-droite à ses troupes. Il démissionne alors de l’armée en novembre 1961 et se retire à Dallas pour y commencer une carrière politique. Il se présente contre John Connally pour l’investiture démocrate au poste de gouverneur du Texas en 1962, mais est battu par Connally qui est finalement élu gouverneur. À Dallas, Walker devient la figure de proue de la John Birch Society, une organisation d’extrême-droite basée au Massachusetts. Walker représente tout ce que déteste Oswald et il commence à le surveiller en février 1963, prenant notamment des photos de son domicile et des environs. Le 10 avril 1963, alors qu’il est congédié de chez Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall depuis dix jours, il laisse une note en russe à Marina et quitte son domicile avec son fusil. Le soir même, alors que Walker est assis à son bureau, on tire sur lui d’une distance de 30 mètres. Walker survit par un simple coup de chance : la balle frappe le châssis en bois de la fenêtre et est déviée. Lorsqu’Oswald rentre chez lui, il est pâle et semble effrayé. Quand il dit à Marina ce qu’il vient de faire, elle lui fait détruire l’ensemble des documents qu’il a rassemblés pour préparer sa tentative d’assassinat, bien qu’elle conserve la note en russe. L’implication d’Oswald dans cette tentative ne sera connue des autorités qu’après la mort d’Oswald, lorsque cette note, ainsi qu’une photo de la maison de Walker, accompagnées du témoignage de Marina, leur parviendra. La balle récupérée dans la maison de Walker est trop endommagée pour permettre une analyse balistique, mais l’analyse de cette balle par activation neutronique par le HSCA permet de déterminer qu’elle a été produite par le même fabricant que la balle qui tua Kennedy. Sans emploi, Oswald confie Marina aux bons soins de Ruth Paine et part à La Nouvelle-Orléans pour trouver du travail. (…) Marina le rejoint le 10 mai. Oswald semble à nouveau malheureux de son sort, et quoiqu’il ait perdu ses illusions sur l’Union soviétique, il oblige Marina à écrire à l’ambassade d’URSS pour demander l’autorisation d’y retourner. Marina reçoit plusieurs réponses peu enthousiastes de l’ambassade, mais entretemps les espoirs d’Oswald se sont reportés sur Cuba et Fidel Castro. Il devient un ardent défenseur de Castro et décide de créer une section locale de l’association Fair Play for Cuba. Il consacre 22,73 dollars à l’impression de 1 000 tracts, 500 demandes d’adhésion et 300 cartes de membres pour Fair Play for Cuba et Marina signe du nom de « A.J. Hidell » comme président de la section sur une des cartes. (…)  Il fait, le 5 août 1963, une tentative d’infiltration des milieux anti-castristes, et se présente comme un anticommuniste auprès de Carlos Bringuier (en), délégué à La Nouvelle-Orléans de l’association des étudiants cubains en proposant de mettre ses capacités de Marine au service des anti-castristes. (…)  Oswald envisage de détourner un avion vers Cuba, mais Marina réussit à l’en dissuader, et l’encourage à trouver un moyen légal d’aller à Cuba. En l’absence de liaison entre les États-Unis et Cuba, Lee commence à envisager de passer par le Mexique. (…)  Oswald est dans un bus reliant Houston à Laredo le 26 septembre, et continue ensuite vers Mexico. Là, il tente d’obtenir un visa vers Cuba, se présentant comme un défenseur de Cuba et de Castro, et en affirmant qu’il veut ensuite continuer vers l’URSS. L’ambassade lui refuse le visa s’il n’avait pas au préalable un visa soviétique. L’ambassade d’URSS, après avoir consulté Moscou, refuse le visa. Après plusieurs jours de va-et-vient entre les deux ambassades, Oswald rejeté et mortifié retourne à Dallas. (…) Michael Paine (en), le mari de Ruth, a une conversation politique avec Oswald et se rend compte que malgré sa désillusion à l’égard des régimes socialistes, il est encore un fervent marxiste qui pense que la révolution violente est la seule solution pour installer le socialisme. Pendant les semaines suivantes, la situation entre Marina et Lee se dégrade à nouveau, tandis que le FBI de Dallas s’intéresse à nouveau à Oswald du fait de son voyage à Mexico.(….)  Marina découvre que Lee a à nouveau écrit à l’ambassade d’URSS, et qu’il s’est inscrit sous un faux nom à son logement, et ils se disputent au téléphone à ce sujet. Le 19 novembre, le Dallas Time Herald publie le trajet que le président Kennedy utilisera lors de la traversée de la ville. Comme Oswald a pour habitude de lire le journal de la veille qu’il récupère dans la salle de repos du TSBD, on présume qu’il a appris que le président passerait devant les fenêtres du TSBD le 20 ou le 21 novembre. Wikipedia
En tant qu’ancien ancien chef espion roumain sous les ordres directs du KGB soviétique, il est parfaitement évident pour moi que la Russie est derrière la disparition des armes de destruction massive de Saddam Hussein. Après tout, c’est la Russie qui au départ a aidé Saddam en acquérir. L’Union soviétique et tous les États du bloc soviétique ont toujours eu un mode opératoire normalisé d’enterrement pour les armes de destruction massive  — baptisé « Sarindar en roumain, ce qui signifie « issue de secours ». Je l’ai mis en place en Libye. C’était pour débarrasser les despotes du tiers-monde de toute trace de leurs armes chimiques si jamais les impérialistes occidentaux se rapprochaient trop d’eux. Nous voulions nous assurer qu’ils ne pourraient jamais remonter à nous, et nous voulions également entraver l’ouest en ne leur donnant rien qu’ils puissent utiliser dans leur propagande contre nous. Toutes les armes chimiques devaient être immédiatement brûlées ou enfouies profondément en mer. En revanche, la documentation technique devait être préservée en microfiches enterrées dans des containers étanches pour la reconstruction future. Les armes chimiques, en particulier celles produites dans les pays du tiers monde, qui n’ont pas d’installations de production sophistiquées, perdent souvent leurs propriétés létales après quelques mois en entrepôt et sont systématiquement jetées de toute façon. Et toutes les usines d’armes chimiques avaient une couverture civile rendant la détection difficile, peu importe les circonstances. Le plan comprenait une routine de propagande élaborée. Toute personne accusant Muammar Khadhafi de posséder des armes chimiques pouvait être ridiculisé. Des mensonges, que des mensonges ! Venez en Libye et voyez pour vous-mêmes ! Nos organisations occidentales de gauche, comme le Conseil mondial de la paix, existaient à seule fin de propagande, que nous leur fournissions. Ces mêmes groupes recrachent exactement les mêmes thèmes aujourd’hui. Nous avons toujours compté sur leur expertise pour l’organisation de grandes manifestations de rue en Europe de l’ouest contre l’Amérique belliqueuse chaque fois que nous avons voulu détourner l’attention du monde des crimes des régimes vicieux que nous parrainions. L’Irak, à mon avis, avait  son propre plan « Sarindar » en direct de Moscou. Il en avait certainement un dans le passé. Nicolae Ceausescu me l’a dit, et il l’avait entendu de Leonid Brezhnev. du président du KGB Iouri Andropov, et plus tard, Yevgeny Primakov, me l’a répété. Dans les années 1970, Primakov a géré les programmes d’armement de Saddam Hussein. Après cela, comme vous le savez, il est promu chef du service du renseignement extérieur soviétique en 1990, et ministre russe des affaires étrangères en 1996 et en 1998, au premier ministre. Ce que vous ignorez peut-être est que Primakov déteste Israël et a toujours soutenu le radicalisme arabe. C’était un ami personnel de Saddam Hussein et il a visité Bagdad à plusieurs reprises après 1991, pour aider tranquillement Saddam à  jouer son jeu de cache-cache. Le bloc soviétique a non seulement vendu à Saddam ses armes de destruction massive, mais il leur a montré comment les faire « disparaître ». La Russie est toujours à l’ œuvre. Primakov se rendait régulièrement à Bagdad de décembre 2003 à quelques jours avant la guerre, ainsi qu’une équipe d’experts militaires russes dirigée par deux généraux de haut niveau à la « retraite », Vladislav Achalov, un ancien vice-premier ministre de la défense et Igor Maltsev, un ancien chef d’état-major russe de l’armée de l’air. Ils ont tous été décorés par le ministre de la Défense irakien. Ils  n’étaient clairement pas là pour donner des conseils militaires à Saddam pour la guerre à venir — les lanceurs de Katioucha de Saddam vintage de la seconde guerre mondiale, et ses chars T-72, des véhicules de combat BMP-1 et des avions de chasse MiG étaient tous évidemment inutiles contre l’Amérique. « Je ne vais pas à Bagdad pour boire un café, » avait déclaré Achalov aux médias par la suite. Ils étaient là pour orchestrer le plan « Sarindar » de l’Irak. L’armée américaine  a en fait déjà trouvé la seule chose qui aurait pu survivre sous le plan soviétique classique « Sarindar » de  liquidation des arsenaux d’armes en cas de défaite dans la guerre — les documents technologiques montrant comment reproduire des stocks d’armes en quelques semaines. Un tel plan a sans doute été mis en place depuis août 1995 — quand le gendre de Saddam, le général Hussein Kamel, qui avait dirigé les programmes nucléaires, chimiques et biologiques de l’Irak pendant 10 ans, a fait défection vers la Jordanie.  En août, les inspecteurs de l’UNSCOM et l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique (AIEA) ont fouillé un élevage de poulets appartenant à la famille de Kamel et trouvé plus d’une centaine de malles métalliques et boîtes contenant la documentation traitant de toutes les catégories d’armes, notamment nucléaires. Pris en flagrant délit, l’Iraq a enfin reconnu son « programme de guerre biologique, y compris d’armement, » et  publié un « Rapport de divulgation complet et final » et remis des documents sur l’agent neurotoxique VX et des armes nucléaires. Saddam a alors attiré le général Kamel, feignant de pardonner sa défection. Trois jours plus tard, Kamel et plus de 40 membres de la famille, y compris les femmes et les enfants, ont été assassinés, dans ce que la presse irakienne officielle décrit comme une « administration spontanée de justice tribale ». Après avoir envoyé ce message à son peuple intimidé, misérable, Saddam a ensuite fait une démonstration de coopération avec l’inspection de l’ONU, étant donné que Kamel venait de toute façon de compromettre tous ses programmes. En novembre 1995, il a publié une seconde « Rapport de divulgation complet et final » quant à ses programmes de missiles prétendument inexistants. Ce même mois, la Jordanie a intercepté une importante cargaison de composants de missiles de haute qualité destinées à l’Iraq. L’UNSCOM a bientôt repêché du Tigre des composants de missiles similaires, réfutant à nouveau les dénégations de Saddam. En juin 1996, Saddam a claqué la porte à l’inspection de l’UNSCOM de tout « mécanismes de dissimulation ». Le 5 août 1998, il a stoppé la coopération avec l’UNSCOM et l’AIEA complètement, et ils se sont retirés le 16 décembre 1998. Saddam avait encore quatre ans pour développer et cacher ses armes de destruction massive sans aucun regards indiscrets gênants. Les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies 1115, (21 juin 1997), 1137 (12 novembre 1997) et 1194 (9 septembre 1998) ont été émises condamnant l’Irak — des paroles inefficaces qui n’ont eu aucun effet. En 2002, sous la pression d’un énorme regroupement de militaires américains par une nouvelle administration américaine, Saddam a refait encore un autre « Rapport de divulgation complet et final »qui se révéla plein de « fausses déclarations » et constitueant un autre « violation substantielle » des inspections de l’ONU et de l’AIEA et des paragraphes 8 à 13 de la résolution 687 (1991). C’est juste quelques jours après cette dernière « divulgation », après une décennie d’intervention avec l’ONU et le reste du monde au nom de l’Irak, que Primakov et son équipe d’experts militaires s’est posé à Bagdad — même si, avec 200 000 soldats américains à la frontière, la guerre était imminente, et Moscou ne pouvait plus sauver Saddam Hussein. Primakov était sans aucun doute là pour régler les derniers détails du plan « Sarindar » et rassurer Saddam que a tempête passée Moscou reconstruirait ses armes de destruction massive pour un bon prix. M. Poutine aime tirer sur l’Amérique et veut réaffirmer la place de la Russie dans les affaires mondiales. Pourquoi il ne profiterait pas de cette occasion ? En tant que ministre des affaires étrangères et premier ministre, Primakov est l’auteur de la stratégie de « multipolarité »  pour faire contrepoids à un leadership américain élevant la Russie au statut de grande puissance en Eurasie. Entre les 9 et 12 février, M. Poutine a visité l’Allemagne et la France pour proposer un alignement tactique des trois puissances contre les États-Unis pour défendre les inspections au lieu de la guerre. Le 21 février, la Douma russe a appelé les parlements allemand et français à se joindre à eux  les 4 et  7 mars à Bagdad, pour « empêcher l’agression militaire américaine contre l’Irak. » Des foules de gauchistes européens, ancrées depuis des générations dans la propagande de gauche tout droit sortie de Moscou, continuent à trouver la ligne attrayante. Les tactiques de M. Poutine ont marché. Les États-Unis ont remporté une victoire militaire éclatante, démolissant une dictature sans détruire le pays, mais ils ont commencé à perdre la paix. Alors que les troupes américaines ont révélé les fosses communes des victimes de Saddam, les forces anti-américaines en Europe occidentale et ailleurs, ont multiplié les attaques au vitriol, accusant Washington de rapacité pour le pétrole et de pas vraiment s’occuper des armes de destruction massive, ou d’avoir exagéré les risques, comme s’il n’y avait aucune raison de s’inquiéter des armes de destruction massive. Ion Mihai Pacepa
Moscou, bien sûr, n’a jamais rien admis devant nous, dirigeants des services de renseignement de substitution des Soviets, sur toute implication dans l’assassinat de Kennedy. Le Kremlin savait que toute indiscrétion pouvait déclencher la troisième guerre mondiale. Mais pendant 15 ans de mon autre vie, au sommet de la communauté du renseignement du bloc soviétique, j’ai participé à un effort mondial de désinformation visant à détourner l’attention de l’implication du KGB avec Oswald, le Marine américain, qui avait fait défection vers Moscou, était retourné aux États-Unis et avait tué le président Kennedy. Nous avons lancé des rumeurs, publié des articles et même produit des livres, insinuant que les coupables étaient aux Etats-Unis, pas en Union soviétique. Notre ultime « preuve » était une note adressée à « M. Hunt, » datée du 8 novembre 1963 et signée par Oswald, copie de qui est apparu aux Etats-Unis en 1975. Nous savions que la note était un faux, mais des experts américains en graphologie ont certifié qu’elle était authentique, et les théoriciens de la conspiration l’ont connectée à l’agent de la CIA E. Howard Hunt, alors bien connu depuis l’affaire du Watergate et l’ont utilisée pour « prouver » que la CIA était impliquée dans l’assassinat de Kennedy. Enfin, des documents originaux du KGB tirés des Archives de Mitrokhin, apparues dans les années 1990, ont prouvé que la note avait été contrefaite par le KGB pendant le scandale du Watergate. La fausse note avait été vérifiée deux fois pour « authenticité » par la direction des opérations techniques du KGB (UTO) et approuvée pour utilisation. En 1975 le KGB a envoyé du Mexique trois photocopies de la note aux mordus de la conspiration aux États-Unis (les règles du KGB autorisent seulement  l’utilisation de photocopies de documents contrefaits, pour éviter un examen attentif de l’original). Après l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique, j’espérais que les nouveaux dirigeants de Moscou pourraient révéler la main du KGB dans l’assassinat de Kennedy. Au lieu de cela, ils ont publié en 1993 “Passeport pour l’assassinat : l’histoire jamais racontée de Lee Harvey Oswald par le Colonel du KGB qui le connaissait”, un livre affirmant qu’une enquête approfondie sur Oswald n’avait pas trouvé la moindre implication soviétique avec lui. Les bourreaux ne s’incriminent jamais. Dans les années 90, l’ancien officier du KGB  Vassili Mitrokhine, aidé par le MI6 britannique, a réussi à faire sortir de Moscou  quelque 25 000 pages de documents hautement confidentiels du KGB. Ils représentent une infime partie des archives du KGB, estimé à quelque 27 milliards de pages (les Archives de la Stasi est-allemande en contenaient 3 milliards). Ils représentent une infime partie des archives du KGB, estimé à quelque 27 milliards pages (les Archives de la Stasi est-allemande avaient 3 milliards). Néanmoins, le FBI a qualifié les archives Mitrokhin d’ “informations les plus complètes et les plus approfondies jamais reçues d’aucune source. » Selon cette archive, le premier livre américain sur l’assassinat: Oswald : Assassin ou bouc émissaire?, qui accuse la CIA et le FBI du crime, a été orchestré par le KGB. L’auteur du livre, Joachim Joesten, communiste allemand naturalisé américain, a passé cinq jours à Dallas après l’assassinat, puis est allé en Europe et a disparu. Quelques mois plus tard le livre de Joesten a été publié par le communiste américain Carlo Aldo Marzani (New York), qui a reçu 80 000 $ du KGB pour produire des livres pro-soviétiques, plus de 10 000 $ annuels  pour en faire de la publicité agressive. D’autres documents dans les Archives de Mitrokhin identifient le premier critique américain de cet ouvrage, Victor Perlo, comme un agent du KGB. Le livre de Joesten a aussi reçu une dédicace de l’Américain Mark Lane, décrit dans les Archives de Mitrokhin comme un homme de gauche ayant reçu anonymement  de l’argent du KGB. En 1966, Lane a publié le best-seller Jugement hâtif, alléguant que Kennedy avait été tué par un groupe de droite américain. Ces deux livres ont encouragé les gens ayant la moindre expertise dans le domaine à se joindre à la mêlée. Chacun a vu les événements de son propre point de vue, mais tous accusaient de ce crime des éléments liés aux États-Unis de ce crime. Le procureur de la Nouvelle-Orléans Jim Garrison a enquêté dans son district quartier et arrêté en 1967 un homme local, qu’il accuse d’avoir conspiré avec des éléments des services de renseignement américains pour assassiner Kennedy afin de l’arrêter dans ses efforts pour mettre fin à la guerre froide. L’accusé a été acquitté en 1969, mais Garrison s’est accroché à son histoire, écrivant tout d’abord Un Héritage de pierre (Putnam, 1970) et publiant finalement Sur la piste des assassins (Sheriden Square, 1988), un des livres qui a inspiré le film d’Oliver Stone « JFK ». La conspiration pour l’assassinat de Kennedy était née — et elle n’est jamais morte. Selon un autre document, le chef du KGB Yury Andropov a informé en avril 1977 le Politburo que le KGB avait lance une nouvelle campagne de desinformatsiya pour impliquer davantage « les services spéciaux américains » dans l’assassinat de Kennedy. Malheureusement, les Archives de Mitrokhin sont muettes sur le sujet après cela. (…) Au cours de mes dix dernières années en Roumanie, j’ai réussi aussi équivalent du pays de la NSA, et je me suis familiarisé avec les systèmes de code utilisés dans l’ensemble de la communauté du renseignement bloc soviétique. Cette connaissance m’a permis de se rendre compte que les lettres anodin à consonance de Oswald et son épouse soviétique à l’ambassade soviétique à Washington, D.C. (mise à disposition de la Commission Warren) constituaient messages voilées du KGB. En eux, j’ai trouvé la preuve que Oswald a été envoyé aux États-Unis pour une mission temporaire, et qu’il avait prévu de revenir à l’Union soviétique impénétrable après avoir accompli sa tâche. Il m’a fallu plusieurs années de passer au crible le bon grain de l’ivraie en passant par les tas de rapports d’enquête générées par la mort violente du jeune président américain, mais quand j’ai fini j’étais fasciné par la richesse des empreintes digitales du KGB dans toute l’histoire d’Oswald et son assassin, Jack Ruby. (…) Prenons la note manuscrite en russe qu’Oswald a laissé à sa femme soviétique, Marina, juste avant sa tentative de tuer  le général américain Edwin Walker comme entrainement avant de passer à l’assassinat du président Kennedy. Cette remarque très importante contient deux codes du KGB : amis (code pour agent de soutien) et la Croix Rouge (code pour aide financière). Dans cette note, Oswald dit à Marina quoi faire dans le cas où il serait arrêté. Il souligne qu’elle doit communiquer avec le « ambassade » (soviétique), qu’ils y ont « des amis ici » et que la « Croix rouge » va l’aider financièrement. Particulièrement significative est l’instruction d’Oswald pour qu’elle puisse « envoyer à l’ambassade les informations sur ce qui m’est arrivé. » A cette époque, le code pour l’ambassade était « Bureau », mais il semble qu’Oswald voulait s’assurer que Marina comprendrait qu’elle doit immédiatement informer l’ambassade soviétique. Il convient de noter que Marina n’a pas mentionné cette note aux autorités américaines après l’arrestation d’Oswald. Il a été constaté à l’accueil de Ruth Paine, une amie américaine avec laquelle Marina séjournait au moment de l’assassinat. (…) Il y a nombre d’éléments prouvant la connexion d’Oswald avec le KGB. Un élément tangible est la lettre envoyée à l’ambassade soviétique à Washington quelques jours après sa rencontre avec « Camarade Kostin » à Mexico. Ailleurs Oswald nomme la personne qu’il avait rencontrée là « Camarade Kostikov. » La CIA a identifié Valery Kostikov comme officier du département de la PGU treizième « affaires humides » (humide étant un euphémisme pour sanglante). Une ébauche manuscrite de cette lettre a été trouvée parmi les effets d’Oswald après l’assassinat. Ladite Ruth Paine a témoigné qu’Oswald avait re-écrit cette lettre plusieurs fois avant de la taper à la machine. Marina a déclaré qu’il « retapé l’enveloppe dix fois. » C’était important pour lui. Une photocopie de la lettre finale Qu’Oswald a envoyé à l’ambassade soviétique a été récupérée par la Commission Warren. Permettez-moi de citer cette lettre, dans laquelle j’ai également inséré d’Oswald plus tôt la version de projet entre parenthèses: « c’est pour vous informer des événements récents depuis mes rencontres avec le camarade Kostin [dans le projet: « de nouvelles informations depuis mes entrevues avec camarade Kostine »] à l’ambassade de l’URSS, Mexico, Mexique. Je n’ai pu rester au Mexique [croisés en projet: « Parce que j’ai considéré inutile »] indefinily à cause de mes limitations de visas mexicain qui était de 15 jours seulement. Je ne pouvais pas prendre le risque de demander un nouveau visa [dans le projet: « demande une prorogation »] à moins d’utiliser mon vrai nom, alors je suis retourné aux États-Unis. » Le fait qu’Oswald a utilisé un nom de code opérationnel pour Kostikov confirme pour moi que tant sa rencontre avec Kostikov à Mexico que sa correspondance avec l’ambassade soviétique à Washington ont été menées dans un contexte opérationnel PGU. Le fait qu’Oswald n’a pas utilisé son vrai nom pour obtenir son visa mexicain confirme cette conclusion. Maintenant nous allons juxtaposer cette lettre combinée avec le guide gratuit Esta Semana-Cette semaine, 28 septembre – 4 octobre 1963 et un dictionnaire espagnol-anglais, tous deux retrouvés parmi les effets d’Oswald. Le guide a un numéro de téléphone de l’ambassade soviétique souligné, les noms de Kosten et Osvald sont en cyrillique sur la page listant les « Diplomates à Mexico » et cochés à côté de cinq salles de cinéma sur la page précédente. A l’arrière de son dictionnaire espagnol-anglais Oswald a écrit: « acheter des billets [pluriel] pour la corrida, » et les arènes de la Plaza México sont entourés sur sa carte de la ville de Mexico. Est également indiqué sur la carte d’Oswald, le Palais des beaux-arts, un lieu de prédilection pour les touristes le dimanche matin pour regarder le Ballet Folklórico. (Cliquez ici pour voir ces documents, les notes manuscrites d’Oswald et autres matériaux semblables.) Contrairement à ce que prétend Oswald, il n’a pas été constamment observé à l’ambassade soviétique pendant son séjour à Mexico, bien que la CIA ait eu des caméras de surveillance filmant l’entrée de l’ambassade à ce moment-là. En résumé, tous les faits ci-dessus, l’ensemble me suggèrent qu’Oswald a eu recours à la « réunion du fer » ou un imprévu — Jeleznaïa yavka en russe — pour un entretien urgent avec Kostikov à Mexico. La « réunion de fer » était une procédure standard du KGB pour les situations d’urgence, fer signifiant cuirassé ou invariable. Dans ma journée,  j’ai approuvé une certaine « réunions de fer » à Mexico (un endroit préféré pour contacter nos agents importants vivant aux États-Unis), et d’Oswald « réunion de fer » me semble typique. Cela signifie : une brève rencontre dans une salle de cinéma pour  convenir d’un rendez-vous pour le lendemain à la corrida (…) Bien sûr, je ne peux pas être sûr que tout s’est passé exactement ainsi, chaque agent ayant ses propres particularités. Mais cependant, ils sont raccordés, il est clair que Kostikov et Oswald sont satisfaisaits secrètement de ce week-end du 28 et 29 septembre 1963. Sur les points suivants, mardi, toujours à Mexico, il a téléphoné à l’ambassade soviétique de l’ambassade cubaine et a demandé au garde de service de le connecter avec « Camarade Kostikov » avec qui il avait « parlé le 28 septembre. » Ce coup de téléphone a été intercepté par la CIA. (…) Pendant toutes ces années, j’ai passé ses liens d’Oswald chercher avec le KGB, j’ai pris les informations factuelles, vérifiables sur sa vie qui avait été mises à jour par le gouvernement américain et les chercheurs privés, et je les ai examinées à la lumière de modèles opérationnels PGU — peu connus des étrangers en raison du secret absolu alors — comme aujourd’hui — endémique en Russie. De nouvelles perspectives sur l’assassinat me sont soudainement apparues. L’expérience d’Oswald comme marine servant au Japon, par exemple, est parfaitement dans le modèle de la PGU pour recruter des militaires américains en dehors des Etats-Unis que j’avais depuis de nombreuses années appliqué aux opérations roumaines. Il était aussi évident que le casier à un terminal de bus qu’Oswald avait utilisé en 1959, après son retour aux États-Unis du Japon, de déposer un sac polochon rempli de photos d’avions militaires américains était en fait une une des procédures de base des services secrets. Au cours de ces années, l’utilisation de ces casiers faisait fureur au PGU — et le dé. Les opérations d’espionnage soviétiques peuvent être isolées par leurs patrons, si vous êtes familier avec eux. Les experts du contre-espionnage appellent ces patrons « preuve opérationnelle », montrant les empreintes digitales de l’auteur. (…) Comme un opérateur radar à la base aérienne d’Atsugi au Japon, Oswald savait l’altitude de vol des avions-espion super-secrets de la CIA, le U-2 survolant l’Union soviétique, sur cette base. En 1959, lorsque j’étais chef de station dse renseignement de la Roumanie en Allemagne de l’Ouest, une exigence soviétique envoyé m’a demandé de « tout, y compris les rumeurs, » sur l’altitude de vol des avions U-2. Le ministère de la défense soviétique savait que les avions U-2 avaient survolé l’Union soviétique plusieurs fois, mais son Air Defense Command n’avait pas pu le suivre parce que les radars soviétiques de l’époque n’arrivaient pas à atteindre une telle altitude. Francis Gary Powers, le pilote de l’U-2 que les Soviétiques avaient abattu le 1er mai 1960, croyaient que les soviétiques étaient en mesure de le faire parce qu’Oswald leur avait fourni l’altitude de son vol. Selon la déclaration de Powers, Oswald avait accéder « non seulement aux codes radar et radio, mais aussi pour le nouveau radar de recherche de la hauteur MPS-16 d’engrenage et la hauteur à laquelle l’U-2 volait, qui fut l’un des secrets les plus hautement classifiés. Il semble que Oswald, qui fit défection vers l’Union soviétique en 1959, était une des personnes dans le public ayant assisté au procès de  Moscou de Powers. Le 15 février 1962, Oswald a écrit à son frère Robert: « J’ai entendu sur la Voix de l’Amérique qu’ils ont sorti le pilote de l »avion espion U2 Powers. Voilà une grande nouvelle où que vous soyez je suppose. Il semblait être un homme de type américain agréable, lumineux, quand je l’ai vu à Moscou ». C’était une procédure normale pour le KGB d’offrir à Oswald d’assister à un procès comme l’une des récompenses pour avoir permis à l’Union soviétique d’abattre l’U-2. (…) Le recrutement de subalternes militaires américains a été une des priorités les plus importantes de la PGU à cette époque. La chasse aux « serzhant » était ma priorité absolue au cours des trois années (1957-59) où j’ai été affecté comme rezident en Allemagne de l’Ouest, et c’était toujours une priorité absolue en 1978, quand j’ai rompu avec le communisme. Bien sûr le PGU aurait voulu recruter des colonels américains, mais ils étaient difficiles d’approche, alors que les officiers subalternes étaient plus accessibles et pouvaient fournir des renseignements excellents s’ils étaient  bien guidés. Le Sergent Robert Lee Johnson est un bon exemple. Dans les années 1950, ‘il fut affecté à l’étranger où, comme Oswald, il s’éprit du communisme. En 1953, Johnson est subrepticement entré une unité militaire soviétique à Berlin-est, où il a demandé — comme Oswald l’a évidemment fait — l’asile politique dans le « paradis des travailleurs ». Une fois là, Johnson a été recruté par le PGU et persuadé de retourner temporairement aux États-Unis pour effectuer une « mission historique » avant de commencer sa nouvelle vie en Union soviétique — comme ce fut le cas avec Oswald. Finalement, le sergent Johnson a secrètement reçu le plus haut grade de l’Armée rouge et reçu par écrit les félicitations de Khrouchtchev lui-même. D’après le colonel PGU Vitaly Yurchenko, qui a fait défection à la CIA en 1985 et refait défection peu de temps après, l’adjudant-chef américain John Anthony Walker, un autre « serzhant » — était l’agent le plus important dans l’histoire du PGU, « dépassant en importance, même le vol soviétique de l’anglo-américain pour la première bombe atomique. » John F. Lehman, qui était  Secrétaire de la marine américaine lorsque Walker a été arrêté, a accepté. (…) En octobre 1962, la Cour suprême allemande a monté un procès public de Bogdan Stashinsky, un transfuge du renseignement soviétique qui avait été décoré par Khrouchtchev pour avoir assassiné des ennemis de l’Union soviétique vivant à l’Ouest. Cet essai a révélé Khrouchtchev au monde comme un boucher politique impitoyable. En 1963 le dictateur soviétique autrefois flamboyant était déjà un souverain paralysé et à bout de souffle. La moindre odeur de toute implication soviétique dans l’assassinat du président américain aurait pu être fatale à Khrouchtchev. Ainsi, le KGB — comme l’a fait mon DIE — a annulé toutes les opérations visant à assassiner des ennemis à l’Ouest. Le PNR a vainement tenté de déprogrammer Oswald. Les documents disponibles montrent que, pour prouver à la PGU qu’il était capable d’effectuer en toute sécurité l’assassinat attribué, Oswald a fait ue répétition en tirant  — bien que le ratant de peu — sur le général américain Edwin Walker. Oswald mis en place un ensemble, complet avec des photos, montrant comment il avait planifié cette opération, et puis il a apporté ce matériau à Mexico pour montrer au « Camarade Kostin, » son agent, ce qu’il pouvait faire. Même si il avait réussi la tentative d’assassinat de Walker sans être identifié, Moscou est restée inflexible. Le têtu Oswald a été dévasté, mais en fin de compte il est allé de l’avant tout seul, tout à fait convaincu qu’il s’acquittait de sa mission « historique ». Il avait tout juste 24 ans, et il avait fait de son mieux pour obtenir des armes de façon moins évidente et pour fabriquer des pièces d’identité, en utilisant le matériel technique que le KGB lui avait enseigné. Jusqu’au bout, il a également suivi les instructions d’urgence, que lui avait été initialement fournies par le KGB — ne rien reconnaître et demander un avocat. Comme Oswald en savait déjà trop sur le plan original, cependant, Moscou s’est arrangé pour le faire taire pour toujours, s’il devait commettre l’impensable. C’était un autre modèle soviétique. Sept chefs de la police politique soviétique ont été secrètement ou ouvertement assassinés pour les empêcher d’incriminer le Kremlin. Certains ont été empoisonnés (Vyacheslav Menzhinsky en 1934), d’autres ont été exécutés comme des espions occidentaux (Genrikh Yagoda en 1938, Nikolay Yezhov en 1939, Lavrenty Beriya et Vsevolod Merkulov en 1953 et Viktor Abakumov en 1954). En outre, immédiatement après la nouvelle de l’assassinat de Kennedy, Moscou a lancé l’Opération « Dragon », un effort de désinformation dans lequel mon service était très impliqué. Le but — qui a très bien réussi — devait rejeter la faute sur divers éléments aux Etats-Unis pour avoir tué leur propre président. (…) Khrouchtchev, qui avait été mon patron de fait pendant neuf ans, était irrationnel. Aujourd’hui, les gens se souviennent de lui comme un paysan terre-à-terre qui a corrigé les méfaits de Staline. Le Khrouchtchev que je connaissais était sanglant, Sarrasins et extraverti, et il avait tendance à détruire tous les projets une fois qu’il mettait la main dessus. L’irrationalité de Khrouchtchev avait fait de lui le leader soviétique le plus controversé et les plus imprévisible. Il a démasqué les crimes de Staline, mais il a fait des assassinats politiques un instrument principal de sa propre politique étrangère. Il a écrit une politique de coexistence pacifique avec l’Occident, mais il a fini par pousser le monde au bord de la guerre nucléaire. Il a conclu la première entente sur le contrôle des armes nucléaires, mais il a essayé de consolider la position de Fidel à la tête de Cuba à l’aide d’armes nucléaires. Il a réparé les relations de Moscou avec la Yougoslavie de Tito, mais il a rompu avec Pékin et détruit ainsi l’unité du monde communiste. Le 11 septembre 1971 Khrouchtchev est décédé dans l’ignominie, comme une non personne, mais pas avant de voir ses mémoires publiés à l’Ouest donnant sa propre version de l’histoire. Ion Mihai Pacepa
A wit observed once that Austria should be credited with an astounding double historical achievement – managing to convince the world that Beethoven was an Austrian and that Hitler was a German. However, the former Soviet Union perpetrated possibly an even more blatant example of perception management. This was when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, attempted simultaneously to whitewash Stalin’s duplicitous wartime pact with Hitler and to blacken Pope Pius XII as a Hitler sympathiser. Stalin of course was Hitler’s ally for the first part of World War II. On August 23, 1939, the world learned of the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (named after the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and the Third Reich), under which central and eastern Europe was to be divided into Soviet and German spheres of influence. The pact cleared the way for Hitler to invade Poland on September 1, 1939, with Stalin following suit on September 17. World War II had begun. From September 1, 1939, until June 22, 1941 – that is, not less than 21 months of this global conflict’s 67-month duration – Stalin supplied Hitler’s war machine with grain, fuel, strategic minerals, valuable intelligence and other crucial aid for Hitler’s bid to enslave central and western Europe. Only during the war’s latter 46-months – the period that Russians refer to as their Great Patriotic War – were Stalin and Hitler enemies. From late 1944, however, Stalin moved to erase any memory of those crucial opening 21 months that included his collaboration with Hitlerism. Another major component of Moscow’s re-writing of the history of wartime Europe was to fabricate evidence suggesting the existence of a secret pact between Pope Pius XII and Hitler. That the Kremlin was behind this concerted attempt to smear the Vatican as being pro-Nazi has recently been revealed by historians and confirmed by the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the former communist Eastern bloc.  Joseph Poprzeczny
It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and most of the world still wrongly believes that the culprit was the CIA, or the FBI, or the mafia, or right-wing American businessmen. It has been also 50 years since the Kremlin started an intense, worldwide disinformation operation, codenamed “Dragon,” aimed at diverting attention away from the KGB’s connection with Lee Harvey Oswald. Not unrelated are the facts that Oswald was an American Marine who defected to Moscow, returned to the United States three years later with a Russian wife, killed President Kennedy, and was arrested before being able to carry out his  plan to escape back to Moscow. In a letter dated July 1, 1963, Oswald asked the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., to grant his wife an immediate entrance visa to the Soviet Union, and to grant another one to him, separtably (misspelling and emphasis as in the original). The Kremlin’s “Dragon” operation is described in my book Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. (…) My book also contains a factual presentation of Khrushchev’s frantic efforts to cover his backside. Recalling that the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip had set off the First World War, Khrushchev was afraid that, if America should learn about the KGB’s involvement with Oswald, it might ignite the first nuclear war. Khrushchev’s interests happened to coincide with those of Lyndon Johnson, the new U.S. president, who was facing elections in less than a year, and any conclusion implicating the Soviet Union in the assassination would have forced Johnson to take undesired political or even military action, adding to his already widely unpopular stance on the war in Vietnam. According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.” The Kremlin complied. Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, the editor of a communist-controlled British journal called Labour Monthly, signed an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement without offering a scintilla of evidence. “[M]ost commentators,” Dutt wrote, “have surmised a coup of the Ultra-Right or racialists of Dallas . . . [that], with the manifest complicity necessary of a very wide range of authorities, bears all the hallmarks of a CIA job.” Semichastny’s super secret letter and Dutt’s subsequent article were revealed by former Russian president Boris Yeltsin in his book The Struggle for Russia, published 32 years after the Kennedy assassination. No wonder Yeltsin was ousted by a KGB palace coup that transferred the Kremlin’s throne into the hands of the KGB—which still has a firm grip on it. (…) Dutt’s article was followed by the first book on the JFK assassination published in the U.S., Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? It was authored by a former member of the German Communist Party, Joachim Joesten, and it was published in New York in 1964 by Carlo Aldo Marzani, a former member of the American Communist Party and a KGB agent. Joesten’s book alleges, without providing any proof, that Oswald was “an FBI agent provocateur with a CIA background”. Highly classified KGB documents smuggled out of Russia with British MI-6 help by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin in 1993—long after the two U.S. government investigations into the assassination had been completed—show that in the early 1960s, Marzani received subsidies totaling $672,000 from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. That raises the question of why Marzani was paid by the party and not by the KGB, whose agent he was. The newly released Semichastny letter gives us the answer: on the next day after the assassination, the Kremlin took over management of the disinformation operation aimed at blaming America for the JFK assassination. That is why Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? was promoted by a joint party/KGB operation. The book’s first review, which praised it to the skies, was signed by Victor Perlo, a member of the American Communist Party, and was published on September 23, 1964, in New Times, which I knew as a KGB front at one time printed in Romania. On December 9, 1963, the “progressive” American journalist I. F. Stone published a long article in which he tried to justify why America had killed its own president. He called Oswald a rightist crackpot, but put the real blame on the “warlike Administration” of the United States, which was trying to sell Europe a “nuclear monstrosity.” Stone has been identified as a paid KGB agent, codenamed “Blin.” Joesten dedicated his book to Mark Lane, an American leftist who in 1966 produced the bestseller Rush to Judgment, alleging Kennedy was assassinated by a right-wing American group. Documents in the Mitrokhin Archive show that the KGB indirectly sent Mark Lane money ($2,000), and that KGB operative Genrikh Borovik was in regular contact with him. Another KGB defector, Colonel Oleg Gor­dievsky (former KGB station chief in London), has identified Borovik as the brother-in-law of Col. General Vladimir Kryuchkov, who in 1988 became chairman of the KGB and in August 1991 led the coup in Moscow aimed at restoring the Soviet Union. The year 1967 saw the publication of two more books attributed to Joesten: The Case Against Lyndon Johnson in the Assassination of President Ken­nedy and Oswald: The Truth. Both books suggested that President Johnson and his CIA had killed Kennedy. They were soon followed by Mark Lane’s A Citizen’s Dissent (1968). Lane has also intensively traveled abroad to preach that America is an “FBI police state” that killed its own president. With such books, the Kennedy conspiracy was born, and it never stopped. The growing popularity of books on the JFK assassination has encouraged all kinds of people with any sort of remotely related background expertise to join the party, each viewing events from his own narrow perspective. Several thousand books have been written on the JFK assassination, and the hemorrhage continues. In spite of this growing mountain of paper, a satisfactory explanation of Oswald’s motivation has yet to be offered, primarily because the whole important dimension of Soviet foreign policy concerns and Soviet intelligence practice in the late 1950s and early 1960s has not been addressed in connection with Oswald by any competent authority. Why not? Because none of their authors had ever been a KGB insider, familiar with its modus operandi. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Attention: une fièvre tueuse peut en cacher une autre!

