Hommage: Fouad Ajami ou l’anti-Edward Saïd (Edward Said accused him of having “unmistakably racist prescriptions »)

24 juin, 2014
https://i1.wp.com/i1.ytimg.com/vi/kXV199fIWjw/0.jpgEdward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused him of having “unmistakably racist prescriptions. The NYT
Après la chute des Twin Towers, des universitaires américains renommés, Bernard Lewis et Fouad Ajami en tête, ont avalisé cet orientalisme de stéréotypes, et fourni ainsi une caution intellectuelle au discours ambiant, néoconservateur et belliciste, affirmant que la démocratie était étrangère aux Arabes, qu’il fallait la leur imposer par la contrainte. Jean-Pierre Filiu
What makes self-examination for Arabs and Muslims, and particularly criticism of Islam in the West very difficult is the totally pernicious influence of Edward Said’s Orientalism. The latter work taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity – “ were it not for the wicked imperialists , racists and Zionists , we would be great once more ”- encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s , and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam , and even stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims sensibilities , and who dared not risk being labelled “orientalist ”. The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called “ intellectual terrorism ” , since it does not seek to convince by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism , Eurocentrism ,from a moral highground ; anyone who disagrees with Said has insult heaped upon him. The moral high ground is an essential element in Said’s tactics ; since he believes his position is morally unimpeachable , Said obviously thinks it justifies him in using any means possible to defend it , including the distortion of the views of eminent scholars , interpreting intellectual and political history in a highly tendentious way , in short twisting the truth. But in any case , he does not believe in the “truth”. (…) In order to achieve his goal of painting the West in general , and the discipline of Orientalism in particular , in as negative a way as possible , Said has recourse to several tactics . One of his preferred moves is to depict the Orient as a perpetual victim of Western imperialism ,dominance,and aggression. The Orient is never seen as an actor , an agent with free-will , or designs or ideas of its own . It is to this propensity that we owe that immature and unattractive quality of much contemporary Middle Eastern culture , self-pity , and the belief that all its ills are the result of Western -Zionist conspiracies. Here is an example of Said’s own belief in the usual conspiracies taken from “ The Question of Palestine ”: It was perfectly apparent to Western supporters of Zionism like Balfour that the colonization of Palestine was made a goal for the Western powers from the very beginning of Zionist planning : Herzl used the idea , Weizmann used it , every leading Israeli since has used it . Israel was a device for holding Islam – later the Soviet Union , or communism – at bay ”. So Israel was created to hold Islam at bay !
For a number of years now , Islamologists have been aware of the disastrous effect of Said’s Orientalism on their discipline. Professor Berg has complained that the latter’s influence has resulted in “ a fear of asking and answering potentially embarrassing questions – ones which might upset Muslim sensibilities ….”. Professor Montgomery Watt , now in his nineties , and one of the most respected Western Islamologists alive , takes Said to task for asserting that Sir Hamilton Gibb was wrong in saying that the master science of Islam was law and not theology .This , says Watt , “ shows Said’s ignorance of Islam ” . But Watt , rather unfairly ,adds , “ since he is from a Christian Arab background ”. Said is indeed ignorant of Islam , but surely not because he is a Christian since Watt and Gibb themselves were devout Christians . Watt also decries Said’s tendency to ascribe dubious motives to various writers , scholars and stateman such as Gibb and Lane , with Said committing doctrinal blunders such as not realising that non-Muslims could not marry Muslim women. R.Stephen Humphreys found Said’s book important in some ways because it showed how some Orientalists were indeed “ trapped within a vision that portrayed Islam and the Middle East as in some way essentially different from ‘the West ’ ” . Nonetheless , “Edward Said’s analysis of Orientalism is overdrawn and misleading in many ways , and purely as [a] piece of intellectual history , Orientalism is a seriously flawed book .” Even more damning , Said’s book actually discouraged , argues Humphreys , the very idea of modernization of Middle Eastern societies . “In an ironic way , it also emboldened the Islamic activists and militants who were then just beginning to enter the political arena . These could use Said to attack their opponents in the Middle East as slavish ‘Westernists’, who were out of touch with the authentic culture and values of their own countries . Said’s book has had less impact on the study of medieval Islamic history – partly because medievalists know how distorted his account of classical Western Orientalism really is ….”.  Even scholars praised by Said in Orientalism do not particularly like his analysis , arguments or conclusions .Maxime Rodinson thinks “ as usual , [ Said’s ] militant stand leads him repeatedly to make excessive statements ” , due , no doubt , to the fact that Said was “ inadequately versed in the practical work of the Orientalists ”. Rodinson also calls Said’s polemic and style “ Stalinist ”. While P.J.Vatikiotis wrote , “ Said introduced McCarthyism into Middle Eastern Studies ”. Jacques Berque , also praised by Said , wrote that the latter had “ done quite a disservice to his countrymen in allowing them to believe in a Western intelligence coalition against them ”. For Clive Dewey , Said’s book “ was , technically ,so bad ; in every respect , in its use of sources , in its deductions , it lacked rigour and balance .The outcome was a caricature of Western knowledge of the Orient , driven by an overtly political agenda .Yet it clearly touched a deep vein of vulgar prejudice running through American academe ”. The most famous modern scholar who not only replied to but who mopped the floor with Said was ,of course,Bernard Lewis .Lewis points to many serious errors of history ,interpretation , analysis and omission . Lewis has never been answered let alone refuted . Lewis points out that even among British and French scholars on whom Said concentrates , he does not mention at all Claude Cahen , Lévi-Provençal , Henri Corbin ,Marius Canard , Charles Pellat , William and George Marçais , William Wright , or only mentioned in passing ,usually in a long list of names , scholars like R.A.Nicholson , Guy Le Strange , Sir Thomas Arnold , and E.G.Browne. “ Even for those whom he does cite , Mr.Said makes a remarkably arbitrary choice of works . His common practice indeed is to omit their major contributions to scholarship and instead fasten on minor or occasional writings ”. Said even fabricates lies about eminent scholars : “ Thus in speaking of the late –eighteenth early-nineteenth-century French Orientalist Silvestre de Sacy , Mr.Said remarks that ‘he ransacked the Oriental archives ….What texts he isolated , he then brought back ; he doctored them …” If these words bear any meaning at all it is that Sacy was somehow at fault in his access to these documents and then committed the crime of tampering with them .This outrageous libel on a great scholar is without a shred of truth ”. Another false accusation that Said flings out is that Orientalists never properly discussed the Oriental’s economic activities until Rodinson’s Islam and Capitalism (1966) .This shows Said’s total ignorance of the works of Adam Mez , J.H.Kramers , W.Björkman , V.Barthold , Thomas Armold , all of whom dealt with the economic activities of Muslims . As Rodinson himself points out elsewhere , one of the three scholars who was a pioneer in this field was Bernard Lewis . Said also talks of Islamic Orientalism being cut off from developments in other fields in the humanities , particularly the economic and social. But this again only reveals Said’s ignorance of the works of real Orientalists rather than those of his imagination . As Rodinson says the sociology of Islam is an ancient subject , citing the work of R.Lévy . Rodinson then points out that Durkheim’s celebrated journal L’Année sociologique listed every year starting from the first decades of the XX century a certain number of works on Islam .
It must have been particularly galling for Said to see the hostile reviews of his Orientalism from Arab , Iranian or Asian intellectuals , some of whom he admired and singled out for praise in many of his works . For example , Nikki Keddie , praised in Covering Islam , talked of the disastrous influence of Orientalism , even though she herself admired parts of it : “ I think that there has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word “ orientalism” as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too “conservative ”. It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines .So “orientalism” for may people is a word that substitutes for thought and enables people to dismiss certain scholars and their works .I think that is too bad .It may not have been what Edward Said meant at all , but the term has become a kind of slogan ”.  Nikki Keddie also noted that the book “ could also be used in a dangerous way because it can encourage people to say , ‘You Westerners , you can’t do our history right , you can’t study it right , you really shouldn’t be studying it , we are the only ones who can study our own history properly ”. Albert Hourani , who is much admired by Said , made a similar point , “ I think all this talk after Edward’s book also has a certain danger .There is a certain counter-attack of Muslims , who say nobody understands Islam except themselves ”. Hourani went further in his criticism of Said’s Orientalism : “ Orientalism has now become a dirty word .Nevertheless it should be used for a perfectly respected discipline ….I think [ Said] carries it too far when he says that the orientalists delivered the Orient bound to the imperial powers ….Edward totally ignores the German tradition and philosophy of history which was the central tradition of the orientalists ….I think Edward’s other books are admirable ….”. Similarly , Aijaz Ahmed thought Orientalism was a “deeply flawed book” , and would be forgotten when the dust settled , whereas Said’s books on Palestine would be remembered. Kanan Makiya , the eminent Iraqi scholar , chronicled Said’s disastrous influence particularly in the Arab world : “ Orientalism as an intellectual project influenced a whole generation of young Arab scholars , and it shaped the discipline of modern Middle East studies in the 1980s .The original book was never intended as a critique of contemporary Arab politics , yet it fed into a deeply rooted populist politics of resentment against the West .The distortions it analyzed came from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , but these were marshaled by young Arab and “ pro-Arab ” scholars into an intellectual-political agenda that was out of kilter with the real needs of Arabs who were living in a world characterized by rapidly escalating cruelty , not ever-increasing imperial domination .The trajectory from Said’s Orientalism to his Covering Islam …is premised on the morally wrong idea that the West is to be blamed in the here-and-now for its long nefarious history of association with the Middle East .Thus it unwittingly deflected from the real problems of the Middle East at the same time as it contributed more bitterness to the armory of young impressionable Arabs when there was already far too much of that around .” Orientalism , continues , Makiya , “ makes Arabs feel contented with the way they are , instead of making them rethink fundamental assumptions which so clearly haven’t worked ….They desperately need to unlearn ideas such as that “ every European ” in what he or she has to say about the world is or was a “racist” ….The ironical fact is that the book was given the attention it received in the “almost totally ethnocentric ” West was largely because its author was a Palestinian ….”. Though he finds much to admire in Said’s Orientalism , the Syrian philosopher Sadiq al- ‘Azm finds that “the stylist and polemicist in Edward Said very often runs away with the systematic thinker ”. Al-‘Azm also finds Said guilty of the very essentialism that Said ostensibly sets out to criticise , perpetuating the distinction between East and West .Said further renders a great disservice to those who wish to examine the difficult question of how one can study other cultures from a libertarian perspective .Al-‘Azm recognizes Said anti-scientific bent , and defends certain Orientalist theses from Said’s criticism ; for example , al-‘Azm says : “ I cannot agree with Said that their “ Orientalist mentality ”blinded them to the realities of Muslim societies and definitively distorted their views of the East in general .For instance : isn’t it true , on the whole , that the inhabitants of Damascus and Cairo today feel the presence of the transcendental in their lives more palpably and more actively than Parisians and Londoners ? Isn’t it tue that religion means everything to the contemporary Moroccan , Algerian and Iranian peasant in amnner it cannot mean for the American farmer or the member of a Russian kolkhoz ? And isn’t it a fact that the belief in the laws of nature is more deeply rooted in the minds of university students in Moscow and New York than among the students of al-Azhar and of Teheran University ”. Ibn Warraq
Fouad Ajami would have been amused, but not surprised, to read his own obituary in the New York Times. « Edward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused [Ajami] of having ‘unmistakably racist prescriptions,’ » quoted obituarist Douglas Martin. Thus was Said, the most mendacious, self-infatuated and profitably self-pitying of Arab-American intellectuals—a man whose account of his own childhood cannot be trusted—raised from the grave to defame, for one last time, the most honest and honorable and generous of American intellectuals, no hyphenation necessary. Ajami (…) first made his political mark as an advocate for Palestinian nationalism. For those who knew Ajami mainly as a consistent advocate of Saddam Hussein’s ouster, it’s worth watching a YouTube snippet of his 1978 debate with Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Ajami makes the now-standard case against Israeli iniquity. Today Mr. Netanyahu sounds very much like his 28-year-old self. But Ajami changed. He was, to borrow a phrase, mugged by reality. By the 1980s, he wrote, « Arab society had run through most of its myths, and what remained in the wake of the word, of the many proud statements people had made about themselves and their history, was a new world of cruelty, waste, and confusion. » What Ajami did was to see that world plain, without the usual evasions and obfuscations and shifting of blame to Israel and the U.S. Like Sidney Hook or Eric Hoffer, the great ex-communists of a previous generation, his honesty, courage and intelligence got the better of his ideology; he understood his former beliefs with the hard-won wisdom of the disillusioned. (…) Ajami understood the Arab world as only an insider could—intimately, sympathetically, without self-pity. And he loved America as only an immigrant could—with a depth of appreciation and absence of cynicism rarely given to the native-born. If there was ever an error in his judgment, it’s that he believed in people—Arabs and Americans alike—perhaps more than they believed in themselves. It was the kind of mistake only a generous spirit could make. Bret Stephens
Ce qui caractérise pour l’essentiel Ajami n’est pas sa foi religieuse (s’il en a une au sens traditionnel) mais son appréciation sans égal de l’ironie historique – l’ironie , par exemple, dans le fait qu’en éliminant la simple figure de Saddam Hussein nous ayons brutalement contraint un Monde arabe qui ne s’y attendait pas à un règlement de comptes général; l’ironie que la véhémence même de l’insurrection irakienne puisse au bout du compte la vaincre et l’humilier sur son propre terrain et pourrait déjà avoir commencé à le faire; l’ironie que l’Iran chiite pourrait bien maudire le jour où ses cousins chiites en Irak ont été libérés par les Américains. Et ironie pour ironie, Ajami est clairement épaté qu’un membre de l’establishment pétrolier américain, lui-même fils d’un président qui en 1991 avait appelé les Chiites irakiens à l’insurrection contre un Saddam Hussein blessé pour finalement les laisser se faire massacrer, ait été amené à s’exclamer en septembre 2003: Comme dictature, l’Irak avait un fort pouvoir de déstabilisation du Moyen-Orient. Comme démocratie, il aura un fort pouvoir d’inspiration pour le Moyen-Orient. Victor Davis Hanson
The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity. Samuel Huntington
Nearly 15 years on, Huntington’s thesis about a civilizational clash seems more compelling to me than the critique I provided at that time. In recent years, for example, the edifice of Kemalism has come under assault, and Turkey has now elected an Islamist to the presidency in open defiance of the military-bureaucratic elite. There has come that “redefinition” that Huntington prophesied. To be sure, the verdict may not be quite as straightforward as he foresaw. The Islamists have prevailed, but their desired destination, or so they tell us, is still Brussels: in that European shelter, the Islamists shrewdly hope they can find protection against the power of the military. (…) Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.) I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young. More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision. Fouad Ajami
There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no « hearts and minds » to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq’s oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power. (…) America ought to be able to live with this distrust and discount a good deal of this anti-Americanism as the « road rage » of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds. There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects. Fouad Ajami
The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. Fouad Ajami
[Bush] can definitely claim paternity…One despot fell in 2003. We decapitated him. Two despots, in Tunisia and Egypt, fell, and there is absolutely a direct connection between what happened in Iraq in 2003 and what’s happening today throughout the rest of the Arab world. (…) It wasn’t American tanks [that brought about this moment]…It was a homegrown enterprise. It was Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans conquering their fear – people went out and conquered fear and did something amazing. Fouad Ajami
The United States will have to be prepared for and accept the losses and adversity that are an integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting. Fouad Ajami
The mask of the Assad regime finally falls.. Fouad Ajami
The Iraqis needn’t trumpet the obvious fact in broad daylight, but the balance of power in the Persian Gulf would be altered for the better by a security arrangement between the United States and the government in Baghdad. (…) There remains, of course, the pledge given by presidential candidate Barack Obama that a President Obama would liquidate the American military role in Iraq by the end of 2011. That pledge was one of the defining themes of his bid for the presidency, and it endeared him to the “progressives” within his own party, who had been so agitated and mobilized against the Iraq war. But Barack Obama is now the standard-bearer of America’s power. He has broken with the “progressives” over Afghanistan, the use of drones in Pakistan, Guantánamo, military tribunals, and a whole host of national security policies that have (nearly) blurred the line between his policies and those of his predecessor. The left has grumbled, but, in the main, it has bowed to political necessity. At any rate, the fury on the left that once surrounded the Iraq war has been spent; a residual American presence in Iraq would fly under the radar of the purists within the ranks of the Democratic Party. (…) The enemy will have a say on how things will play out for American forces in Iraq. Iran and its Iraqi proxies can be expected to do all they can to make the American presence as bloody and costly as possible. A long, leaky border separates Iran from Iraq; movement across it is quite easy for Iranian agents and saboteurs. They can come in as “pilgrims,” and there might be shades of Lebanon in the 1980s, big deeds of terror that target the American forces.  (…) Even in the best of worlds, an American residual presence in Iraq will have its costs and heartbreak. But the United States will have to be prepared for and accept the losses and adversity that are an integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting. Fouad Ajami
L’argument selon lequel la liberté ne peut venir que de l’intérieur et ne peut être offerte à des peuples lointains est bien plus fausse que l’on croit. Dans toute l’histoire moderne, la fortune de la liberté a toujours dépendu de la volonté de la ou des puissances dominantes du moment. Le tout récemment disparu professeur Samuel P. Huntington avait développé ce point de la manière la plus détaillée. Dans 15 des 29 pays démocratiques en 1970, les régimes démocratiques avaient été soit initiés par une puissance étrangère soit étaient le produit de l’indépendance contre une occupation étrangère. (…) Tout au long du flux et du reflux de la liberté, la puissance est toujours restée importante et la liberté a toujours eu besoin de la protection de grandes puissances. Le pouvoir d’attraction des pamphlets de Mill, Locke et Paine était fondé sur les canons de la Pax Britannica, et sur la force de l’Amérique quand la puissance britannique a flanché.  (…) L’ironie est maintenant évidente: George W. Bush comme force pour l’émancipation des terres musulmanes et Barack Hussein Obama en messager des bonnes vieilles habitudes. Ainsi c’est le plouc qui porte au monde le message que les musulmans et les Arabes n’ont pas la tyrannie dans leur ADN et l’homme aux fragments musulmans, kenyans et indonésiens dans sa propre vie et son identité qui annonce son acceptation de l’ordre établi. Mr. Obama pourrait encore reconnaître l’impact révolutionnaire de la diplomatie de son prédecesseur mais jusqu’à présent il s’est refusé à le faire. (…) Son soutien au  » processus de paix » est un retour à la diplomatie stérile des années Clinton, avec sa croyance que le terrorisme prend sa source dans les revendications des Palestiniens. M. Obama et ses conseillers se sont gardés d’affirmer que le terrorisme a disparu, mais il y a un message indubitable donné par eux que nous pouvons retourner à nos propres affaires, que Wall Street est plus mortel et dangereux que la fameuse  » rue Arabo-Musulmane ».  Fouad Ajami
Two men bear direct responsibility for the mayhem engulfing Iraq: Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki. (…) This sad state of affairs was in no way preordained. In December 2011, Mr. Obama stood with Mr. Maliki and boasted that « in the coming years, it’s estimated that Iraq’s economy will grow even faster than China’s or India’s. » But the negligence of these two men—most notably in their failure to successfully negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have maintained an adequate U.S. military presence in Iraq—has resulted in the current descent into sectarian civil war. (…) With ISIS now reigning triumphant in Fallujah, in the oil-refinery town of Baiji, and, catastrophically, in Mosul, the Obama administration cannot plead innocence. Mosul is particularly explosive. It sits astride the world between Syria and Iraq and is economically and culturally intertwined with the Syrian territories. This has always been Mosul’s reality. There was no chance that a war would rage on either side of Mosul without it spreading next door. The Obama administration’s vanishing « red lines » and utter abdication in Syria were bound to compound Iraq’s troubles. Grant Mr. Maliki the harvest of his sectarian bigotry. He has ridden that sectarianism to nearly a decade in power. Mr. Obama’s follies are of a different kind. They’re sins born of ignorance. He was eager to give up the gains the U.S. military and the Bush administration had secured in Iraq. Nor did he possess the generosity of spirit to give his predecessors the credit they deserved for what they had done in that treacherous landscape. Fouad Ajami