A l’heure où sortent dans la revue Books des extraits du livre du journaliste du NYT Mark Mazzetti (« The Drone Zone« ) sur le président américain qui, mine de rien, aura finalement liquidé plus de monde que Guantanamo n’en aura jamais incarcéré …

Pendant qu’après s’être débarrassé d’Eltsine et des autres gêneurs y compris jusqu’en Grande-Bretagne ou en Géorgie et devant la pusillanimité de l’Occident, la bande d’anciens kagébistes de Poutine poursuit sur sa lancée en Crimée et en Ukraine …

Retour, avec probablement le meilleur connaisseur encore vivant de la réalité de ce monde parallèle des guerres secrètes dans lequel nous vivons …

A savoir  le Mitrokhine roumain mais en plus gradé, le général Ion Mihai Pacepa et ancien chef des services secrets roumains, autrement dit le fonctionnaire le plus haut placé des services d’espionnage de l’ancien bloc soviétique à avoir jamais fait défection et qui sait tellement de choses qu’il vit toujours  caché quelque part aux Etats-Unis …

Sur l’autre « fiève tueuse », oubliée, des kagébistes et de leurs successeurs …

Mais surtout, avec l’incroyable exemple de l’assassinat du président Kennedy sans parler du financement des terroristes palestiniens, de la disparition des ADM de Saddam Hussein ou des tentatives d’assassinat physique ou moral d’au moins deux papes, sur la redoutable efficacité de leur campagnes d’intoxication (via notamment, de R. Palme Dutt, Joachim Joesten et Carlo Aldo Marzani à Victor Perlo, I. F. Stone et Mark Lane, toute une série de compagnons de route occidentaux) et de la crédulité de nos populations …

Qui fait que plus de 50 ans après, une majorité d’Occidentaux continuent à croire que les Américains auraient fait assassiner l’un de leurs présidents préférés …

Alors que, du recrutement de l’ancien Marine au Japon pour sa connaissance de l’altitude de vol ayant permis l’interception de l’U2 de Gary Powers à sa défection et son mariage en URSS, ses contacts avec des opérateurs soviétiques au Mexique et le codage de ses lettres et documents, les empreintes du KGB sont partout …

Jusqu’à peut-être, suite à sa répétition d’assassinat sur un officier américain et sa décision de poursuivre tout seul une opération qui avait été décommandée suite au témoignage public en Allemagne d’un agent soviétique passé à l’Ouest (un certain Bogdan Stashinsky) et ayant été décoré par Krouchtchev pour assassinats d’ennemis à l’étranger, son élimination ?

The New Proof of the KGB’s Hand in JFK’s Assassination

Ion Mihai Pacepa

PJ Media

November 20th, 2013

It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and most of the world still wrongly believes that the culprit was the CIA, or the FBI, or the mafia, or right-wing American businessmen. It has been also 50 years since the Kremlin started an intense, worldwide disinformation operation, codenamed “Dragon,” aimed at diverting attention away from the KGB’s connection with Lee Harvey Oswald. Not unrelated are the facts that Oswald was an American Marine who defected to Moscow, returned to the United States three years later with a Russian wife, killed President Kennedy, and was arrested before being able to carry out his plan to escape back to Moscow. In a letter dated July 1, 1963, Oswald asked the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., to grant his wife an immediate entrance visa to the Soviet Union, and to grant another one to him, separtably (misspelling and emphasis as in the original).

The Kremlin’s “Dragon” operation is described in my book Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 2010, this book was presented at a conference of the Organization of American Historians together with a review by Prof. Stan Weber (McNeese State University). He described the book as “a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy” and a “must read for everyone interested in the assassination.”[i]

Programmed to Kill is a factual analysis of that KGB crime of the century committed during the Khrushchev era. In those days, the former chief KGB adviser in Romania had become the head of the almighty Soviet foreign espionage service and pushed me up to the top levels of the Soviet bloc intelligence clique. My book also contains a factual presentation of Khrushchev’s frantic efforts to cover his backside. Recalling that the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip had set off the First World War, Khrushchev was afraid that, if America should learn about the KGB’s involvement with Oswald, it might ignite the first nuclear war. Khrushchev’s interests happened to coincide with those of Lyndon Johnson, the new U.S. president, who was facing elections in less than a year, and any conclusion implicating the Soviet Union in the assassination would have forced Johnson to take undesired political or even military action, adding to his already widely unpopular stance on the war in Vietnam.

According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”81JTEUZYdHL._SL1500_

The Kremlin complied. Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, the editor of a communist-controlled British journal called Labour Monthly, signed an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement without offering a scintilla of evidence. “[M]ost commentators,” Dutt wrote, “have surmised a coup of the Ultra-Right or racialists of Dallas . . . [that], with the manifest complicity necessary of a very wide range of authorities, bears all the hallmarks of a CIA job.” Semichastny’s super secret letter and Dutt’s subsequent article were revealed by former Russian president Boris Yeltsin in his book The Struggle for Russia, published 32 years after the Kennedy assassination.

No wonder Yeltsin was ousted by a KGB palace coup that transferred the Kremlin’s throne into the hands of the KGB—which still has a firm grip on it. On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin stunned Russia and the rest of the world by announcing his resignation. “I understand that I must do it,”[ii] he explained, speaking in front of a gaily-decorated New Year’s tree along with a blue, red and white Russian flag and a golden Russian eagle. Yeltsin then signed a decree “On the execution of the powers of the Russian president,” which states that under Article 92 Section 3 of the Russian Constitution, the power of the Russian president shall be temporarily performed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, starting from noon on December 31, 1999.[iii] For his part, the newly appointed president signed a decree pardoning Yeltsin, who was allegedly connected to massive bribery scandals, “for any possible misdeeds” and granted him “total immunity” from being prosecuted (or even searched and questioned) for “any and all” actions committed while in office. Putin also gave Yeltsin a lifetime pension and a state dacha.[iv]

Soon after that, the little window into the KGB archive that had been cracked opened by Yeltsin was quietly closed. Fortunately, he had first been able to reveal Semichastny’s memo, which generated the Kennedy conspiracy that has never stopped.

Dutt’s article was followed by the first book on the JFK assassination published in the U.S., Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? It was authored by a former member of the German Communist Party, Joachim Joesten, and it was published in New York in 1964 by Carlo Aldo Marzani, a former member of the American Communist Party and a KGB agent. Joesten’s book alleges, without providing any proof, that Oswald was “an FBI agent provocateur with a CIA background”. Highly classified KGB documents smuggled out of Russia with British MI-6 help by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin in 1993—long after the two U.S. government investigations into the assassination had been completed—show that in the early 1960s, Marzani received subsidies totaling $672,000 from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. That raises the question of why Marzani was paid by the party and not by the KGB, whose agent he was. The newly released Semichastny letter gives us the answer: on the next day after the assassination, the Kremlin took over management of the disinformation operation aimed at blaming America for the JFK assassination. That is why Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? was promoted by a joint party/KGB operation.

The book’s first review, which praised it to the skies, was signed by Victor Perlo, a member of the American Communist Party, and was published on September 23, 1964, in New Times, which I knew as a KGB front at one time printed in Romania. On December 9, 1963, the “progressive” American journalist I. F. Stone published a long article in which he tried to justify why America had killed its own president. He called Oswald a rightist crackpot, but put the real blame on the “warlike Administration” of the United States, which was trying to sell Europe a “nuclear monstrosity.” Stone has been identified as a paid KGB agent, codenamed “Blin.”

Joesten dedicated his book to Mark Lane, an American leftist who in 1966 produced the bestseller Rush to Judgment, alleging Kennedy was assassinated by a right-wing American group. Documents in the Mitrokhin Archive show that the KGB indirectly sent Mark Lane money ($2,000), and that KGB operative Genrikh Borovik was in regular contact with him. Another KGB defector, Colonel Oleg Gor­dievsky (former KGB station chief in London), has identified Borovik as the brother-in-law of Col. General Vladimir Kryuchkov, who in 1988 became chairman of the KGB and in August 1991 led the coup in Moscow aimed at restoring the Soviet Union.

The year 1967 saw the publication of two more books attributed to Joesten: The Case Against Lyndon Johnson in the Assassination of President Ken­nedy and Oswald: The Truth. Both books suggested that President Johnson and his CIA had killed Kennedy. They were soon followed by Mark Lane’s A Citizen’s Dissent (1968). Lane has also intensively traveled abroad to preach that America is an “FBI police state” that killed its own president.

With such books, the Kennedy conspiracy was born, and it never stopped. The growing popularity of books on the JFK assassination has encouraged all kinds of people with any sort of remotely related background expertise to join the party, each viewing events from his own narrow perspective. Several thousand books have been written on the JFK assassination, and the hemorrhage continues. In spite of this growing mountain of paper, a satisfactory explanation of Oswald’s motivation has yet to be offered, primarily because the whole important dimension of Soviet foreign policy concerns and Soviet intelligence practice in the late 1950s and early 1960s has not been addressed in connection with Oswald by any competent authority. Why not? Because none of their authors had ever been a KGB insider, familiar with its modus operandi.

By its very nature espionage is an arcane and duplicitous undertaking, and in the hands of the Soviets it developed into a whole philosophy, every aspect of which had its own set of tried and true rules and followed a prescribed pattern. To really understand the mysteries of Soviet espionage, it will not help to see a spy movie or read a spy novel, as entertaining as that might be. You must have lived in that world of secrecy and deceit for a whole career, as I did, and even then you may not fathom its darker moments, unless you are one of the few at the very top of the pyramid.

Therefore, I have put together a short PowerPoint presentation of such darker moments that are crucial for understanding how the Kremlin has been able to fool the rest of the world into believing that America killed one of its most beloved presidents. Click here to read “11 Facts That Destroy JFK Conspiracy Theories.” Let’s step back together into that world of Soviet espionage and deceit. At the end of our tour d’horizon, I hope you’ll agree with me that the Soviets had a hand in the assassination of President Kennedy. I also hope that afterwards you will look with different eyes upon other documents relating to the JFK assassination that may turn up in the future. Perhaps you may spot additional Soviet/Russian maneuverings hidden behind them.

Voir aussi:

Programmed to Kill

Jamie Glazov

Front Page Magazine

October 03, 2007

The highest ranking intelligence official to have ever defected from the Soviet bloc discloses new facts about Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB and the Kennedy Assassination.

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc. In 1989, Romania’s president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were executed at the end of a trial where most of the accusations had come word-for-word out of Pacepa’s book, Red Horizons, republished in 27 countries. Pacepa’s newest book is Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.

FP: Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Pacepa: It is a great honor for me to be here. Yours is one of the few magazines that truly understand the Kremlin.

FP: Mr. Pacepa, you had direct knowledge of the KGB’s ties to Oswald and you also have had access to newly disclosed KGB documents. Tell us a bit about your own personal expertise in terms of this subject and the recently declassified evidence you have seen. Then kindly share with us the conclusions you have arrived at.

Pacepa: Moscow, of course, admitted nothing to us, the leaders of the Soviets’ surrogate intelligence services, about any involvement in the Kennedy assassination. The Kremlin knew that any indiscretion could start World War III. But for 15 years of my other life at the top of the Soviet bloc intelligence community, I was involved in a world-wide disinformation effort aimed at diverting attention away from the KGB’s involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald, the American Marine who had defected to Moscow, returned to the U.S., and killed President Kennedy.

We launched rumors, published articles and even produced books insinuating that the culprits were in the U.S., not in the Soviet Union. Our ultimate “proof” was a note addressed to “Mr. Hunt,” dated November 8, 1963 and signed by Oswald, copies of which turned up in the U.S. in 1975. We knew the note was faked, but American graphological experts certified that it was genuine, and conspiracy theorists connected it to the CIA’s E. Howard Hunt, by then well known from the Watergate affair, and used it to “prove” that the CIA was implicated in the Kennedy assassination.

Original KGB documents in the Mitrokhin Archive, brought to light in the 1990s, finally proved that the note was forged by the KGB during the Watergate scandal. The forged note was twice checked for “authenticity” by the KGB’s Technical Operations Directorate (OTU) and approved for use. In 1975 the KGB mailed three photocopies of the note from Mexico to conspiracy buffs in the United States.[1] (The KGB rules allowed only photocopies of counterfeited documents to be used, to avoid close examination of the original).

After the Soviet Union collapsed, I hoped the new leaders in Moscow might reveal the KGB hand in the Kennedy assassination. Instead, in 1993 they published Passport to Assassination: the Never-Before-Told Story of Lee Harvy Oswald by the KGB Colonel Who Knew Him, a book claiming that a thorough investigation into Oswald had found no Soviet involvement with him whatsoever.[2] Hangmen do not incriminate themselves.

FP: Can you go into a bit of detail about what the Mitrokhin Archive is?

Pacepa: In the 1990s, retired KGB officer Vasily Mitrokhin, helped by the British MI6, smuggled ca 25,000 pages of highly confidential KGB documents out of Moscow. They represent a minuscule part of the KGB archive, estimated to be some 27 billion pages (the East German Stasi archive had 3 billion). Nevertheless, the FBI described the Mitrokhin Archive as “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source.” According to this archive, the first American book on the assassination, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, which blames the CIA and the FBI for the crime, was masterminded by the KGB. The book’s author, Joachim Joesten, a German-born American communist, spent five days in Dallas after the assassination, then went to Europe and disappeared from sight. A few months later Joesten’s book was published by American communist Carlo Aldo Marzani (New York), who received $80,000 from the KGB to produce pro-Soviet books, plus an annual $10,000 to advertise them aggressively. Other documents in the Mitrokhin Archive identify the first American reviewer of this book, Victor Perlo, as an undercover KGB operative.

Joesten’s book was dedicated to American Mark Lane, described in the Mitrokhin Archive as a leftist who anonymously received money from the KGB. In 1966 Lane published the bestseller Rush to Judgment, alleging that Kennedy was killed by a right-wing American group. These two books encouraged people with any remotely related background expertise to join the fray. Each viewed events from his own perspective, but all accused elements in the U.S. of that crime. New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison looked around his home district and in 1967 arrested a local man, whom he accused of conspiring with elements of U.S. intelligence to murder Kennedy in order to stop the latter’s efforts to end the Cold War. The accused was acquitted in 1969, but Garrison clung to his story, first writing A Heritage of Stone (Putnam, 1970) and eventually publishing On the Trail of the Assassins (Sheriden Square, 1988), one of the books that inspired Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.

The Kennedy assassination conspiracy was born—and it never died. According to another document, in April 1977 KGB chairman Yury Andropov informed the Politburo that the KGB was launching a new desinformatsiya campaign to further implicate “American special services” in the Kennedy assassination. Unfortunately, the Mitrokhin Archive is silent on the subject after that.

FP: You have discovered documents personally written by the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, suggesting that he was linked to the KGB’s department for assassination abroad, and that he had returned to the U.S. from the Soviet Union only temporarily, on a mission. Two federal investigations and over 2,500 books have looked into the assassination, but no one has raised this matter. How come?

Pacepa: Because no assassination investigators or researchers were sufficiently familiar with KGB operational codes and practices. The FBI recently told the U.S. Congress that only a native Arabic speaker could catch the fine points of an al-Qaida telephone intercept—especially one containing intelligence doubletalk. I spent 23 years of my other life speaking in such codes. Even my own identity was codified. In 1955, when I became a foreign intelligence officer, I was informed that from then on my name would be Mihai Podeanu, and Podeanu I remained until 1978, when I broke with communism. All my subordinates—and the rest of the Soviet bloc foreign intelligence officers—used codes in their written reports, when talking with their sources, and even in conversations with their own colleagues. When I left Romania for good, my espionage service was the “university,” the country’s leader was the “Architect,” Vienna was “Videle,” and so on.

In an interview published in the U.S., KGB general Boris Solomatin, a long-time deputy chief of the PGU (Soviet foreign intelligence), once stated: « I don’t make out of myself a man who knows everything in intelligence—as some former officers of the First Department [i.e., the PGU] who have written their books try to do. In intelligence and counterintelligence only the man who is heading these services knows everything. I am saying this because all the questions concerning ciphers and cipher machines were under another department—in a directorate outside of mine, similar to your National Security Agency. »[3]

During my last ten years in Romania I also managed the country’s equivalent of NSA, and I became familiar with the code systems used throughout the Soviet bloc intelligence community. This knowledge allowed me to realize that the innocuous-sounding letters from Oswald and his Soviet wife to the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C. (made available to the Warren Commission) constituted veiled messages to the KGB. In them I found proof that Oswald was sent to the U.S. on a temporary mission, and that he planned to return to the inscrutable Soviet Union after accomplishing his task.

It took me many years to sift the wheat from the chaff in going through the piles of investigative reports generated by the violent death of the young American president, but when I finished I was fascinated by the wealth of KGB fingerprints all over the story of Oswald and his killer, Jack Ruby.

FP: So give us some concrete KGB fingerprints.

Pacepa: Let’s take the handwritten note in Russian Oswald left his Soviet wife, Marina, just before he tried to kill American general Edwin Walker in a dry run before going on to assassinate President Kennedy. That very important note contains two KGB codes: friends (code for support officer) and Red Cross (code for financial help). In this note, Oswald tells Marina what to do in case he is arrested. He stresses that she should contact the (Soviet) “embassy,” that they have “friends here,” and that the “Red Cross” will help her financially. Particularly significant is Oswald’s instruction for her to “send the embassy the information about what happened to me.” At that time the code for embassy was “office,” but it seems that Oswald wanted to be sure Marina would understand that she should immediately inform the Soviet embassy. It is noteworthy that Marina did not mention this note to U.S. authorities after Oswald’s arrest. It was found at the home of Ruth Paine, an American friend with whom Marina was staying at the time of the assassination.

FP: The Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that Oswald had no connection whatsoever with the KGB. But according to your book, Oswald secretly met an officer of the KGB’s assassination department in Mexico City just a few weeks before shooting President Kennedy. What’s the evidence?

Pacepa: There are many bits of evidence proving Oswald’s connection with the KGB. A tangible one is the letter he sent to the Soviet embassy in Washington a few days after meeting “Comrade Kostin” in Mexico City. Elsewhere Oswald identified the person he had met there as “Comrade Kostikov.” The CIA has identified Valery Kostikov as an officer of the PGU’s Thirteenth Department for “wet affairs” (wet being a euphemism for bloody). A handwritten draft of that letter was found among Oswald’s effects after the assassination. The previously mentioned Ruth Paine testified that Oswald re-wrote that letter several times before typing it on her typewriter. Marina stated he “retyped the envelope ten times.” It was important to him. A photocopy of the final letter Oswald sent to the Soviet embassy was recovered by the Warren Commission. Let me quote from that letter, in which I have also inserted Oswald’s earlier draft version in brackets:

“This is to inform you of recent events since my meetings with comrade Kostin [in draft: “of new events since my interviews with comrade Kostine”] in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, Mexico City, Mexico. I was unable to remain in Mexico [crossed out in draft: “because I considered useless”] indefinily because of my mexican visa restrictions which was for 15 days only. I could not take a chance on requesting a new visa [in draft: “applying for an extension”] unless I used my real name, so I returned to the United States.”

The fact that Oswald used an operational codename for Kostikov confirms to me that both his meeting with Kostikov in Mexico City and his correspondence with the Soviet Embassy in Washington were conducted in a PGU operational context. The fact that Oswald did not use his real name to obtain his Mexican visa confirms this conclusion.

Now let’s juxtapose this combined letter against the free guide book Esta Semana-This Week, September 28 – October 4, 1963, and a Spanish-English dictionary, both found among Oswald’s effects. The guide book has the Soviet embassy’s telephone number underlined, the names Kosten and Osvald noted in Cyrillic on the page listing “Diplomats in Mexico,” and check marks next to five movie theaters on the previous page.[4] In the back of his Spanish-English dictionary Oswald wrote: “buy tickets [plural] for bull fight,”[5] and the Plaza México bullring is encircled on his Mexico City map.[6] Also marked on Oswald’s map is the Palace of Fine Arts,[7] a favorite place for tourists to assemble on Sunday mornings to watch the Ballet Folklórico. (Click here to see these documents, Oswald’s handwritten notes and other similar materials.)

Contrary to what Oswald claimed, he was not observed at the Soviet embassy at any time during his stay in Mexico City, although the CIA had surveillance cameras trained on the entrance to the embassy at that time.[8] In short, all of the above facts taken together suggest to me that Oswald resorted to an unscheduled or “iron meeting”—zheleznaya yavka in Russian—for an urgent talk with Kostikov in Mexico City. The “iron meeting” was a standard KGB procedure for emergency situations, iron meaning ironclad or invariable.

In my day I approved quite a few “iron meetings” in Mexico City (a favorite place for contacting our important agents living in the U.S.), and Oswald’s “iron meeting” looks to me like a typical one. That means: a brief encounter at a movie house to arrange a meeting for the following day at the bullfights (in Mexico City they were held at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon); a brief encounter in front of the Palace of Fine Arts to pass Kostikov one of the bullfight tickets Oswald had bought; and a long meeting for discussions at the Sunday bullfight.

Of course, I cannot be sure that everything happened exactly that way—every case officer had his own quirks. But however they may have connected, it is clear that Kostikov and Oswald did secretly meet over that weekend of September 28-29, 1963. On the following Tuesday, still in Mexico City, he telephoned the Soviet embassy from the Cuban embassy and asked the guard on duty to connect him with “Comrade Kostikov” with whom he had “talked on September 28.” That phone call was intercepted by the CIA.

FP: Every communist party was managed by a Soviet-style politburo, all Soviet bloc armies wore the same uniform, every East European police force was replaced by a Soviet-style militia. How was this Soviet pattern reflected in the bloc’s intelligence community?

Pacepa: “Everything you’ll see here is identical to what I saw in your service,” Sergio del Valle—Cuban minister of interior and overall chief of both domestic security and foreign intelligence—told me in 1972, when he introduced me to the managers of the Cuban espionage service, the DGI.[9] Even the DGI officers’ training was based on the same manuals we in the Romanian espionage service, the DIE—Departamentul de Informatii Externe—had gotten from the PGU.

Yes, Soviet intelligence, like the Soviet government in general, had a strong penchant for patterns. By its very nature espionage is an arcane and duplicitous undertaking, but in the hands of the Soviets it developed into a whole philosophy, every aspect of which had its own set of tried and true rules and followed a prescribed pattern.

During the many years I spent researching Oswald’s ties with the KGB, I took the factual, verifiable information on his life that had been developed by the U.S. government and relevant private researchers, and I examined it in the light of PGU operational patterns—little known by outsiders because of the utter secrecy then—as now—endemic to Russia. New insights into the assassination came suddenly to life. Oswald’s experiences as a Marine serving in Japan, for instance, perfectly fit the PGU template for recruiting American servicemen outside the United States that I for many years had applied to Romanian operations. It also was obvious that the locker at a bus terminal Oswald used in 1959, after returning to the U.S. from Japan, to deposit a duffel bag stuffed with photographs of U.S. military planes was in fact an intelligence dead drop.[10] During those years the use of such lockers was all the rage with the PGU—and the DIE.

Soviet espionage operations can be isolated out by their patterns, if you are familiar with them. Counterintelligence experts call these patterns “operational evidence,” showing the fingerprints of the perpetrator.

FP: Most of the work on the Kennedy assassination suggests that Oswald was a low-ranking Marine who had no important information to offer the KGB. He was also clearly disturbed and somewhat of a loose-cannon. If that is true, why would the KGB have recruited him?

Pacepa: That was Soviet dezinformatsyia—disseminated by my DIE as well, at KGB behest. The truth is quite different. Here is one example. As a radar operator at Atsugi Air Base in Japan, Oswald knew the flight altitude of the CIA’s super-secret U-2 spy planes flying over the Soviet Union from that base. In 1959, when I was chief of Romania’s intelligence station in West Germany, a Soviet requirement sent to me asked for “everything, including rumors,” about the flight altitude of the U-2 planes. The Soviet Defense Ministry knew that U-2 planes had flown over the Soviet Union several times, but its Air Defense Command had not been able to track them because the Soviet radars of those days did not reach ultra-high altitudes.

Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot whom the Soviets shot down on May 1, 1960, believed that the Soviets were able to get him because Oswald had provided them with the altitude of his flight. According to Powers’ statement, Oswald had access “not only to radar and radio codes but also to the new MPS-16 height-finding radar gear” and the height at which the U-2 flew, which was one of the most highly classified secrets.[11]

It seems that Oswald, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, was one of the people in the audience attending Powers’s spectacular trial in Moscow. On February 15, 1962, Oswald wrote to his brother Robert: “I heard over the voice of America that they released Powers the U2 spy plane fellow. That’s big news where you are I suppose. He seemed to be a nice, bright american-type fellow, when I saw him in Moscow.”[12]

It would have been normal procedure for the KGB to take Oswald to observe the Powers trial as one of the rewards given him for having enabled the Soviet Union to shoot down the U-2.

FP: Yuri Nosenko, a KGB officer who defected to the U.S. in 1964, told assassination researcher Gerald Posner: “I am surprised that such a big deal is made of the fact that [Oswald] was a Marine. What was he in the Marine Corps—a major, a captain, a colonel?”[13] How do you explain Nosenko’s statement?

Pacepa: I know for a fact that Nosenko was a bona fide defector. But he belonged to a KGB domestic department and knew nothing about PGU foreign sources—just as a middle level FBI agent would know nothing about CIA sources abroad.

Recruiting low-ranking American servicemen was one of the PGU’s highest priorities in those days. Hunting for a “serzhant” was my top priority during the three years (1957-59) I was assigned as rezident in West Germany, and it was still a top priority in 1978, when I broke with Communism. Of course the PGU would have liked to recruit American colonels, but they were difficult to approach, whereas low-ranking officers were more accessible and could provide excellent information if given the right guidance.

Sergeant Robert Lee Johnson is a good example. In the 1950s he was stationed abroad where, like Oswald, he became infatuated with communism. In 1953 Johnson surreptitiously entered a Soviet military unit in East Berlin, where he asked—as Oswald evidently did—to be granted political asylum in the “workers’ paradise.” Once there, Johnson was recruited by the PGU and persuaded to return temporarily to the U.S. to carry out a “historic task” before starting his new life in the Soviet Union—as was the case with Oswald. Eventually, Sgt. Johnson was secretly awarded the rank of Red Army major and received written congratulations from Khrushchev himself.[14]

According to PGU Col. Vitaly Yurchenko, who defected to the CIA in 1985 and soon redefected, U.S. Chief Warrant Officer John Anthony Walker—another “serzhant”—was the greatest agent in PGU history, “surpassing in importance even the Soviet theft of the Anglo-American blueprints for the first atomic bomb.” John F. Lehman, who was the U.S. secretary of the Navy when Walker was arrested, agreed.[15]

FP: In 1962, when Oswald returned from the Soviet Union, he brought with him a 13-page document entitled “Historic Diary.” Why was it called that?