Descente en règle dans le NYT et the Nation, silence radio dans les médias comme d’ailleurs dans l’édition en France, notice wikipedia en français de quatre lignes …

Quel meilleur hommage, pour un spécialiste du Monde arabe, que d’être accusé  de racisme par Edward Saïd ?

Et quel silence plus éloquent, au lendemain de sa mort et au moment même de la perte de l’Irak contre laquelle il avait tant averti l’Administration américaine, que celui de la presse française pour l’un des plus respectés spécialistes du Moyen-Orient ?

Qui, si l’on suit les médias qui prennent la peine de parler de lui, avait commis l’impardonnable péché d’appeler de ses voeux l’intervention alliée en Irak …

Et surtout, vis à vis de l’Illusioniste en chef de la Maison Blanche et coqueluche de nos médias, de ne jamais mâcher ses mots ?

Fouad Ajami, Commentator and Expert in Arab History, Dies at 68
Douglas Martin
The New York Times
June 22, 2014

Fouad Ajami, an academic, author and broadcast commentator on Middle East affairs who helped rally support for the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 — partly by personally advising top policy makers — died on Sunday. He was 68.

The cause was cancer, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where Mr. Ajami was a senior fellow, said in a statement

An Arab, Mr. Ajami despaired of autocratic Arab governments finding their own way to democracy, and believed that the United States must confront what he called a “culture of terrorism” after the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. He likened the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to Hitler.

Mr. Ajami strove to put Arab history into a larger perspective. He often referred to Muslim rage over losing power to the West in 1683, when a Turkish siege of Vienna failed. He said this memory had led to Arab self-pity and self-delusion as they blamed the rest of the world for their troubles. Terrorism, he said, was one result.

It was a view that had been propounded by Bernard Lewis, the eminent Middle East historian at Princeton and public intellectual, who also urged the United States to invade Iraq and advised President George W. Bush.

Most Americans became familiar with Mr. Ajami’s views on CBS News, CNN and the PBS programs “Charlie Rose” and “NewsHour,” where his distinctive beard and polished manner lent force to his opinions. He wrote more than 400 articles for magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, as well as a half-dozen books on the Middle East, some of which included his own experiences as a Shiite Muslim in majority Sunni societies.

Condoleezza Rice summoned him to the Bush White House when she was national security adviser, and he advised Paul Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense. In a speech in 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney invoked Mr. Ajami as predicting that Iraqis would greet liberation by the American military with joy.

In the years following the Iraqi invasion, Mr. Ajami continued to support the action as stabilizing. But he said this month that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had squandered an opportunity to unify the country after American intervention and become a dictator. More recently, he favored more aggressive policies toward Iran and Syria. Mr. Ajami’s harshest criticism was leveled at Arab autocrats, who by definition lacked popular support. But his use of words like “tribal,” “atavistic” and “clannish” to describe Arab peoples rankled some. So did his belief that Western nations should intervene in the region to correct wrongs. Edward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused him of having “unmistakably racist prescriptions.”

Others praised him for balance. Daniel Pipes, a scholar who specializes in the Middle East, said in Commentary magazine in 2006 that Mr. Ajami had avoided “the common Arab fixation on the perfidy of Israel.”

Fouad Ajami was born on Sept. 19, 1945, at the foot of a castle built by Crusaders in Arnoun, a dusty village in southern Lebanon. His family came from Iran (the name Ajami means “Persian” in Arabic) and were prosperous tobacco farmers. When he was 4, the family moved to Beirut.

As a boy he was taunted by Sunni Muslim children for being Shiite and short, he wrote in “The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation’s Odyssey” (1998), an examination of Arab intellectuals of the last two generations. As a teenager, he was enthusiastic about Arab nationalism, a cause he would later criticize. He also fell in love with American culture, particularly Hollywood movies, and especially Westerns. In 1963, a day or two before his 18th birthday, his family moved to the United States.

He attended Eastern Oregon College (now University), then earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington after writing a thesis on international relations and world government. He next taught political science at Princeton. In 1980, the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University named him director of Middle East studies. He joined the Hoover Institution in 2011.

Mr. Ajami’s first book, “The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice Since 1967” (1981), explored the panic and sense of vulnerability in the Arab world after Israel’s victory in the 1967 war. His next book, “The Vanishing Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon” (1986), profiled an Iranian cleric who helped transform Lebanese Shia from “a despised minority” to effective successful political actors. For the 1988 book “Beirut: City of Regrets,” Mr. Ajami provided a long introduction and some text to accompany a photographic essay by Eli Reed.

“The Dream Palace of the Arabs” told of how a generation of Arab intellectuals tried to renew their homelands’ culture through the forces of modernism and secularism. The Christian Science Monitor called it “a cleareyed look at the lost hopes of the Arabs.”

Partly because of that tone, some condemned the book as too negative. The scholar Andrew N. Rubin, writing in The Nation, said it “echoes the kind of anti-Arabism that both Washington and the pro-Israeli lobby have come to embrace.”

Mr. Ajami received many awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1982 and a National Humanities Medal in 2006. He is survived by his wife, Michelle. In a profile in The Nation in 2003, Adam Shatz described Mr. Ajami’s distinctive appearance, characterized by a “dramatic beard, stylish clothes and a charming, almost flirtatious manner.”

He continued: “On television, he radiates above-the-frayness, speaking with the wry, jaded authority that men in power admire, especially in men who have risen from humble roots. Unlike the other Arabs, he appears to have no ax to grind. He is one of us; he is the good Arab.”

Voir aussi:

The Native Informant
Fouad Ajami is the Pentagon’s favorite Arab.
Adam Shatz
April 10, 2003 | This article appeared in the April 28, 2003 edition of The Nation.

Late last August, at a reunion of Korean War veterans in San Antonio, Texas, Dick Cheney tried to assuage concerns that a unilateral, pre-emptive war against Iraq might « cause even greater troubles in that part of the world. » He cited a well-known Arab authority: « As for the reaction of the Arab street, the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy. » As the bombs fell over Baghdad, just before American troops began to encounter fierce Iraqi resistance, Ajami could scarcely conceal his glee. « We are now coming into acquisition of Iraq, » he announced on CBS News the morning of March 22. « It’s an amazing performance. »

If Hollywood ever makes a film about Gulf War II, a supporting role should be reserved for Ajami, the director of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. His is a classic American success story. Born in 1945 to Shiite parents in the remote southern Lebanese village of Arnoun and now a proud naturalized American, Ajami has become the most politically influential Arab intellectual of his generation in the United States. Condoleezza Rice often summons him to the White House for advice, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a friend and former colleague, has paid tribute to him in several recent speeches on Iraq. Although he has produced little scholarly work of value, Ajami is a regular guest on CBS News, Charlie Rose and the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, and a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His ideas are also widely recycled by acolytes like Thomas Friedman and Judith Miller of the Times.

Ajami’s unique role in American political life has been to unpack the unfathomable mysteries of the Arab and Muslim world and to help sell America’s wars in the region. A diminutive, balding man with a dramatic beard, stylish clothes and a charming, almost flirtatious manner, he has played his part brilliantly. On television, he radiates above-the-frayness, speaking with the wry, jaded authority that men in power admire, especially in men who have risen from humble roots. Unlike the other Arabs, he appears to have no ax to grind. He is one of us; he is the good Arab.

Ajami’s admirers paint him as a courageous gadfly who has risen above the tribal hatreds of the Arabs, a Middle Eastern Spinoza whose honesty has earned him the scorn of his brethren. Commentary editor-at-large Norman Podhoretz, one of his many right-wing American Jewish fans, writes that Ajami « has been virtually alone in telling the truth about the attitude toward Israel of the people from whom he stems. » The people from whom Ajami « stems » are, of course, the Arabs, and Ajami’s ethnicity is not incidental to his celebrity. It lends him an air of authority not enjoyed by non-Arab polemicists like Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes.

But Ajami is no gadfly. He is, in fact, entirely a creature of the American establishment. His once-luminous writing, increasingly a blend of Naipaulean clichés about Muslim pathologies and Churchillian rhetoric about the burdens of empire, is saturated with hostility toward Sunni Arabs in general (save for pro-Western Gulf Arabs, toward whom he is notably indulgent), and to Palestinians in particular. He invites comparison with Henry Kissinger, another émigré intellectual to achieve extraordinary prominence as a champion of American empire. Like Kissinger, Ajami has a suave television demeanor, a gravitas-lending accent, an instinctive solicitude for the imperatives of power and a cool disdain for the weak. And just as Kissinger cozied up to Nelson Rockefeller and Nixon, so has Ajami attached himself to such powerful patrons as Laurence Tisch, former chairman of CBS; Mort Zuckerman, the owner of US News & World Report; Martin Peretz, a co-owner of The New Republic; and Leslie Gelb, head of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Despite his training in political science, Ajami often sounds like a pop psychologist in his writing about the Arab world or, as he variously calls it, « the world of Araby, » « that Arab world » and « those Arab lands. » According to Ajami, that world is « gripped in a poisonous rage » and « wedded to a worldview of victimology, » bad habits reinforced by its leaders, « megalomaniacs who never tell their people what can and cannot be had in the world of nations. » There is, to be sure, a grain of truth in Ajami’s grim assessment. Progressive Arab thinkers from Sadeq al-Azm to Adonis have issued equally bleak indictments of Arab political culture, lambasting the dearth of self-criticism and the constant search for external scapegoats. Unlike these writers, however, Ajami has little sympathy for the people of the region, unless they happen to live within the borders of « rogue states » like Iraq, in which case they must be « liberated » by American force. The corrupt regimes that rule the Arab world, he has suggested, are more or less faithful reflections of the « Arab psyche »: « Despots always work with a culture’s yearnings…. After all, a hadith, a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, maintains ‘You will get the rulers you deserve.' » His own taste in regimes runs to monarchies like Kuwait. The Jews of Israel, it seems, are not just the only people in the region who enjoy the fruits of democracy; they are the only ones who deserve them.

Once upon a time, Ajami was an articulate and judicious critic both of Arab society and of the West, a defender of Palestinian rights and an advocate of decent government in the Arab world. Though he remains a shrewd guide to the hypocrisies of Arab leaders, his views on foreign policy now scarcely diverge from those of pro-Israel hawks in the Bush Administration. « Since the Gulf War, Fouad has taken leave of his analytic perspective to play to his elite constituency, » said Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle East scholar at Boston University. « It’s very unfortunate because he could have made an astonishingly important contribution. »

Seeking to understand the causes of Ajami’s transformation, I spoke to more than two dozen of his friends and acquaintances over the past several months. (Ajami did not return my phone calls or e-mails.) These men and women depicted a man at once ambitious and insecure, torn between his irascible intellectual independence and his even stronger desire to belong to something larger than himself. On the one hand, he is an intellectual dandy who, as Sayres Rudy, a former student, puts it, « doesn’t like groups and thinks people who join them are mediocre. » On the other, as a Shiite among Sunnis, and as an émigré in America, he has always felt the outsider’s anxiety to please, and has adjusted his convictions to fit his surroundings. As a young man eager to assimilate into the urbane Sunni world of Muslim Beirut, he embraced pan-Arabism. Received with open arms by the American Jewish establishment in New York and Washington, he became an ardent Zionist. An informal adviser to both Bush administrations, he is now a cheerleader for the American empire.

The man from Arnoun appears to be living the American dream. He has a prestigious job and the ear of the President. Yet the price of power has been higher in his case than in Kissinger’s. Kissinger, after all, is a figure of renown among the self-appointed leaders of « the people from whom he stems » and a frequent speaker at Jewish charity galas, whereas Ajami is a man almost entirely deserted by his people, a pariah at what should be his hour of triumph. In Arnoun, a family friend told me, « Fouad is a black sheep because of his staunch support for the Israelis. » Although he frequently travels to Tel Aviv and the Persian Gulf, he almost never goes to Lebanon. In becoming an American, he has become, as he himself has confessed, « a stranger in the Arab world. »

Up From Lebanon

This is an immigrant’s tale.

It begins in Arnoun, a rocky hamlet in the south of Lebanon where Fouad al-Ajami was born on September 19, 1945. A prosperous tobacco-growing Shiite family, the Ajamis had come to Arnoun from Iran in the 1850s. (Their name, Arabic for « Persian, » gave away their origins.)