Pacepa: “Historic” was a PGU slogan at the time. The term was introduced by General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, a former Soviet chief adviser to Romania’s Securitate who rose to head the PGU for an unprecedented fourteen years. “Historic” was his favorite expression. The Securitate had the “historic task” to weed out the bourgeoisie from the Romanian soil, as he constantly preached at us. The “historic duty” of the PGU was to dig the grave of the international bourgeoisie. Dogonyat i peregonyat was our “monumentalnaya, historic task,” he told us right after Khrushchev had launched that famous slogan of his about catching up with the West and overtaking it in the space of ten years.

Personal diaries were also Sakharovsky’s invention. All our illegal officers and agents sent to the West under a fictitious biography had to take along some kind of written memory aid, so that they could remember exactly where they had supposedly been when, and what they had done in various periods of their alleged lives. Up to the end of the 1950s, these notes had been taken abroad in the form of microdots or on soft film concealed in some everyday object, but of course they presented the potential risk of becoming incriminating evidence if ever found. In January 1959 Sakharovsky ordered all Soviet bloc foreign intelligence services to conceal those biographies in the form of diaries, drafts of books, personal letters or autobiographical notes. These notes were drafted by disinformation specialists, copied out by hand by the illegal or intelligence agent concerned, usually just before leaving for the West, and then carried across the border openly.

A microscopic examination of Oswald’s “Historic Diary” did indeed show that “it was written in one or two sessions.”[16] It was also copied out in great haste, as suggested by the many spelling inaccuracies.

FP: Your book takes an intriguing twist in the way it tells the plot. In the end, you find that the evidence suggests that Oswald lost PGU (Soviet Foreign Intelleigence) support, and that he went alone to kill President Kennedy. This is a bit of an eye-brow raiser. Tell us what you know and explain your interpretation please.

Pacepa: In October 1962, the West German Supreme Court mounted a public trial of Bogdan Stashinsky, a Soviet intelligence defector who had been decorated by Khrushchev for having assassinated enemies of the Soviet Union living in the West. This trial revealed Khrushchev to the world as a callous political butcher. By 1963 the once flamboyant Soviet dictator was already a crippled ruler gasping for air. The slightest whiff of any Soviet involvement in the assassination of the American president could have been fatal to Khrushchev. Thus, the KGB—as did my DIE—canceled all operations aimed at assassinating enemies in the West.

The PGU unsuccessfully tried to deprogram Oswald. The available documents show that, to prove to the PGU that he was capable of securely carrying out the assigned assassination, Oswald conducted a dry run by shooting at—although narrowly missing—American general Edwin Walker. Oswald put together a package, complete with photographs, showing how he had planned this operation, and then he took this material to Mexico City to show “Comrade Kostin,” his case officer, what he could do. Even though he had pulled off the Walker assassination attempt without being identified as the perpetrator, Moscow remained adamant.

The stubborn Oswald was devastated, but in the end he went ahead on his own, utterly convinced he was fulfilling his “historic” task. He was just 24 years old, and he had done his best to obtain weapons in an inconspicuous way and to fabricate identity documents, using the tradecraft the KGB had taught him. Up until the very end he also followed the emergency instructions he had originally been given by the KGB—admit nothing and ask for a lawyer.

Since Oswald already knew too much about the original plan, however, Moscow arranged for him to be silenced forever, if he should go on to commit the unthinkable. That was another Soviet pattern. Seven chiefs of the Soviet political police itself were secretly or openly assassinated to prevent them from incriminating the Kremlin. Some were poisoned (Vyacheslav Menzhinsky in 1934), other were executed as Western spies (Genrikh Yagoda in 1938, Nikolay Yezhov in 1939, Lavrenty Beriya and Vsevolod Merkulov in 1953, and Viktor Abakumov in 1954).

Furthermore, immediately upon news of Kennedy’s assassination Moscow launched Operation “Dragon,” a disinformation effort in which my service was deeply involved. The aim—which has succeeded only too well—was to throw the blame on various elements in the United States for killing their own president.

FP: A first review of Programmed to Kill, by Publishers Weekly, states that your book is based on old intelligence anecdotes and offers no convincing Soviet motives for the assassination. What do you have to say to that?

Pacepa: On January 3, 1988, The New York Times published a similar review of my first book, Red Horizons, stating that it contained only “squalid anecdotes” about Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu. But two years later Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial whose accusations came almost word-for-word out of Red Horizons—which is still in print.

FP: So wasn’t all of this – if it is true—a bit crazy for Khrushchev to have risked? It could have caused a world war, no?

Pacepa: Khrushchev, who was my de facto boss for nine years, was irrational. Today, people remember him as a down-to-earth peasant who corrected the evils of Stalin. The Khrushchev I knew was bloody, brash and extroverted, and he tended to destroy every project once he got his hands on it. Khrushchev’s irrationality made him the most controversial and unpredictable Soviet leader. He unmasked Stalin’s crimes, but he made political assassination a main instrument of his own foreign policy. He authored a policy of peaceful coexistence with the West, but he ended up by pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war. He concluded the first agreement for the control of nuclear arms, but he tried to secure Fidel Castro’s position at the helm of Cuba with the help of nuclear arms. He repaired Moscow’s relations with Yugoslavia’s Tito, but he broke those with Beijing and thereby destroyed the unity of the Communist world. On September 11, 1971 Khrushchev died in ignominy, as a non-person, although not before seeing his memoirs published in the West giving his own version of history.

FP: Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa, thank you kindly for joining Frontpage Interview. Aside from the new revelations and important facts and questions you have brought to the forefront about the Kennedy assassination, your book serves as yet another reminder of the evil nature of the KGB and the truly dark and sinister entity that we faced in the Soviet regime.

Thank you for your fight for the truth and for historical memory.

It was an honor to speak with you again.

Pacepa: I greatly appreciate your courage in being willing to debate this controversial subject.

Notes:

[1] Cristopher Andrew and Vasily Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York, Perseus Books Group, 1999), p. 229.

[2] Oleg Nechiporenko, Passport to Assassination: the Never-Before-Told Story of Lee Harvy Oswald by the KGB Colonel who knew him (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993).

[3] Washington Post Magazine, April 23, 1995.

[4] Warren Commission Exhibit 2486.

[5] Testimony of Ruth Hyde Paine, Warren Commission Vol. 3, pp. 12-13.

[6] Warren Commission Exhibit 1400.

[7] Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Marina and Lee (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 496.

[8] Edward Jay Epstein, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (New York: Reader’s Digest Press), p. 16.

[9] Dirección General de Inteligencia

[10] Epstein, Legend, p. 89.

[11] Francis Gary Powers, with Curt Gentry, Operation Overflight: The U-2 spy pilot tells his story for the first time (New York: Holt, Rinehart, 1970), p. 357.

[12] Warren Commission Exhibit 315.

[13] Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 49.

[14] Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story Of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (New York: HarperCollins, 1990), p. 462.

[15] John Barron, Breaking the Ring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), pp. 148, 212.

[16] Epstein, Legend, pp. 109, 298n.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine’s editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.

Voir aussi:

The Kremlin’s Killing Ways

A long tradition continues.

Ion Mihai Pacepa

The National Review

November 28, 2006

There is no doubt in my mind that the former KGB/FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated at Putin’s order. He was killed, I believe, because he revealed Putin’s crimes and the FSB’s secret training of Ayman al-Zahawiri, the number-two in al Qaeda. I know for a fact that the Kremlin has repeatedly used radioactive weapons to kill political enemies abroad. In the late 1970s, Leonid Brezhnev gave Ceausescu, via the KGB and its Romanian sister, the Securitate, a soluble radioactive thallium powder that could be put in food; the poison was to be used for killing political enemies abroad. According to the KGB, the radioactive thallium would disintegrate inside the victim’s body, generating a fatal, galloping form of cancer and leaving no trace detectable in an autopsy. The substance was described to Ceausescu as a new generation of the radioactive thallium weapon unsuccessfully used against KGB defector Nikolay Khokhlov in West Germany in 1957. (Khokhlov lost all his hair but did not die.) Its Romanian codename was “Radu” (from radioactive), and I described it in my first book, Red Horizons, published in 1987. The Polonium 210 that was used to kill Litvinenko seems to be an upgraded form of “Radu.”

Assassination as Foreign Policy

The Kremlin’s organized efforts to assassinate political enemies abroad (not solely by means of poison, of course) started a couple of months after the XXth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, held in February 1956, at which Khrushchev exposed Stalin’s crimes. The following April, General Ivan Anisimovich Fadeyev, the chief of the KGB’s new 13th Department, responsible for assassinations abroad, landed in Bucharest for an “exchange of experience” with the DIE, the Romanian foreign intelligence service to which I belonged. Before that, Fadeyev had headed the huge KGB intelligence station in Karlhorst, East Berlin, and he was known throughout our intelligence community as a bloodthirsty man whose station had kidnapped hundreds of Westerners and whose troops had brutally suppressed the June 13, 1953, anti-Soviet demonstrations in East Berlin.

Fadeyev began his “exchange of experience” in Bucharest by telling us that Stalin had made one inexcusable mistake: He had aimed the cutting edge of the state security apparatus against “our own people.” When Khrushchev had delivered his “secret speech,” the only thing he had intended was to correct that aberration. “Our enemies” were not in the Soviet Union, Fadeyev explained. The bourgeoisie in America and Western Europe wanted to wipe out Communism. They were “our deadly enemies.” They were the “rabid dogs” of imperialism. We should direct our sword’s cutting edge against them, and only against them. That was what Nikita Sergeyevich had really wanted to tell us in his “secret speech.”

In fact, Fadeyev said, one of Khrushchev’s very first foreign-policy decisions had been his 1953 order to have one such “rabid dog” secretly assassinated: Georgy Okolovich, the leader of the National Labor Alliance (Natsionalnyy Trudovoy Soyuz, or NTS), one of the most aggressively anti-Communist Russian émigré organizations in Western Europe. Unfortunately, Fadeyev told us, once in place, the head of the assassination team, Nikolay Khokhlov, had defected to the CIA and publicly displayed the latest secret weapon created by the KGB: an electrically operated gun concealed inside a cigarette pack, which fired cyanide-tipped bullets. And because troubles never came alone, Fadeyev added, two other KGB officers familiar with the assassination component had defected soon after Khokhlov: Yury Rastvorov in January 1954, and Petr Deryabin in February 1954.

This setback, Fadeyev said, had led to drastic changes. First, Khrushchev had ordered his propaganda machinery to spread the rumor worldwide that he had abolished the KGB’s assassination component. Then he baptized assassinations abroad with the euphemism “neutralizations,” rechristened the 9th Section of the KGB — as the assassination component had been called up to that time — as the 13th Department, buried it under even deeper secrecy, and placed it under his own supervision. (Later, after the 13th Department became compromised, the name was once again changed.)

Next, Khrushchev had introduced a new “methodology” for carrying out neutralization operations. In spite of the KGB’s penchant for bureaucratic paperwork, these cases had to be handled strictly orally and kept forever secret. They also had to be kept completely secret from the Politburo and every other governing body. “The Comrade, and only the Comrade,” Fadeyev emphasized, could now approve neutralizations abroad. (Among those in top circles throughout the bloc, the term “the Comrade” colloquially designated a given country’s leader.) Regardless of any evidence that might be produced in foreign police investigations, the KGB — along with its sister services — was never under any circumstances to acknowledge its involvement in assassinations abroad; any such evidence was to be dismissed out of hand as a ridiculous accusation. And, finally, after each operation, the KGB was surreptitiously to spread “evidence” abroad accusing the CIA or other convenient “enemies” of having done the deed, thereby, if possible, killing two birds with one stone. Then Khrushchev ordered the KGB to develop a new generation of weapons that would kill without leaving any detectable trace in the victim’s body.

Before Fadeyev left Bucharest, the DIE had established its own component for neutralization operations, which was named Group Z, because the letter Z was the final letter of the alphabet, representing the “final solution.” This new unit then proceeded to conduct the first neutralization operation in the Soviet bloc under Khrushchev’s new rules. In September 1958 Group Z, assisted by a special East German Stasi team, kidnapped Romanian anti-Communist leader Oliviu Beldeanu from West Germany. The governments of East Germany and Romania placed the onus for this crime on the CIA’s shoulders, publishing official communiqués stating that Beldeanu had been arrested in East Germany after having allegedly been secretly infiltrated there by the CIA in order to carry out sabotage and diversion operations.

Exporting a Tradition

Vladimir Putin appears to be only the latest in the long line of Russian tsars who have upheld the tradition of assassinating anyone who stood in their way. The practice goes back at least as far as the XIVth century’s Ivan the Terrible, who killed thousands of boyars and other people, including Metropolitan Philip and Prince Alexander Gorbatyl-Shuisky for having refused to swear an oath of allegiance to his eldest son, an infant at the time. Peter the Great unleashed his political police against everybody who spoke out against him, from his own wife, to drunks who told jokes about his rule; he even had the political police lure his own son and heir, the tsarevich Aleksey, back to Russia from abroad and torture him to death.

Under Communism, arbitrary assassinations became a state policy. In an August 11, 1918, handwritten order demanding that at least 100 kulaks be hanged in the town of Penza to set an example, Lenin wrote: “Hang (hang without fail, so the people see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers … Do it in such a way that people for hundreds of [kilometers] around will see, tremble, know and scream out: they are choking and strangling to death these bloodsucking kulaks.” (This letter was part of an exhibit entitled “Revelations from the Russian Archives,” which was displayed at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., in 1992)

During Stalin’s purges alone, some nine million people lost their lives. Out of the seven members of Lenin’s Politburo at the time of the October Revolution, only Stalin was still alive when the massacre was over.

What I have always found even more disturbing than the brutality with which those crimes were carried out is the Soviet leaders’ deep involvement in them. Stalin personally ordered that Leon Trotsky, the co-founder of the Soviet Union, be assassinated in Mexico. And Stalin himself handed the Order of Lenin to the Spanish Communist Caridad Mercader del Rio, whose son, the Soviet intelligence officer Ramón Mercader, had killed Trotsky in August 1940 by bashing in his head with an ice axe. Similarly, Khrushchev with his own hands pinned the highest Soviet medal on the jacket of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB officer who in 1962 had killed two leading anti-Communist émigrés in West Germany.

My first contact with the Kremlin’s “neutralization” operations took place on November 5, 1956, when I was in training at the ministry of foreign trade for my cover position of deputy chief of the Romanian Mission in West Germany. Mihai Petri, a DIE officer acting as deputy minister, told me that the “big boss” needed me immediately. The “big boss” was undercover KGB general Mikhail Gavrilyuk, Romanianized as Mihai Gavriliuc and the head of the DIE.

“Is khorosho see old friend, Ivan Mikhaylovich,” I heard from the man relaxing in a comfortable chair facing Gavriliuc’s desk. It was General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who got up out of the chair and held out his hand. He had created the DIE and, as its chief Soviet intelligence adviser, had been my de facto boss until a couple of months earlier, when Khrushchev had selected him to head the almighty PGU (Pervoye Glavnoye Upravleniye, or First Chief Directorate of the KGB, the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence service). “Let me introduce you to Ivan Aleksandrovich,” he said, pointing to a scruffy peasant-type sporting gold-rimmed glasses. He was General Ivan Serov, the new chairman of the KGB. Both visitors were wearing flowered Ukrainian folkshirts over baggy, flapping trousers, in stark contrast to the gray and buttoned-up Stalin-style suits that had until recently been a virtual KGB uniform. (Even today it is still a mystery to me why most of the top KGB officers I knew would take such pains to imitate whatever Soviet leader happened to be in power at the moment. Was it merely an oriental inheritance from tsarist times, when Russian bureaucrats went to inordinate lengths to flatter their superiors?)

The visitors told us that the previous night Hungarian premier Imre Nagy, who had announced Hungary’s secession from the Warsaw Pact and asked the United Nations for help, had sought refuge in the Yugoslavian Embassy. Romanian ruler Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Politburo member Walter Roman (who knew Nagy from the war years when both had been working for the Comintern in Moscow) agreed to be flown to Budapest to help the KGB kidnap Nagy and bring him to Romania. Major Emanuel Zeides, the chief of the German desk, who spoke fluent Hungarian, would go with them as translator. “When Zeides Vienna you chief nemetskogo otdeleniya,” Gavriliuc told me, finally clarifying why I had been summoned. That meant I was to hold the bag as chief of the DIE’s German desk.

On November 23, 1956, the three Soviet Politburo members who had coordinated from Budapest the military intervention against Hungary sent an enciphered telegram to Khrushchev:

Comrade Walter Roman, who arrived in Budapest together with Comrade Dej yesterday, November 22, had long discussions with Nagy. … Imre Nagy and his group left the Yugoslavian Embassy and are now in our hands. Today the group will leave for Romania. Comrade Kadar and the Romanian comrades are preparing an adequate press communiqué. Malenkov, Suslov, Aristov.

A year later, Nagy and the principal members of his cabinet were hanged, after a showtrial the KGB organized in Budapest.

In February 1962 the KGB narrowly missed assassinating the shah of Iran, who had committed the unpardonable “crime” of having removed a Communist government installed in the northwestern part of Iran. The DIE’s chief razvedka (Russian for foreign intelligence) adviser never told us in so many words that the KGB had failed to kill the shah, but he asked us to order the DIE station in Tehran to destroy all its compromising documents, to suspend all its agents’ operations, and to report everything, including rumors, about an attempt on the shah’s life. A few days later he canceled the DIE plan to kill its own defector Constantin Mandache in West Germany with a bomb mounted in his car because, the adviser told us, the remote control, which had been supplied by the KGB for this operation, might malfunction. In 1990 Vladimir Kuzichkin, a KGB officer who had been directly involved in the failed attempt to kill the shah and who had afterwards defected to the West, published a book (Inside the KGB: My Life in Soviet Espionage, Pantheon Books, 1990) in which he describes the operation. According to Kuzichkin, the shah escaped alive because the remote control used to set off a large quantity of explosives in a Volkswagen car had malfunctioned.

Silencing Dissent

On Sunday, March 20, 1965, I paid my last visit to Gheorghiu-Dej’s winter residence in Predeal. As usual, I found him with his best friend, Chivu Stoica, Romania’s honorary head. Dej complained of feeling weak, dizzy, and nauseous. “I think the KGB got me,” he said, only half in jest. “They got Togliatti. That’s for sure,” Stoica squeaked ominously.

Palmiro Togliatti, the head of the Italian Communist party, had died on August 21, 1964, while on a visit to the Soviet Union. The word at the top of the bloc foreign intelligence community was that he had died from a rapid form of cancer, after having been irradiated by the KGB on Khrushchev’s order while vacationing in Yalta. His assassination had been provoked by the fact that, while in the Soviet Union, he had written a “testament” in which he had expressed profound discontent with Khrushchev’s failures. Togliatti’s frustrations expressed not only his personal view but also that of Leonid Brezhnev. According to Dej, these suspicions were confirmed by the facts that Brezhnev had attended Togliatti’s funeral in Rome; that in September 1964 Pravda had published portions of Togliatti’s “testament”; and that five weeks later Khrushchev was dethroned after being accused of harebrained schemes, hasty decisions, actions divorced from reality, braggadocio, and rule by fiat.

I saw Dej give a shiver. He had also been critical of Khrushchev’s foreign policy. Moreover, a year earlier he had expelled all KGB advisers from Romania, and the previous September he had expressed to Khrushchev his concern about Togliatti’s “strange death.” During the March 12, 1965, elections for Romania’s Grand National Assembly, Gheorghiu-Dej still looked vigorous. A week later, however, he died of a galloping form of cancer. “Assassinated by Moscow” is what the new Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, whispered to me a few months after that. “Irradiated by the KGB,” he murmured in an even lower voice, claiming, “That was firmly established by the autopsy.” The subject had come up because Ceausescu had ordered me immediately to obtain Western radiation detection devices (Geiger-Müller counters) and have them secretly installed throughout his offices and residences.

Soon after the Soviet-led invasion of Prague, Ceausescu switched over from Stalinism to Maoism, and in June 1971 he visited Red China. There he learned that the KGB had organized a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao, the head of the Chinese army, who had been educated in Moscow. The plot failed, and Lin Biao unsuccessfully tried to fly out of China in a military plane. His execution was announced only in 1972. During the same year I learned details about that Soviet plot from Hua Guofeng, the minister of public security — who in 1977 would become China’s supreme leader.

“Ten,” Ceausescu remarked to me. “Ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill,” he explained, counting them off on his fingers. Laszlo Rajk and Imre Nagy of Hungary; Lucretiu Patrascanu and Gheorghiu-Dej in Romania; Rudolf Slansky, the head of Czechoslovakia, and Jan Masaryk, that country’s chief diplomat; the shah of Iran; Palmiro Togliatti of Italy; American President John F. Kennedy; and Mao Zedong. (Among the leaders of Moscow’s satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.)

On the spot, Ceausescu ordered me to create a super-secret counterintelligence unit for operations in socialist countries (i.e., the Soviet bloc). “You have one thousand personnel slots for this.” His added caveat was that the new unit should be “nonexistent.” No name, no title, no plate on the door. The new unit received only the generic designation U.M. 0920/A, and its head was given the rank of chief of a DIE directorate.

Ordered to Kill

On the unforgettable day of July 22, 1978, Ceausescu and I were hiding inside a pelican blind in a remote corner of the Danube Delta, where not even a passing bird could overhear us. As a man of discipline and a former general, he had long been fascinated by the structured society of the white pelicans. The very old birds — the grandparents — always lay up on the front part of the beach, close to the water and food supply. Their respectful children lined up behind them in orderly rows, while the grandchildren spent their time horsing around in the background. I had often heard my boss say he wished Romania had the same rigid social structure.

“I want you to give ‘Radu’ to Noel Bernard,” Ceausescu whispered into my ear. Noel Bernard was at that time the director of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian program, and for years he had been infuriating Ceausescu with his commentaries. “You don’t need to report back to me on the results,” he added. “I’ll learn them from Western newspapers and …” The end of Ceausescu’s sentence was masked by the methodical rat-a-tat of his submachine gun. He aimed with ritual precision, first at the front line of pelicans, then at the middle distance, and finally at the grandchildren in the back.

For 27 years I had been living with the nightmare that, sooner or later, such orders to have someone killed would land on my plate. Up until that order from Ceausescu, I had been safe, as it was the DIE chief who was in charge of neutralization operations. But in March 1978 I had been appointed acting chief of the DIE, and there was no way for me now to avoid involvement in political assassinations, which had grown into a main instrument of foreign policy throughout the Soviet bloc.

Two days later Ceausescu sent me to Bonn to deliver a secret message to Chancellor Helmut Schimdt, and there I requested political asylum in the U.S.

The Killings Continue

Noel Bernard continued to inform the Romanians about Ceausescu’s crimes, and on December 21, 1981, he died of a galloping form of cancer. On January 1, 1988, his successor, Vlad Georgescu, started serializing my book Red Horizons on RFE. A couple of months later, when the serialization ended, Georgescu informed his listeners that the Securitate had repeatedly warned him that he would die if he broadcast Red Horizons. “If they kill me for serializing Pacepa’s book, I’ll die with the clear conscience that I did my duty as a journalist,” Georgescu stated publicly. A few months later, he died of a galloping form of cancer.

The Kremlin also continued secretly killing its political opponents. In 1979, Brezhnev’s KGB infiltrated Mikhail Talebov into the court of the pro-American Afghan premier Hafizullah Amin as a cook. Talebov’s task was to poison the prime minister. After several failed attempts, Brezhnev ordered the KGB to use armed force. On December 27, 1979, fifty KGB officers from the elite “Alpha” unit, headed by Colonel Grigory Boyarnov, occupied Amin’s palace and killed everybody inside to eliminate all witnesses. The next day Brezhnev’s KGB brought to Kabul Bebrak Kemal, an Afghan Communist who had sought refuge in Moscow, and installed him as prime minister. That KGB neutralization operation played a role in generating today’s international terrorism.

On May 13, 1981, the same KGB organized, with help from Bulgaria, an attempt to kill Pope John Paul II, who had started a crusade against Communism. Mehmet Ali Aqca, who shot the pope, admitted that he had been recruited by the Bulgarians, and he identified his liaison officers in Italy: Sergey Antonov, deputy chief of the Balkanair office in Rome, who was arrested; and major Zhelvu Vasilief, from the military attaché office, who could not be arrested because of his diplomatic status and was recalled to Sofia. Aqca also admitted that, after the assassination, he was to be secretly taken out of Italy in a TIR truck (in the Soviet bloc the TIR trucks were used by the intelligence services for operational activities). In May 1991 the Italian government reopened its investigation into the assassination attempt, and on March 2, 2006, it concluded that the Kremlin had indeed been behind it.

On Christmas Day of 1989, Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial in which the accusations came almost word for word out of Red Horizons. I recently learned from Nestor Ratesh, a former director of RFE’s Romanian program, who has spent two years researching Securitate archives, that he has obtained enough evidence to prove that both Noel Bernard and Vlad Georgescu were killed by the Securitate at Ceausescu’s order. The result of his research will be the subject of a book to be published by RFE.

Strong Arms and Stability

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russians had a unique chance to cast off their old Byzantine form of police state, which has for centuries isolated the country and has left it ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of modern society. Unfortunately, the Russian have not been up to that task. Since the fall of Communism they have been faced with an indigenous form of capitalism run by old Communist bureaucrats, speculators, and ruthless mafiosi that has widened social inequities. Therefore, after a period of upheaval, the Russians have gradually — and perhaps thankfully — slipped back into their historical form of government, the traditional Russian samoderzhaviye, a form of autocracy traceable to the 14th century’s Ivan the Terrible, in which a feudal lord ruled the country with the help of his personal political police. Good or bad, the old political police may appear to most Russians as their only defense against the rapacity of the new capitalists at home.

It will not be easy to break a five-century-old tradition. That does not mean that Russia cannot change. But for that to happen, the U.S. must help. We should stop pretending that Russia’s government is democratic, and assess it for what it really is: a band of over 6,000 former officers of the KGB — one of the most criminal organizations in history — who grabbed the most important positions in the federal and local governments, and who are perpetuating Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s, and Brezhnev’s practice of secretly assassinating people who stand in their way. Killing always comes with a price, and the Kremlin should be forced to pay it until it will stop the killings.

—Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His book Red Horizons has been republished in 27 countries.

Seeing Red

Spontaneous anti-American demonstrations? Think again.

Ion Mihai Pacepa

National Review on line

March 18, 2003

Over the March 15-16 weekend there were simultaneous anti-American and pro-peace demonstrations around the world, with the largest in Athens and Moscow. It is significant that the headquarters of the Soviet-created World Peace Council (WPC) is now in Athens, and that its honorary chairman is still the same KGB asset, Romesh Chandra, who chaired this Cold War organization during the years when I was a Communist general. This current bashing of the U.S. makes me believe I am watching a revival of an old stage drama, the lines of which I know by heart. Back in the 1970Ss the drama featured that same Ramesh Chandra and consisted of the WPC’s virulent offensive to counteract American efforts aimed at protecting the world against Communist expansion.

In fact, the WPC Secretariat recently recognized that the WPC has “participated in or co-organized” the current worldwide anti-American demonstrations. On December 14, 2002, the WPC convened a meeting of its Communist-style Executive Committee and then issued an official communiqué stating, in vintage Soviet language: “The Bush administration is intensifying readiness for the unilateral attack on Iraq, and this unilateralism of hegemony is becoming the biggest threat to world peace.” An international appeal published by the WPC Secretariat on the same day confirmed that the WPC had indeed been involved in organizing anti-American demonstrations in “USA, Great Britain, Florence, Prague and in many other European capitals, as well as in other countries.” The WPC appeal called upon “the peoples and movements of the world aspiring to peace and justice to unite their voices and actions against the U.S. war on Iraq.”

The WPC was created by Moscow in the 1950s and had only one task: to portray the United States as being run by a “war-mongering government.” To make it look like a Western organization, Moscow headquartered it in Paris, but in 1954 the French government accused the WPC of being a Soviet puppet and kicked it out of France. Therefore, its headquarters were moved to Soviet-occupied Vienna, and then to Prague when Austria became neutral. It is remarkable that, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States remained the only superpower, Romesh Chandra moved his WPC to Athens and focused its operations toward “waging a struggle against the New World Order.” According to its current charter, adopted during a 1996 Peace Congress in Mexico, the WPC has now “broadened into a worldwide mass movement” whose task is to support “those people and liberation movements” fighting “against [American] imperialism.”

Back in the 1970s, when Moscow appointed Romesh Chandra to head the WPC, it introduced him to the world as being an “apolitical” Indian. In reality, Chandra was a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party of India, one of the foreign Communist parties most loyal to the Soviet Union at that time. Khrushchev himself approved a $50 million annual budget for the “new” WPC (the money was delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars, in order to hide its Soviet origin), and tasked Chandra to focus the WPC effort on condemning the American intervention in Vietnam as a “murderous adventure” and to require all WPC national branches to initiate demonstrations around the world against America’s imperialism and its war in Vietnam.

Until 1978, when I left Romania for good, I managed the Romanian side of the WPC, whose operations implicated thousands of undercover Soviet-bloc intelligence officers and many other thousands of paid and voluntary Communist activists. By that time Chandra’s WPC had reportedly collected 700 million signatures on a “ban-the-American-atomic-bomb” petition that had been drafted in Moscow and adopted by a peace conference convened in Stockholm. In a 1981 article published in the Comintern journal entitled Problems of Peace and Socialism (the English translation of which was called World Marxist Review), Chandra wrote: “The struggle to curb the arms race has become a mass demonstration against the deployment of new U.S. missiles.” Soon after that, Chandra and his WPC unleashed a worldwide offensive against the deployment by the United States of Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe, and it organized “global campaigns” to protest the production of the neutron bomb announced by U.S. president Jimmy Carter and against the U.S. decision on “Star Wars,” WPC’s derisive term for the American strategic defense initiative (SDI).

In 1851 Karl Marx issued his now famous dictum: “History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second as farce.” The new anti-American Axis Beijing-Moscow-Berlin-Paris is indeed a farcical effort to revive the anti-Americanism created by the WPC and its sponsors during the Cold War era.

— General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. He is currently finishing a new book, Red Roots: The origins of today’s anti-Americanism.

Voir également:

Ex-spy fingers Russians on WMD

Ion Mihai Pacepa

The Washington Times

On March 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the U.S.-led « aggression » against Iraq as « unwarranted » and « unjustifiable. » Three days later, Pravda said that an anonymous Russian « military expert » was predicting that the United States would fabricate finding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov immediately started plying the idea abroad, and it has taken hold around the world ever since.

As a former Romanian spy chief who used to take orders from the Soviet KGB, it is perfectly obvious to me that Russia is behind the evanescence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. After all, Russia helped Saddam get his hands on them in the first place. The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction — in Romanian it was codenamed « Sarindar, meaning « emergency exit. »I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with.

All chemical weapons were to be immediately burned or buried deep at sea. Technological documentation, however, would be preserved in microfiche buried in waterproof containers for future reconstruction. Chemical weapons, especially those produced in Third Worldcountries,which lack sophisticated production facilities, often do not retainlethal properties after a few months on the shelf and are routinely dumped anyway. And all chemical weapons plants had a civilian cover making detection difficult, regardless of the circumstances.

The plan included an elaborate propaganda routine. Anyone accusing Moammar Gadhafi of possessing chemical weapons would be ridiculed. Lies, all lies! Come to Libya and see! Our Western left-wing organizations, like the World Peace Council, existed for sole purpose of spreading the propaganda we gave them. These very same groups bray the exact same themes to this day. We always relied on their expertise at organizing large street demonstrations in Western Europe over America’swar-mongering whenever we wanted to distract world attention from the crimes of the vicious regimes we sponsored.

Iraq, in my view, had its own « Sarindar » plan in effect direct from Moscow. It certainly had one in the past. Nicolae Ceausescu told me so, and he heard it from Leonid Brezhnev. KGB chairman Yury Andropov, and later, Gen. Yevgeny Primakov, told me so too. In the late 1970s, Gen. Primakov ran Saddam’s weapons programs. After that, as you may recall, he was promoted to head of the Soviet foreign intelligence service in 1990, to Russia’s minister of foreign affairs in 1996, and in 1998, to prime minister. What you may not know is that Primakov hates Israel and has always championed Arab radicalism. He was a personal friend of Saddam’s and has repeatedly visited Baghdad after 1991, quietly helping Saddam play his game of hide-and-seek.

The Soviet bloc not only sold Saddam its WMDs, but it showed them how to make them « disappear. » Russia is still at it. Primakov was in Baghdad from December until a couple of days before the war, along with a team of Russian military experts led by two of Russia’s topnotch « retired »generals,Vladislav Achalov, a former deputy defense minister, and Igor Maltsev, a former air defense chief of staff. They were all there receiving honorary medals from the Iraqi defense minister. They clearly were not there to give Saddam military advice for the upcomingwar—Saddam’sKatyusha launchers were of World War II vintage, and his T-72 tanks, BMP-1 fighting vehicles and MiG fighter planes were all obviously useless against America. « I did not fly to Baghdad to drink coffee, » was what Gen. Achalov told the media afterward. They were there orchestrating Iraq’s « Sarindar » plan.

The U.S. military in fact, has already found the only thing that would have been allowed to survive under the classic Soviet « Sarindar » plan to liquidate weapons arsenals in the event of defeat in war — the technological documents showing how to reproduce weapons stocks in just a few weeks.

Such a plan has undoubtedly been in place since August 1995 — when Saddam’s son-in-law, Gen. Hussein Kamel, who ran Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological programs for 10 years, defected to Jordan. That August, UNSCOM and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors searched a chicken farm owned by Kamel’s family and found more than one hundred metal trunks and boxes containing documentation dealing with all categories of weapons, including nuclear. Caught red-handed, Iraq at last admitted to its « extensive biological warfare program, including weaponization, » issued a « Full, Final and Complete Disclosure Report » and turned over documents about the nerve agent VX and nuclear weapons.