When Ajami was 4, he moved with his family to Beirut, settling in the largely Armenian northeastern quarter, a neighborhood thick with orange orchards, pine trees and strawberry fields. As members of the rural Shiite minority, the country’s « hewers of wood and drawers of water, » the Ajamis stood apart from the city’s dominant groups, the Sunni Muslims and the Maronite Christians. « We were strangers to Beirut, » he has written. « We wanted to pass undetected in the modern world of Beirut, to partake of its ways. » For the young « Shia assimilé, » as he has described himself, « anything Persian, anything Shia, was anathema…. speaking Persianized Arabic was a threat to something unresolved in my identity. » He tried desperately, but with little success, to pass among his Sunni peers. In the predominantly Sunni schools he attended, « Fouad was taunted for being a Shiite, and for being short, » one friend told me. « That left him with a lasting sense of bitterness toward the Sunnis. »

In the 1950s, Arab nationalism appeared to hold out the promise of transcending the schisms between Sunnis and Shiites, and the confessional divisions separating Muslims and Christians. Like his classmates, Ajami fell under the spell of Arab nationalism’s charismatic spokesman, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. At the same time, he was falling under the spell of American culture, which offered relief from the « ancestral prohibitions and phobias » of his « cramped land. » Watching John Wayne films, he « picked up American slang and a romance for the distant power casting its shadow across us. » On July 15, 1958, the day after the bloody overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy by nationalist army officers, Ajami’s two loves had their first of many clashes, when President Eisenhower sent the US Marines to Beirut to contain the spread of radical Arab nationalism. In their initial confrontation, Ajami chose Egypt’s leader, defying his parents and hopping on a Damascus-bound bus for one of Nasser’s mass rallies.

Ajami arrived in the United States in the fall of 1963, just before he turned 18. He did his graduate work at the University of Washington, where he wrote his dissertation on international relations and world government. At the University of Washington, Ajami gravitated toward progressive Arab circles. Like his Arab peers, he was shaken by the humiliating defeat of the Arab countries in the 1967 war with Israel, and he was heartened by the emergence of the PLO. While steering clear of radicalism, he often expressed horror at Israel’s brutal reprisal attacks against southern Lebanese villages in response to PLO raids.

apartment in New York. He made a name for himself there as a vocal supporter of Palestinian self-determination. One friend remembers him as « a fairly typical advocate of Third World positions. » Yet he was also acutely aware of the failings of Third World states, which he unsparingly diagnosed in « The Fate of Nonalignment, » a brilliant 1980/81 essay in Foreign Affairs. In 1980, when Johns Hopkins offered him a position as director of Middle East Studies at SAIS, a Washington-based graduate program, he took it.

Ajami’s Predicament

A year after arriving at SAIS, Ajami published his first and still best book, The Arab Predicament. An anatomy of the intellectual and political crisis that swept the Arab world following its defeat by Israel in the 1967 war, it is one of the most probing and subtle books ever written in English on the region. Ranging gracefully across political theory, literature and poetry, Ajami draws an elegant, often moving portrait of Arab intellectuals in their anguished efforts to put together a world that had come apart at the seams. The book did not offer a bold or original argument; like Isaiah Berlin’s Russian Thinkers, it provided an interpretive survey–respectful even when critical–of other people’s ideas. It was the book of a man who had grown disillusioned with Nasser, whose millenarian dream of restoring the « Arab nation » had run up against the hard fact that the « divisions of the Arab world were real, not contrived points on a map or a colonial trick. » But pan-Arabism was not the only temptation to which the intellectuals had succumbed. There was radical socialism, and the Guevarist fantasies of the Palestinian revolution. There was Islamic fundamentalism, with its romance of authenticity and its embittered rejection of the West. And then there was the search for Western patronage, the way of Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, who forgot his own world and ended up being devoured by it.

Ajami’s ambivalent chapter on Sadat makes for especially fascinating reading today. He praised Sadat for breaking with Nasserism and making peace with Israel, and perhaps saw something of himself in the « self-defined peasant from the dusty small village » who had « traveled far beyond the bounds of his world. » But he also saw in Sadat’s story the tragic parable of a man who had become more comfortable with Western admirers than with his own people. When Sadat spoke nostalgically of his village–as Ajami now speaks of Arnoun–he was pandering to the West. Arabs, a people of the cities, would not be « taken in by the myth of the village. » Sadat’s « American connection, » Ajami suggested, gave him « a sense of psychological mobility, » lifting some of the burdens imposed by his cramped world. And as his dependence on his American patrons deepened, « he became indifferent to the sensibilities of his own world. »

Sadat was one example of the trap of seeking the West’s approval, and losing touch with one’s roots; V.S. Naipaul was another. Naipaul, Ajami suggested in an incisive 1981 New York Times review of Among the Believers, exemplified the « dilemma of a gifted author led by his obsessive feelings regarding the people he is writing about to a difficult intellectual and moral bind. » Third World exiles like Naipaul, Ajami wrote, « have a tendency to…look at their own countries and similar ones with a critical eye, » yet « these same men usually approach the civilization of the West with awe and leave it unexamined. » Ajami preferred the humane, nonjudgmental work of Polish travel writer Ryszard Kapucinski: « His eye for human folly is as sharp as V.S. Naipaul. His sympathy and sorrow, however, are far deeper. »

The Arab Predicament was infused with sympathy and sorrow, but these qualities were ignored by the book’s Arab critics in the West, who–displaying the ideological rigidity that is an unfortunate hallmark of exile politics–accused him of papering over the injustices of imperialism and « blaming the victim. » To an extent, this was a fair criticism. Ajami paid little attention to imperialism, and even less to Israel’s provocative role in the region. What is more, his argument that « the wounds that mattered were self-inflicted » endeared him to those who wanted to distract attention from Palestine. Doors flew open. On the recommendation of Bernard Lewis, the distinguished British Orientalist at Princeton and a strong supporter of Israel, Ajami became the first Arab to win the MacArthur « genius » prize in 1982, and in 1983 he became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. The New Republic began to publish lengthy essays by Ajami, models of the form that offer a tantalizing glimpse of the career he might have had in a less polarized intellectual climate. Pro-Israel intellectual circles groomed him as a rival to Edward Said, holding up his book as a corrective to Orientalism, Said’s classic study of how the West imagined the East in the age of empire.

In fact, Ajami shared some of Said’s anger about the Middle East. The Israelis, he wrote in an eloquent New York Times op-ed after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, « came with a great delusion: that if you could pound men and women hard enough, if you could bring them to their knees, you could make peace with them. » He urged the United States to withdraw from Lebanon in 1984, and he advised it to open talks with the Iranian government. Throughout the 1980s, Ajami maintained a critical attitude toward America’s interventions in the Middle East, stressing the limits of America’s ability to influence or shape a « tormented world » it scarcely understood. « Our arguments dovetailed, » says Said. « There was an unspoken assumption that we shared the same kind of politics. »

But just below the surface there were profound differences of opinion. Hisham Milhem, a Lebanese journalist who knows both men well, explained their differences to me by contrasting their views on Joseph Conrad. « Edward and Fouad are both crazy about Conrad, but they see in him very different things. Edward sees the critic of empire, especially in Heart of Darkness. Fouad, on the other hand, admires the Polish exile in Western Europe who made a conscious break with the old country. »

Yet the old world had as much of a grip on Ajami as it did on Said. In southern Lebanon, Palestinian guerrillas had set up a state within a state. They often behaved thuggishly toward the Shiites, alienating their natural allies and recklessly exposing them to Israel’s merciless reprisals. By the time Israeli tanks rolled into Lebanon in 1982, relations between the two communities had so deteriorated that some Shiites greeted the invaders with rice and flowers. Like many Shiites, Ajami was fed up with the Palestinians, whose revolution had brought ruin to Lebanon. Arnoun itself had not been unscathed: A nearby Crusader castle, the majestic Beaufort, was now the scene of intense fighting.

In late May 1985, Ajami–now identifying himself as a Shiite from southern Lebanon–sparred with Said on the MacNeil Lehrer Report over the war between the PLO and Shiite Amal militia, then raging in Beirut’s refugee camps. A few months later, they came to verbal blows again, when Ajami was invited to speak at a Harvard conference on Islam and Muslim politics organized by Israeli-American academic Nadav Safran. After the Harvard Crimson revealed that the conference had been partly funded by the CIA, Ajami, at the urging of Said and the late Pakistani writer Eqbal Ahmad, joined a wave of speakers who were withdrawing from the conference. But Ajami, who was a protégé and friend of Safran, immediately regretted his decision. He wrote a blistering letter to Said and Ahmad a few weeks later, accusing them of « bringing the conflicts of the Middle East to this country » while « I have tried to go beyond them…. Therefore, my friends, this is the parting of ways. I hope never to encounter you again, and we must cease communication. Yours sincerely, Fouad Ajami. »

The Tribal Turn

By now, the « Shia assimilé » had fervently embraced his Shiite identity. Like Sadat, he began to rhapsodize about his « dusty village » in wistful tones. The Vanished Imam, his 1986 encomium to Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian cleric who led the Amal militia before mysteriously disappearing on a 1978 visit to Libya, offers important clues into Ajami’s thinking of the time. A work of lyrical nationalist mythology, The Vanished Imam also provides a thinly veiled political memoir, recounting Ajami’s disillusionment with Palestinians, Arabs and the left, and his conversion to old-fashioned tribal politics.

The marginalized Shiites had found a home in Amal, and a spiritual leader in Sadr, a « big man » who is explicitly compared to Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and credited with a far larger role than he actually played in Shiite politics. Writing of Sadr, Ajami might have been describing himself. Sadr is an Ajam–a Persian–with « an outsider’s eagerness to please. » He is « suspicious of grand schemes, » blessed with « a strong sense of pragmatism, of things that can and cannot be, » thanks to which virtue he « came to be seen as an enemy of everything ‘progressive.' » « Tired of the polemics, » he alone is courageous enough to stand up to the Palestinians, warning them not to « seek a ‘substitute homeland,’ watan badil, in Lebanon. » Unlike the Palestinians, Ajami tells us repeatedly, the Shiites are realists, not dreamers; reformers, not revolutionaries. Throughout the book, a stark dichotomy is also drawn between Shiite and Arab nationalism, although, as one of his Shiite critics pointed out in a caustic review in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, « allegiance to Arab nationalist ideals…was paramount » in Sadr’s circles. The Shiites of Ajami’s imagination seem fundamentally different from other Arabs: a community that shares America’s aversion to the Palestinians, a « model minority » worthy of the West’s sympathy.