Saddam then lured Gen. Kamel back, pretending to pardon his defection. Three days later, Kamel and over 40 relatives, including women and children, were murdered, in what the official Iraqi press described as a « spontaneous administration of tribal justice. » After sending that message to his cowed, miserable people, Saddam then made a show of cooperation with U.N. inspection, since Kamel had just compromised all his programs anyway. In November 1995, he issued a second « Full, Final and Complete Disclosure » as to his supposedly non-existent missile programs. That very same month, Jordan intercepted a large shipment of high-grade missile components destined for Iraq. UNSCOM soon fished similar missile components out of the Tigris River, again refuting Saddam’s spluttering denials. In June 1996, Saddam slammed the door shut to UNSCOM’s inspection of any « concealment mechanisms. » On Aug. 5, 1998, halted cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA completely, and they withdrew on Dec. 16, 1998. Saddam had another four years to develop and hide his weapons of mass destruction without any annoying, prying eyes. U.N. Security Council resolutions 1115, (June 21, 1997), 1137 (Nov. 12, 1997), and 1194 (Sept. 9, 1998) were issued condemning Iraq—ineffectual words that had no effect. In 2002, under the pressure of a huge U.S. military buildup by a new U.S. administration, Saddam made yet another « Full, Final and Complete Disclosure, » which was found to contain « false statements » and to constitute another « material breach » of U.N. and IAEA inspection and of paragraphs eight to 13 of resolution 687 (1991).

It was just a few days after this last « Disclosure, » after a decade of intervening with the U.N. and the rest of the world on Iraq’s behalf, that Gen. Primakov and his team of military experts landed in Baghdad — even though, with 200,000 U.S. troops at the border, war was imminent, and Moscow could no longer save Saddam Hussein. Gen. Primakov was undoubtedly cleaning up the loose ends of the « Sarindar » plan and assuring Saddam that Moscow would rebuild his weapons of mass destruction after the storm subsided for a good price.

Mr. Putin likes to take shots at America and wants to reassert Russia in world affairs. Why would he not take advantage of this opportunity? As minister of foreign affairs and prime minister, Gen. Primakov has authored the « multipolarity » strategy of counterbalancing American leadership by elevating Russia to great-powerstatusinEurasia. Between Feb. 9-12, Mr. Putin visited Germany and France to propose a three-power tactical alignment against the United States to advocate further inspections rather than war. On Feb. 21, the Russian Duma appealed to the German and French parliaments to join them on March 4-7 in Baghdad, for « preventing U.S. military aggression against Iraq. » Crowds of European leftists, steeped for generations in left-wing propaganda straight out of Moscow, continue to find the line appealing.

Mr. Putin’s tactics have worked. The United States won a brilliant military victory, demolishing a dictatorship without destroying the country, but it has begun losing the peace. While American troops unveiled the mass graves of Saddam’s victims, anti-American forces in Western Europe and elsewhere, spewed out vitriolic attacks, accusing Washington of greed for oil and not of really caring about weapons of mass destruction, or exaggerating their risks, as if weapons of mass destruction were really nothing very much to worry about after all.

It is worth remembering that Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, chose to live in a Soviet gulag instead of continuing to develop the power of death. « I wanted to alert the world, » Sakharov explained in 1968, « to the grave perils threatening the human race thermonuclear extinction, ecological catastrophe, famine. » Even Igor Kurchatov, the KGB academician who headed the Soviet nuclear program from 1943 until his death in 1960, expressed deep qualms of conscience about helping to create weapons of mass destruction. « The rate of growth of atomic explosives is such, » he warned in an article written together with several other Soviet nuclear scientists not long before he died, « that in just a few years the stockpile will be large enough to create conditions under which the existence of life on earth will be impossible. »

The Cold War was fought over the reluctance to use weapons of mass destruction, yet now this logic is something only senior citizens seem to recall. Today, even lunatic regimes like that in North Korea not only possess weapons of mass destruction, but openly offer to sell them to anyone with cash, including terrorists and their state sponsors. Is anyone paying any attention? Being inured to proliferation, however, does not reduce its danger. On the contrary, it increases it.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, a Romanian, is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc.

How the Soviet KGB created Conspiracy Theories

Aug, 4 2013

The black propaganda tools of a very shrewd and cynical Soviet KGB created many of the ideas that are still echoed today as « conspiracy theories ». I have been reading and researching conspiracy-theories for the last 20 years and in time, my suspicions were aroused because so many of these theories were directed at the USA specifically. « Why is America always the culprit in these theories? » I asked myself. Is there an actual conspiracy behind these conspiracy-theories?

Ever since the early days of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the Russians were very well-versed in spying, counter-intelligence, disinformation, propaganda, placing « sleepers » into various countries, recruiting American journalists, filmmakers and academics for their agenda. Compared to their expertise, Americans were, for the longest time, naive amateurs (as the recent NSA outings have shown, America is no longer an amateur). To give you a taste for the outrageous extent of their campaign these are three fairly popular examples of conspiracy-theories that were planted by the KGB. It often surprises me how supposedly suspicious and skeptical « conspiracy theorists » rarely ask about the origins of a theory and who benefits from certain information.

Example 1: Operation Infektion

Operation: INFEKTION was a KGB disinformation campaign to spread information that the United States invented HIV/AIDS as part of a biological weapons research project at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The Soviet Union used it to undermine the United States’ credibility, foster anti-Americanism, isolate America abroad, and create tensions between host countries and the U.S. over the presence of American military bases (which were often portrayed as the cause of AIDS outbreaks in local populations).

Source: Operation INFEKTION

This is former Soviet Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov who was the first to confess to « Operation Infektion »:

The « AIDS Conspiracy Theory » is still quite popular, showing how easily disinformation, once disseminated, gains a life of its own and plenty of followers.

Example 2: The JFK Conspiracy Theory

One of the very first JFK-Conspiracy books to be published was in 1964 by Joachim Joesten. The book was titled « Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy » and was published prior to the Warren Report. In this book it was claimed that JFK was killed by the CIA and that Oswald was not a lone gunman. The book has been used by many subsequent conspiracy-theorists, including Oliver Stone and his movie JFK, to support their views. In fact, it is still parroted to this day.

Only decades later, with the fall of the Soviet Union, it was proven that Joesten was a paid KGB Agent and the publisher was a KGB Front. The purpose of this conspiracy-theory was once again to discredit America and the CIA and sow doubt and fear in the populace. It was quite a successful operation, judging from the thousands of books and articles that still emulate the original KGB-message.

Source: The Sword and the Shield (among other sources)

Example 3: Islamic Anti-Americanism

Evidence has been steadily mounting that Anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world is not exclusively a creation of American Interventionism, but has been generously fueled by the Soviet KGB as well.

One of the operating principles of the Soviets was to look for already existing antagonism toward the U.S. and blow it out of proportion through added disinformation. Another tactic was to wait for the U.S. to make mistakes – such as those in foreign policy – and to then emphasize and mass-publish those mistakes. Anything to create anger and rage toward America was a good tool for the KGB, whether it had a factual basis or not.

In a recent book titled « Disinformation », former KGB Agent Ion Mihai Pacepa (image above) writes that his colleague and acquaintance Yuri Andropov (image below), the head of the KGB in the 1960s, was taksed with reviving anti-semitism in conjuction with anti-Americanism among Arabs and Persians. The goal was to « convince muslims that America was ruled by Jews ». For this purpose the « Palestinian Liberation Army » was founded and trained by KGB special ops and books were published that displayed Israelis, Zionists and Americans as the worlds foremost threat to peace. It was hoped that by teaching muslims that America was ruled by the « Council of the Wise Elders of Zion », who were plotting to take over the whole world, that violence and terrorism against the U.S. would follow. Pacepa writes:

« In 1972 I received from the KGB an Arabic translation of the old Russian forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” We also received « documentary » material in Arabic produced by the Soviet disinformation « proving » America was a Zionist country whose aim was to transform the Islamic world into a Jewish fief. My DIE was ordered to disseminate these documents within its targeted Islamic countries. During my later years in Romania, the DIE disseminated thousands of copies of “The Protocols” and similar “documents” each month. The fruit of the KGB’s disinformation campaign was seen on Sept. 11, 2001. The weapon of choice for that horrific act was a hijacked airplane – a concept invented and perfected by Andropov’s disinformation machinery.

What is interesting about this campaign is that they may still be going on, decades after the Cold War ended. For example, among intelligence circles it is rumored that the Danish « Mohammed Cartoon » affair that transpired in 2005 and caused Islamic unrest and violence across the world, was orchestrated by the SVR – which is the successor of the KGB. Oleg Kalugin, former KGB Major, has gone public with this theory, saying that in the past the KGB has often used Danish journalists to disseminate agitation propaganda. He says it is no coindidence that the Jyllands Posten editor who commisioned the cartoons – Flemming Rose – was a correspondent to Moscow and has published several Russian-Propaganda articles against Chechnya. Flemming Rose was also married to the daughter of a KGB-officer. Next thing you know he is publishing articles that cause Islamic outrage against the West.

But if true (and thats really an IF in this case), why would modern Russia still be applying these Cold War tactics? Well, Russia is still in competition to the west for resources and oil and dominance. Their covert operation tools having worked in the past it follows that they would continue to use them.

Skyfloating

Aug, 4 2013

There were many, many more ideas and theories planted into the American mind by the KGB. History will remember the KGB as the foremost experts of disinformation. Most of this propaganda was part of a kind of political warfare termed Active Measures by the Soviets.

Active measures ranged « from media manipulations to special actions involving various degrees of violence ». They were used both abroad and domestically. They included disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration in churches, and persecution of political dissidents. Active measures included the establishment and support of international front organizations (e.g. the World Peace Council); foreign communist, socialist and opposition parties; wars of national liberation in the Third World; and underground, revolutionary, insurgency, criminal, and terrorist groups. The intelligence agencies of Eastern Bloc states also contributed to the program, providing operatives and intelligence for assassinations and other types of covert operations. Retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin described active measures as « the heart and soul of Soviet intelligence »: « Not intelligence collection, but subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs. » Active measures was a system of special courses taught in the Andropov Institute of KGB situated at SVR headquarters in Yasenevo, near Moscow.

A few more of the « active measures » taken by the Soviets were:

* Creating the conspiracy-theory that the moon landing was a hoax.

* Trying to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. as an « agent of the Government »

* Creating racial tensions between black and whites by writing bogus letters from the Ku Klux Klan, distributing explosive packages in New York.

* Creating the conspiracy-theory that fluoridated drinking water was a US-Government conspiracy for population control.

* And much, much more, too much to go into here.

Source: The Mitrokhin Archive (among other sources).

My personal conclusion from all this is that when reading information I first ask: Where is it from and who benefits? Not all information is based on innocent research or inquiry.

Related Post: The Peace Movement was a Soviet Psy-Operation

Voir par ailleurs:

Les assauts de Moscou contre le Vatican

Le KGB a fait de la corruption de l’Église une priorité.

Ion Mihai Pacepa

4 février 2007

L’Union Soviétique ne s’est jamais sentie à l’aise de vivre dans le même monde que le Vatican. Les plus récentes découvertes montrent que le Kremlin était prêt à tout pour combattre le ferme anticommunisme de l’Église Catholique.

En mars 2006, une commission parlementaire italienne concluait « au-delà de tout doute raisonnable que les dirigeants de l’Union Soviétique avaient pris l’initiative d’éliminer le pape Karol Wojtyla, » en représailles de son soutien en Pologne au mouvement dissident Solidarność. En janvier 2007, quand des documents dévoilent que le nouvellement nommé archevêque de Varsovie Stanislas Wielgus a collaboré avec la police politique de l’ère communiste de Pologne, il admet les accusations et démissionne. Le jour suivant, le recteur de la cathédrale Wawel de Kracovie, site funéraire des rois et reines polonais, démissionnait pour la même raison. On a alors appris que Michal Jagosz, un membre du tribunal du Vatican pour la béatification du pape Jean-Paul II, était accusé d’être un ancien agent secret communiste ; selon les médias polonais, il avait été recruté en 1984 avant de quitter la Pologne pour prendre poste au Vatican. Aujourd’hui, un livre est sur le point d’être publié qui identifiera 39 autres prêtres dont les noms ont été trouvés dans les fichiers de la police secrète de Kracovie, et dont certains sont actuellement évêques. De plus, il semble que cela ne fait qu’effleurer la surface des choses. Une commission spéciale va bientôt commencer des investigations sur le passé de tous les religieux durant l’ère communiste, car des centaines d’autres prêtres catholiques de ce pays sont soupçonnés d’avoir collaboré avec la police secrète. Et il ne s’agit que de la Pologne – les archives du KGB et celles de la police politique du reste de l’ancien bloc soviétique restent à ouvrir sur les opérations menées contre le Vatican.

Dans mon autre vie, lorsque j’étais au centre des guerres de Moscou contre les services secrets étrangers, j’ai moi-même été impliqué dans un effort délibéré du Kremlin pour calomnier le Vatican en décrivant le Pape Pie XII comme un sympathisant nazi au coeur dur. Finalement, l’opération n’a pas causé de dommage durable, mais elle a laissé un mauvais arrière goût dont il est difficile de se débarrasser. Cette histoire n’a encore jamais été racontée auparavant.

Combattre l’Église

En février 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approuva un plan ultra-secret pour détruire l’autorité morale du Vatican en Europe de l’Ouest. L’idée est née du cerveau du patron du KGB Alexandre Shelepin et d’Aleksey Kirichenko, le membre du Politburo responsable des opérations internationales. Jusqu’à présent, le KGB avait combattu son « ennemi mortel » en Europe de l’Est, où le Saint-Siège avait été cruellement attaqué comme un repère d’espions à la solde de l’impérialisme américain, et ses représentants sommairement emprisonnés comme espions. Maintenant, Moscou voulait que le Vatican soit discrédité par ses propres prêtres, sur son propre territoire, en tant que bastion du nazisme.

Eugenio Pacelli, le Pape Pie XII, fut choisi comme cible principale du KGB, son incarnation du mal, parce qu’il était décédé en 1958. « Les morts ne peuvent pas se défendre » était le dernier leitmotiv du KGB. Moscou venait juste de se faire regarder de travers pour avoir monté une machination et emprisonné un prélat vivant du Vatican, le cardinal Jòzsef Mindszenty, Primat de Hongrie, en 1948. Pendant la révolution politique hongroise de 1956, il s’était échappé de sa détention et trouva asile à l’ambassade des États-Unis de Budapest, où il commença à rédiger ses mémoires. Quand les détails de la machination dont il avait été victime furent dévoilée aux journalistes occidentaux, il fut considéré par la plupart comme un héro et un martyr.

Comme Pie XII avait été le nonce apostolique à Munich et à Berlin lorsque les nazis commencèrent leur tentative d’accès au pouvoir, le KGB a voulu le décrire comme un antisémite qui avait encouragé l’Holocauste d’Hitler. La difficulté résidait dans le fait que l’opération ne devait pas permettre qu’on soupçonne si peu que ce soit l’implication du bloc soviétique. Tout le sale boulot devait être pris en charge par des mains occidentales en utilisant des preuves venant du Vatican lui-même. Cela éviterait de reproduire une autre erreur commise dans l’affaire Mindszenty, qui avait été accusé sur la base de faux documents soviétiques et hongrois [1].

Pour éviter une nouvelle catastrophe comme celle de Mindszenty, le KGB avait besoin de plusieurs documents originaux du Vatican, même n’ayant qu’un lointain rapport avec Pie XII, que les experts en désinformation pourrait légèrement modifier et projeter sous une « lumière appropriée » pour montrer la « véritable image » du Pape. Le problème était que le KGB n’avait pas accès aux archives du Vatican et c’est là que le DIE dont je faisais partie, les services secrets roumains, entrait en jeu. Le nouveau chef des services secrets soviétiques, le général Alexandre Sakharovsky avait créé le DIE en 1949 et avait été jusqu’à peu notre conseiller en chef soviétique ; il savait que le DIE était en excellente position pour contacter le Vatican et obtenir les autorisations pour faire des recherches dans ses archives. En 1959, alors que j’avais été affecté à l’Allemagne de l’Ouest sous la couverture de porte-parole de la Mission Roumaine, j’ai organisé un échange d’espions où deux officiers du DIE (le colonel Gheorghe Horobet et le major Nicolae Ciuciulin), qui avaient été pris sur le fait en Allemagne de l’Ouest, ont été échangés contre l’évêque catholique Augustin Pacha, emprisonné par le KGB sur la fausse accusation d’espionnage et qui fut finalement rendu au Vatican via l’Allemagne de l’Ouest.

Infiltrer le Vatican

« Siège-12 » était le nom de code donné à cette opération contre Pie XII, et j’en devins l’homme-clef en Roumanie. Pour faciliter mon travail, Sakharovsky m’avait autorisé à informer (faussement) le Vatican que la Roumanie était prête à renouer ses relations interrompues avec le Saint-Siège, en échange de l’accès à ses archives et d’un prêt sans intérêt sur 25 ans d’un milliard de dollars [2]. L’accès aux archives du Pape, devais-je expliquer au Vatican, était nécessaire pour trouver des racines historiques permettant au gouvernement roumain de justifier publiquement son revirement à l’égard du Saint-Siège. Le milliard (non, ce n’est pas une faute typographique), m’a-t-on dit, a été mis en jeu pour rendre plus plausible la soi-disant volte-face de la Roumanie. « S’il y a une chose que les moines comprennent, c’est l’argent » faisait remarquer Sakharovsky.

Mon implication récente dans l’échange de Mgr Pacha contre les deux officiers du DIE m’ouvrit en effet des portes. Un mois après avoir reçu les instructions du KGB, j’ai eu mon premier contact avec un représentant du Vatican. Pour des raisons de confidentialité, cette réunion — et la plupart de celles qui ont suivi — se tint en Suisse dans un hôtel de Genève. J’y fus présenté à un « membre influent du corps diplomatique » qui, m’avait-on dit, avait commencé sa carrière en travaillant aux archives du Vatican. Il s’appelait Agostino Casaroli, et j’appris bientôt qu’il était effectivement influent. Il me donna sur le champ accès aux archives du Vatican, et bientôt, trois jeunes officiers du DIE se faisant passer pour des prêtres roumains épluchèrent les archives papales. Casaroli acquiesça aussi « sur le principe » à la demande de Bucarest pour le prêt sans intérêt, mais dît que le Vatican désirait y mettre certaines conditions [3].

Pendant les années 1960 à 1962, le DIE parvint à dérober des centaines de documents liés de près ou de loin au pape Pie XII venant des archives du Vatican ou de la bibliothèque apostolique. Tout était immédiatement envoyé au KGB par courrier spécial. En réalité, aucun document compromettant contre le pontife ne fut trouvé dans tous ces documents photographiés en secret. Il s’agissait principalement de copies de lettres personnelles et de transcriptions de réunions et de discours, toutes rédigées dans le monotone jargon diplomatique auquel on peut s’attendre. Néanmoins, le KGB continua de demander d’autres documents. Et nous leur en avons envoyés d’autres.

Le KGB produit une pièce de théâtre

En 1963, le général Ivan Agayant, le célèbre chef du département de désinformation du KGB, atterrit à Bucarest pour nous remercier de notre aide. Il nous dît que « Siège-12 » avait abouti à une efficace pièce de théâtre attaquant le pape Pie XII, intitulée Le Vicaire (The Deputy), une référence indirecte au Pape comme représentant du Christ sur Terre. Agayants se vantait d’avoir inventé lui-même les grandes lignes de la pièce et nous dit qu’elle avait un volumineux appendice de documents réunis par ses experts grâce aux documents que nous avions dérobés au Vatican. Agayants nous dît aussi que le producteur du Vicaire, Erwin Piscator, était un communiste dévoué qui avait des liens de longue date avec Moscou. En 1929, il avait fondé le Théâtre Prolétaire à Berlin, puis avait demandé l’asile politique à l’Union soviétique lorsqu’Hitler était arrivé au pouvoir, et avait « émigré » quelques années plus tard aux États-Unis. En 1962, Piscator était de retour à Berlin Ouest pour produire Le Vicaire.

Pendant toutes mes années en Roumanie, j’ai toujours pris ce que me disaient mes patrons du KGB avec précaution, parce qu’ils avaient l’habitude de manipuler les faits de manière à faire de l’espionnage soviétique l’origine de tout. Mais j’avais des raisons de croire les fanfaronnades d’Agayants. C’était une légende vivante dans le domaine de la désinformation. En 1943, alors qu’il résidait en Iran, Agayants lança un rapport de désinformation disant qu’Hitler avait entraîné une équipe spéciale pour kidnapper le président Franklin Roosevelt à l’ambassade américaine à Tehéran, pendant un sommet allié qui devait s’y tenir. Le résultat fut que Roosevelt accepta d’installer son quartier général dans une villa à l’intérieur du périmètre de « sécurité » de l’ambassade soviétique, gardée par un grosse unité militaire. Tout le personnel soviétique affecté à la villa était constitué d’officiers du renseignement sous couverture qui parlaient anglais mais qui, à de rares exceptions près, l’avaient caché pour pouvoir écouter ce qui se disait. Même avec les moyens techniques limités de l’époque, Agayants a été capable de fournir heure par heure à Staline des rapports sur ses hôtes américains et britanniques. Ceux-ci aidèrent Staline à obtenir de Roosevelt l’accord tacite de conserver les pays baltes et le reste des territoires occupés par l’Union Soviétique en 1939-40. On raconte qu’Agayants avait aussi incité Roosevelt à appeler familièrement Staline « Oncle Joe » pendant le sommet. Selon Sakharovsky, Staline y trouva encore plus de plaisir qu’en ses gains territoriaux. On dit qu’il s’esclama joyeusement « L’infirme est à moi ! ».

Un an avant la sortie du Vicaire, Agayants réussit un autre coup de maître. Il fabriqua de toutes pièces un manuscrit conçu pour convaincre l’Occident que le Kremlin avait profondément une haute opinion des Juifs ; il fut publié en Europe de l’ouest avec un grand succès populaire, sous le titre Notes for a journal. Le manuscrit fut attribué à Maxim Litvinov [4] né Meir Walach, un ancien commissaire soviétique aux affaires étrangères, qui avait été limogé en 1939 lorsque Staline a purgé son appareil diplomatique des Juifs en préparation du pacte de « non agression » avec Hitler [5]. Ce livre d’Agayants était si parfaitement contrefait que l’historien britannique spécialiste de la Russie soviétique le plus éminent, Edward Hallet Carr, fut totalement convaincu de son authenticité et en écrivit même la préface [6].

Le Vicaire vit le jour en 1963 comme le travail d’un allemand de l’ouest inconnu nommé Rolf Hochhuth, sous le titre Der Stellvertreter christliches Trauerspiel (Le Vicaire, une tragédie chrétienne). Sa thèse centrale était que Pie XII avait soutenu Hitler et encouragé l’Holocauste. Elle provoqua immédiatement une grande controverse sur Pie XII, qui était décrit comme un homme froid et sans cœur plus préoccupé par les propriétés du Vatican que par le sort des victimes d’Hitler. Le texte original est une pièce de huit heures, terminée par 40 à 80 pages (selon l’édition) de ce que Hochhuth appelait « documentation historique ». Dans un article de journal publié en Allemagne en 1963, Hochhuth défend son portrait de Pie XII en disant : « Les faits sont là : quarante pages serrées de documentation dans l’appendice de ma pièce. » Dans une interview radiophonique donnée à New York en 1964, lorsque Le Vicaire y fut joué pour la première fois, Hochhuth dit : « J’ai trouvé nécessaire d’ajouter à la pièce un appendice historique, cinquante à quatre-vingt pages (selon la taille de l’impression). » Dans l’édition originale, l’appendice est intitulée « Historische Streiflichter » (éclairage historique). Le Vicaire a été traduit en près de 20 langues, coupé drastiquement et l’appendice souvent omise.

Avant d’écrire Le Vicaire, Hochhuth, qui n’avait pas le baccalauréat (Abitur), avait travaillé à différents postes insignifiants pour la maison d’édition Bertelsmann. Dans des interviews, il déclarait qu’il avait pris un congé en 1959 pour aller à Rome où il passa trois mois à parler aux gens puis à rédiger la première ébauche de la pièce, et où il posa « une série de questions » à un évêque dont il refusait de dire le nom. Très peu vraisemblable ! À peu près au même moment, je rendais des visites régulières au Vatican comme messager accrédité d’un chef d’État, et je n’ai jamais pu entraîner dans un coin un quelconque évêque bavard — et ce n’est pas faute d’avoir essayé. Les officiers clandestins du DIE que nous avions infiltrés au Vatican rencontrèrent aussi des difficultés insurmontables pour pénétrer dans les archives secrètes du Vatican, alors même qu’ils avaient une couverture de prêtres en béton.

Pendant mes derniers jours au DIE, si je demandais à mon chef du personnel, le général Nicolae Ceausescu (le frère du dictateur), de me donner un récapitulatif du dossier d’un subordonné, il me demandait à chaque fois « Promotion ou déchéance ? » Pendant ses dix premières années, Le Vicaire eu plutôt pour effet la déchéance du Pape. La pièce suscita une rafale de livres et d’articles, certains accusant et d’autres défendant le pontife. Certains allèrent jusqu’à rejeter la responsabilité des atrocités d’Auschwitz sur les épaules du pape, certains démolirent méticuleusement les arguments de Hochhuth, mais tous contribuèrent à attirer l’attention qu’on portait alors à cette pièce plutôt snob. Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de personnes qui n’ont jamais entendu parlé du Vicaire sont sincèrement convaincues que Pie XII était un homme froid et méchant qui détestait les Juifs et aida Hitler à s’en débarrasser. Comme avait l’habitude de me dire Yuri Andropov, l’incomparable maître de la tromperie soviétique, les gens sont plus prompts à croire la saleté que la sainteté.

Les mensonges dévoilés

Vers le milieu des années 1970, Le Vicaire commença à s’essouffler. En 1974, Andropov nous avoua que si l’on avait su alors ce qu’on sait aujourd’hui, nous n’aurions jamais dû nous en prendre à Pie XII. Ce qui fit alors la différence fut la parution de nouvelles informations montrant qu’Hitler, loin d’être ami avec Pie XII, avait en fait conspiré contre lui.

Quelques jours seulement avant l’aveu d’Andropov, l’ancien commandant suprême de l’escadron SS en Italie pendant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, le général Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff, était relaché de prison et confessait qu’en 1943, Hitler lui avait donné l’ordre d’enlever le pape Pie XII au Vatican. Cet ordre était si confidentiel qu’il n’est jamais apparu après la guerre dans aucune archive nazie ni n’est ressorti d’aucun interrogatoire par les alliés des officiers SS et de la Gestapo. Dans sa confession, Wolff déclare qu’il avait répondu à Hitler qu’il lui faudrait six semaines pour mettre l’ordre à exécution. Hitler, qui rendait responsable le pape du renversement du dictateur italien Benito Mussolini, voulait que ce soit fait sur le champ. Finalement, Wolff persuada Hitler que les conséquences d’un tel plan seraient très négatives et le Fürher y renonça.

C’est seulement dans l’année 1974 que le cardinal Mindszenty publia ses mémoires, qui décrivaient avec force détails le coup monté dont il avait été victime dans la Hongrie communiste. Sur la foi de documents fabriqués, il fut accusé de « trahison, abus de devises étrangères et conspiration », accusations « toutes punissables de mort ou d’emprisonnement à vie ». Il décrivit aussi comment ses « confessions » falsifiées prirent vie d’elles-mêmes. « Il me semblait que tout le monde reconnaîtrait immédiatement que ce document était une grossière contrefaçon, tellement il était l’œuvre d’un esprit maladroit et inculte » écrit le cardinal. « Mais quand par la suite j’ai pris connaissance des livres, journaux et magazines étrangers qui parlaient de mon affaire et commentaient mes « confessions », j’ai réalisé que le public avait dû conclure que la « confession » avait bien été écrite par moi, bien que dans un état de semi-conscience et sous l’influence d’un lavage de cerveau… Que la police ait publié un document qu’ils avaient eux-mêmes créé paraissait finalement trop gros pour être cru. » De plus, Hanna Sulner, l’expert en graphologie hongroise utilisée pour circonvenir le cardinal, qui s’est échappée à Vienne, a confirmé qu’elle avait fabriqué de toutes pièces la « confession » de Mindszenty.

Quelques années plus tard, le pape Jean-Paul II ouvrit le procès en canonisation de Pie XII, et les témoins du monde entier ont implacablement prouvé que Pie XII était un ennemi d’Hitler, et non un ami. Israel Zoller, le grand rabbin de Rome entre 1943 et 1944, lorsqu’Hitler reprit la ville, consacra un chapitre entier de ses mémoires à louer le gouvernement de Pie XII. « Le Saint Père rédigea de sa main une lettre aux évêques leur donnant l’instruction de renforcer les barrières des couvents et monastères, afin qu’ils puissent devenir des refuges pour les Juifs. Je connais un couvent où les soeurs dorment dans la cave pour donner leurs lits aux réfugiés juifs. » Le 25 juillet 1944, Zoller a été reçu par le pape Pie XII. Les notes prises par le secrétaire d’État [NdT : en fait pro-secrétaire d’État] du Vatican Giovanni Battista Montini (qui deviendra le pape Paul VI) montrent que Rabbi Zoller remerciait le Saint Père pour tout ce qu’il avait fait pour la communauté juive de Rome — et ces remerciements furent retransmis à la radio. Le 13 février 1945, Rabbi Zoller était baptisé par l’évêque auxiliaire de Rome Luigi Traglia dans l’église Sainte Marie des Anges. Pour exprimer sa gratitude envers Pie XII, Zoller prit le nom chrétien d’Eugenio (le nom du pape). Un an plus tard, la femme et la fille de Zoller furent aussi baptisées.

David G. Dalin, dans Le mythe du pape d’Hitler : Comment le pape Pie XII a sauvé des Juifs des nazis, publié il y a quelques mois, a rassemblé d’autres preuves incontestables de l’amitié d’Eugenio Pacelli pour les Juifs qui a commencé bien avant qu’il ne soit pape. Au début de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, la première encyclique du pape Pie XII était tellement anti-hitlérienne que la Royal Air Force et l’Armée de l’Air française en ont lâché 88.000 exemplaires au-dessus de l’Allemagne.

Durant les 16 dernières années, la liberté de religion a été restaurée en Russie et une nouvelle génération s’est battu pour développer une nouvelle identité nationale. On peut seulement espérer que le président Vladimir Poutine prendra conscience de l’utilité d’ouvrir les archives du KGB et de les étaler au grand jour pour que tout le monde puisse voir comment les communistes ont calomnié l’un des plus grand papes du siècle dernier.

P.-S.

Le général Ion Mihai Pacepa est le plus haut gradé de tous les espions qui ont jamais fuit le bloc soviétique. Son livre Red Horizons a été publié dans 27 pays. Cet article est la traduction d’un article de National Review Online

Notes

[1] Le 6 février 1949, quelques jours seulement avant la fin du procès, Hanna Sulner, l’experte en graphologie hongroise qui avait fabriqué les « preuves » utilisées contre le cardinal s’est échappé à Vienne et a montré des microfilms des « documents » sur lesquels le procès était fondé, qui étaient tous des documents fabriqués, « certains ostensiblement de la main du cardinal, d’autre portant sa soi-disant signature », produit par elle.

[2] Les relations de la Roumanie avec le Vatican avaient été rompues en 1951, lorsque Moscou avait accusé la nonciature apostolique de Roumanie d’être la couverture d’un avant-poste de la CIA et avait fermé ses bureaux. Les locaux de la nonciature à Bucarest sont devenus ceux du DIE, et abritent aujourd’hui une école de langues étrangères.

[3] En 1978, lorsque j’ai quitté définitivement la Roumanie, j’étais encore en train de négocier ce prêt, qui s’était alors réduit à 200 millions de dollars.

[4] NdT : voir la revue française de science politique .

[5] Le pacte de non agression entre Staline et Hitler fut signé le 23 août 1939 à Moscou. Il contenait un protocole secret qui partageait la Pologne entre les deux signataires et donnait aux soviétiques le champ libre en Estonie, Létonie, Finlande, Bessarabie et la Bukovine du Nord

[6] Carr a écrit une histoire de la Russie soviétique en dix volumes.

Voir encore:

THE COLD WAR:

How Moscow framed Pope Pius XII as pro-Nazi

Joseph Poprzeczny

News Weekly

April 28, 2007

Last year an Italian parliamentary commission concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt” that Moscow was behind the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. Now, according to Joseph Poprzeczny, evidence has surfaced exposing Moscow as being the instigator of the character assassination of the wartime Pope Pius XII.

A wit observed once that Austria should be credited with an astounding double historical achievement – managing to convince the world that Beethoven was an Austrian and that Hitler was a German.

However, the former Soviet Union perpetrated possibly an even more blatant example of perception management. This was when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, attempted simultaneously to whitewash Stalin’s duplicitous wartime pact with Hitler and to blacken Pope Pius XII as a Hitler sympathiser.

Stalin of course was Hitler’s ally for the first part of World War II. On August 23, 1939, the world learned of the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (named after the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and the Third Reich), under which central and eastern Europe was to be divided into Soviet and German spheres of influence.

The pact cleared the way for Hitler to invade Poland on September 1, 1939, with Stalin following suit on September 17. World War II had begun.

From September 1, 1939, until June 22, 1941 – that is, not less than 21 months of this global conflict’s 67-month duration – Stalin supplied Hitler’s war machine with grain, fuel, strategic minerals, valuable intelligence and other crucial aid for Hitler’s bid to enslave central and western Europe.

Only during the war’s latter 46-months – the period that Russians refer to as their Great Patriotic War – were Stalin and Hitler enemies.