The Shiite critic of the Palestinians cut an especially attractive profile in the eyes of the American media. Most American viewers of CBS News, which made him a high-paid consultant in 1985, had no idea that he was almost completely out of step with the community for which he claimed to speak. By the time The Vanished Imam appeared, the Shiites, under the leadership of a new group, Hezbollah, had launched a battle to liberate Lebanon from Israeli control. Israeli soldiers were now greeted with grenades and explosives, rather than rice and flowers, and Arnoun became a hotbed of Hezbollah support. Yet Ajami displayed little enthusiasm for this Shiite struggle. He was also oddly silent about the behavior of the Israelis, who, from the 1982 invasion onward, had killed far more Shiites than either Arafat (« the Flying Dutchman of the Palestinian movement ») or Hafez al-Assad (Syria’s « cruel enforcer »). The Shiites, he suggested, were « beneficiaries of Israel’s Lebanon war. »

In the Promised Land

By the mid-1980s, the Middle Eastern country closest to Ajami’s heart was not Lebanon but Israel. He returned from his trips to the Jewish state boasting of traveling to the occupied territories under the guard of the Israel Defense Forces and of being received at the home of Teddy Kollek, then Jerusalem’s mayor. The Israelis earned his admiration because they had something the Palestinians notably lacked: power. They were also tough-minded realists, who understood « what can and cannot be had in the world of nations. » The Palestinians, by contrast, were romantics who imagined themselves to be « exempt from the historical laws of gravity. »

n 1986, Ajami had praised Musa al-Sadr as a realist for telling the Palestinians to fight Israel in the occupied territories, rather than in Lebanon. But when the Palestinians did exactly that, in the first intifada of 1987-93, it no longer seemed realistic to Ajami, who then advised them to swallow the bitter pill of defeat and pay for their bad choices. While Israeli troops shot down children armed only with stones, Ajami told the Palestinians they should give up on the idea of a sovereign state (« a phantom »), even in the West Bank and Gaza. When the PLO announced its support for a two-state solution at a 1988 conference in Algiers, Ajami called the declaration « hollow, » its concessions to Israel inadequate. On the eve of the Madrid talks in the fall of 1991 he wrote, « It is far too late to introduce a new nation between Israel and Jordan. » Nor should the American government embark on the « fool’s errand » of pressuring Israel to make peace. Under Ajami’s direction, the Middle East program of SAIS became a bastion of pro-Israel opinion. An increasing number of Israeli and pro-Israel academics, many of them New Republic contributors, were invited as guest lecturers. « Rabbi Ajami, » as many people around SAIS referred to him, was also receiving significant support from a Jewish family foundation in Baltimore, which picked up the tab for the trips his students took to the Middle East every summer. Back in Lebanon, Ajami’s growing reputation as an apologist for Israel reportedly placed considerable strains on family members in Arnoun.

‘The Saudi Way’

Ajami also developed close ties during the 1980s to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which made him–as he often and proudly pointed out–the only Arab who traveled both to the Persian Gulf countries and to Israel. In 1985 he became an external examiner in the political science department at Kuwait University; he said « the place seemed vibrant and open to me. » His major patrons, however, were Saudi. He has traveled to Riyadh many times to raise money for his program, sometimes taking along friends like Martin Peretz; he has also vacationed in Prince Bandar’s home in Aspen. Saudi hospitality–and Saudi Arabia’s lavish support for SAIS–bred gratitude. At one meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ajami told a group that, as one participant recalls, « the Saudi system was a lot stronger than we thought, that it was a system worth defending, and that it had nothing to apologize for. » Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, he faithfully echoed the Saudi line. « Rage against the West does not come naturally to the gulf Arabs, » he wrote in 1990. « No great tales of betrayal are told by the Arabs of the desert. These are Palestinian, Lebanese and North African tales. »

This may explain why Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 aroused greater outrage in Ajami than any act of aggression in the recent history of the Middle East. Neither Israel’s invasion of Lebanon nor the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre had caused him comparable consternation. Nor, for that matter, had Saddam’s slaughter of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. This is understandable, of course; we all react more emotionally when the victims are friends. But we don’t all become publicists for war, as Ajami did that fateful summer, consummating his conversion to Pax Americana. What was remarkable was not only his fervent advocacy; it was his cavalier disregard for truth, his lurid rhetoric and his religious embrace of American power. In Foreign Affairs, Ajami, who knew better, described Iraq, the cradle of Mesopotamian civilization, a major publisher of Arabic literature and a center of the plastic arts, as « a brittle land…with little claim to culture and books and grand ideas. » It was, in other words, a wasteland, led by a man who « conjures up Adolf Hitler. »

Months before the war began, the Shiite from Arnoun, now writing as an American, in the royal « we, » declared that US troops « will have to stay in the Gulf and on a much larger scale, » since « we have tangible interests in that land. We stand sentry there in blazing clear daylight. » After the Gulf War, Ajami’s cachet soared. In the early 1990s Harvard offered him a chair (« he turned it down because we expected him to be around and to work very hard, » a professor told me), and the Council on Foreign Relations added him to its prestigious board of advisers last year. « The Gulf War was the crucible of change, » says Augustus Richard Norton. « This immigrant from Arnoun, this man nobody had heard of from a place no one had heard of, had reached the peak of power. This was a true immigrant success story, one of those moments that make an immigrant grateful for America. And I think it implanted a deep sense of patriotism that wasn’t present before. »

And, as Ajami once wrote of Sadat, « outside approval gave him the courage to defy » the Arabs, especially when it came to Israel. On June 3, 1992, hardly a year after Gulf War I, Ajami spoke at a pro-Israel fundraiser. Kissinger, the keynote speaker, described Arabs as congenital liars. Ajami chimed in, expressing his doubts that democracy would ever work in the Arab world, and recounting a visit to a Bedouin village where he « insisted on only one thing: that I be spared the ceremony of eating with a Bedouin. »

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Ajami has been a consistent critic of the peace process–from the right. He sang the praises of each of Israel’s leaders, from the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, with his « filial devotion [to] the land he had agreed to relinquish, » to Labor leader Ehud Barak, « an exemplary soldier. » The Palestinians, he wrote, should be grateful to such men for « rescuing » them from defeat, and to Zionism for generously offering them « the possibility of their own national political revival. » (True to form, the Palestinians showed « no gratitude. ») A year before the destruction of Jenin, he proclaimed that « Israel is existentially through with the siege that had defined its history. » Ajami’s Likudnik conversion was sealed by telling revisions of arguments he had made earlier in his career. Where he had once argued that the 1982 invasion of Lebanon aimed to « undermine those in the Arab world who want some form of compromise, » he now called it a response to « the challenge of Palestinian terror. »

Did Ajami really believe all this? In a stray but revealing comment on Sadat in The New Republic, he left room for doubt. Sadat, he said, was « a son of the soil, who had the fellah’s ability to look into the soul of powerful outsiders, to divine how he could get around them even as he gave them what they desired. » Writing on politics, the man from Arnoun gave them what they desired. Writing on literature and poetry, he gave expression to the aesthete, the soulful elegist, even, at times, to the Arab. In his 1998 book, The Dream Palace of the Arabs, one senses, for the first time in years, Ajami’s sympathy for the world he left behind, although there is something furtive, something ghostly about his affection, as if he were writing about a lover he has taught himself to spurn. On rare occasions, Ajami revealed this side of himself to his students, whisking them into his office. Once the door was firmly shut, he would recite the poetry of Nizar Qabbani and Adonis in Arabic, caressing each and every line. As he read, Sayres Rudy told me, « I could swear his heart was breaking. »

Ajami’s Solitude

September 11 exposed a major intelligence failure on Ajami’s part. With his obsessive focus on the menace of Saddam and the treachery of Arafat, he had missed the big story. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers hailed from what he had repeatedly called the « benign political order » of Saudi Arabia; the « Saudi way » he had praised had come undone. Yet the few criticisms that Ajami directed at his patrons in the weeks and months after September 11 were curiously muted, particularly in contrast to the rage of most American commentators. Ajami’s venues in the American media, however, were willing to forgive his softness toward the Saudis. America was going to war with Muslims, and a trusted native informant was needed.

Other forces were working in Ajami’s favor. For George W. Bush and the hawks in his entourage, Afghanistan was merely a prelude to the war they really wanted to fight–the war against Saddam that Ajami had been spoiling for since the end of Gulf War I. As a publicist for Gulf War II, Ajami has abandoned his longstanding emphasis on the limits of American influence in that « tormented region. » The war is being sold as the first step in an American plan to effect democratic regime change across the region, and Ajami has stayed on message. We now find him writing in Foreign Affairs that « the driving motivation of a new American endeavor in Iraq and in neighboring Arab lands should be modernizing the Arab world. » The opinion of the Arab street, where Iraq is recruiting thousands of new jihadists, is of no concern to him. « We have to live with this anti-Americanism, » he sighed recently on CBS. « It’s the congenital condition of the Arab world, and we have to discount a good deal of it as we press on with the task of liberating the Iraqis. »

In fairness, Ajami has not completely discarded his wariness about American intervention. For there remains one country where American pressure will come to naught, and that is Israel, where it would « be hubris » to ask anything more of the Israelis, victims of « Arafat’s war. » To those who suggest that the Iraq campaign is doomed without an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, he says, « We can’t hold our war hostage to Arafat’s campaign of terror. »

Fortunately, George W. Bush understands this. Ajami has commended Bush for staking out the « high moral ground » and for « putting Iran on notice » in his Axis of Evil speech. Above all, the President should not allow himself to be deterred by multilateralists like Secretary of State Colin Powell, « an unhappy, reluctant soldier, at heart a pessimist about American power. » Unilateralism, Ajami says, is nothing to be ashamed of. It may make us hated in the « hostile landscape » of the Arab world, but, as he recently explained on the NewsHour, « it’s the fate of a great power to stand sentry in that kind of a world. »

It is no accident that the « sentry’s solitude » has become the idée fixe of Ajami’s writing in recent years. For it is a theme that resonates powerfully in his own life. Like the empire he serves, Ajami is more influential, and more isolated, than he has ever been. In recent years he has felt a need to defend this choice in heroic terms. « All a man can betray is his conscience, » he solemnly writes in The Dream Palace of the Arabs, citing a passage from Conrad. « The solitude Conrad chose is loathed by politicized men and women. »

It is a breathtakingly disingenuous remark. Ajami may be « a stranger in the Arab world, » but he can hardly claim to be a stranger to its politics. That is why he is quoted, and courted, by Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz. What Ajami abhors in « politicized men and women » is conviction itself. A leftist in the 1970s, a Shiite nationalist in the 1980s, an apologist for the Saudis in the 1990s, a critic-turned-lover of Israel, a skeptic-turned-enthusiast of American empire, he has observed no consistent principle in his career other than deference to power. His vaunted intellectual independence is a clever fiction. The only thing that makes him worth reading is his prose style, and even that has suffered of late. As Ajami observed of Naipaul more than twenty years ago, « he has become more and more predictable, too, with serious cost to his great gift as a writer, » blinded by the « assumption that only men who live in remote, dark places are ‘denied a clear vision of the world.' » Like Naipaul, Ajami has forgotten that « darkness is not only there but here as well. »

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Middle East expert Fouad Ajami, supporter of U.S. war in Iraq, dies at 68
Ajami was known for his criticism of the Arab world’s despotic rulers, among them Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gadhafi, and Hafez and Bashar Assad.
Ofer Aderet
Haaretz
Jun. 23, 2014

American-Lebanese intellectual and Middle East scholar Prof. Fouad Ajami has died of cancer, aged 68. He passed away Sunday in the United States.

Ajami, who was an expert on the Middle East, is remembered chiefly for his support of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. He advised the Bush administration during that period. He was strongly opposed to the dictatorial regimes in the Arab countries, believed that the United States must confront “the culture of terror,” as he called it, and supported an assertive policy in regard to Iran and Syria.

Ajami immigrated to the United States from Lebanon with his family in 1963, when he was 18. At Princeton University, he stood out as a supporter of the Palestinians’ right to self-rule. He later went on to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, where he was in charge of the Middle East studies program.

He became well-known for his appearances on current affairs programs on American television, the hundreds of articles he wrote in journals and newspapers, and the six books he published.

Ajami was very close to the administration of George W. Bush and served as an adviser to Condoleezza Rice while she was national security adviser, and to Paul Wolfowitz, who was deputy secretary of defense at the time. In a speech delivered in 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed Ajami had said the Iraqis would greet their liberation by the Americans with rejoicing.

His support for the war in Iraq elicited harsh criticism. He reiterated this support in an interview with Haaretz in 2011, in which he said: “I still support that war, and I think that the liberals who attacked Bush in America and elsewhere, who attacked him mercilessly, need to reexamine their assumptions.”

Ajami was known for his criticism of the Arab world’s despotic rulers, among them Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, and Hafez and Bashar Assad in Syria. He expressed optimism at the time of the Arab Spring, and had recently supported an assertive policy against Iran and Syria.

Fouad Ajami, Great American
His genius lay in the breadth of his scholarship and the quality of his human understanding.
Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
June 23, 2014

Fouad Ajami would have been amused, but not surprised, to read his own obituary in the New York Times. « Edward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused [Ajami] of having ‘unmistakably racist prescriptions,' » quoted obituarist Douglas Martin.

Thus was Said, the most mendacious, self-infatuated and profitably self-pitying of Arab-American intellectuals—a man whose account of his own childhood cannot be trusted—raised from the grave to defame, for one last time, the most honest and honorable and generous of American intellectuals, no hyphenation necessary.

Ajami, who died of prostate cancer Sunday in his summer home in Maine, was often described as among the foremost scholars of the modern Arab and Islamic worlds, and so he was. He was born in 1945 to a family of farmers in a Shiite village in southern Lebanon and was raised in Beirut in the politics of the age.

« I was formed by an amorphous Arab nationalist sensibility, » he wrote in his 1998 masterpiece, « The Dream Palace of the Arabs. » He came to the U.S. for college and graduate school, became a U.S. citizen, and first made his political mark as an advocate for Palestinian nationalism. For those who knew Ajami mainly as a consistent advocate of Saddam Hussein’s ouster, it’s worth watching a YouTube snippet of his 1978 debate with Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Ajami makes the now-standard case against Israeli iniquity.

Today Mr. Netanyahu sounds very much like his 28-year-old self. But Ajami changed. He was, to borrow a phrase, mugged by reality. By the 1980s, he wrote, « Arab society had run through most of its myths, and what remained in the wake of the word, of the many proud statements people had made about themselves and their history, was a new world of cruelty, waste, and confusion. »

What Ajami did was to see that world plain, without the usual evasions and obfuscations and shifting of blame to Israel and the U.S. Like Sidney Hook or Eric Hoffer, the great ex-communists of a previous generation, his honesty, courage and intelligence got the better of his ideology; he understood his former beliefs with the hard-won wisdom of the disillusioned.

He also understood with empathy and without rancor. Converts tend to be fanatics. But Ajami was too interested in people—in their motives and aspirations, their deceits and self-deceits, their pride, shame and unexpected nobility—to hate anyone except the truly despicable, namely tyrants and their apologists. To read Ajami is to see that his genius lay not only in the breadth of the scholarship or the sharpness of political insight but also in the quality of human understanding. If Joseph Conrad had been reborn as a modern-day academic, he would have been Fouad Ajami.

Consider a typical example, from an op-ed he wrote for these pages in February 2013 on the second anniversary of the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime:

« Throughout [Mubarak’s] reign, a toxic brew poisoned the life of Egypt—a mix of anti-modernism, anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism. That trinity ran rampant in the universities and the professional syndicates and the official media. As pillage had become the obsession of the ruling family and its retainers, the underclass was left to the rule of darkness and to a culture of conspiracy. »

Or here he is on Barack Obama’s fading political appeal, from a piece from last November:

« The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. »

A publisher ought to collect these pieces. Who else could write so profoundly and so well? Ajami understood the Arab world as only an insider could—intimately, sympathetically, without self-pity. And he loved America as only an immigrant could—with a depth of appreciation and absence of cynicism rarely given to the native-born. If there was ever an error in his judgment, it’s that he believed in people—Arabs and Americans alike—perhaps more than they believed in themselves. It was the kind of mistake only a generous spirit could make.

Over the years Ajami mentored many people—the mentorship often turning to friendship—who went on to great things. One of them, Samuel Tadros, a native of Egypt and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote me Monday with an apt valediction:

« Fouad is remarkable because he became a full American, loved this country as anyone could love it, but that did not lessen his passion for what he left behind. He cared deeply about the region, he was always an optimist. He knew well the region’s ills, the pains it gave those who cherished it. God knows it gave him nothing but pain, but he always believed that the peoples of the region deserved better. »

Free at Last
Victor Davis Hanson
Commentary Magazine
September 6, 2006

A review of The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq by Fouad Ajami (Free Press, 400 pp)

The last year or so has seen several insider histories of the American experience in Iraq. Written by generals (Bernard Trainor’s Cobra II, with Michael Wood), reporters (George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate), or bureaucrats (Paul Bremer’s My Year in Iraq), each undertakes to explain how our enterprise in that country has, allegedly, gone astray; who is to blame for the failure; and why the author is right to have withdrawn, or at least to question, his earlier support for the project.

Fouad Ajami’s The Foreigner’s Gift is a notably welcome exception—and not only because of Ajami’s guarded optimism about the eventual outcome in Iraq. A Lebanese-born scholar of the Middle East, Ajami, now at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, lacks entirely the condescension of the typical in-the-know Western expert who blithely assures his American readers, often on the authority of little or no learning, of the irreducible alienness of Arab culture. Instead, the world that Ajami describes, once stripped of its veneer of religious pretense, is defined by many of the same impulses—honor, greed, selfinterest—that guide dueling Mafia families, rival Christian televangelists, and (for that matter) many ordinary people hungry for power. As an Arabic-speaker and native Middle Easterner, Ajami has enjoyed singular access to both Sunni and Shiite grandees, and makes effective use here of what they tell him. He also draws on a variety of contemporary written texts, mostly unknown by or inaccessible to Western authors, to explicate why many of the most backward forces in the Arab world are not in the least unhappy at the havoc wrought by the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

The result, based on six extended visits to Iraq and a lifetime of travel and experience, is the best and certainly the most idiosyncratic recent treatment of the American presence there. Ajami’s thesis is straightforward. What brought George W. Bush to Iraq, he writes, was a belief in the ability of America to do something about a longstanding evil, along with a post-9/11 determination to stop appeasing terror-sponsoring regimes. That the United States knew very little about the bloodthirsty undercurrents of Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish sectarianism, for years cloaked by Saddam’s barbaric rule—the dictator “had given the Arabs a cruel view of history,” one saturated in “iron and fire and bigotry”—did not necessarily doom the effort to failure. The idealism and skill of American soldiers, and the enormous power and capital that stood behind them, counted, and still count, for a great deal. More importantly, the threats and cries for vengeance issued by various Arab spokesmen have often been disingenuous, serving to obfuscate the genuine desire of Arab peoples for consensual government (albeit on their own terms). In short, Ajami assures us, the war has been a “noble” effort, and will remain so whether in the end it “proves to be a noble success or a noble failure.”

Aside from the obvious reasons he adduces for this judgment—we have taken no oil, we have stayed to birth democracy, and we are now fighting terrorist enemies of civilization—there is also the fact that we have stumbled into, and are now critically influencing, the great political struggle of the modern Middle East. The real problem in that region, Ajami stresses, remains Sunni extremism, which is bent on undermining the very idea of consensual government—the “foreigner’s gift” of his title. Having introduced the concept of one person/one vote in a federated Iraq, America has not only empowered the perennially maltreated Kurds but given the once despised Iraqi Shiites a historic chance at equality. Hence the “rage against this American war, in Iraq itself and in the wider Arab world.”

No wonder, Ajami comments, that a “proud sense of violation [has] stretched from the embittered towns of the Sunni Triangle in western Iraq to the chat rooms of Arabia and to jihadists as far away from Iraq as North Africa and the Muslim enclaves of Western Europe.” Sunni, often Wahhabi, terrorists have murdered many moderate Shiite clerics, taken a terrible toll of Shiites on the street, and, with the clandestine aid of the rich Gulf sheikdoms, hope to prevail through the growing American weariness at the loss in blood and treasure. The worst part of the story, in Ajami’s estimation, is that the intensity of the Sunni resistance has fooled some Americans into thinking that we cannot work with the Shiites—or that our continuing to do so will result in empowering the Khomeinists in nearby Iran or its Hizballah ganglia in Lebanon. Ajami has little use for this notion. He dismisses the view that, within Iraq, a single volatile figure like Moqtadar al-Sadr is capable of sabotaging the new democracy (“a Shia community groping for a way out would not give itself over to this kind of radicalism”). Much less does he see Iraq’s Shiites as the religious henchmen of Iran, or consider Iraqi holy men like Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani or Sheikh Humam Hamoudi to be intent on establishing a theocracy. In common with the now demonized Ahmad Chalabi, Ajami is convinced that Iraqi Shiites will not slavishly follow their Khomeinist brethren but instead may actually subvert them by creating a loud democracy on their doorstep.

In general,according to Ajami, the pathologies of today’s Middle East originate with the mostly Sunni autocracies that threaten, cajole, and flatter Western governments even as they exploit terrorists to deflect popular discontent away from their own failures onto the United States and Israel. Precisely because we have ushered in a long-overdue correction that threatens not only the old order of Saddam’s clique but surrounding governments from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, we can expect more violence in Iraq.

What then to do? Ajami counsels us to ignore the cries of victimhood from yesterday’s victimizers, always to keep in mind the ghosts of Saddam’s genocidal regime, to be sensitive to the loss of native pride entailed in accepting our “foreigner’s gift,” and to let the Iraqis follow their own path as we eventually recede into the shadows. Along with this advice, he offers a series of first-hand portraits, often brilliantly subtle, of some fascinating players in contemporary Iraq. His meeting in Najaf with Ali al-Sistani discloses a Gandhi-like figure who urges: “Do everything you can to bring our Sunni Arab brothers into the fold.” General David Petraeus, the man charged with rebuilding Iraq’s security forces, lives up to his reputation as part diplomat, part drillmaster, and part sage as he conducts Ajami on one of his dangerous tours of the city of Mosul. On a C-130 transport plane, Ajami is so impressed by the bookish earnestness of a nineteen-year-old American soldier that he hands over his personal copy of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (“I had always loved a passage in it about American innocence roaming the world like a leper without a bell, meaning no harm”).