From late 1944, however, Stalin moved to erase any memory of those crucial opening 21 months that included his collaboration with Hitlerism.

Another major component of Moscow’s re-writing of the history of wartime Europe was to fabricate evidence suggesting the existence of a secret pact between Pope Pius XII and Hitler.

That the Kremlin was behind this concerted attempt to smear the Vatican as being pro-Nazi has recently been revealed by historians and confirmed by the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the former communist Eastern bloc.

English historian Michael Burleigh has reviewed two recent books on Eugenio Pacelli, the wartime pope – The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis (2005), by Rabbi David G. Dalin, and Righteous Gentiles: How Pius XII and the Catholic Church Saved Half a Million Jews from the Nazis (2005) by Ronald J. Rychlak.

Burleigh has concluded from these studies that the portrayal of Hitler and Pius XII as allies was a deliberate Kremlin disinformation campaign launched even before the war ended.

“Soviet attempts to smear Pius had actually commenced as soon as the Red Army crossed into Catholic Poland,” says Burleigh.

“To be precise, they hired a militantly anti-religious propagandist, Mikhail Markovich Sheinmann, to write a series of tracts claiming there had been a ‘secret’ pact between Hitler and the Vatican to enable ‘Jesuits’ to proselytise in the wake of Operation Barbarossa.

“Apart from the inherent improbability of this claim, Soviet attempts to frame Pius for a ‘pact’ were ironic, in a guilty sort of way, in view of the August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, replete with its secret clauses carving up Poland and the Baltic states, which had precipitated the outbreak of war.”

So Stalin, a party to a pact with Hitler, initiated the propaganda campaign claiming that the Vatican had done so. And to further embellish this canard, the oft-used ploy of maligning the Jesuits was revived.

However, any serious historians of Hitler’s Lebensraum – Hitler’s plan to expand the Third Reich eastward and to kill, deport or enslave the subject populations of the conquered countries in order to create “living space” for the Aryan people – know that neither Catholicism nor the Jesuits had any place in a Germanised east (any more than religion of any sort was allowed any place under communism).

After the war, the Kremlin’s smear campaign was taken up by Holocaust-denier David Irving’s “soul mate”, the left-wing German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, author of the 1963 Schillerian drama, The Deputy, with its fictitious claims about Pius XII.

Burleigh says: “Hochhuth’s play, which drew heavily upon Sheinmann’s lies and falsehoods, inspired two scholarly critiques of Pius and the Catholic Church by, respectively, Guenter Lewy (1964) and Saul Friedländer (1966).

“Neither availed himself of the thirteen volumes of published wartime Vatican documents, and both relied heavily on German records, which are hardly an unimpeachable source on the Pope.

“These were followed by the works of Robert Katz, who was successfully sued for defamation by Pius’s niece, and John Morley, a Catholic priest. These personages were harbingers of future trends.”

Burleigh says Rabbi Dalin “explains in his powerful and closely-argued polemic against the Pope’s detractors, the most recent assault on Pius’s reputation came from liberal, secular Jews, whose anti-Catholicism is as pathological as the anti-Semitism they see lurking around every corner, and from dissident or renegade Catholics, who use the Holocaust as the biggest available moral stick with which to assault the conservative turn within their own Church.”

Some gullible people all too readily swallowed the early lying Stalin-Scheinmann campaign.

Burleigh says of Rychlak: “He patiently goes through every shifting charge and smear against Pius, highlighting his consistency in condemning Nazism as a form of neo-pagan state worship, and the terrible dilemmas he faced during the war.

“The Pope did not have the luxury of being some grandstanding US politician or rent-a-moralist; what he said had real consequences for real people, and it was not his job to thrust martyrdom upon them.

“When the Church did speak out, as it did, without circumspection, through Vatican Radio broadcasts about the plight of Jews and Christians in Poland, or when the Dutch Catholic bishops protested during round-ups of Jews in Amsterdam, the Nazis carried out terrible reprisals against Catholic priests, or, in the Dutch case, maliciously deported Jewish converts to Catholicism, who had hitherto been exempted, while leaving converts to Protestantism alone.”

But anti-Pius campaigning didn’t end with Stalin.

This year, Ion Pacepa, a two-star Romanian Securitate general and the highest-ranking intelligence official to defect from the Eastern bloc, unexpectedly re-surfaced to provide the true background to the revived anti-Pius campaign in an article, “Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican: The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority”, in National Review (January 25, 2007).

Pacepa, who defected in 1978 and published several important exposés including his memoirs Red Horizons (1988), was prompted to write about this because of two recent developments.

The first came in March 2006 with an Italian parliamentary commission concluding “beyond any reasonable doubt that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope, Karol Wojtyla”, due to of his backing for Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement.

The second came in January this year when documents showed Warsaw’s just-appointed Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus had collaborated with Polish communist secret police as a student.

“The Soviet Union was never comfortable living in the same world with the Vatican,” said Pacepa.

“The most recent disclosures document that the Kremlin was prepared to go to any lengths to counter the Catholic Church’s strong anti-communism.

“In my other life, when I was at the centre of Moscow’s foreign-intelligence wars, I myself was caught up in a deliberate Kremlin effort to smear the Vatican, by portraying Pius XII as a cold-hearted Nazi sympathiser.

“Ultimately, the operation did not cause any lasting damage, but it left a residual bad taste that is hard to rinse away. The story has never before been told.”

He said that in February 1960 Khrushchev approved a top-secret KGB plan to help destroy the Vatican’s moral authority across Western Europe.

Until then the KGB had combated Christianity across Eastern Europe, “where the Holy See had been crudely attacked as a cesspool of espionage in the pay of American imperialism”.

Now the Kremlin set out to discredit the Vatican by using its own priests and to smear Pius as a Nazi collaborator, especially after his death in 1958.

“Dead men cannot defend themselves” was the KGB’s slogan, according to Pacepa.

Because Pius served as Papal Nuncio (ambassador for the Holy See) in Germany when Nazism was gaining power, the KGB set about depicting him as an anti-Semite who encouraged Hitler’s Holocaust.

“The hitch was that the operation was not to give the least hint of Soviet bloc involvement,” says Pacepa.

What followed was a convoluted plot called “Seat 12” that even Ian Fleming couldn’t match.

Pacepa was to be the contact man with the Vatican. “To facilitate my job, [Soviet intelligence chief] Sakharovsky authorised me to (falsely) inform the Vatican that [communist] Romania was ready to restore its broken relations with the Holy See, in exchange for access to its archives and a one-billion-dollar, interest-free loan for 25-years,” writes Pacepa.

Access to Papal archives, the Vatican was told, was needed to find historical roots to help Romania’s government to publicly justify its change of heart toward the Holy See over the break-off of diplomatic relations in 1951.

Some documents, though in no way incriminating, were thereby deviously obtained and handed to the KGB.

The next step came in 1963 when KGB disinformation chief, General Ivan Agayants, told Pacepa that operation Seat 12 “had materialised into a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy, an oblique reference to the Pope as Christ’s representative on earth.”

“Agayants took credit for the outline of the play, and he told us that it had voluminous appendices of background documents put together by his experts with help from the documents we had purloined from the Vatican.

“Agayants also told us that The Deputy’s producer, Erwin Piscator, was a devoted communist who had a longstanding relationship with Moscow.

“In 1929 he had founded the Proletarian Theatre in Berlin, then sought political asylum in the Soviet Union when Hitler came to power, and a few years later had ’emigrated’ to the US.

“In 1962 Piscator had returned to West Berlin to produce The Deputy.

“The Deputy saw the light in 1963 as the work of an unknown West German named Rolf Hochhuth, under the title Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel (The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy).”

– Joseph Poprzeczny is a Perth-based freelance journalist and historical researcher. He is author of Odilo Globocnik, Hitler’s Man in the East, (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2004). Softcover: 447 pages. Rec. price: US$45.00.

Voir encore:

The New Proof of the KGB’s Hand in JFK’s Assassination
New documents reveal the Soviet effort to deflect attention began on November 23, 1963, and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny.
Ion Mihai Pacepa
November 20, 2013

It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and most of the world still wrongly believes that the culprit was the CIA, or the FBI, or the mafia, or right-wing American businessmen. It has been also 50 years since the Kremlin started an intense, worldwide disinformation operation, codenamed “Dragon,” aimed at diverting attention away from the KGB’s connection with Lee Harvey Oswald. Not unrelated are the facts that Oswald was an American Marine who defected to Moscow, returned to the United States three years later with a Russian wife, killed President Kennedy, and was arrested before being able to carry out his  plan to escape back to Moscow. In a letter dated July 1, 1963, Oswald asked the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., to grant his wife an immediate entrance visa to the Soviet Union, and to grant another one to him, separtably (misspelling and emphasis as in the original).

The Kremlin’s “Dragon” operation is described in my book Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 2010, this book was presented at a conference of the Organization of American Historians together with a review by Prof. Stan Weber (McNeese State University). He described the book as “a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy” and a “must read for everyone interested in the assassination.”[i]

Programmed to Kill is a factual analysis of that KGB crime of the century committed during the Khrushchev era. In those days, the former chief KGB adviser in Romania had become the head of the almighty Soviet foreign espionage service and pushed me up to the top levels of the Soviet bloc intelligence clique. My book also contains a factual presentation of Khrushchev’s frantic efforts to cover his backside. Recalling that the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip had set off the First World War, Khrushchev was afraid that, if America should learn about the KGB’s involvement with Oswald, it might ignite the first nuclear war. Khrushchev’s interests happened to coincide with those of Lyndon Johnson, the new U.S. president, who was facing elections in less than a year, and any conclusion implicating the Soviet Union in the assassination would have forced Johnson to take undesired political or even military action, adding to his already widely unpopular stance on the war in Vietnam.

According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”

The Kremlin complied. Two months later, R. Palme Dutt, the editor of a communist-controlled British journal called Labour Monthly, signed an article that raised the specter of CIA involvement without offering a scintilla of evidence. “[M]ost commentators,” Dutt wrote, “have surmised a coup of the Ultra-Right or racialists of Dallas . . . [that], with the manifest complicity necessary of a very wide range of authorities, bears all the hallmarks of a CIA job.” Semichastny’s super secret letter and Dutt’s subsequent article were revealed by former Russian president Boris Yeltsin in his book The Struggle for Russia, published 32 years after the Kennedy assassination.

No wonder Yeltsin was ousted by a KGB palace coup that transferred the Kremlin’s throne into the hands of the KGB—which still has a firm grip on it. On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin stunned Russia and the rest of the world by announcing his resignation. “I understand that I must do it,”[ii] he explained, speaking in front of a gaily-decorated New Year’s tree along with a blue, red and white Russian flag and a golden Russian eagle. Yeltsin then signed a decree “On the execution of the powers of the Russian president,” which states that under Article 92 Section 3 of the Russian Constitution, the power of the Russian president shall be temporarily performed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, starting from noon on December 31, 1999.[iii] For his part, the newly appointed president signed a decree pardoning Yeltsin, who was allegedly connected to massive bribery scandals, “for any possible misdeeds” and granted him “total immunity” from being prosecuted (or even searched and questioned) for “any and all” actions committed while in office. Putin also gave Yeltsin a lifetime pension and a state dacha.[iv]

Soon after that, the little window into the KGB archive that had been cracked opened by Yeltsin was quietly closed. Fortunately, he had first been able to reveal Semichastny’s memo, which generated the Kennedy conspiracy that has never stopped.

Dutt’s article was followed by the first book on the JFK assassination published in the U.S., Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? It was authored by a former member of the German Communist Party, Joachim Joesten, and it was published in New York in 1964 by Carlo Aldo Marzani, a former member of the American Communist Party and a KGB agent. Joesten’s book alleges, without providing any proof, that Oswald was “an FBI agent provocateur with a CIA background”. Highly classified KGB documents smuggled out of Russia with British MI-6 help by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin in 1993—long after the two U.S. government investigations into the assassination had been completed—show that in the early 1960s, Marzani received subsidies totaling $672,000 from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. That raises the question of why Marzani was paid by the party and not by the KGB, whose agent he was. The newly released Semichastny letter gives us the answer: on the next day after the assassination, the Kremlin took over management of the disinformation operation aimed at blaming America for the JFK assassination. That is why Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? was promoted by a joint party/KGB operation.

The book’s first review, which praised it to the skies, was signed by Victor Perlo, a member of the American Communist Party, and was published on September 23, 1964, in New Times, which I knew as a KGB front at one time printed in Romania. On December 9, 1963, the “progressive” American journalist I. F. Stone published a long article in which he tried to justify why America had killed its own president. He called Oswald a rightist crackpot, but put the real blame on the “warlike Administration” of the United States, which was trying to sell Europe a “nuclear monstrosity.” Stone has been identified as a paid KGB agent, codenamed “Blin.”

Joesten dedicated his book to Mark Lane, an American leftist who in 1966 produced the bestseller Rush to Judgment, alleging Kennedy was assassinated by a right-wing American group. Documents in the Mitrokhin Archive show that the KGB indirectly sent Mark Lane money ($2,000), and that KGB operative Genrikh Borovik was in regular contact with him. Another KGB defector, Colonel Oleg Gor­dievsky (former KGB station chief in London), has identified Borovik as the brother-in-law of Col. General Vladimir Kryuchkov, who in 1988 became chairman of the KGB and in August 1991 led the coup in Moscow aimed at restoring the Soviet Union.

The year 1967 saw the publication of two more books attributed to Joesten: The Case Against Lyndon Johnson in the Assassination of President Ken­nedy and Oswald: The Truth. Both books suggested that President Johnson and his CIA had killed Kennedy. They were soon followed by Mark Lane’s A Citizen’s Dissent (1968). Lane has also intensively traveled abroad to preach that America is an “FBI police state” that killed its own president.

With such books, the Kennedy conspiracy was born, and it never stopped. The growing popularity of books on the JFK assassination has encouraged all kinds of people with any sort of remotely related background expertise to join the party, each viewing events from his own narrow perspective. Several thousand books have been written on the JFK assassination, and the hemorrhage continues. In spite of this growing mountain of paper, a satisfactory explanation of Oswald’s motivation has yet to be offered, primarily because the whole important dimension of Soviet foreign policy concerns and Soviet intelligence practice in the late 1950s and early 1960s has not been addressed in connection with Oswald by any competent authority. Why not? Because none of their authors had ever been a KGB insider, familiar with its modus operandi.

By its very nature espionage is an arcane and duplicitous undertaking, and in the hands of the Soviets it developed into a whole philosophy, every aspect of which had its own set of tried and true rules and followed a prescribed pattern. To really understand the mysteries of Soviet espionage, it will not help to see a spy movie or read a spy novel, as entertaining as that might be. You must have lived in that world of secrecy and deceit for a whole career, as I did, and even then you may not fathom its darker moments, unless you are one of the few at the very top of the pyramid.

Therefore, I have put together a short PowerPoint presentation of such darker moments that are crucial for understanding how the Kremlin has been able to fool the rest of the world into believing that America killed one of its most beloved presidents. Click here to read “11 Facts That Destroy JFK Conspiracy Theories.” Let’s step back together into that world of Soviet espionage and deceit. At the end of our tour d’horizon, I hope you’ll agree with me that the Soviets had a hand in the assassination of President Kennedy. I also hope that afterwards you will look with different eyes upon other documents relating to the JFK assassination that may turn up in the future. Perhaps you may spot additional Soviet/Russian maneuverings hidden behind them.

[i] Stan Weber, “A New Paradigmatic Work on the JFK Assassination,” H-Net Online, October 2009, http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=25348

[ii] Barry Renfrew, “Boris Yeltsin Resigns,” The Washington Post, December 31, 1999, 6:48 a.m.

[iii] Matt Drudge Report, December 31, 1999, 11:00 AM UTC.

[iv] Ariel Cohen, “End of the Yeltsin Era,” The Washington Times, January 3, 2000, Internet Edition, cohen-20000103.

Voir enfin:

Obama, le président des drones

Stephen Holmes

Article paru dans la «London Review of Books», traduit par Sandrine Tolotti

« BoOks »

27-02-2014

Dans son livre « The Drone Zone », Mark Mazzetti, du « New York Times », explique la « fièvre tueuse » d’un président humaniste. Et ça fait froid dans le dos.

« Ce n’est pas lié au fait d’essayer de ne pas conduire des gens à Guantánamo»: en ce 6 juin 2013, la syntaxe chantournée d’Eric Holder devant la sous-commission du Sénat trahit l’immense embarras du ministre de la Justice des États-Unis, qui s’efforce de défendre le programme d’assassinats ciblés du président Obama. Il n’est pas le seul des porte-parole de l’administration à peiner lorsqu’il faut répondre aux questions sur la politique américaine de largage de drones sur le monde.

1. La hantise des agents de la CIA

L’une des principales thèses du livre que Mark Mazzetti consacre au sujet est la suivante: la CIA et le Pentagone ont décidé de traquer et tuer les ennemis présumés pour éviter les méthodes extrajudiciaires de capture et d’interrogatoire adoptées par le prédécesseur d’Obama à la Maison-Blanche. L’auteur réitère l’accusation à de multiples reprises, avec un sens de l’euphémisme qui n’appartient qu’à lui:

En l’absence de possibilités de placer en détention les suspects de terrorisme, et faute de goût pour les vastes opérations terrestres en Somalie, l’option de tuer était parfois bien plus attirante que celle de capturer.

Ou :

L’exécution était le mode d’action privilégié en Somalie et, comme le confie l’un des agents impliqués dans la planification de la mission, « nous ne l’avons pas pris parce qu’il aurait été difficile de trouver un endroit où le mettre ».

En d’autres termes, l’administration a mis le paquet sur ce qui ressemble fort à des exécutions extrajudiciaires, faute de mieux, après avoir fermé les sites de détention secrets de Bush et décidé de ne plus envoyer personne à Guantánamo, où le tiers environ de la centaine de grévistes de la faim a bénéficié d’une forme sinistre d’Obamacare, les tubes dans le nez.

Mazzetti apporte une autre explication, inexprimée et peut-être inexprimable, de l’escalade dans la guerre des drones: les membres de l’appareil du renseignement craignaient d’être un jour tenus pour pénalement responsables de l’usage de la torture, un crime dans le droit américain. A le croire, la multiplication des assassinats par drones fut en partie motivée par des murmures de rébellion au sein de la CIA, où règne une peur légendaire d’être désigné à la vindicte par des responsables politiques manipulateurs.

Au moment de la brillante entrée en fonctions d’Obama, l’agence était apparemment préoccupée à l’idée que des «agents officiant en secret dans les prisons de la CIA puissent être poursuivis pour leur travail». Cette crainte a refroidi l’enthousiasme des interrogateurs pour l’extorsion d’informations par la violence physique et psychologique:

Chaque coup reçu par la CIA concernant son programme de détention secrète et d’interrogatoires inclinait un peu plus ses dirigeants à faire ce calcul morbide: l’agence se porterait bien mieux si elle tuait les terroristes présumés plutôt que de les incarcérer.

Selon John Rizzo, un juriste de l’organisation, les responsables de l’administration Obama «ne sont jamais venus dire qu’ils allaient commencer d’assassiner les suspects parce qu’ils ne pouvaient pas les interroger, mais personne ne pouvait s’y tromper […]. À partir du moment où le temps des interrogatoires était révolu, il ne restait que l’assassinat».

Résumant ses entretiens avec Rizzo et d’autres membres du sérail, Mazzetti conclut:

Les drones armés, et la politique d’assassinat ciblé en général, ont offert un nouveau cap à un service d’espionnage qui commençait de se sentir carbonisé par les années vouées à la politique de détention secrète et d’interrogatoires.

Voilà une façon incendiaire d’insinuer que la «critique de gauche» d’une politique de sécurité nationale certes inutilement dure et supervisée avec nonchalance, mais rarement mortelle, porte une certaine responsabilité dans le revirement d’Obama en faveur de la mort subite par drones.

Mazzetti lui-même ne l’évoque pas, mais la thèse selon laquelle les principes progressistes en la matière engendrent plus de cruauté qu’ils n’en évitent est depuis longtemps l’une des flèches préférées des conservateurs. Avant de devenir ministre de la Justice sous la seconde administration Bush, Michael Mukasey avait avisé les défenseurs des libertés civiles que le sang ne maculerait pas les mains des hommes qui torturaient les prisonniers de guerre mais les leurs. La gauche, affirma-t-il étrangement dans le «Wall Street Journal», se comportait de manière criminelle en plaidant pour le contrôle judiciaire des décisions de l’exécutif en matière de détention:

L’effet involontaire d’un avis de la Cour suprême qui étendrait sa juridiction sur les détenus de Guantánamo pourrait être de créer à l’avenir une préférence pour l’assassinat plutôt que la capture des terroristes présumés.

Tout ce qu’allaient obtenir ces défenseurs des droits, ce serait la mort des suspects, pas leur juste traitement.

2. La revanche de John Brennan

Mais est-ce vraiment en suivant un scénario antilibéral écrit par les faucons de l’ère Bush qu’Obama a troqué la détention secrète pour le tir à vue? La supposition possède un accent de vérité. Le programme de drones armés a au minimum des liens de sang avec le programme Bush de détention sans inculpation. Une parenté dont témoigne notamment ce principe qu’elles ont en commun: les ennemis présumés ne méritent pas un procès leur permettant de prouver qu’ils sont innocents des charges retenues contre eux.

L’idée que les deux politiques procèdent de la même sensibilité est également étayée par la trajectoire professionnelle de John Brennan, un ancien de la CIA récemment devenu directeur de l’agence. Après avoir été son directeur exécutif adjoint sous George Bush, Brennan est revenu aux affaires publiques (il avait été entre-temps P-DG d’une officine privée de renseignement) en 2008 comme conseiller d’Obama pour la lutte antiterroriste et, selon certains, simili-confesseur, bénissant les frappes mortelles du président au nom de leur conformité avec la philosophie catholique de la guerre juste.

Quoi qu’il en soit, Brennan a joué un rôle clé dans la transformation spectaculaire de la CIA en «machine à tuer, organisation obsédée par la chasse à l’homme». Plus concrètement, la «liste des hommes à abattre», durant le premier mandat Obama, fut «coétablie dans le bureau de John Brennan au sous-sol de la Maison-Blanche».

Voilà qui donne un indice des origines de l’actuelle politique des drones. Brennan fut, sous Bush, un avocat déclaré de la détention illimitée, de la «restitution» illégale [rendition] des suspects à des pays connus pour leurs piètres performances en matière de respect des droits de l’homme, et de l’interrogatoire musclé (mais pas du waterboarding). Ce sont même précisément ces états de service – et cela nous ramène plus directement à notre sujet – qui ont fait capoter sa nomination à la tête de la CIA en 2008, suite au rejet du Sénat.

Il ne semble pas tiré par les cheveux d’imaginer que, meurtri par ce retour de bâton contre les pratiques antiterroristes de l’ère Bush, Brennan ait été l’un des cerveaux de la conversion aux machines à tuer téléguidées. Avec cette nouvelle méthode de lutte contre les combattants ennemis, les agents du renseignement étaient beaucoup moins guettés par le spectre de la responsabilité pénale et autres phénomènes torpilleurs de carrière. La trajectoire déviée de Brennan jusqu’à la direction de la CIA, surtout si l’on y ajoute sa déclaration stupéfiante de juin 2011 sur l’absence de victimes civiles des drones, semble ainsi confirmer l’hypothèse récurrente du livre de Mazzetti: la présidence «assassine» d’Obama s’est construite par souci d’impunité de la CIA.

3. Pour en finir avec l’Irak

Que les «opérations imprévues à l’étranger» d’Obama, au nom tellement inoffensif, descendent en ligne directe de la guerre globale contre le terrorisme de Bush ne devrait pourtant pas nous surprendre. Un changement de président ne provoque jamais de bouleversement de la politique de défense quand le jeu partisan, les pesanteurs bureaucratiques, les droits acquis et l’opinion publique ne bougent que légèrement – si d’aventure ils bougent – à la faveur de l’élection. Comme l’écrit Mazzetti:

Les fondations de la guerre secrète ont été posées par un président républicain conservateur et avalisées par un président démocrate progressiste tombé amoureux de l’héritage.

Mais pourquoi exactement Obama a-t-il fait de l’assassinat télécommandé la pièce maîtresse de sa politique antiterroriste? La question ne relève pas de la simple curiosité. Il faut commencer par tirer au clair les motivations de l’administration pour pouvoir jauger les justifications qu’elle présente à l’opinion.

Mazzetti a pris un bon départ, mais il passe à côté d’une bonne partie de l’histoire, qui commence avec la rupture entre Obama et la conception de la sécurité nationale qu’avait Bush. Cela va presque sans dire, mais le passage aux drones est le résultat logique de la promesse faite par le nouveau président de se désengager des guerres d’invasion et d’occupation de l’ère précédente

Après la crise financière de 2008, les responsables américains ont commencé à douter du bien-fondé de cette prodigalité pour des projets chimériques comme la réconciliation ethnique et religieuse en Irak ou la construction de l’État en Afghanistan. Ces deux guerres dévoraient encore une part démesurée des ressources limitées dont dispose le pays pour sa défense, à commencer par l’attention des plus hauts responsables.

Mais l’électorat américain était devenu de plus en plus indifférent à leur égard, et de plus en plus dubitatif sur leur contribution à la sécurité nationale. Quant aux décideurs politiques, ils voyaient à l’évidence l’invasion de l’Irak, ayant par mégarde enfanté un allié chiite de l’Iran, comme un fiasco absolu. Et, en Afghanistan, les soldats formés par les États-Unis commençaient à tirer sur leurs instructeurs, laissant entendre que la capacité de l’Amérique à transmettre des compétences dépassait de loin sa capacité à inspirer de la loyauté.

Obama s’est désolidarisé de Bush quand il a abandonné l’espoir de transformer les anciens États sponsors du terrorisme en alliés dignes de confiance. Et les événements postérieurs sont venus confirmer de manière retentissante qu’il était sage de circonscrire la lutte antiterroriste aux seuls acteurs non étatiques.

L’inquiétant flot d’armes qui s’est déversé des arsenaux de Kadhafi sur le Mali et la Syrie a ainsi rappelé aux responsables américains que le changement de régime anarchique nourrit parfois la prolifération. La chute d’un dictateur dans des régions rompues à l’art de la contrebande ne peut qu’inonder le marché noir d’armes dangereuses, proposées à des prix défiant toute concurrence. Heureusement pour les néocons obsédés par le terrorisme nucléaire, Saddam Hussein ne possédait pas l’arsenal dont ils avaient argué pour justifier l’opération de renversement du régime.

À vrai dire, pendant qu’Obama se démène pour gérer au mieux l’héritage de la destruction mutuelle assurée, la dissuasion nucléaire a pris une forme radicalement nouvelle. Les États puissants n’assurent plus la paix en menaçant de s’envoyer des armes incroyablement destructrices.

Ce sont les États faibles qui veulent la bombe pour agiter le spectre d’une perte de contrôle au cas où un pays étranger soutiendrait un brutal changement de pouvoir. La frappe israélienne contre le réacteur syrien en 2007 a empêché Bachar el-Assad de s’y essayer. Mais force est de se demander si son usage – à petite échelle, mais incontestable – du gaz sarin vise à faire frémir les puissances occidentales à l’idée des conséquences d’un effondrement de son régime.

4. L’exception Ben Laden

Obama a donc décidé d’en finir avec les guerres contre les États parrains présumés du terrorisme pour des raisons parfaitement claires. Mais pourquoi a-t-il autorisé l’usage offensif des drones? Est-ce, comme le prétendent ses partisans, parce que cette forme de belligérance est la manière la plus efficace de protéger les Américains contre des attentats particulièrement meurtriers?

Ce serait une excellente justification. Cette explication suppose malheureusement que le président dispose d’un moyen de calcul réaliste des effets de sa politique sur la sécurité nationale.

En parlant de la «fièvre tueuse» d’Obama, expression qu’il utilise ailleurs pour évoquer les carnages commis par les groupes terroristes, Mazzetti invite ses lecteurs au doute sur la sincérité de l’administration quand elle plaide pour les drones armés avec des arguments du type «votre-sécurité-s’en-trouve-améliorée». Lesquels doutes redoublent quand on lit que «la CIA avait l’aval de la Maison-Blanche pour mener des frappes au Pakistan, même quand ses « cibleurs » n’étaient pas certains de l’identité de l’homme qu’ils étaient en train de tuer».

Avant de reconnaître que «toute frappe de drone est une exécution», Richard Blee, l’ancien chef de l’unité de la CIA en charge de la chasse à Ben Laden, a confié à Mazzetti que l’agence avait mis la barre plus bas en matière d’identification des cibles parce que les espions américains ne «voulaient plus savoir qui nous assassinions avant qu’on appuie sur la détente».

Ils ne voulaient plus savoir. C’est un propos extraordinaire, cette ignorance volontaire ne pouvant qu’accroître le risque de responsabilité pénale au cas improbable où le jour du jugement dernier finirait par venir.

Lire la suite sur BoOks.fr


Journée européenne des Justes : Le souvenir du Bien est essentiel (How the hooker got her heart of gold)

6 mars, 2014
https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/p180x540/1530399_4036402125481_1530449087_n.jpg L’Éternel, du haut des cieux, regarde les fils de l’homme, pour voir s’il y a quelqu’un qui soit intelligent, qui cherche Dieu.Tous sont égarés, tous sont pervertis; il n’en est aucun qui fasse le bien, pas même un seul. Psaumes 14: 2-3
Josué, fils de Nun, fit partir secrètement de Sittim deux espions, en leur disant: Allez, examinez le pays, et en particulier Jéricho. Ils partirent, et ils arrivèrent dans la maison d’une prostituée, qui se nommait Rahab, et ils y couchèren. … La femme prit les deux hommes, et les cacha … Josué laissa la vie à Rahab la prostituée, à la maison de son père, et à tous ceux qui lui appartenaient; elle a habité au milieu d’Israël jusqu’à ce jour, parce qu’elle avait caché les messagers que Josué avait envoyés pour explorer Jéricho. Josué 2: 1-4 – 6: 25
Aux eunuques qui garderont mes sabbats, qui choisiront ce qui m’est agréable, et qui persévéreront dans mon alliance, je donnerai dans ma maison et dans mes murs une place et un nom préférables à des fils et à des filles; je leur donnerai un nom éternel, qui ne périra pas. Esaïe 56: 4-5
Il dit encore cette parabole, en vue de certaines personnes se persuadant qu’elles étaient justes, et ne faisant aucun cas des autres: Deux hommes montèrent au temple pour prier; l’un était pharisien, et l’autre publicain.Le pharisien, debout, priait ainsi en lui-même: O Dieu, je te rends grâces de ce que je ne suis pas comme le reste des hommes, qui sont ravisseurs, injustes, adultères, ou même comme ce publicain. je jeûne deux fois la semaine, je donne la dîme de tous mes revenus.Le publicain, se tenant à distance, n’osait même pas lever les yeux au ciel; mais il se frappait la poitrine, en disant: O Dieu, sois apaisé envers moi, qui suis un pécheur.Je vous le dis, celui-ci descendit dans sa maison justifié, plutôt que l’autre. Car quiconque s’élève sera abaissé, et celui qui s’abaisse sera élevé. Luc 18: 9-14
Un des grands problèmes de la Russie – et plus encore de la Chine – est que, contrairement aux camps de concentration hitlériens, les leurs n’ont jamais été libérés et qu’il n’y a eu aucun tribunal de Nuremberg pour juger les crimes commis. Thérèse Delpech
Pour le nouveau président de la Commission, ce n’était pas nécessaire de s’être comporté comme un héros pour obtenir l’honneur. Le grand nombre des cas signalés à Yad Vashem èroved qu’il y avait eu une réelle implication de nombreuses personnes, gens du commun, dans la tentative d’arracher les Juifs à l’extermination. Faire connaitre leurs histoires signifiait réfuter le mythe selon lequel l’opposition contre le nazisme était un acte impossible, que ce n’était pas une possibilité concrète d’aider les persécutés sans courir de risques extrêmes. Plusieurs fois, une petite intervention avait suffi pour empêcher une grande tragédie. C’est pourquoi il est important de valoriser publiquement chaque geste d’opposition qui a été fait en faveur des Juifs dans l’Europe occupée par les Nazis. (…) Mais comment juger qui a sauvé un juif et tué un autre homme après la guerre ? Ou la femme qui a caché les persécutés, alors qu’elle se prostituait avec les fonctionnaires nazis ? Ou ceux qui ont sauvé des dizaines de Juifs en Pologne sans nullement abandonner leurs opinions antisémites ? Ou également ceux qui ont aidé en échange d’argent ? Wikipedia
Le Parlement européen … rappelant l’importance morale que revêt le Jardin des Justes du mémorial de Yad Vashem à Jérusalem, fondé par le regretté Moshe Beisky afin de rendre hommage aux personnes qui avaient apporté leur aide à des Juifs pendant la Shoah; à la mémoire de toutes les institutions qui ont rendu hommage aux personnes ayant sauvé des vies lors de tous les génocides ou massacres (comme en Arménie, en Bosnie, au Cambodge et au Rwanda) et crimes contre l’humanité, perpétrés au cours des 20e et 21e siècles; à la mémoire tous ceux qui ont préservé la dignité humaine sous le nazisme et le totalitarisme communiste; considérant que le souvenir du Bien est essentiel au processus d’intégration européenne, car il apprend aux jeunes générations que chacun peut toujours, quoi qu’il arrive, prendre le parti d’aider autrui et de défendre la dignité humaine, et leur rappelle qu’il est du devoir des pouvoirs publics de valoriser le comportement exemplaire de tous ceux qui ont su protéger leurs semblables lorsqu’ils étaient poursuivis par pure haine; soutient l’appel lancé par d’éminents citoyens en faveur de l’institution, le 6 mars de chaque année, d’une Journée européenne à la mémoire des Justes pour rendre hommage à ceux qui se sont opposés, à titre individuel, au totalitarisme et aux crimes contre l’humanité … Déclaration du Parlement européen (du 10 mai 2012 sur le soutien à l’instauration d’une Journée européenne à la mémoire des Justes)
C’est un grand succès, car c’est la première fois qu’une proposition de ce genre qui englobe les génocides d’une manière universelle est approuvée, sans aucune limitation d’ordre idéologique. Nous avons eu à vaincre les résistances de ceux qui gardent une vision indulgente du passé de l’Union Soviétique et qui refusent de comparer le Goulag à la Shoah, ou qui craignent la banalisation de la Shoah au milieu des autres génocides du vingtième siècle ou qui veulent maintenir un profil bas sur le génocide arménien pour ne pas heurter les Turcs. … En honorant tous ceux qui se sont opposés au totalitarisme, on défend une valeur fondamentale de la civilisation européenne: la responsabilité individuelle. Dans une époque marquée par la désorientation spirituelle, cette référence est essentielle. Gabriele Nissim

Journée européenne des quoi ?