There are plenty of tragic stories in this book. Ajami recounts the bleak genesis of the Baath party in Iraq and Syria, the brainchild of Sorbonne-educated intellectuals like Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar who thought they might unite the old tribal orders under some radical antiWestern secular doctrine. Other satellite figures include Taleb Shabib, a Shiite Baathist who, like legions of other Arab intellectuals, drifted from Communism, Baathism, and panArabism into oblivion, his hopes for a Western-style solution dashed by dictatorship, theocracy, or both. Ajami bumps into dozens of these sorry men, whose fate has been to end up murdered or exiled by the very people they once sought to champion. There are much worse types in Ajami’s gallery. He provides a vividly repugnant glimpse of the awful alGhamdi tribe of Saudi Arabia. One of their number, Ahmad, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11; another, Hamza, helped to take down Flight 93. A second Ahmad was the suicide bomber who in December 2004 blew up eighteen Americans in Mosul. And then there is Sheik Yusuf alQaradawi, the native Egyptian and resident of Qatar who in August 2004 issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill American civilians in Iraq. Why not kill them in Westernized Qatar, where they were far more plentiful? Perhaps because they were profitable to, and protected by, the same government that protected Qaradawi himself. Apparently, like virtue, evil too needs to be buttressed by hypocrisy.

The Foreigner’s Gift is not an organized work of analysis, its arguments leading in logical progression to a solidly reasoned conclusion. Instead, it is a series of highly readable vignettes drawn from Ajami’s serial travels and reflections. Which is hardly to say that it lacks a point, or that its point is uncontroversial—far from it. Critics will surely cite Ajami’s own Shiite background as the catalyst for his professed confidence in the emergence of Iraq’s Shiites as the stewards of Iraqi democracy. But any such suggestion of a hidden agenda, or alternatively of naiveté, would be very wide of the mark. What most characterizes Ajami is not his religious faith (if he has any in the traditional sense) but his unequalled appreciation of historical irony—the irony entailed, for example, in the fact that by taking out the single figure of Saddam Hussein we unleashed an unforeseen moral reckoning among the Arabs at large; the irony that the very vehemence of Iraq’s insurgency may in the end undo and humiliate it on its own turf, and might already have begun to do so; the irony that Shiite Iran may rue the day when its Shiite cousins in Iraq were freed by the Americans. When it comes to ironies, Ajami is clearly bemused that an American oilman, himself the son of a President who in 1991 called for the Iraqi Shiites to rise up and overthrow a wounded Saddam Hussein, only to stand by as they were slaughtered, should have been brought to exclaim in September 2003: “Iraq as a dictatorship had great power to destabilize the Middle East. Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East.” Ajami himself is not yet prepared to say that Iraq will do so—only that, with our help, it just might. He needs to be listened to very closely.

The Clash
Fouad Ajami
The New York Times
January 6, 2008

It would have been unlike Samuel P. Huntington to say “I told you so” after 9/11. He is too austere and serious a man, with a legendary career as arguably the most influential and original political scientist of the last half century — always swimming against the current of prevailing opinion.

In the 1990s, first in an article in the magazine Foreign Affairs, then in a book published in 1996 under the title “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” he had come forth with a thesis that ran counter to the zeitgeist of the era and its euphoria about globalization and a “borderless” world. After the cold war, he wrote, there would be a “clash of civilizations.” Soil and blood and cultural loyalties would claim, and define, the world of states.

Huntington’s cartography was drawn with a sharp pencil. It was “The West and the Rest”: the West standing alone, and eight civilizations dividing the rest — Latin American, African, Islamic, Sinic, Hindu, Orthodox, Buddhist and Japanese. And in this post-cold-war world, Islamic civilization would re-emerge as a nemesis to the West. Huntington put the matter in stark terms: “The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity.”

Those 19 young Arabs who struck America on 9/11 were to give Huntington more of history’s compliance than he could ever have imagined. He had written of a “youth bulge” unsettling Muslim societies, and young Arabs and Muslims were now the shock-troops of a new radicalism. Their rise had overwhelmed the order in their homelands and had spilled into non-Muslim societies along the borders between Muslims and other peoples. Islam had grown assertive and belligerent; the ideologies of Westernization that had dominated the histories of Turkey, Iran and the Arab world, as well as South Asia, had faded; “indigenization” had become the order of the day in societies whose nationalisms once sought to emulate the ways of the West.

Rather than Westernizing their societies, Islamic lands had developed a powerful consensus in favor of Islamizing modernity. There was no “universal civilization,” Huntington had observed; this was only the pretense of what he called “Davos culture,” consisting of a thin layer of technocrats and academics and businessmen who gather annually at that watering hole of the global elite in Switzerland.

In Huntington’s unsparing view, culture is underpinned and defined by power. The West had once been pre-eminent and militarily dominant, and the first generation of third-world nationalists had sought to fashion their world in the image of the West. But Western dominion had cracked, Huntington said. Demography best told the story: where more than 40 percent of the world population was “under the political control” of Western civilization in the year 1900, that share had declined to about 15 percent in 1990, and is set to come down to 10 percent by the year 2025. Conversely, Islam’s share had risen from 4 percent in 1900 to 13 percent in 1990, and could be as high as 19 percent by 2025.

It is not pretty at the frontiers between societies with dwindling populations — Western Europe being one example, Russia another — and those with young people making claims on the world. Huntington saw this gathering storm. Those young people of the densely populated North African states who have been risking all for a journey across the Strait of Gibraltar walk right out of his pages.

Shortly after the appearance of the article that seeded the book, Foreign Affairs magazine called upon a group of writers to respond to Huntington’s thesis. I was assigned the lead critique. I wrote my response with appreciation, but I wagered on modernization, on the system the West had put in place. “The things and ways that the West took to ‘the rest,’” I wrote, “have become the ways of the world. The secular idea, the state system and the balance of power, pop culture jumping tariff walls and barriers, the state as an instrument of welfare, all these have been internalized in the remotest places. We have stirred up the very storms into which we now ride.” I had questioned Huntington’s suggestion that civilizations could be found “whole and intact, watertight under an eternal sky.” Furrows, I observed, run across civilizations, and the modernist consensus would hold in places like India, Egypt and Turkey.

Huntington had written that the Turks — rejecting Mecca, and rejected by Brussels — would head toward Tashkent, choosing a pan-Turkic world. My faith was invested in the official Westernizing creed of Kemalism that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had bequeathed his country. “What, however, if Turkey redefined itself?” Huntington asked. “At some point, Turkey could be ready to give up its frustrating and humiliating role as a beggar pleading for membership in the West and to resume its much more impressive and elevated historical role as the principal Islamic interlocutor and antagonist of the West.”

Nearly 15 years on, Huntington’s thesis about a civilizational clash seems more compelling to me than the critique I provided at that time. In recent years, for example, the edifice of Kemalism has come under assault, and Turkey has now elected an Islamist to the presidency in open defiance of the military-bureaucratic elite. There has come that “redefinition” that Huntington prophesied. To be sure, the verdict may not be quite as straightforward as he foresaw. The Islamists have prevailed, but their desired destination, or so they tell us, is still Brussels: in that European shelter, the Islamists shrewdly hope they can find protection against the power of the military.

“I’ll teach you differences,” Kent says to Lear’s servant. And Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.)

I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young.

More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision.

Fouad Ajami is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and the author, most recently, of “The Foreigner’s Gift.”

Samuel Huntington’s Warning
He predicted a ‘clash of civilizations,’ not the illusion of Davos Man.
Fouad Ajami
The WSJ
Dec. 30, 2008

The last of Samuel Huntington’s books — « Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, » published four years ago — may have been his most passionate work. It was like that with the celebrated Harvard political scientist, who died last week at 81. He was a man of diffidence and reserve, yet he was always caught up in the political storms of recent decades.

« This book is shaped by my own identities as a patriot and a scholar, » he wrote. « As a patriot I am deeply concerned about the unity and strength of my country as a society based on liberty, equality, law and individual rights. » Huntington lived the life of his choice, neither seeking controversies, nor ducking them. « Who Are We? » had the signature of this great scholar — the bold, sweeping assertions sustained by exacting details, and the engagement with the issues of the time.

He wrote in that book of the « American Creed, » and of its erosion among the elites. Its key elements — the English language, Christianity, religious commitment, English concepts of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals — he said are derived from the « distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers of America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. »

Critics who branded the book as a work of undisguised nativism missed an essential point. Huntington observed that his was an « argument for the importance of Anglo-Protestant culture, not for the importance of Anglo-Protestant people. » The success of this great republic, he said, had hitherto depended on the willingness of generations of Americans to honor the creed of the founding settlers and to shed their old affinities. But that willingness was being battered by globalization and multiculturalism, and by new waves of immigrants with no deep attachments to America’s national identity. « The Stars and Stripes were at half-mast, » he wrote in « Who Are We? », « and other flags flew higher on the flagpole of American identities. »

Three possible American futures beckoned, Huntington said: cosmopolitan, imperial and national. In the first, the world remakes America, and globalization and multiculturalism trump national identity. In the second, America remakes the world: Unchallenged by a rival superpower, America would attempt to reshape the world according to its values, taking to other shores its democratic norms and aspirations. In the third, America remains America: It resists the blandishments — and falseness — of cosmopolitanism, and reins in the imperial impulse.

Huntington made no secret of his own preference: an American nationalism « devoted to the preservation and enhancement of those qualities that have defined America since its founding. » His stark sense of realism had no patience for the globalism of the Clinton era. The culture of « Davos Man » — named for the watering hole of the global elite — was disconnected from the call of home and hearth and national soil.

But he looked with a skeptical eye on the American expedition to Iraq, uneasy with those American conservatives who had come to believe in an « imperial » American mission. He foresaw frustration for this drive to democratize other lands. The American people would not sustain this project, he observed, and there was the « paradox of democracy »: Democratic experiments often bring in their wake nationalistic populist movements (Latin America) or fundamentalist movements (Muslim countries). The world tempts power, and denies it. It is the Huntingtonian world; no false hopes and no redemption.

In the 1990s, when the Davos crowd and other believers in a borderless world reigned supreme, Huntington crossed over from the academy into global renown, with his « clash of civilizations » thesis. In an article first published in Foreign Affairs in 1993 (then expanded into a book), Huntington foresaw the shape of the post-Cold War world. The war of ideologies would yield to a civilizational struggle of soil and blood. It would be the West versus the eight civilizations dividing the rest — Latin American, African, Islamic, Sinic, Hindu, Orthodox, Buddhist and Japanese.