A l’heure où près d’un quart de siècle après sa chute dans sa patrie d’origine, l’on attend toujours le Nuremberg du communisme tant soviétique que chinois …

Et où l’on en voit encore les résultats du côté de l’Ukraine ou de la Chine et de la Corée du nord

Qui sait que le 6 mars est censé être la Journée européenne des Justes ?

Qui se souvient de cette initiative de députés principalement italiens et polonais ou tchèques il y a deux ans pour étendre le titre de Justes du génocide juif …

 A l’ensemble de ceux qui ont sauvé des vies face aux totalitarisme soviétique et aux génocides arménien, cambodgien et rwandais ?

Qui se souvient aussi de Moshe Bejski, ce rescapé des camps de la mort et membre de la fameuse liste de Schindler qui à la tête de la Commission des Justes de Yad Vashem réhabilita tant de justes européens dont Oscar Schindler lui-même qui l’avait sauvé …

Mais aussi, reprenant la tradition biblique qui avait reconnu Rahab la première prostituée au grand coeur (et ancêtre non-juive de Jésus), tant de criminels, prostituées, antisémites ou individus véreux qui n’avaient pas hésiter à faire le geste qui sauve ?

L’Europe institue une Journée des Justes du Monde pour le 6 Mars

Il Corriere della Sera

10 mai 2012

La Journée Européenne des Justes du Monde sera célébrée chaque année le 6 Mars. 382 Députés Européens soit la majorité absolue requise ont approuvé cette commémoration en honneur de tous ceux qui ont sauvé des vies ou qui ont défendu la dignité humaine face aux totalitarismes et aux génocides du vingtième siècle, tels la Shoah, le Goulag soviétique, le génocide arménien et les tragiques massacres au Cambodge et au Rwanda.

Cette initiative digne de louanges fut mise en œuvre par l’Association Milanaise « Gariwo, le Jardin des Justes du Monde » dirigée par Gabriele Nissim. Le sigle Gariwo signifie « Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide ». Elle reçut immédiatement le soutien de cinq députés européens dont trois italiens, Gabriele Albertini (Pdl) David Maria Sassoli (Pd) et Nicolo Rinaldi (Idv) ainsi que de la polonaise Lena Kolarska-Bobinska et du roumain Ioan Mircea Pascu.

La Journée choisie pour honorer les Justes du monde entier est le 6 Mars qui est la date anniversaire du décès de Moshe Bejski, le Juge israélien qui fut pendant vingt ans Président de la Commission des Justes de Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem est le centre monumental dédié au souvenir de la Shoah et à ceux qui ont sauvé des victimes juives des persécutions nazies. La proposition fut présentée au parlement européen en Janvier et fut soutenue initialement par les cinq députés mentionnés, puis graduellement d’autres députés, initialement italiens et polonais l’ont soutenue et signée, jusqu’à ce que le nombre de signatures dépasse la majorité requise.

Gabriele Nissim ne cache pas sa satisfaction : « C’est un grand succès, car c’est la première fois qu’une proposition de ce genre qui englobe les génocides d’une manière universelle est approuvée, sans aucune limitation d’ordre idéologique. Nous avons eu à vaincre les résistances de ceux qui gardent une vision indulgente du passé de l’Union Soviétique et qui refusent de comparer le Goulag à la Shoah, ou qui craignent la banalisation de la Shoah au milieu des autres génocides du vingtième siècle ou qui veulent maintenir un profil bas sur le génocide arménien pour ne pas heurter les Turcs ». Nissim ajoute: « A la fin, nous avons réussi car nous avons aussi obtenu le soutien de nombreuses personnalités importantes, comme par exemple la veuve du Président tchèque Vaclav Havel, disparu récemment.

Le Président de Gariwo qui a publié récemment un essai philosophique sur le thème des Justes « La Bonté Insensée » chez Mondadori, souligne que cette célébration doit porter un message positif. Il ajoute « En honorant tous ceux qui se sont opposés au totalitarisme, on défend une valeur fondamentale de la civilisation européenne: la responsabilité individuelle. Dans une époque marquée par la désorientation spirituelle, cette référence est essentielle. Le fait que cette initiative réussie soit italienne est aussi une belle victoire pour notre pays ».

Moshe Bejski est né en 1921 à Dzialoszyce en Pologne. Il survécut la guerre grace à Oskar Schindler et à sa liste. Il émigra en Palestine en 1946 et reçut son doctorat de droit à la Sorbonne en 1950 sur les sources des droits de l’homme dans la Bible. De 1979 à 1991, il fut Juge à la Cour Suprême d’Israel. De 1979 à 1991, il fut Juge à la Cour Suprême d’Israel. Il fut Président de la Commission des Justes à Yad Vashem de 1975 à 1995 et Directeur de l’Institut des Etudes sur l’Holocauste Massuah. Son épouse Erica Bejski, née Eifermann, est née à Czernowitz en Bucovine et survécut les persécutions grâce à la protection du Maire de Czernowitz Trajan Popovici.

Source : Il Corriere della Sera, 10 mai 2012.

Voir aussi:

Bejski as the President of the Righteous Commission

Wikipedia

Moshe Bejski’s role in the activity of the Righteous Commission has been crucial. While Moshe Landau thought of a panel that would deal with a small number of significant cases, Bejski reversed this stance, with the will to award the title to all who expressed the intention to rescue a persecuted Jew, who hadn’t succeeded in saving him, or who had done without running the risk of their lives. For the new President of the Commission, it wasn’t necessary to have behaved like heroes to obtain the honor. The great number of cases reported to Yad Vashem èroved that there had been a real involvement of many people, common people, in the attempt to wrench the Jews from extermination. Making their stories known meant debunking the myth according to which the opposition against Nazism was an impossible deed, that there wasn’t any concrete possibility to help the persecuted without running extreme risks. Many times, a little intervention would suffice to prevent from a big tragedy. This is why it is important to value and publicly feature every opposition gesture that was made in favour of the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe. To obtain this result, Bejski didn’t spare himself: he dedicated the best years of his life to it, giving up much of his private life, remaining at work until late to run the meetings of the Commission after the intense days at the Constitutional Court. His activity, which was entirely volunteer, was able to involve and transmit enthusiasm to the other members, by broadening their competences, creating the subcommissions to be able and deal with more cases, by supporting the internal debate without ever giving up investigating up to the last useful element for a correct and loyal evaluation.

The dilemma he found himself confronted with have been enormous: how to judge who has saved a Jew, but killed another man after the war? Or the woman who hid the persecuted while she prostituted with the Nazi officials? Or those who saved dizaines of Jews in Poland without by any means giving up their anti-Semitic opinions? Or also those who helped by receiving money back? Not only that. The idea of the individual responsibility, of the moral debt of the survivor, of thankfulness towards their saviours brought Bejski to get involved personally with his rescuer, Oskar Schindler. After finding him again at the beginning of the 1960s and wrenching him out of bankruptcy and imprisonment in Germany, he invited him to Israel and he valiantly committed to honoring his action, clashing with Landau until the apotheosis of Spielberg’s film, which made him famous all over the world. Besides Schindler, Bejski committed himself to helping other Righteous people who lived in precarious state in the Eastern European Countries or who needed medical assistance, and he fought hard to obtain the Israeli state’s commitment to help them.


Cinéma: Hollywood confirme Malraux (Year of the Bible: Hollywood gets religion)

1 mars, 2014
https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/d3b2a-bibleemmyminiseriesbillboard.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.sonofgodmovie.com/assets/Son_Of_God_poster_small.jpg
Notre civilisation sera contrainte de trouver sa valeur fondamentale ou elle se décomposera. Malraux
Le problème capital de la fin du siècle sera le problème religieux, sous une forme aussi différente de celles que nous connaissons que le christianisme le fut des religions antiques. Malraux
Je pense que la tâche du prochain siècle, en face de la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité, va être d’y réintégrer les dieux.
Notre crise est celle de la civilisation la plus puissante que le monde ait connue. […] En face de nous, ce n’est pas la nature de l’homme qui est en cause, c’est sa raison d’être […]. Et notre réponse, c’est : « A quoi bon conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? Malraux
On m’a fait dire que le XXIe siècle sera religieux. Je n’ai jamais dit cela, bien entendu, car je n’en sais rien. Ce que je dis est plus incertain. Je n’exclus pas la possibilité d’un événement spirituel à l’échelle planétaire. Malraux
Over the next 11 months, Hollywood is planning to release more big Biblical movies than it put out during the previous 11 years combined, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2015 (or beyond). For an industry that spent much of the 2000s shying away from explicitly religious fare—the controversy over the alleged anti-Semitism of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ effectively wiped out the genre, despite the film’s huge box office receipts—it’s a remarkable about-face that’s as surprising as it is sudden. Consider the 2014 release schedule. On Feb. 28, Twentieth Century Fox is first out of the gate with Son of God, a Jesus biopic culled from the History Channel’s hit 2013 miniseries The Bible. (A Bible sequel titled A.D. is set to air next year on NBC.) Paramount is up next in March with Noah, director Darren Aronofsky’s epic re-imagining of the life of the Old Testament’s most famous ark-builder (played by Russell Crowe). Debuting in April is Heaven is for Real, starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a boy who claims to have passed through the pearly gates during a near-death experience, and both the Mother of God drama Mary (Ben Kingsley, Julia Ormond) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus (Christian Bale, Aaron Paul) follow in December, right in time for awards season. And that’s just 2014. Other faith-based projects kicking around Hollywood include a Cain and Abel movie directed by Will Smith; a Pontius Pilate picture starring Brad Pitt as the titular villain; an absurdist comedy about the Rapture (Kevin Smith’s Helena Handbag); and an HBO drama about the same apocalyptic reckoning (The Leftovers).  (…) It’s no secret that the industry is stuck in a bit of a rut. The demand for blockbusters is bigger than ever, but there are only so many comic books to mine for characters and stories, and you can’t reboot the Spider-Man franchise or churn out Iron Man sequels forever. The Bible, meanwhile, has chapter after chapter and verse after verse of (to put it crassly) action-packed material—Moses, David, Job, Jesus, Revelation, and so on—plus a « fanbase » that’s even larger and more avid than Marvel Comics’. « When we looked at it we saw that around about 50 million Americans sit in a church each week, » Burnett explains. « On a monthly basis that’s almost 150 million, because not everybody goes every Sunday. And that community is tightly knit. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was to go out and spread the word. » No marketing budget is big enough to buy the kind of word-of-mouth that flows organically through the Christian community, and no secular endorsement has the power to influence as many viewers as, say, Rick Warren’s or Joel Osteen’s. The potential payoff, as studio executives now seem to be realizing, is huge. But there may be more to 2014’s Bible resurgence than cold, hard cash. Burnett, for one, believes that viewers are more open to messages of spiritual uplift in the wake of the 2008 financial crash than they may have been in an earlier, more comfortable age. « Part of it has to do with hope, » he says. « I feel like a lot of people, as a result of what happened in 2008, are still hurting. And they’re relying upon their faith. Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings gets more than 7 million viewers. That’s more people watching than some primetime network TV shows. » My sense is that politics is playing a part as well. In the Age of George W. Bush, religion was a polarizing force in the public sphere. Evangelicals were on the march for the GOP; less devout (or vocal) Americans felt somewhat besieged. But with Obama in office, the religious right is no longer as powerful as it once was, and the old, divisive battles over « values » seem to have waned. This may have had two effects—subtle but real—on moviegoing audiences. The first is that the sort of Evangelicals who took center stage during the Dubya years might feel a little « left out » at this point—meaning they’re especially eager to participate in any mainstream cultural event that’s willing to cater to them (such as The Bible). The second is that less fervent Americans no longer recoil from anything that smacks of overt religiosity because responding that way no longer feels as politically urgent as it did in, say, 2004. As a result the hard-core Christian community may be more ready than ever for a movie such as Exodus—and rest of America may be more open to it. The Daily Beast
Saddest of all, Diogo Morgado, the Portuguese actor in the lead (yes, another Euro-Jesus) has been directed to a performance that resembles little more than a kind of strange, smug hippie, the blissed-out organic market employee talking down to you about hemp milk. This is a Son of God already posing for his resurrection close-up. Movies.com
The standard casting cliche has been followed as to Jesus — the handsome Portuguese actor, Diogo Morgado, who plays him, still looks more like a modern beach bum than a 1st-century Israelite — but the rest of the actors have interesting and unknown faces. Greg Hicks is particularly good as Pontius Pilate (always the juiciest role in these films). … To its credit, this is one of the few movies to emphasize Jesus’ heritage (we see him reading from Torah, and being given a Jewish burial) and to de-emphasize the anti-Semitism that can be a part of Passion Plays. (In this telling, it’s not « the Jews » who really want Jesus silenced, but mostly one threatened elder.) … After the ugliness of « The Passion of the Christ » and, frankly, its filmmaker, that’s very welcome – as is a film which, once again, chooses to emphasize a message of total honesty and loving forgiveness. … But there’s little fresh or daring here. As controversial as « Passion » or « The Last Temptation of Christ » were, at least they presented very personal visions of this ancient story; whether you felt they were enlightening or blasphemous, they took risks. They dared all. … But when it comes to « Son of God » — well, the film is willing. But its spirit is weak. NJ
In the first ninety minutes, the movie seems to go out of its way to avoid the pitfalls of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” which featured, in between lengthy scenes of torture, a panoply of hook-nosed Yids straight out of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” … Indeed, “Son of God” is at its most interesting when it deviates from rushing through the New Testament’s Greatest Hits (a loaves & fishes here, a “cast the first stone” there) and tries to imagine the political situation in Jerusalem under Roman rule. For much of the movie the high priest Caiaphas, long hissed at in Passion Plays throughout history, is cast in a somewhat friendly light. There’s a poignant moment – quite possibly the only artful scene in the whole film – which intercuts Jesus’ agonized prayers at Gesthemene with Caiaphas and company in a similar plea for divine guidance at the Temple. (Because three is a nice number, Pontius Pilate’s wife, who has had visions of Jesus in a dream, prays to the Roman gods as well.) For a brief moment, Sympathy For Caiaphas seems the unlikely tune. … ‘Son of God’ is at its most interesting when it deviates from rushing through the New Testament’s Greatest Hits (a loaves & fishes here, a ‘cast the first stone’ there) … For this first part of the move, the Jews are shown to be a tough spot – pushed around by the Romans and forced to deal with pesky agitators in their own community. One of them is the nasty looking Barabbas. With a bald head and scarred face he’s seen ranting about taxation like the angriest of the Occupy Wall Street set. (The other Bible movies – and I’ve seen them all – usually position Barabbas as just a mere thief. However, the Gospel According to John does refer to him as a “bandit,” which was a term also used for “revolutionary,” so we’ll let that slide.) Caiaphas is more like Mayor Carcetti on “The Wire” — a little bit corrupt, sure, but somewhere down there wants to do good, or at least just wants things to go easy, but is subject to other, more powerful forces. … When Jesus comes to town on the back of a donkey (with about ten extras cheering him on – this movie is CHEAP), Caiaphas makes a tough call. If he doesn’t do something about this new rabble-rouser the Romans are going to come down on the Jews hard. He gives Jesus an opportunity to back off, but Jesus faces Caiaphas down and in the way that will do the most damage – he claims to be the son of God. … So, here’s the part where this stops being just a movie and starts to involve peoples’ beliefs. If you’ve never heard of Jesus before you are possibly going to be on Caiaphas’ side here. This guy claims to be the son of God, but he knows that saying so is going to make everyone crazy (and is so blasphemous that it is punishable by death). Believers will be cheering him on. Anyone who wants to maintain peace and order will think “what is WITH this guy?” … As a movie, “Son of God” is a disaster. The acting is wretched, the camerawork is lazy, the cutting is hamfisted and the screenplay is a mess. It is both an abridged version of the mini-series and previous unseen footage. An example: we don’t hear anything about John the Baptist until someone shouts at Jesus, “your friend John the Baptist is dead!” We cut to Jesus looking sad. There’s a flash to a man with dreadlocks dunking Jesus in water. And that’s it. No context, no nothing. … Newcomers to the Greatest Story Ever Told may be mystified by scenes like this, but one thing will be made abundantly clear – Caiaphas and his cabal of Jews were real jerks. Once they decided to dispense with Jesus they were ruthless about it. The moment when the crowd petitions Pilate to release Barabbas is revealed to have been a total set-up. They papered the house, keeping followers of Jesus outside of the town square (a really small and cheap and fake looking town square, by the way) to make sure that when Pilate asks for the name of a prisoner to spare, no one suggests Jesus. … As Barabbas is released a pained Mary Magdalene shrieks “Jesus!” at the top of her voice. As we hear this we cut to Caiaphas, his head covered in Rabbinical-looking robes, laughing. Pilate, disgusted, asks the crowd “you choose a MURDERER?” None of the assembled speaks up for Jesus. This is not, as they say, Good For The Jews. Now, maybe it happened this way. What do I know? But, I suspect that it didn’t. In fact, scholars reject the idea of Romans releasing prisoners in this fashion – it only exists in the Gospels. What I do know is that this moment in the story has caused centuries of tsuris for the Jews. I also know that this movie, which will be distributed by 20th Century Fox, is going to be seen by an awful lot of Americans in areas who don’t actually see and know Jews in real life. (Nor do they know anyone from the Middle East, so they won’t blink when they see a a very white Irish woman playing Mary, but that’s another story.) Times of Israel
The stories — Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, the tumbling walls of Jericho, the crucifixion and resurrection — are likely well-known to just about anyone who spent time in Sunday school or saw any of the various other attempts at Bible adaptations over the years, including the star-studded Cecil B. Demille network perennial “The Ten Commandments.” So the challenge is to bring something new to well-trodden ground; and in the just over three hours that I sampled, there were few fresh elements on display beyond contemporary CGI updates of spectacles like the parting of the Red Sea and the vision of the burning bush. Instead, “The Bible” takes a familiarly earnest and plodding approach with a lot of overwrought acting by a cast of a thousand accents. (Noah sounds Scottish; many of the Israelites hail from England, apparently; and the Pharaoh appears to be American.) The styles of acting also range from very natural to Shakespearean melodrama to almost too contemporary. (At one point, when Abraham is dealing with the displeasure of Sarah and Hagar, he appears to look skyward with a “Women, amirite?”-type expression.) It may also be impossible to intone phrases like “Let my people go” after so many iterations with anything resembling freshness. But the proclivity for the kind of bellowing normally reserved for Captain Kirk railing against Khan starts to become comical as each character histrionically shouts up to the heavens in turn: “Isaac!” “Moses!” “David!” To Downey and Burnett’s credit, unlike the perfectly coiffed movie stars of yore, there is a lot of dirt in the first few hours, contributing to a palpable sense of heat, grime, and blood. And while it would be impossible to please everyone when dealing with such sensitive (and, to many, sacred) material, you can feel the heartfelt solemnity throughout. It’s clear they take the work seriously. Theological scholars can determine whether “The Bible” achieves the stated goal of endeavoring to “stay true to the spirit of the book,” but as entertainment, even the most faithful believers might find some scenes unintentionally comic or snoozy, or wish for a stronger cast, direction, and writing to bring these stories to life once again. As is, “The Bible” sometimes feels too facile, like a colorful Sunday school pop-up book come to life, albeit one with much more graphic violence (which some parents might want to preview before sharing with their kids). The Boston Globe
The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t amount to much more than a further piece of evidence that drama and reverence don’t mix well. (To be fair, it would be the prohibitive favorite if only there were an Emmy for Screenplay In Which The Sentences ‘God Has Spoken To Me’ and ‘God Will Provide’ Are Said the Most Times.) With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune — laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city — this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian. The Bible marks the first attempt at drama by reality-show maven Mark Burnett, whose soul I would consider in serious jeopardy if it hadn’t already been forfeited during the second season of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The Miami Herald
Et si Jésus était le plus beau mec à avoir jamais marché sur l’eau ? Et si Noé avait un accent écossais ? Et si Marie avait été sauvée d’une foule en folie par Joseph ? Et envisagez cette hypothèse : et si la famille de Loth avait été sauvée par un ange spécialiste des arts martiaux ? Bienvenue dans The Bible, vue à travers les yeux de Roma Downey et de son mari, Mark Burnett, le génie derrière Survivor et The Apprentice (…) Est-ce que cette mini-série va être un carton ? Bien entendu ! Il y a des millions de Juifs et de Chrétiens souhaitant des programmes religieux au milieu de ce désert de sexe et de violence à la télévision. le New York Post
The Bible a la malchance de paraître bien cheap à côté du festin d’effets proposé par Vikings [ndlr: diffusée le même sur la chaîne History]. Et le niveau de jeu des comédiens n’est pas assez convaincant pour oublier ce handicap. Cette première fiction produite par Mark Burnett est une preuve irréfutable qu’il devrait continuer à faire ce que personne ne fait aussi bien que lui. La télé réalité est son royaume.  Uncle Barky
C’est dommage, vraiment, parce cette mini-série a visiblement nécessité des heures de travail et de réflexion. Aucun doute sur la sincérité et le sérieux de l’effort non plus. Mais il lui manque la passion et l’interprétation. Ils ont rassemblé les plus grandes histoires de la Bible, rajouté par-dessus les effets spéciaux en CGI requis – Les nuages qui défilent ! Le tonnerre ! Les éclairs ! Les chutes d’eau ! – pour les raconter aussi gracieusement que possible. The Bible n’offensera sans doute personne. Mais il est aussi peu probable qu’elle inspire qui que ce soit. Newsday
The Bible, ou plutôt la vision proposée par Burnett et Downey, est une production magnifique et qui en met plein les yeux. Mais c’est aussi une mini-série plate et souvent ennuyeuse, même quand elle verse dans la frénésie, peu importe le volume de la bande-originale composée par Hans Zimmer. Les dialogues sont convenus, avant tout fonctionnels et souvent surjoués.  Los Angeles Times
Les spécialistes en théologie pourront juger de la qualité de cette mini-série et de son objectif de « rester fidèle à l’esprit du livre ». Du simple point de vue du divertissement, même le plus dévoué des croyants ne pourra pas s’empêcher de trouver certaines scènes comiques ou assommantes, et regrettera une distribution plus solide, une meilleure réalisation ou écriture pour ces histoires éternelles. En l’état The Bible paraît parfois trop creuse, comme un livre distribué aux cours de catéchisme, avec juste un peu plus de violence que d’habitude. The Boston Globe
Les motivations derrière cette adaptation sont à coup sûr sincères mais l’approche trahit paradoxalement un manque de foi dans le pouvoir de ces histoires bibliques. La Bible est un conte lyrique et épique aux multiples épaisseurs, dans lequel les destins des personnages se confondent avec la destinée générale, et au sein duquel les échecs côtoient les victoires. Burnett et Downey, leurs acteurs et leurs scénaristes ne montrent pas forcément le talent de transcender cette complexité et de lui rendre justice. Ils en sont réduits à des simplifications de base dans lesquelles les méchants sont trop souvent de risibles caricatures.  The New York Times
The Bible n’est rien d’autre qu’une preuve supplémentaire que le drame et la révérence ne font pas bon ménage (…) Par exemple la destruction de Sodome est montrée sans la moindre mention ou évocation des petites pécadilles sexuelles qui y avaient lieu. Cette production fait passer Cecil B. DeMille [ndlr: le réalisateur des Dix commandements] pour un austère théologien. The Miami Herald

Hollywood se serait-il mis en tête de réaliser à lui tout seul la prophétie de Malraux ?

A l’heure où, en cette veille de Pâques et avant, en cette « année du film biblique » dix ans après le scandale de la « Passion » de Mel Gibson, « Noah » et « Exodus » puis l’an prochain la suite de la mini-série télé …

Sort « Son of God« , la version cinéma centrée sur un Jésus au look peace and love de rigueur pour laquelle des églises ont réservé des cinémas entiers à travers les Etats-Unis …

Retour sur la minisérie du producteur de téléréalité Mark Burnett pour la chaine américaine History channel dont il est tiré (« The Bible« , 10 épisodes et en un peu moins d’heures, de la Genèse à la ressurection du Christ)…

Et qui avec quelque 100 millions de téléspectateurs avait été un incroyable succès l’an dernier aux Etats-Unis (reprise dans 18 pays dont la France sur Paris première en décembre 2013 et disponible fin avril 2014 en DVD) …

“The Bible”, une série qui peut provoquer des crises de foi
Séries TV | De Noé à Jésus, “The Bible”, minisérie boursouflée, se résume à une suite de tableaux poussifs. Qui a pourtant fait un carton d’audience outre-Atlantique.
Pierre Langlais
Télérama
06/03/2013

Les Américains sont très croyants. C’est la seule explication sensée au succès immense de The Bible, minisérie lancée dimanche 3 mars 2013 sur la chaîne History outre-Atlantique. Créée et produite par Roma Downey et Mark Burnett – déjà coupables des Anges du Bonheur, une bondieuserie des années 90 – elle a attiré 13,1 millions de téléspectateurs lors de sa première soirée, un record sur le câble cette saison.

Ouvert sur Noé nous racontant les sept jours de la création (sous des litres de flotte), ce premier chapitre se referme sur le passage (lui aussi très arrosé) de la mer Rouge par Moïse. Entre-temps, il a fallu expédier la vie d’Abraham, la fin de Sodome, le buisson ardent, les dix plaies d’Egypte… Bref, un énorme programme à régler en une heure trente chrono. Inspirés par Les Dix Commandements de Cecil B. DeMille, Downey et Burnett revendiquent le sérieux de leur entreprise, et la liste considérable d’universitaires et de religieux qui les ont conseillés. Sans doute serait-il intéressant de montrer le résultat de leurs efforts à d’autres spécialistes moins impliqués, mais ce n’est pas le sujet ici.

Pour le critique athée, cette Bible-là n’a pas grand-chose à offrir. A vouloir condenser à l’excès les histoires du livre sacré, elle se résume à une suite de tableaux poussifs, où les personnages sont rapidement dessinés, réduits à leur mission – un trait qu’on retrouve en un sens dans la Bible, mais accentué ici, comme le reste. Emportés par leur foi, les auteurs en oublient tout simplement de faire une fiction. Ils se livrent à un exercice religieux sans doute émouvant pour certains croyants, mais qui passe régulièrement les frontières du ridicule pour les autres.

Tout n’est ici que ralentis, grandes répliques définitives les yeux tournés vers le ciel et « morceaux de bravoure » boostés aux effets spéciaux de piètre qualité, la minisérie ayant coûté environ 22 millions de dollars pour sept heures trente de programme, ce qui est assez peu selon les standards américains. A voir leurs postures, Abraham et ses successeurs, certes éclairés par Dieu, avaient aussi la certitude qu’ils allaient finir dans un bouquin majeur et, surtout, dans la minisérie qui en serait tirée – sinon, pourquoi surjoueraient-ils à ce point-là ? De plus, selon The Bible, ça castagnait sévèrement dans l’Ancien Testament. Un des anges chargés de faire le ménage à Sodome, un Asiatique, éclate la tête des méchants en mode kung-fu, deux fois plus fort que dans Kill Bill…

Si vous avez lu la Bible, même en diagonale, vous n’apprendrez strictement rien ici. Le récit risque au contraire de vous sembler extraordinairement réducteur. Les autres découvriront quelques événements majeurs en version grand spectacle. The Bible, c’est la « Bible pour les nuls » façon show à l’américaine. Loin de moi l’envie de blasphémer, mais d’un pur point de vue artistique, ça ne vaut pas grand-chose. Un récit moins ampoulé, plus intelligent, servi par des auteurs peut-être moins aveuglés par leur foi (et par leur mauvais goût) serait bien plus intéressant. Reste à savoir si 13,1 millions de téléspectateurs américains y auraient consacré leur dimanche soir…

Holey ‘Bible’

Linda Stasi

The NY Post

March 2, 2013

What if Jesus were the handsomest dude to have ever walked on water? What if Noah had a Scottish brogue — and what if the Virgin Mary got shoved around by a crowd, only to be rescued by Joseph?

And ponder this possibility: could Lot’s family actually have been saved by a martial arts angel — as opposed to merely being “Touched By An Angel?

Welcome to “The Bible” as seen through the eyes of “Angel’s” Roma Downey, and her husband, Mark Burnett , the genius behind “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

This staunchly Christian couple has created a 10-part series that opens with Noah in the ark telling his family the story of Adam and Eve as they and the animals are being rocked by savage seas.

“The Bible” then goes into fast-forward mode through Noah and Genesis, all in Episode One, so we can get to the juicy bits in the other episodes.

We’re then treated, in slow-motion, to the travails of Abraham and the Israelites in the desert; the revelations by teenage Moses; and the parting of the Red Sea, which is better than Cecil B. DeMille’s parting, although in all fairness, CBD didn’t have the miracle of CGI.

Much of this is tediously drawn out, with crazy fly-overs between Biblical Chapters that may make you think it’s “Survivor: Holy Lands,” which, of course, it is.

After all, those Biblical figures did live on forever through The Bible after being brought before their own tribal councils.

Things really pick up when Jesus — played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, who looks like a surfer dude, particularly in the shot-from-below, walk-on-water sequence — shows up. Morgado is very good in the part, although he sure doesn’t look the part.

Most of the other roles are taken by Brits (who look nothing like their roles since they look nothing like Middle Easterners).

The main exception to the Brit rule is Downey, who got the plumb role of the Virgin Mary. Of course she’s a producer of “The Bible” who’s married to the other producer, so it’s not likely she’d end up in the secondary role of Lot’s salty wife.

Since the last two episodes (the crucifixion and resurrection) hadn’t been edited by screening time, it’s impossible to say how good they are, but the trailers look very good.

Will this series be a hit? You bet. There are millions of devout Jews and Christians starving for religious programming in the er, desert of sex and violence on TV.

Not that the real Bible isn’t filled with plenty of both.

Difference is, you can’t make this stuff up.

History (Channel) further follows the scripts by filling Sundays with Vikings and The Bible

Ed Bark

National TV Reviews & News

03/01/13

/…/

Back in the mid- to late 1990s, the TNT network mounted an ambitious series of Old Testament Bible tales spotlighting Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Samson, Delilah and others.

Stars in lead roles included Richard Harris, Ben Kingsley, Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Landau, Dennis Hopper, Diana Rigg, Leonard Nimoy, F. Murray Abraham and Oliver Reed.

The Bible, produced by reality maestro Mark Burnett (The Apprentice, Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank), comes off as thoroughly cut-rate in comparison. Beginning with a brief glimpse of Noah in his Ark before moving to the story of Abraham, it’s over-cooked and sometimes really half-baked. As when one of God’s angels, played by an Asian actor, twirls two swords Ninja-style to dispatch some bad guys while fire bolts rain down on Sodom.

Save for Burnett’s wife, Roma Downey (as Mary in later episodes), viewers are unlikely to recognize any of the « acclaimed UK-based actors » striding through The Bible. The guy playing Abraham, Gary Oliver, is a real scenery-chewer. « Trust in God! » he bellows in Jon Lovitz’s « Master Thespian » fashion as the story moves rapidly through the travails of the ancient sacrificer and his wife, Sarah.

Narrated by Keith David, a familiar voice to Ken Burns devotees, The Bible « endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book, » according to an opening advisory. In that respect, Burnett at least doesn’t resort to having pirates attack Noah’s Ark (as NBC did in a silly 1999 miniseries). Nor does Jesus go to outer space with the devil (as He did in CBS’ 2000 Jesus miniseries while being tempted in the desert).

Sunday night’s second hour re-tells the very oft-told story of how Moses freed the Israelites from centuries of slavery by the Egyptians. Pharoah gets a jagged facial scar this time around, the product of a teen boy fight with his half-brother. He’s also chubby and very redundant while the actor playing Moses at times looks a lot like William H. Macy’s disheveled lead character in Showtime’s Shameless. Compared to Charlton Heston, he otherwise makes no impression at all.

Pharoah comes off as a laughable raging bull who also gets stuck with the line, « You always were a fighter, Moses. But you never knew when you were beaten. »

The resultant fabled parting of the Red Sea is strictly pedestrian from a special effects standpoint. Maybe these stories are just too well-known at this point. They’ve certainly been better told on film.

The bulk of Jesus’ story begins in Episode 7, with Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado very pretty looking in the early going. But he emotes to fairly good effect during the Garden of Gethsemane segment, in which he begs, « Father, take this from me. Spare me. »

Episode 8 ends just before the torture and crucifixion of Jesus begin. And that portion of The Bible wasn’t made available for review.

But Sunday night’s previews of coming attractions — both at the beginning and the end — are long and detailed enough to basically give viewers the entire series in a nutshell. Not that most adults aren’t already well-versed.

The Bible has the misfortune of looking cheap in comparison to the visual feast provided by the Vikings. And the acting isn’t nearly strong enough to overcome this.

Producer Burnett’s first fully scripted series — his 2004 Commando Nanny for The WB never made it to the air — provides strong evidence that he should resume doing what no one else does better. « Reality » series are his forte. The Bible is Old and New Testament to that.

GRADE: C

‘The Bible’ review: No testament to inspiration

Verne Gay

Newsday

March 1, 2013

THE SHOW « The Bible »

WHEN|WHERE Starts Sunday night at 8 on History

WHAT IT’S ABOUT This 10-hour film — with a score by Hans Zimmer, narrated by Keith David and produced by reality TV magnate Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, who also stars as Mary — is a dramatic retelling of several major Biblical stories, including: Genesis, Sarah and Abraham, and the Exodus (Sunday); Joshua’s quest to secure the Promised Land, the prophet Samuel and King David (March 10), Daniel, and then into the New Testament, with the birth of Jesus (March 17); Jesus and his disciples and the betrayal by Judas (March 24); then the Passion and Revelation (March 31). With Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus.

MY SAY Since the creation of the motion picture camera, there have been hundreds of films and TV movies based on the Bible — no fewer than five « Ten Commandments, » for example — and each has relied to a greater or lesser degree on creative license. They’ve had to and the reason is obvious — the Bible didn’t come with set directions, or tips about tracking shots or crossfades, or all that much expository dialogue, either. (Hey, it was called The Word, after all, not « The Picture. »)

But license is vital, and because so much has been taken, great work — even numinous work — has been the result. But more often than not, Biblical cornhuskings are the byproduct, and from what I sampled (three hours) here, Burnett and Downey’s ambitious and plodding « The Bible » falls in the latter category.

It’s too bad, really, because clearly a great deal of work and thought has been put into this. There’s no doubting the sincerity or earnestness of the effort, but what’s missing is passion or interpretation.

They’ve taken the big stories, added the requisite CGI special effects — Fast-shifting clouds! Thunder! Lighting! Towering walls of water! — and retold them as blandly as possible.

This « Bible » probably won’t offend anyone, but it’s hard to imagine it will inspire anyone, either.

BOTTOM LINE Big, sprawling and flat

GRADE C

Review: History’s ‘The Bible’ an epic, epically overwrought, tale

History channel’s new 10-episode miniseries ‘The Bible’ is a good-looking, Westernized production but it’s also often tiresome.

R obert Lloyd,

March 02, 2013

Los Angeles Times

History channel, which for so many years seemed dedicated primarily to discovering how many documentaries might be extracted from the Second World War — the Hitler Channel was its joking sobriquet — has been branching out. Last year, its « Hatfields & McCoys » miniseries set basic-cable records and was nominated for 16 Emmys (and won five). Sunday brings its first scripted drama, « Vikings, » and another miniseries, « The Bible, » scheduled so that it ends on Easter.

There are millions if not billions who take the Bible as literal truth, but it is not history as we commonly understand the word. There are historical components to the series, of course — decisions have been made about costumes and settings and incidental behavior, and some of the narrative in the New Testament episodes has been lifted from other ancient texts — but the series is ultimately a work of the imagination; indeed, it could have used a little more.

Its creators are Mark Burnett, the man behind « Survivor » and « The Voice » and other monuments of reality television, and his wife Roma Downey, who starred in « Touched By an Angel » (and plays Jesus’ mother, Mary, in her older scenes). They are not in it for the money: « I’ve loved Jesus all my life, » Downey told the Christian Post recently, adding that « Casting began with prayer. »

Theirs is a Christian view, in which the Old Testament is a prophetic prelude to the New. Five of the 10 hours are taken up with Jesus — the last of them, post-crucifixion, follows the fortunes of the apostles — which allows that story more room to breathe The first five are a bit of a greatest-hits package, hurried along by the narration of Keith David, whose voice you know as well as your own, and titles reading « 12 years later, » « 40 years later » and so on.

Many viewers will be satisfied that TV is telling these stories at all, and not even on a Christian network, though they do make their way pretty regularly to the tube. They are, after all, the most illustrated stories in the West. That the Bible itself does not offer much in the way of description or dialogue leaves a lot of space for elaboration that has kept it adaptable through the ages, the source of works of high and low art over millenniums, from medieval mystery plays to the songs of the Golden Gate Quartet, from small painted icons to huge Gothic cathedrals. But it is the source of much awful kitsch too.

« The Bible » according to Burnett and Downey is a handsome and generally expensive-looking production, but it is also flat and often tedious, even when it tends to the hysterical, and as hard as the Hans Zimmer soundtrack strains to keep you on the edge of your sofa. The dialogue is pedestrian and functional — sometimes it has the flavor of having been made up on the spot — and often overacted, as if in compensation. It is « psychological » only in obvious ways, with the poetry of the King James version all but ignored.

If Bible stories have been an occasion for slipping a little more sex into the culture than the culture was quite ready for, « The Bible » stays modest on this account. (I have not seen episodes dealing with David and Bathsheba or Samson and Delilah — six of 10 were provided for review — so I may be proved wrong on this account.) You get a bit of the bare shoulder of Hagar, the servant girl Abraham impregnates, anxious to father the nation God has promised him. The sins of Sodom are represented by kissing, dancing and fire-eating.

Violence, on the other hand, gets a good workout — it’s in the book, after all — with all the brutal modern touches. (Squelchy sound effects, slow motion.) In one notable scene, an angel (Asian, for inclusiveness) finishes off a pair of attackers with a two-handed stab out of a martial arts movie. This is for the kids, I guess.

As the episodes depicting Christ’s condemnation and crucifixion were not available, I can’t address their explicitness or what is perhaps the central interpretive question of such a film — the degree to which whether it blames Pilate or « the Jews » for the death of Jesus. I certainly wouldn’t call the film anti-Semitic, yet it does play to mainstream Western images of Christ:, the postcard, gentile Jesus, depicted as a tall, good-looking European, while his opponents … aren’t.

He is played here by Diogo Morgado, who is Portuguese, with a smile that practically defines the word « beatific. » And then the trouble starts.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

————————–

‘The Bible’

Where: History

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-14-V (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with an advisory for violence)

Television Review

The good book translates into a bad series

Sarah Rodman

The Boston Globe

February 28, 2013

Given how many epic, sprawling, multi-character stories about good, evil, and the gray areas in between have found their way to television in the past few years — from HBO’s fantastical yet earthy “Game of Thrones” to the swords, sandals, and sexcapades of Starz’s soon to conclude, and underrated, “Spartacus” — it makes sense that someone decided to apply anew the “biblical proportions” approach to the actual source material for that phrase.

That those someones are reality show Midas Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” and “The Voice”) and his wife, Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”), may be a surprise to those unaware that the pair are devout Christians.

The 10-hour, five-part “The Bible” — the first two-hour installment of which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m., and which concludes, naturally, on Easter — is a passion project for the couple.

Downey, who also costars as Mother Mary, and Burnett take a sort of “greatest hits” approach to the bestseller, splitting time between the Old and New Testaments. The stories — Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, the tumbling walls of Jericho, the crucifixion and resurrection — are likely well-known to just about anyone who spent time in Sunday school or saw any of the various other attempts at Bible adaptations over the years, including the star-studded Cecil B. Demille network perennial “The Ten Commandments.”

So the challenge is to bring something new to well-trodden ground; and in the just over three hours that I sampled, there were few fresh elements on display beyond contemporary CGI updates of spectacles like the parting of the Red Sea and the vision of the burning bush.

Instead, “The Bible” takes a familiarly earnest and plodding approach with a lot of overwrought acting by a cast of a thousand accents. (Noah sounds Scottish; many of the Israelites hail from England, apparently; and the Pharaoh appears to be American.)

The styles of acting also range from very natural to Shakespearean melodrama to almost too contemporary. (At one point, when Abraham is dealing with the displeasure of Sarah and Hagar, he appears to look skyward with a “Women, amirite?”-type expression.)

It may also be impossible to intone phrases like “Let my people go” after so many iterations with anything resembling freshness. But the proclivity for the kind of bellowing normally reserved for Captain Kirk railing against Khan starts to become comical as each character histrionically shouts up to the heavens in turn: “Isaac!” “Moses!” “David!”

To Downey and Burnett’s credit, unlike the perfectly coiffed movie stars of yore, there is a lot of dirt in the first few hours, contributing to a palpable sense of heat, grime, and blood. And while it would be impossible to please everyone when dealing with such sensitive (and, to many, sacred) material, you can feel the heartfelt solemnity throughout. It’s clear they take the work seriously.

Theological scholars can determine whether “The Bible” achieves the stated goal of endeavoring to “stay true to the spirit of the book,” but as entertainment, even the most faithful believers might find some scenes unintentionally comic or snoozy, or wish for a stronger cast, direction, and writing to bring these stories to life once again. As is, “The Bible” sometimes feels too facile, like a colorful Sunday school pop-up book come to life, albeit one with much more graphic violence (which some parents might want to preview before sharing with their kids).

God’s Word, the Greatly Abridged Version

‘The Bible’ Mini-Series on the History Channel

Neil Genzlinger

The NYT

March 1, 2013

Mark Burnett, an impresario of reality television, has surely encountered the question before: How do you make viewers believe what they’re seeing? Did those “Survivor” contestants really eat that stuff? Would any of these seemingly intelligent “Apprentice” candidates actually want to work for Donald Trump?

Mr. Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, gave themselves a chance to tackle the ultimate make-me-believe-it challenge when they decided to produce “The Bible,” a 10-hour dramatization that begins on Sunday on History. Instead of embracing this challenge, they ducked it, serving up a rickety, often cheesy spectacle that is calculated to play well to a certain segment of the already enlisted choir but risks being ignored or scorned in other quarters.

The mini-series certainly seems unlikely to be much of a recruitment tool for Christianity, putting the emphasis on moments of suffering rather than messages of joy, and not just when it comes time for the Crucifixion. In this heavy-handed treatment, having Jesus born in a manger is not enough; the arrival also has to occur during what looks like a typhoon. Because why have a moderate amount of hardship when you can have an excess of it?

The feelings behind the series may be sincere — Ms. Downey has said that she and her husband “felt called to do this” — but the approach here actually shows a lack of faith in the power of the biblical stories. The real Bible is a layered, often lyrical epic in which personal journeys are intertwined with collective ones, and human failings bump up against human strivings.

Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey, their actors (Ms. Downey herself is one) and especially their adapters don’t have nearly the skill to translate such a thing to the small screen in a way that does justice to its complexity. The best they can do is a black-and-white simplification in which villains often come across as laughable caricatures because the creators are so eager to make sure that everyone realizes that they’re villains.

Mel Gibson, of course, already proved that there is a substantial audience for a suffering-heavy treatment of Christianity with “The Passion of the Christ.” But Mr. Gibson’s movie had the advantage of a narrow focus. By taking on the entire Bible, even at 10 hours in length, Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey force themselves into a clumsy “Bible’s greatest hits” approach.

This doesn’t serve the source material — so rich in interconnections across time — very well, and it doesn’t make for very involving television. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel and the other great biblical figures aren’t really developed in a way that illuminates them or makes them linger in our minds; they are simply called forth to perform a set piece or two. It’s like a trip through a Christian theme park. “Next stop on the tour, ladies and gentlemen: the Noah’s ark tableau, followed by the Daniel in the lion’s den diorama.”

That might be tolerable if effort had gone into providing some connective tissue to relate the scenes organically. Instead a bland narration fills the gaps between them, covering leaps of decades or even centuries, not to mention some of Christianity’s pivotal tenets. It is the narrator who announces that God has given Moses the great laws of life, the Ten Commandments, a curiously momentous thing to leave to a voice-over.

The result is a mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally, a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they’re great. Those looking for something that makes them feel the power of the Bible would do better to find a good production of “Godspell” or “Jesus Christ Superstar.” And those thinking that the ancient miracles might be better served by the special effects available in 2013 than they have been in previous versions should prepare for disappointment. The Red Sea parts no more convincingly here than it did for Charlton Heston in 1956.

The Bible

History, Sunday nights at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.

Produced for History by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Created by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; Mr. Burnett, Ms. Downey and Richard Bedser, executive producers; Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs, executive producers for History; Keith David, narrator; Hans Zimmer, composer.

WITH: Roma Downey (Mother Mary), Diogo Morgado (Jesus Christ), Darwin Shaw (Peter), Sebastian Knapp (John), Amber Rose Revah (Mary Magdalene), Greg Hicks (Pilate) and Simon Kunz (Nicodemus).

Voir enfin:

Differences from the Bible

In the introduction to each episode, the message is displayed “This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book.” Roma Downey stated in an interview, “we had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully,” However, many of the story elements in the series have been criticized as deviating from the events described in the traditional text, and using too many creative licenses. These are included below:

In the book of Genesis, the angelic visitors were approached by Lot who insisted that they stay with him. Then they feasted with Lot in his home. The series shows the angels approaching Lot, begging for help with no hospitality extended to them.(Genesis 19:1-5)

The text describes a mob gathered outside of Lot’s home wanting to rape his two angelic visitors, and Lot offering his daughters instead. The series omits this. (Genesis 19:4-10)

At the destruction of Sodom, the series shows the angels slaughtering some of the city’s inhabitants. Critics refer to these as « Ninja Angels ». This is not in the text. (Genesis 19:1-17)

The series shows Abraham traveling with Isaac, a very short distance to the place where he was to sacrifice his son. In the Bible it is a three day journey and the two are accompanied by a donkey and two attendants. (Genesis 22:1-4)

The series shows Sarah running after Abraham once she realizes he is going to sacrifice Isaac. This is not in the text.[39] (Genesis 22:1-19)

In the Binding of Isaac, the text describes a ram (adult) caught by its horns in a thicket. The miniseries depicts a juvenile lamb caught by its leg (Genesis 22:13)

After David’s affair with Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah the Hittite, he is confronted by Nathan. The series depicts David as resistant or even indignant, whereas in the text, David is remorseful for his sin and admits his guilt, leading him to write Psalm 51 and beg forgiveness from God (2 Samuel 12:13, Psalms 51)

When the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, Jeremiah is depicted as escaping unnoticed by the invaders. In the text Jeremiah is captured, bound in chains and later released[40] (Jeremiah 39:11-40:6)

The show depicts Daniel and his three compatriots being captured during the siege, when in fact, they were deported more than a decade before Jerusalem’s destruction[40] (Daniel 1; 2 Kings 24:10-16)

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, the miniseries depicts them as being tied up, with a fire lit under them. In the text, the king orders the three to be thrown into a furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual. In fact, the text describes the furnace as being so hot, that some of Nebuchadnezzar’s « strongest soldiers » who threw them in there where killed by the flames while doing so. (Daniel 3:19-23)

The miniseries’s depicts the prophet Isaiah as a contemporary of Daniel, living during the time of the Babylonian exile. This is a major inconsistency with the text as Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus the Persian would release the captives after a period of time. This prophecy occurred 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile meaning that Daniel, Cyrus and Isaiah could never have existed contemporaneously at the same time. (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13).

In the miniseries’ depiction of the Temptation of Christ, the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain when he tempted Jesus to throw himself down. In the text, the Devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. The high mountain was where the devil tempted Jesus to worship him. (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13)

Voir par ailleurs:

Entertainment

Hollywood Declares 2014 the Year of the Bible

The Daily Beast

01.09.14

Russell Crowe is Noah. Christian Bale is Moses. Brad Pitt is Pontius Pilate. With pages of action and a faithful fanbase, Hollywood is mining the good book for blockbuster stories.

Pop quiz: How many of the top 15 highest-U.S.-grossing movies of all time—adjusted for inflation—star comic-book characters?

Answer: Zero.

And how many are based on the Bible?

Answer: Two.

In the late 1950s, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur teamed up for $1.795 billion in adjusted domestic ticket sales. That’s more than Avatar, The Dark Knight, and Transformers combined.

Which may explain, at least in part, why the movie industry seems—unofficially, of course—to have declared 2014 The Year of the Bible.

Over the next 11 months, Hollywood is planning to release more big Biblical movies than it put out during the previous 11 years combined, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2015 (or beyond). For an industry that spent much of the 2000s shying away from explicitly religious fare—the controversy over the alleged anti-Semitism of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ effectively wiped out the genre, despite the film’s huge box office receipts—it’s a remarkable about-face that’s as surprising as it is sudden.

Consider the 2014 release schedule. On Feb. 28, Twentieth Century Fox is first out of the gate with Son of God, a Jesus biopic culled from the History Channel’s hit 2013 miniseries The Bible. (A Bible sequel titled A.D. is set to air next year on NBC.) Paramount is up next in March with Noah, director Darren Aronofsky’s epic re-imagining of the life of the Old Testament’s most famous ark-builder (played by Russell Crowe). Debuting in April is Heaven is for Real, starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a boy who claims to have passed through the pearly gates during a near-death experience, and both the Mother of God drama Mary (Ben Kingsley, Julia Ormond) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus (Christian Bale, Aaron Paul) follow in December, right in time for awards season.

And that’s just 2014. Other faith-based projects kicking around Hollywood include a Cain and Abel movie directed by Will Smith; a Pontius Pilate picture starring Brad Pitt as the titular villain; an absurdist comedy about the Rapture (Kevin Smith’s Helena Handbag); and an HBO drama about the same apocalyptic reckoning (The Leftovers).

And so, given all the Biblical hustle and bustle currently consuming Hollywood, it seems like an appropriate time to ask: What the devil is going on?

Earlier this week, I decided to put that question to the man who may have done more than anyone else in the industry to ressurect movies like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur for 2014: Mark Burnett. The British-born producer famous for Survivor, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, and The Voice, among other reality-series, Burnett is also a devout Christian (along with his wife, the actress Roma Downey). While watching The Ten Commandments on TV with their children for the umpteenth time, Burnett and Downey had an epiphany. « Our kids were like, ‘This is not that great,' » Burnett tells me. « The special effects are quite obvious. These kids are used to Superman and Batman. People’s first memories of the Bible are usually either a movie or a piece of art. So we thought an updated version could be really powerful. »

The resulting 10-hour series, The Bible—Burnett’s first scripted project—debuted on the History Channel on March 3, 2013. It was very popular (to put it mildly). The series premiere attracted 13.8 million viewers; the second and third installments pulled in about 11 million each; the finale beat AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Game of Thrones. All told, The Bible racked up about 100 million cumulative viewers over a six-week period, making it the third most-watched cable series or miniseries of 2013. Even the DVD was a hit, moving 525,000 copies in its first week to become the fastest-selling disc of the last half-decade. « A lot of people said to us, ‘Nobody’s going to watch The Bible in primetime TV. You guys are crazy,' » Burnett says. « But Roma and I said, ‘We think you’re completely underestimating this faith-based, Christian audience.’ And we proved that it was enormous, and that it makes sense to create something in that world. »

‘This is not a subject like doing a western or sci-fi. You can’t just make it and hope for the best.’

Now other Hollywood bigwigs seem to have taken notice (including the bigwigs at 20th Century Fox, the studio that snapped up Burnett’s Son of God shortly after The Bible scored such impressive ratings.) Which brings us to the first of three reasons I think 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of the Bible: money.

It’s no secret that the industry is stuck in a bit of a rut. The demand for blockbusters is bigger than ever, but there are only so many comic books to mine for characters and stories, and you can’t reboot the Spider-Man franchise or churn out Iron Man sequels forever. The Bible, meanwhile, has chapter after chapter and verse after verse of (to put it crassly) action-packed material—Moses, David, Job, Jesus, Revelation, and so on—plus a « fanbase » that’s even larger and more avid than Marvel Comics’. « When we looked at it we saw that around about 50 million Americans sit in a church each week, » Burnett explains. « On a monthly basis that’s almost 150 million, because not everybody goes every Sunday. And that community is tightly knit. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was to go out and spread the word. » No marketing budget is big enough to buy the kind of word-of-mouth that flows organically through the Christian community, and no secular endorsement has the power to influence as many viewers as, say, Rick Warren’s or Joel Osteen’s. The potential payoff, as studio executives now seem to be realizing, is huge.

But there may be more to 2014’s Bible resurgence than cold, hard cash. Burnett, for one, believes that viewers are more open to messages of spiritual uplift in the wake of the 2008 financial crash than they may have been in an earlier, more comfortable age. « Part of it has to do with hope, » he says. « I feel like a lot of people, as a result of what happened in 2008, are still hurting. And they’re relying upon their faith. Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings gets more than 7 million viewers. That’s more people watching than some primetime network TV shows. »

My sense is that politics is playing a part as well. In the Age of George W. Bush, religion was a polarizing force in the public sphere. Evangelicals were on the march for the GOP; less devout (or vocal) Americans felt somewhat besieged. But with Obama in office, the religious right is no longer as powerful as it once was, and the old, divisive battles over « values » seem to have waned.

This may have had two effects—subtle but real—on moviegoing audiences. The first is that the sort of Evangelicals who took center stage during the Dubya years might feel a little « left out » at this point—meaning they’re especially eager to participate in any mainstream cultural event that’s willing to cater to them (such as The Bible). The second is that less fervent Americans no longer recoil from anything that smacks of overt religiosity because responding that way no longer feels as politically urgent as it did in, say, 2004. As a result the hard-core Christian community may be more ready than ever for a movie such as Exodus—and rest of America may be more open to it.

So by mining the good book for blockbuster stories, Hollywood may be on to something. But as rewarding as the approach may seem, it’s worth remembering that it’s not without risks as well. In Burnett’s opinion, The Bible succeeded in large part because it was faithful to its source material. « What’s critical when you’re dealing with the Bible is that you’re accurate, » he says. « The first thing we did was to get a group of 40 church leaders and run scripts by them. There is an enormous audience, but it is very serious. This is not a subject like doing a western or sci-fi. You can’t just make it and hope for the best. There’s a way to get a massive audience if you’re faithful, and there’s also a potential backlash if you’re not. And the backlash would be pretty enormous. »

Seems like someone at Paramount agrees. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the studio recently demanded changes to Aronofsky’s Noah after screenings for religious groups in New York and Arizona generated « troubling » responses. At the time, Aronofsky was « dismissive, » according to a talent rep with ties to the project. But apparently the studio is aware of a possibility that its auteur prefers to ignore. Sure, the lucrative faith-based audience can giveth—but it can also taketh away.

Voir enfin:

« Nul n’est prophète » : Malraux et son fameux « XXIe siècle »

Brian Thompson Université du Massachusetts Boston

Plus de trente ans après la mort de Malraux sa fameuse phrase selon laquelle « le XXIe siècle sera religieux [ou spirituel, ou mystique] ou ne sera pas », continue à faire couler de l’encre ou à agiter les Internautes, à conforter les uns, à provoquer ou exaspérer les autres. Ce qui est certain, c’est qu’elle reste très présente dans l’esprit des gens, et bien au-delà de l’Hexagone. Elle trouve un écho dans les milieux les plus divers: culturels, politiques, sociaux, religieux, scientifiques, et même commerciaux. Les uns croient qu’elle est en train de se réaliser — pour le meilleur ou pour le pire — , d’autres espèrent qu’elle se réalisera au fil des années, d’autres encore craignent qu’elle ne se réalise, étant donné les désastres dont la religion porte au moins en partie la responsabilité.

La phrase de Malraux continue à être citée, paraphrasée, détournée ou déformée pour dire tout et son contraire. Un bref survol de quelques exemples:

Le collectif Peter Pan « pour la survie des rêves » annonce, en paraphrasant Malraux et en encourageant davantage d’efforts pour la politique culturelle de la France: « le 21e siècle sera culturel ou ne sera pas » 1 . Ghaleb Bencheikh, dans une interview avec l’équipe de rédation d’ African Geopolitics / Géopolitique Africaine , perd 2 légèrement les pédales en paraphrasant Malraux mais déclare que « le 21e siècle sera féminin ou ne le sera pas » 2 . (Ailleurs on affirme carrément que Malraux lui-même disait : le XXIe siècle sera féminin ou ne sera pas 3 . ⤠ . De même, mais plus honnêtement, François Planque note que « [l]’impact de l’homme sur la nature n’a jamais été aussi problématique. Malraux aurait dit que le 21e siècle « sera spirituel ou ne sera pas »; peut-être dirait-il aujourd’hui qu’il sera écologique ou ne sera pas […] » 5 , tandis que dans la Conférence de Paris pour une gouvernance écologique mondiale, tenue les 2 et 3 février de cette année, José Manuel Durão Barroso, Président de la Commission européenne, a détourné la phrase “attribuée” à Malraux en disant que « le 21e siècle sera environnemental ou ne sera pas » 6 . D’autres scientifiques s’y mettent joyeusement, des ingénieurs chimistes par exemple, prévoyant une pléthore de poursuites en justice et paraphrasant la « fausse » ( fake ) citation « apocryphe » sur le XXIe siècle « mystique » comme suit: « le 21e siècle sera juridique ou il ne sera pas » 7 . Parlant à quelque 400 scientifiques, académiques et politiques lors d’un séminaire sur les « Directions de la science au 21e siècle: Perspectives indiennes et françaises » organisé par l’Académie nationale indienne de sciences et l’Ambassade de France à New Delhi le 17 février 2003, l’Ambassdeur de France en Inde, Dominique Girard, insistait sur la responsabilité des scientifiques de considérer les conséquences graves de leurs avancées technologiques qui vont en s’accélérant en ce début du XXIe siècle (rejoi gnant en cela certains soucis de Malraux). Ils devront mettre des questions éthiques au cœur de leur réflexion car « le 21e siècle sera éthique ou il ne sera pas » 8 . Dans une revue de scientifiques 9 comme dans une  3 revue pour consommateurs éthiques 10 , nous lisons que « le 21e siècle sera le siècle de l’éthique ou ne sera pas ». Cette formulation—« le siècle de […] »—a un certain succès et se prête à de nombreuses variantes. Ainsi, toujours partan t de la phrase de Malraux, le XXIe siècle sera-t-il « le siècle de la communication » 11 , « le siècle des abus du langage » 12 , « le siècle des chemins de fer » 13 , « le siècle de l’hybridité » 14 , « le siècle du dialogue » 15 , sans oublier « le siècle de la religion » 16 et « le siècle de la spiritualité »—langage qui pénètre jusque dans le profil qu’une entreprise japonaise brosse d’elle-même puisque l’un de ses trois principes de base s’inspire de Malraux sur ce plan. 17 Vu les vagues de pauvres qui déferlent sans discontinuer sur les pays riches, l’Académicien, Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, se moquant gentiment, dans Le Monde , de la prédiction de Malraux, conclut que le XXIe siècle sera le siècle du partage ou ne sera pas 18 .

Pour le journaliste politique du Figaro en Inde et en Asie du sud, François Gautier, le XXIe siècle sera « l’ère de l’Est » 19 , l’Inde seule étant en mesure de sauver notre monde qui s’en va à vau-l’eau sur le plan écologique, social et politique. Des branchés en informatique et Internet proclament que « [m]ême le Seigneur se numérise » : « Malraux l’avait prédit : « le 21e siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas!» Mais, aurait-il pu ajouter — s’il avait eu accès à Internet, bien entendu — , ce siècle risque fort toutefois d’être celui de la religion… en ligne» 20 . La phrase a donc la vie dure. Pourtant, il y en a qui 1) nient carrément que Malraux l’ait jamais prononcée, ou 2) mettent, plus modestement, sa paternité en question, ou 3) se disputent simplement sur le terme exact qu’il a (ou aurait) employé. Regardons-y de plus près. 4 Olivier Germain-Thomas fait remarquer, avec raison que je sache, que Malraux n’a jamais écrit ni publié ni laissé publier de son vivant cette phrase précise au-dessus de sa signature 21 . Il conclut que la phrase la plus citée de Malraux est « un faux ». Mais il est d’accord avec moi pour dire que sur un plan du moins, c’est du pur Malraux, car Malraux avait le goût et le don de la formule : « Il aura donc été puni par là où il a péché : le goût des formules ». Dans un texte plus récent, pourtant, Germain-Thomas s’en prend à la chute de la formule : « Pour qui fréquente ses tournures, le « sera ou ne sera pas » sonne comme une copie de pacotille. Quand il ramassait sa pensée dans une fulguration de mots, il y mettait au moins de la poésie » 22 . Ce qui n’empêche que deux poètes l’avaient précédé dans cette voie, René Ghil (1862-1925) au début de ce siècle : « Dans le futur, la poésie sera une science ou ne sera pas! » 23 et André Breton qui proclamait que « la beauté sera convulsive ou ne sera pas » 24 . Quoi qu’il en soit, de telles formules lapidaires et frappantes reviennent souvent sous la plume de Malraux. On en verra une autre revenir à plusieurs reprises ci-dessous. Olivier Germain-Thomas est loin d’être le seul à affirmer que Malraux n’a jamais prononcé la fameuse phrase. En novembre 2000, Antoine Terrasse répond à une interrogation sur les propos de Malraux sur la spiritualité du XXIe siècle: « En fait, Malraux n’a jamais dit : « le XXIe siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas » mais « le grand problème du XXIe siècle sera celui des religions » et encore, dernière phrase de son ouvrage «L’homme précaire…» : « […] nous souviendrons- nous que les éléments spirituels capitaux ont récusé toute prévision […]» 25 .

De même, Patrice de Plunkett, dans une grande conférence du Figaro, affirme que la fameuse phrase, ici avec le terme « spirituel », n’est pas de Malraux. 26 Un examen des manuscrits inédits de Malraux mène Marius-François Guyard, professeur émérite de Paris IV, à constater « qu’à deux reprises, du moins, il avait rédigé un net désaveu de paternité » de la phrase célèbre, la traitant, dans des corrections manuscrites, de 5 « formule ridicule » avant de trancher : « La prophétie est ridicule ». Quant à l’hypothèse, avancée par Max Torres dans le texte, d’une religion qui créerait un nouveau modèle de l’humanité, elle suscite chez son interlocuteur une réponse où le « oui » se mue en « sans doute » et, pour finir, en « peut-être » 27 . Dans une interview pour Le Point du 10 décembre 1975 Malraux est encore plus explicite: « On m’a fait dire que le XXIe siècle sera religieux. Je n’ai jamais dit cela, bien entendu, car je n’en sais rien. Ce que je dis est plus incertain. Je n’exclus pas la possibilité d’un événement spirituel à l’échelle planétaire ». En dépit de ce déni de l’intéressé lui-même, les citations de la phrase continuent bon train, que ce soit pour abonder dans le sens (supposé) de Malraux, pour la détourner, comme on l’a vu, à d’autres fins, ou pour dénigrer ou se moquer de Malraux ou de tout ce qui touche de près ou de loin aux domaines religieux ou spirituel, « ce fatras de calembredaines » 28 . Certains, modestes, indiquent que la phrase a été « attribuée » ou « prêtée » à Malraux. Beaucoup d’autres la citent comme si son authenticité allait de soi. Un dernier cas de figure, ce sont les témoins auriculaires qui affirment avoir entendu la phrase de la bouche même de Malraux. C’est le cas, notamment, d’André Frossard, journaliste émérite du Figaro, qui en témoigne de façon détaillée dans Le Point du 5 juin 1993: […] la phrase de Malraux sur le XXIe siècle a bien été dite, j’en témoigne, puisqu’elle a été prononcée devant moi, au cours d’une conversation dans le bureau de la rue de Valois. Je ne me souviens pas de la date (en mai 1968, je crois), mais je me souviens de Malraux me disant, à propos des événements: « La révolution, c’est un type au coin de la rue avec un fusil; pas de fusil, pas de révolution ». Puis, passant comme toujours de l’histoire à la métaphysique, il a eu la fameuse formule que l’on cite toujours de façon inexacte. Il n’a pas dit: « Le XXIe siècle sera religieux… ou spirituel… », mais « Le XXIe siècle sera mystique ou ne sera pas », ce qui n’est pas du tout la même chose. Quant au sens de ce bizarre « ou ne sera pas », que l’on prend non moins bizarrement à la lettre, il signifiait que ce XXIe siècle, faute de retrouver l’élan initial de toute intelligence 6 du monde, n’aurait plus de pensée — ce qui équivalait pour Malraux à n’être plus 29 . Il est impossible, me semble-t-il, de limiter la citation, comme le fait ici André Frossard, au seul terme « mystique »; Malraux a très bien pu lui dire « mystique » à lui — je le crois volontiers sur parole — , et « religieux » ou « spirituel » à d’autres. Prétendre le contraire dépasse ce que André Frossard (ou qui que ce soit) est à même de savoir.

A mon avis, d’ailleurs, il y a très peu de différence entre ces trois termes dans l’esprit de Malraux. Pour lui, le mot « religion » (de religio, « lien ») porte sur ce qui relie l’homme au cosmos, aux autres hommes, éventuellement aux dieux ou à Dieu; comme l’indique Bettine Knapp, il « ne suggère pour Malraux ni hiérarchie ni organisation institutionnelle » 30 . C’est ce qui donne un sens à la vie, à toute l’entreprise humaine, c’est une communion avec le domaine du sacré, avec ce qui, en l’homme, dépasse l’homme. Comme Malraux le note dans sa préface à L’Enfant du rire , « le fait religieux fondamental appartient aujourd’hui pour nous au domaine métaphysique » 31 . Je ne suis pas non plus l’interprétation d’André Frossard du « ou ne sera pas »; j’y reviendrai. Dans son dernier livre, et jusqu’en quatrième de couverture, Claude Tannery refute comme apocryphe « la formule ressassée ad nauseam » 32 . Il dit connaître « les arguments des plus sérieux défenseurs de l’authenticité de cette phrase » mais continue à la tenir pour apocryphe, même si on remplace « religieux » par « spirituel » ou « mystique ». Il note, comme Marius-François Guyard, que Malraux a qualifié cette prédiction de « ridicule » et qu’il s’en est distancié. A part les « arguments » évoqués, que faire des témoins auriculaires comme André Frossard ou moi-même? Il faudrait supposer que chacun de nous—séparément, puisque nous ne sommes pas tous d’accord sur le terme exact— 1) ait inventé la phrase 7 de toute pièce et menti sciemment depuis (pour quelle raison?), ou 2) se souvienne mal de ce que Malraux nous a dit (chacun de la même façon, à un mot près?), ou 3) ait des « visions dans les oreilles » (là encore, presque identiques?). Est-ce que l’une ou l’autre de ces explications est plus crédible que les témoins auriculaires eux-mêmes? A mon avis, aucune des trois ne résiste à l’analyse. Les témoignages — du moins, celui d’André Frossard et le mien — si. Claude Tannery pense surtout que « le tout ou rien du « ou ne sera pas » n’appartient pas aux modes de pensée de Malraux ». Mais cette alternative est-elle si différente, dans sa forme comme dans son fond, de la conclusion que Malraux tire lors d’une interview accordée le 5 mai 1969 à la Radio-Télévision yougoslave et l’hebdomadaire belgradois Nin : « Notre civilisation sera contrainte de trouver sa valeur fondamentale ou elle se décomposera » 33 . A Claude Tannery ensuite de citer certains textes pour « refuter » l’authenticité de la fameuse phrase, dont un texte que j’ai cité ailleurs pour montrer à quel point elle était au contraire dans la droite ligne de la pensée de Malraux depuis au moins 1955 : « Le problème capital de la fin du siècle sera le problème religieux, sous une forme aussi différente de celles que nous connaissons que le christianisme le fut des religions antiques » 34 . On pourrait aussi citer, de la même année: « Je pense que la tâche du prochain siècle, en face de la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité, va être d’y réintégrer les dieux » 35 . En 1970 Malraux souligne de nouveau l’opposition entre notre civilisation technologiquement avancée et le vide, le manque de sens, de raison de vivre, à son centre: […] notre crise est celle de la civilisation la plus puissante que le monde ait connue. […] En face de nous, ce n’est pas la nature de l’homme qui est en cause, c’est sa raison d’être […]. Et notre réponse, c’est : « A quoi bon conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? » 36 . 8 Malraux reprend la même formule dans Le Miroir des limbes : « Aucune civilisation n’a possédé une telle puissance, aucune n’a été à ce point étrangère à ses valeurs. Pourquoi conquérir la Lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? » 37 Il y reviendra encore à la fin de sa préface pour L’Enfant du rire de son vieil ami, Pierre Bockel, ancien aumônier de la Brigade Alsace-Lorraine : Presque toutes les civilisations qui ont précédé la nôtre ont connu leurs valeurs, et même l’image exemplaire de l’homme qu’elles avaient élue. La civilisation des machines est la première à chercher les siennes. La fission de l’atome n’était pas encore découverte au temps où je constatais que la plus puisssante civilisation de la terre n’avait inventé ni un temple, ni un tombeau. Des livres comme celui-ci nous enseigne nt ce que les chrétiens attendent d’une résurrection de la foi, assurée par un retour aux sources, et dont la formule serait sans doute, en effet, que la véritable religion est la communion en Dieu. Il est possible qu’un croyant voie d’abord dans la transcendance le plus puissant moyen de sa communion. Il est certain que pour un agnostique, la question majeure de notre temps devient : peut-il exister une communion sans transcendance, et sinon, sur quoi l’homme peut-il fonder ses valeurs suprêmes? Sur quelle transcendance non révélée peut -il fonder sa communion? J’entends de nouveau le murmure que j’entendais naguère : à quoi bon aller sur la lune, si c’est pour s’y suicider? 38 Il est intéressant de noter ce que le père Bockel dit dans ce livre sur Malraux et sa vision du monde à venir: Ce prophète du siècle n’aperçoit de salut pour l’humanité qu’au travers d’une civilisation de type religieux, dont la nature lui paraît encore imprévisible, mais qu’il souhaite et prévoit comme la cond ition du véritable progrès humain (129).

Le père Bockel se demande si la révolution spirituelle qui accompagnait et prolongeait mai 68 n’était pas l’un des [p]remiers signes pour justifier la vision de Malraux, et de tant d’autres, sur l’avenir de la civilisation? Celle-ci, pensent-ils, sera religieuse ou se perdra. Car, 9 après l’échec de l’espoir fondé sur la science, voire sur la seule politique, quelle autre référence resterait-il à l’homme pour signifier la vie, lui offrir un sens et donner une direction à l’histoire? (200 ; c’est moi qui souligne). Si cette affirmation, avec sa forme de stri cte alternative, n’est pas au-dessus de la signature de Malraux, elle est en-dessous, dans un texte paraphé, pour ainsi dire, par la préface de Malraux. J’ai eu l’occasion de rencontrer Malraux pour la première fois en 1972 à Verrières-le-Buisson pour une interview pr éparée par des questions et des réponses écrites. Il m’a dit que nous étions la première civilisation dans l’histoire du monde à ne pas avoir de centre, de transcendance, qui l’informe en tant que civilisation. Très sensible à l’avancée de la technologie moderne et à ses dangers dans notre ère nucléaire, il s’inquiétait pour l’avenir d’une telle civi lisation sans centre, sans transcendance, et c’est là où il m’a dit : « Le XXIe siècle sera religieux ou ne sera pas ». Il a expliqué qu’il ne savait pas quelle forme cela prendrait : ou bien le renouveau d’une religion existante, ou bien une nouvelle religion, ou bien quelque chose de tout à fait imprévisible, comme il l’a souligné dans L’Homme précaire et ailleurs. Mais de toute façon, pour lui, ou bien notre civilisation retrouverait, en tant que civilisation, un centre, une transcendance, quelquechose qui donne un sens à la vie, ou bien nous nous ferions tous sauter en l’air puisque nous en avons maintenant les moyens techniques (« la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité ») d’un suicide collectif, non sur la Lune mais ici même, sur la Terre. Le « ou ne sera pas » est à prendre à la lettre, nonobstant André Frossard. Quelques mois plus tard, le 12 novembre 1972, Claude Mauriac note dans son journal les propos de Malraux l’avant-veille, parlant d’une renaissance religieuse possible et opposant religion et science de façon binaire: Hier soir, Maurice Clavel a parlé. Et s’il a sorti sa formule préparée (littérateur, libérateur), il a aussi […] répété ce qu’il nous disait l’autre matin, que nous avions 10 lu dans ses livres, et que Malraux, presque avec les mêmes mots, avait déclaré la veille (rencontre étonnante, troublante) : qu’une renai sssance religieuse se préparait, peut-être , disait Malraux (« C’est la religion ou la science […] ») Sûrement , disait ou laissait entendre Clavel […]. 39

Dans son dernier livre, comme le rappelle Antoine Terrasse, Malraux « évoque l’hypothèse d’un événement spirituel , qu’il appelle de tous ses vœux. Il est avide de quelque foi nouvelle. Car la connaissance scientifique, qui caractérise notre civilisation, « ne possède aucune valeur ordonnatrice ». Il existe une formule de l’énergie, mais non du sens de l’homme [ … ] » 40 Claude Tannery cite une interview de Malraux avec son traducteur et ami japonais, Tadao Takémoto, interview que Germain-Thomas a pu placer précisément le 22 mars 1974 41 : « Si le prochain siècle devait connaître une révolution spirituelle, ce que je considère comme parfaitement possible — probable ou pas n’a pas d’intérêt, ce sont des prédictions de sorcier — je crois que cette spiritualité sera du domaine de ce que nous pressentons sans le connaître, comme le XVIIIe siècle a pressenti l’électricité avec le paratonnerre ». Ce « prédiction de sorcier » reflète sans doute l’extrême réticence de Malraux à prédire quoi que ce soit de façon directe et explicite, au risque de se faire traiter de « prophète » par des esprits simplistes — ce qui explique peut-être son déni d’avoir prononcé la phrase qui, comme nous l’avons vu, a été si souvent mal comprise, détournée et déformée à volonté par tout un chacun. En octobre 1975 Malraux répond, à la main et à l’encre rouge, à l’interrogation de son ancien collaborateur, André Holleaux, à propos du XXIe siècle, indiquant deux possibilités, l’une et l’autre imprévisibles dans le détail, dans des termes très semblables à ce qu’il m’avait dit trois ans auparavant : Le siècle prochain pourrait connaître un grand mouvement spirituel : nouvelle religion, métamorphose du christianisme — aussi imprévisible pour n[ou]s que 11 le fut celui-ci pour les philosophes de Rome, qui prevoyaient la fin, croyaient (supposaient) que le successeur serait le stoïcisme, ne pensaient pas aux chrétiens 42 . Le 12 mai 1976, donc quelques mois avant sa mort, Malraux s’adresse à la Commission des libertés de l’Assemblée nationale. Il note que « [t]outes les grandes civilisations, ordonnées par des valeurs suprêmes, généralement religieuses, ne fonctionnaient que parce qu’elles avaient conç u un type exemplaire de l’homme », mais non la nôtre où, depuis le 19e siècle, « la valeur suprême, reconnue ou non, c’est la science ». Puis, rappelant l’exergue que Marcellin Berthelot avait mis à l’Encyclopédie (« La Science est capable de tuer un bœuf, elle ne l’est pas de créer un œuf »), Malraux reprend, pour le fond sinon pour la forme, la chute de la fameuse phrase : « La plus puissante civilisation que l’homme ait connue, la nôtre, peut détruire la terre ; elle ne peut pas former un adolescent » 43 (c’est moi qui souligne). C’est, en clair, « la plus terrible menace qu’ait connue l’humanité », menace à laquelle Malraux espérait que le XXIe siècle trouverait une réponse adéquate.

Il est clair que Malraux, depuis au moins 1955 et sans doute auparavant (au temps où la « fission de l’atome n’était pas enco re découverte ») se souciait de ce qui se préparait à l’approche du XXIe siècle pour notre civilisation sans centre ni transcendance. Etant donné les avancées de la science et les dangers qu’elles comportent si elles sont vides de sens, il a distillé sa pensée en une formule frappante qui, toute seule et sans mode d’emploi, s’est prêtée à tous les détournements et déformations imaginables. Remise dans le contexte de tout ce que Malraux a dit et écrit dans la dernière partie de sa vie, elle prend tout son sens, non comme la prédiction d’un quelconque Nostradamus de foire, mais comme un sérieux appel de la part d’un « être spirituel ouvert aux plus hautes valeurs de l’homme », comme le décrit son ami, Pierre 12 Bockel 44 . Olivier Germain-Thomas, qui fréquentait Malraux dans les dernières années de sa vie, note que Malraux pressentait « la nécessité de retrouver des valeurs et une transcendance , faute de quoi notre civilisation volerait en éclats ». Lors d’une de leurs dernières rencontres, Malraux lui a dit: « Préparez-vous à l’imprévisible ». Bon consigne pour nous tous, dans ces premières années du XXIe siècle.

Voir par ailleurs:

Noah’s Ark: the facts behind the Flood
A recently discovered Babylonian tablet is a blueprint for a round-shaped ark that animals could board two by two
Was the Ark that survived the Flood really round?
Irving Finkel
The Telegraph
19 Jan 2014

In the year 1872 one George Smith, a bank­note engraver turned assistant in the British Museum, astounded the world by discovering the story of the Flood – much the same as that in the Book of Genesis – inscribed on a cuneiform tablet made of clay that had recently been excavated at far-distant Nineveh (in present-day Iraq). Human behaviour, according to this new discovery, prompted the gods of Babylon to wipe out mankind through death by water, and, as in the Bible, the survival of all living things was effected at the last minute by a single man.

For George Smith himself the discovery was, quite plainly, staggering, and it propelled him from back-room boffin to worldwide fame. Much arduous scholarly labour had preceded Smith’s extraordinary triumph, for his beginnings were humble. Endless months of staring into the glass cases that housed the inscriptions in the gallery resulted in Smith being “noticed”, and eventually he was taken on as a “repairer” in the British Museum in about 1863.

The young George exhibited an outstanding flair for identifying joins among the broken fragments of tablets and a positive genius for understanding cuneiform inscriptions; there can be no doubt that he was one of Assyriology’s most gifted scholars.

At first, Smith was unable to decipher the tablet that would change his life, because a lime-like deposit obscured the text. Only once this had been painstakingly removed – an agonising wait for the highly strung Smith – could all the words be read. A contemporary observer reported what happened next:

“Smith took the tablet and began to read over the lines which… had [been] brought to light; and when he saw that they contained the portion of the legend he had hoped to find there, he said, ‘I am the first man to read that after more than two thousand years of oblivion.’

“Setting the tablet on the table, he jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement, and, to the astonishment of those present, began to undress himself!”

Smith’s dramatic reaction achieved mythological status, to the point that all subsequent Assyriologists keep the tactic in reserve just in case they too find something spectacular.

Smith announced his discoveries at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archaeology in London, on December 3, 1872. August dignitaries were present, including the Archbishop of Canterbury – since Smith’s findings had serious implications for church authority – and the classically-disposed prime minister, WE Gladstone.

For Smith’s audience, as it had been for the man himself, the news was electrifying. In 1872 everyone knew their Bible backwards, and the announcement that the iconic story of the Ark and the Flood existed on a barbaric-looking document of clay in the British Museum that pre-dated the Bible and had been dug up somewhere in the East was indigestible.

A hundred and thirteen years after Smith’s breakthrough, a similar episode of British-Museum-curator-meets-amazing-cuneiform-flood-story befell me.

Irving Finkel, assistant keeper at the department of the Middle East at the British Museum (Benjamin McMahon)

People bring all sorts of unexpected objects to the British Museum to have them identified. In 1985 a cuneiform tablet was brought in by a member of the public already known to me, for he had been in with Babylonian objects before. His name was Douglas Simmonds. Gruff, non-communicative and to me largely unfathomable, he had a conspicuously large head housing a large measure of intelligence.

He owned a collection of miscellaneous objects and antiquities that he had inherited from his father, Leonard. Leonard had a lifelong eye for curiosities, and, as a member of the RAF, was stationed in the Near East around the end of the Second World War, acquiring interesting bits and pieces of tablets at the same time.

I was more taken aback than I can say to discover that one of his cuneiform tablets was a copy of the Babylonian Flood story. The trouble was that, as one read down the inscribed surface of the unbaked tablet, things got harder; turning it over to confront the reverse for the first time was a cause for despair. I explained that it would take many hours to ­wrestle meaning from the broken signs, but Douglas would not leave his tablet with me. He blithely repacked his Flood tablet and more or less bade me good day.

Nothing happened about “my” tablet until much later, when I spotted Douglas staring at Nebuchadnezzar’s East India House inscription in our Babylon: Myth and Reality exhibition early in 2009. I picked my way carefully through the crowds of visitors and asked him about it. The bewitching cuneiform tablets strewn around the exhibition must have had a good effect because he promised to bring his tablet in again for me to examine. And he did.

Decipherment proceeded in fits and starts, with groans and expletives, and in mounting – but fully dressed – excitement. Weeks later, it seemed, I looked up, blinking in the sudden light.

I had discovered that the Simmonds cuneiform tablet (henceforth known as the Ark Tablet) was virtually an instruction manual for building an ark.

The Ark Tablet, which dates from around 1900BC (Benjamin McMahon)

The story of a flood that destroyed the world, in which human and animal life was saved from extinction by a hero with a boat, is almost universal in the world’s treasury of traditional literature. Many scholars have tried to collect all the specimens in a butterfly net, to pin them out and docket them for family, genus and species. Flood stories in the broadest sense have been documented in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Syria, Europe, India, New Guinea, Central America, North America, Australia and South America.

The story of Noah, iconic in the Book of Genesis, and as a consequence a central motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, invites the greatest attention. In all three scriptures the Flood comes as punishment for wrongdoing by man, part of a “give-up-on-this-lot-and-start-over” resolution governing divine relations with the human world. There is a direct and undoubted Flood continuum from the Hebrew Old Testament to the Greek New Testament on the one hand and the Arabic Koran on the other.

Since the Victorian-period discoveries of George Smith it has been understood that the Hebrew account derives, in its turn, from that in Babylonian cuneiform, much older and surely the original that launched the story on its journey.

People have long been concerned with the question of whether there really was a flood, and been on the lookout for evidence to support the story, and I imagine all Mesopotamian archaeologists have kept the Flood at the back of their mind. In the years 1928 and 1929 important discoveries were made on sites in Iraq that were taken to be evidence of the biblical Flood itself. At Ur, excavation beneath the Royal Cemetery disclosed more than 10ft of empty mud, below which earlier settlement material came to light. A similar discovery was made at the site of Kish in southern Iraq. To both teams it seemed inescapable that here was evidence of the biblical Flood itself.

In more recent times scholars have turned to geological rather than archaeological investigation, pursuing data about earthquakes, tidal waves or melting glaciers in the hunt for the Flood at a dizzying pace.

Another big Flood question is where did the Ark end up? Ask anyone and they will say “Mount Ararat”. But what, we have to ask, is Ararat? There is more than one candidate mountain. The Assyrians in the Epic of Gilgamesh thought it was Mount Nitsir in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Islamic tradition has always favoured Cudi Dagh in Turkey. Rival set-ups allowed for vigorous local trade in Ark mementoes.

A traditional depiction of Noah’s Ark by the 16th-century painter Aurelio Luini (Alamy)

The Ark Tablet, like many documents of its period, is designed to fit comfortably in the reader’s hand; it is much the same size and weight as a contemporary mobile phone.

The tablet was written during the Old Babylonian period, broadly 1900–1700BC. The document was not dated by the scribe, but from the shape and appearance of the tablet itself, the character and composition of the cuneiform and the grammatical forms and usages, we can be sure that this is the period in which it was written. It was composed in Semitic Babylonian (Akkadian) in a literary style. The hand is neat and that of a fully trained cuneiform scribe. The text has been written out very ably without error and for a specific purpose; it is certainly not a school practice tablet from a beginner, or anything of that kind. It measures 11.5cm by 6cm and contains exactly 60 lines.

The front (or obverse) is in fine condition and virtually everything can be read. The back (or reverse) is damaged in the middle of most lines, with the result that not everything there can be read now, although much of substantial importance can be deciphered; some parts are simply missing altogether and other parts are very badly worn.

The most remarkable feature provided by the Ark Tablet is that the lifeboat built by Atra-hasıs – the Noah-like hero who receives his instructions from the god Enki – was definitely, unambiguously round. “Draw out the boat that you will make,” he is instructed, “on a circular plan.”

Confronting the fact comes, initially, as a shock. For every­one knows what Noah’s Ark, the real Ark, looks like: a squat wooden affair with prow and stern and a little house in the middle, not to mention a gangplank and several windows. No respectable child’s nursery at one time was without one, with its chewed pairs of animals.

The tenacity of the conventional Western vision of the Ark is remarkable, and remains, at least to me, inexplicable, for where did it come from in the first place? The only “evidence” that artists or toymakers had before them was the description in the Old Testament where Noah’s Ark is altogether a different proposition. (Indeed, the key words in the description of the Ark are used nowhere else in the Bible, and no one knows what language they are written in.)

As I stared into space with the tablet precariously poised over the desk, the idea of a round ark began to make sense. A truly round boat would be a coracle, and they certainly had coracles in ancient Mesopotamia; a coracle is exceptionally buoyant and would never sink, and if it happened to be difficult to steer or stop from going around and round that would not matter, because all it had to do was keep its contents safe and dry until the waters receded.

Coracles, in their unassuming way, have played a crucial and long-running role in man’s relationship with rivers. They belong, like dugout canoes and rafts, to the most practical stratum of invention: natural resources giving rise to simple solutions that can hardly be improved upon. The reed coracle is effectively a large basket, sealed with bitumen to prevent waterlogging. Its construction is somehow natural to riverine communities; coracles from India and Iraq, Tibet and Wales are close cousins. These traditional craft remained in use, unchanged, on the rivers of Mesopotamia into the first half of the last century.

Before the arrival of the Ark Tablet, hard facts for the boatbuilder were sparse. We have had to wait until now for the statistics of shape, size and dimensions, as well as everything to do with the matter of waterproofing. The information that has now become available could be turned into a printed set of specifications sufficient for any would-be ark-builder today.

Enki tells Atra-hasıs in a very practical way how to get his boat started; he is to draw out a plan of the round boat on the ground. The simplest way to do this would have been with a peg and a long string. The stage is thus set for building the world’s largest coracle, with a base area of 38,750sq ft, and a diameter of, near enough, 230ft. It works out to be the size of a Babylonian “field”, what we would call an acre. The walls, at about 20ft, would effectively inhibit an upright male giraffe from looking over at us.

Atra-hasıs’s coracle was to be made of rope, coiled into a gigantic basket. This rope was made of palm fibre, and vast quantities of it were going to be needed. Coiling the rope and weaving between the rows eventually produces a giant round floppy basket, which is then stiffened with a set of J-shaped wooden ribs. Stanchions, mentioned in lines 15-16, were a crucial element in the Ark’s construction and an innovation in response to Atra-hasıs’s special requirements, for they allow the introduction of an upper deck.

These stanchions could be placed in diverse arrangements; set flat on the interlocked square ends of the ribs, they would facilitate subdivision of the lower floor space into suitable areas for bulky or fatally incompatible animals. One striking peculiarity of Atra-hasıs’s reports is that he doesn’t mention either the deck or the roof explicitly, but within the specifications both deck and roof are implicit. (In line 45 Atra-hasıs goes up to the roof to pray.)

The next stage is crucial: the application of bitumen for waterproofing, inside and out, a job to be taken very seriously considering the load and the likely weather conditions. Fortunately, bitumen bubbled out of the Mesopotamian ground in an unending, benevolent supply. Atra-hasıs devotes 20 of his 60 lines to precise details about waterproofing his boat. It is just one of the many remarkable aspects of the Ark Tablet that we are thereby given the most complete account of caulking a boat to have come down to us from antiquity.

Johan Huibers’ full-scale model of Noah’s Ark was built according to the instructions given in the Bible (EPA/Ed Oudenaarden)

Boat-building notwithstanding, one cannot help but worry about the various Noahs, Babylonian and otherwise, and all their animals: the thought of rounding them up, marching them up the gangplank and ensuring good behaviour all round for a voyage of unknown length…

At first sight, the very broken lines 51–52 of the Ark Tablet looked unpromising. The surface, if not completely lost, is badly abraded in this part of the tablet. I needed, then, to bring every sophisticated technique of decipherment into play: polishing the magnifying glass, holding it steady, repeatedly moving the tablet under the light to get the slightest shadow of a worn-out wedge or two. Eventually the sign traces in line 51 could be seen to be “and the wild animal[s of the st]ep[pe]”.

What gave me the biggest shock in 44 years of grappling with cuneiform tablets was, however, what came next. My best shot at the first two signs beginning line 52 came up with “sa” and “na”, both incompletely preserved. On looking unhopefully for words beginning “sana” in the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, I found the following entry and nearly fell off my chair as a result of the words: “sana (or sanâ) adv. Two each, two by two.”

This is a very rare word among all our texts – when the dictionary was published there had only been two occurrences. To me, it is the world’s most beautiful dictionary definition.

For the first time we learn that the Babylonian animals, like those of Noah, went in two by two, a completely unsuspected Babylonian tradition that draws us ever closer to the familiar narrative of the Bible. (Another interesting matter: the Babylonian flood story in cuneiform is 1,000 years older than the Book of Genesis in Hebrew, but reading the two accounts together demonstrates their close, literary relationship. No firm explanation of how this might have really come about has previously been offered, but study of the circumstances in which the Judaeans exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II found themselves answers many crucial questions.)

There is a further consideration raised by these two lines in the Ark Tablet: they only mention wild animals. I imagine domestic livestock might well be taken for granted, especially if some of the animals were going to be part of their own food chain.

Today the question of Noah’s animals is no longer a preoccupation of scientific inquiry, but there was a time when serious scholars, especially the great polymath Athanasius Kircher (c1601–80), thought a good deal about them, just when knowledge of natural history was on the increase.

Kircher’s Ark taxonomy ran to only about 50 pairs of animals, leaving him to conclude that space inside was not such a difficulty. He developed the explanation that Noah had rescued all the animals that then existed, and that the subsequent profusion of different species in the world resulted from postdiluvian adaptation, or interbreeding among the Ark species; so that giraffes, for example, were produced after the Flood by camel and leopard parents.

The relationship between Enki and Atra-hasıs is conventionally portrayed as that between master and servant. If Atra-hasıs was not a king but a private citizen, this does raise the question of the grounds on which these “proto-Noahs” were selected to fulfil their great task. It is not evident that either was an obvious choice as, say, a famous boatbuilder. There is some indication of temple connections, but nothing to indicate that the hero was actually a member of the priesthood. Perhaps the selection was on the grounds that what was needed was a fine, upright individual who would listen to divine orders and carry them out to the full whatever his private misgivings, but we are not told.

In each case the right man seems to have been offered the job. All the stories agree that the boat, whatever its shape, was successfully built, and that human and animal life was safely preserved so that the world could go on. A story that recommends foresight and planning in order to ensure that outcome has lost none of its resonance.

‘The Ark Before Noah’, by Irving Finkel (Hodder, RRP £20), is available to order from Telegraph Books at £18 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk

Voir de même:
Irving Finkel: reader of the lost Ark
Tom Chivers meets the man who deciphered a 4,000-year-old blueprint – for the original Noah’s Ark
Tom Chivers
The Telegraph
19 Jan 2014

Four thousand years ago, a millennium and a half before the first Jewish scholars put pen to parchment on the Book of Genesis, a scribe in what is now Iraq carved the story of a great flood on to a clay tablet, in the strange and beautiful script known as cuneiform. The story told of how a god came and warned a great man to build a boat, and to take his family on that boat, and two animals of every kind, because the world was to be cleansed with a flood.

About 30 years ago, one Douglas Simmonds wandered in to the British Museum, and handed the tablet to a man called Irving Finkel, who immediately recognised it as one of the most important archaeological finds of recent years. Dr Finkel, an Assyriologist or student of the civilisations of ancient Mesopotamia, begged Simmonds to leave it with him, but he would do no such thing. It took him until 2009 to convince Simmonds to let him have it; when he did, what he discovered was a piece of the flood story – the Assyrian story of the Ark, centuries before Noah.

“Lots of people used to bring things in,” says Finkel, “people whose fathers or grandfathers had fought in Iraq in the First World War. Usually it’s some administrative paperwork, but sometimes it’s a gem, like this one: one of the most important tablets ever discovered.” Four years later, he has turned his painstaking translation of this chipped lump of clay into a book: The Ark Before Noah.

Finkel is exactly how you’d want a curator of ancient writings at the British Museum to look: grandfatherly eyes, magnificent snowy beard, a mane of white hair ostensibly tied into a ponytail but really free to do what it likes. We’re talking in his office, in the back rooms of the museum, and it too is a splendid cliché: not a surface that doesn’t have books and papers teetering on it in great piles; clay tablets here and there, desk drawers overflowing.

He has spent his life digging around in the museum and elsewhere, looking for tablets like the Simmonds one: an obsession since his first days at university, in 1969. “It’s my life’s work,” he says. “I am entirely devoted to it.” His arrival at the British Museum a decade later was a transformative moment: downstairs, in Victorian glass-topped boxes in the museum’s library, there are 130,000 cuneiform tablets, in varying states of repair. “It’s impossible to explain what it was like. I was like a chocolate fetishist locked in a sweet shop. If you’re one of these mad people who cares about these things, takes the oath of allegiance, learns to read the script, it opens up a whole world.”

The discovery that tablets from these ancient civilisations – Assyria, Babylonia and Sumeria – told the story of the flood associated with the later Hebrews shook the Victorian world when it was announced in 1872. We should declare an interest: The Daily Telegraph was one of the driving influences. “That newspaper of yours had a very big role to play in the story of Assyriology,” Finkel tells me. “It’s indissolubly linked to the flood story.” A man called George Smith was the first to find and translate a tablet which told the story of the cleansing flood; to Victorian Christianity, still coming to terms with other blows to the literal truth of the Bible, the idea that the story of Noah was simply a garbled form of an older pagan myth was shattering.

But it made great headlines, so the proprietors of The Daily Telegraph sent Smith back to the banks of the Tigris, one of the two rivers that give Mesopotamia its Greek name (“between rivers”; the other is the Euphrates). In the long-dead city of Nineveh, he found more tablets; the story, fleshed out, became known as the “Epic of Gilgamesh”. The tablet collection, which is still at the British Museum, is named after this newspaper: DT42. “He found the new pieces rather quickly, and made the mistake of telling the Telegraph straight away, who sensibly enough told him to come home,” says Finkel, cheerfully. “He should have kept quiet until the end of the season.”

The question that is invariably asked at this point is: does this mean that the Ark story is “real”? People still search Mount Ararat in Turkey, looking for the remains of a giant boat. But this isn’t a meaningful question, says Finkel. The Mesopotamian landscape is essentially a flood plain. “In that landscape, mankind’s vulnerability to flooding is explicit,” he says. “There must have been a heritage memory of the destructive power of flood water, based on various terrible floods. And the people who survived would have been people in boats. You can imagine someone sunbathing in a canoe, half asleep, and waking up however long later and they’re in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and that’s the beginning of the flood story.” There are, he says, geological and archaeological suggestions that there was an especially cataclysmic flood around 5,000BC.

The most interesting revelation from the Simmonds tablet is that the Ark, as originally conceived, was not how we picture it. “We all know what Noah’s Ark looked like – a boat, with a house on it, and a high prow and a high stern,” says Finkel. “You could sail to New York in it if you liked. But the Ark didn’t have to go in a direction, it just had to survive the flood.” In essence, it would have been a giant life raft: circular, and almost impossible to sink. “It was a coracle,” says Finkel: a kind of round boat of rope around a wood frame. “Half the people in Mesopotamia were professional boat people, so when someone told them this story, and said, imagine the biggest boat you ever saw, they must have asked: what did it look like?” What is incredible is that the tablet has detailed instructions how to build this enormous coracle, 70ft across, six yards high, even down to the length of rope required. “It’s about the distance from London to Edinburgh,” says Finkel, who had a mathematician check the working and found that it was correct to within one per cent.

Finkel gave me the tablet to hold. It’s almost exactly the size of a modern smartphone, and the shape of a pillow; terracotta-coloured, tightly covered, almost every last millimetre, in a strange pattern of carvings that look more like the arbitrary patterns on a Christmas jumper than anything we might recognise as writing; it’s cracked and glued back together, like an old vase, with some of the writing obscured by the worst bits of damage. I would like to announce that there is a sense of mystical awe that overwhelms me as I hold this 4,000-year-old artefact, this thing carved when the Egyptians were still building pyramids. But there isn’t, just a vague sense of terror that I’ll drop it and shatter it. “That would be the end of the world, for me,” confirms Finkel, unhelpfully.

The story of the flood, as exciting as it is, is only a tiny part of Finkel’s obsession. I put it to him that his book is not really about the Ark at all, it’s a love letter to cuneiform handwriting, and he nods. “The most interesting writing system of all!” he says, which he can best describe as a mix between hieroglyphic picture-symbols and a syllable-based system like Japanese. But it’s also about the window it provides to an ancient but weirdly familiar world.

“Writing is just a kind of dress, in which ideas and words are clothed,” he says. “When you adjust your vision, people emerge from antiquity. People with behaviour, and motives, and characteristics, which are familiar to us.” He draws an analogy with the recent Pompeii exhibition at the museum: “Lots of people came out saying how amazing it was that they had breakfast and slippers and pencil sharpeners and all the normal stuff of life.” People are people, in 1850BC or AD2014, in Nineveh or Middlesbrough.

Finkel has been doing this for so long, and “met” so many of the same scribes over and over again, that he gets a sense of them as people. The Babylonian schools were filled with the same mix of troublemakers, bored kids and swots as modern ones, he says, which you can tell from the recovered tablets from children learning to read and write. And when you read a really learned, intelligent, experienced scribe, “you can really see a brain there, a brain that’s clever and can see meaning. They were very sharp.”

I ask him if he has any favourites, if any of the writers become almost friends. “You get cleverness and intellect, but what you don’t get, usually, is personal stuff,” he says. “You don’t get private writing, you don’t get spontaneous love poetry. So one is filled with admiration for these minds, and sometimes you wish you could bloody well talk to this guy so he could explain what he means, but not a feeling that you’d like to go for a pint with him or something.”

Occasionally, though, he finds that a scribe has missed a line in a long, copied document, and they’ve tried to squeeze it in in the margin, with an asterisk to mark the spot: “The device is familiar, that’s like us. And it’s that sense of the guy going ‘oh s—’ – that’s the moment you think you might like to buy this guy a pint and calm him down.”

There are, however, puns and jokes and swearing and bawdy humour, “and music, and songs, and festivals, and drinking a lot of wine”, he says. “I think you should imagine the city of Babylon not unlike Jerusalem or Aleppo today, with a souk with metalsmiths and smells and awnings and donkeys, livestock wandering the streets, the way the world’s cities have always been.”

Finkel has never been to Iraq, the focus of his study for over a third of a century; he is Jewish, and when he began his work in 1969 the country refused visas to Jewish people. He still hopes to, “one of these days”, but the opportunity has never arisen.

During the time he has been studying it from afar, the country, the cradle of civilisation, has been torn apart by a bloody dictatorship and then a devastating invasion and civil war. “The Museum of Iraq was sacked, and the stuff was destroyed, and the country has been ransacked of archaeological materials, and the damage is incalculable. Of course, the hospitals and water and babies are more important, but once you get past the huge human suffering the cultural damage is atrocious.”

It’s also meant that tablets like the one that Simmonds brought him can no longer be traded: dealing with materials from Iraq was made illegal a few years ago. A window on 4,000 years of history has slammed shut. “It’s heartbreaking,” Finkel says. Absolutely heartbreaking.”

‘The Ark Before Noah’ by Irving Finkel (Hodder, RRP £20) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £18 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk


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