In this civilizational struggle, Islam would emerge as the principal challenge to the West. « The relations between Islam and Christianity, both orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity. »

He had assaulted the zeitgeist of the era. The world took notice, and his book was translated into 39 languages. Critics insisted that men want Sony, not soil. But on 9/11, young Arabs — 19 of them — would weigh in. They punctured the illusions of an era, and gave evidence of the truth of Huntington’s vision. With his typical precision, he had written of a « youth bulge » unsettling Muslim societies, and young, radicalized Arabs, unhinged by modernity and unable to master it, emerging as the children of this radical age.

If I may be permitted a personal narrative: In 1993, I had written the lead critique in Foreign Affairs of his thesis. I admired his work but was unconvinced. My faith was invested in the order of states that the West itself built. The ways of the West had become the ways of the world, I argued, and the modernist consensus would hold in key Third-World countries like Egypt, India and Turkey. Fifteen years later, I was given a chance in the pages of The New York Times Book Review to acknowledge that I had erred and that Huntington had been correct all along.

A gracious letter came to me from Nancy Arkelyan Huntington, his wife of 51 years (her Armenian descent an irony lost on those who dubbed him a defender of nativism). He was in ill-health, suffering the aftermath of a small stroke. They were spending the winter at their summer house on Martha’s Vineyard. She had read him my essay as he lay in bed. He was pleased with it: « He will be writing you himself shortly. » Of course, he did not write, and knowing of his frail state I did not expect him to do so. He had been a source of great wisdom, an exemplar, and it had been an honor to write of him, and to know him in the regrettably small way I did.

We don’t have his likes in the academy today. Political science, the field he devoted his working life to, has been in the main commandeered by a new generation. They are « rational choice » people who work with models and numbers and write arid, impenetrable jargon.

More importantly, nowadays in the academy and beyond, the patriotism that marked Samuel Huntington’s life and work is derided, and the American Creed he upheld is thought to be the ideology of rubes and simpletons, the affliction of people clinging to old ways. The Davos men have perhaps won. No wonder the sorrow and the concern that ran through the work of Huntington’s final years.

Mr. Ajami is professor of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. He is also an adjunct research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Robert Gates Is Right About Iraq
Fouad Ajami
The New Republic
June 3, 2011

The U.S. war in Iraq has just been given an unexpected seal of approval. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what he billed as his “last major policy speech in Washington,” has owned up to the gains in Iraq, to the surprise that Iraq has emerged as “the most advanced Arab democracy in the region.” It was messy, this Iraqi democratic experience, but Iraqis “weren’t in the streets shooting each other, the government wasn’t in the streets shooting its people,” Gates observed. The Americans and the Iraqis had not labored in vain; the upheaval of the Arab Spring has only underlined that a decent polity had emerged in the heart of the Arab world.

Robert Gates has not always been a friend of the Iraq war. He was a member in good standing, it should be recalled, of the Iraq Study Group, a panel of sages and foreign policy luminaries, co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, who had taken a jaundiced view of the entire undertaking in Iraq. Their report endorsed a staged retreat from the Iraq war and an accommodation with Syria and Iran. When Gates later joined the cabinet of George W. Bush, after the “thumping” meted out to the Republicans in the congressional elections of 2006, his appointment was taken as a sharp break with the legacy of his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld. It was an open secret that the outlook of the new taciturn man at the Department of Defense had no place in it for the spread of democracy in Arab lands. Over a long career, Secretary Gates had shared the philosophical approach of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, peers of his and foreign policy “realists” who took the world as it is. They had styled themselves as unillusioned men who had thought that the Iraq war, and George W. Bush’s entire diplomacy of freedom, were projects of folly—romantic, self deluding undertakings in the Arab world.

To the extent that these men thought of the Greater Middle East, they entered it through the gateway of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. The key to the American security dilemma in the region, they maintained, was an Arab-Israeli settlement that would drain the swamps of anti-Americanism and reconcile the Arab “moderates” to the Pax Americana. This was a central plank of the Iraq Study Group—the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian issue to the peace of the region, and to the American position in the lands of Islam.

Nor had Robert Gates made much of a secret of his reading of Iran. He and Zbigniew Brzezinski had been advocates of “engaging” the regime in Tehran—this was part of the creed of the “realists.” It was thus remarkable that, in his last policy speech, Gates acknowledged a potentially big payoff of the American labor in Iraq: a residual U.S. military presence in that country as a way of monitoring the Iranian regime next door.

Is Gates right about both the progress in Iraq and the U.S. future in the country? In short, yes. The Iraqis needn’t trumpet the obvious fact in broad daylight, but the balance of power in the Persian Gulf would be altered for the better by a security arrangement between the United States and the government in Baghdad. The Sadrists have already labeled a potential accord with the Americans as a deal with the devil, but the Sadrists have no veto over the big national decisions in Baghdad. If the past is any guide, Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has fought and won a major battle with the Sadrists; he crushed them on the battlefield but made room for them in his coalition government, giving them access to spoils and patronage, but on his terms.

Democracy, it turns out, has its saving graces: Nuri Al Maliki need not shoulder alone the burden of sustaining a security accord with the Americans. He has already made it known that the decision to keep American forces in Iraq would depend on the approval of the major political blocs in the country, and that the Sadrists would have no choice but to accept the majority’s decision. The Sadrists would be left with the dubious honor of “resistance” to the Americans—but they would hold onto the privileges granted them by their access to state treasury and resources. Muqtada Al Sadr and the political functionaries around him know that life bereft of government patronage and the oil income of a centralized state is a journey into the wilderness.

There remains, of course, the pledge given by presidential candidate Barack Obama that a President Obama would liquidate the American military role in Iraq by the end of 2011. That pledge was one of the defining themes of his bid for the presidency, and it endeared him to the “progressives” within his own party, who had been so agitated and mobilized against the Iraq war. But Barack Obama is now the standard-bearer of America’s power. He has broken with the “progressives” over Afghanistan, the use of drones in Pakistan, Guantánamo, military tribunals, and a whole host of national security policies that have (nearly) blurred the line between his policies and those of his predecessor. The left has grumbled, but, in the main, it has bowed to political necessity. At any rate, the fury on the left that once surrounded the Iraq war has been spent; a residual American presence in Iraq would fly under the radar of the purists within the ranks of the Democratic Party. They will be under no obligation to give it their blessing. That burden would instead be left to the centrists—and to the Republicans.

It is perhaps safe to assume that Robert Gates is carrying water for the Obama administration—an outgoing official putting out some necessary if slightly unpalatable political truths. Gates is an intensely disciplined man; he has not been a free-lancer, but instead has forged a tight personal and political relationship with President Obama. His swan song in Washington is most likely his gift to those left with maintaining and defending the American position in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf.

It is a peculiarity of the American-Iraq relationship that it could yet be nurtured and upheld without fanfare or poetry. The Iraqis could make room for that residual American presence while still maintaining the fiction of their political purity and sovereignty. For their part, American officials could be discreet and measured; they needn’t heap praise on Iraq nor take back what they had once said about the war—and its costs and follies. Iraq’s neighbors would of course know what would come to pass. In Tehran, and in Arab capitals that once worried about an American security relationship with a Shia-led government in Baghdad, powers would have to make room for this American-Iraqi relationship. The Iranians in particular will know that their long border with Iraq is, for all practical purposes, a military frontier with American forces. It will be no consolation for them that this new reality so close to them is the work of their Shia kinsmen, who come to unexpected power in Baghdad.

The enemy will have a say on how things will play out for American forces in Iraq. Iran and its Iraqi proxies can be expected to do all they can to make the American presence as bloody and costly as possible. A long, leaky border separates Iran from Iraq; movement across it is quite easy for Iranian agents and saboteurs. They can come in as “pilgrims,” and there might be shades of Lebanon in the 1980s, big deeds of terror that target the American forces. The Iraqi government will be called upon to do a decent job of tracking and hunting down saboteurs and terrorists, as this kind of intelligence is not a task for American soldiers. This will take will and political courage on the part of Iraq’s rulers. They will have to speak well of the Americans and own up to the role that American forces are playing in the protection and defense of Iraq. They can’t wink at anti-Americanism or give it succor.

Even in the best of worlds, an American residual presence in Iraq will have its costs and heartbreak. But the United States will have to be prepared for and accept the losses and adversity that are an integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting.

Fouad Ajami teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The Men Who Sealed Iraq’s Fate
Fouad Ajami
The Wall Street Journal
June 15, 2014

Two men bear direct responsibility for the mayhem engulfing Iraq: Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki. The U.S. president and Iraqi prime minister stood shoulder to shoulder in a White House ceremony in December 2011 proclaiming victory. Mr. Obama was fulfilling a campaign pledge to end the Iraq war. There was a utopian tone to his pronouncement, suggesting that the conflicts that had been endemic to that region would be brought to an end. As for Mr. Maliki, there was the heady satisfaction, in his estimation, that Iraq would be sovereign and intact under his dominion.

In truth, Iraq’s new Shiite prime minister was trading American tutelage for Iranian hegemony. Thus the claim that Iraq was a fully sovereign country was an idle boast. Around the Maliki regime swirled mightier, more sinister players. In addition to Iran’s penetration of Iraqi strategic and political life, there was Baghdad’s unholy alliance with the brutal Assad regime in Syria, whose members belong to an Alawite Shiite sect and were taking on a largely Sunni rebellion. If Bashar Assad were to fall, Mr. Maliki feared, the Sunnis of Iraq would rise up next.

Now, even as Assad clings to power in Damascus, Iraq’s Sunnis have risen up and joined forces with the murderous, al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which controls much of northern Syria and the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit. ISIS marauders are now marching on the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, and Baghdad itself has become a target.

In a dire sectarian development on Friday, Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on his followers to take up arms against ISIS and other Sunni insurgents in defense of the Baghdad government. This is no ordinary cleric playing with fire. For a decade, Ayatollah Sistani stayed on the side of order and social peace. Indeed, at the height of Iraq’s sectarian troubles in 2006-07, President George W. Bush gave the ayatollah credit for keeping the lid on that volcano. Now even that barrier to sectarian violence has been lifted.

This sad state of affairs was in no way preordained. In December 2011, Mr. Obama stood with Mr. Maliki and boasted that « in the coming years, it’s estimated that Iraq’s economy will grow even faster than China’s or India’s. » But the negligence of these two men—most notably in their failure to successfully negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have maintained an adequate U.S. military presence in Iraq—has resulted in the current descent into sectarian civil war.

There was, not so long ago, a way for Mr. Maliki to avoid all this: the creation of a genuine political coalition, making good on his promise that the Kurds in the north and the Sunnis throughout the country would be full partners in the Baghdad government. Instead, the Shiite prime minister set out to subjugate the Sunnis and to marginalize the Kurds. There was, from the start, no chance that this would succeed. For their part, the Sunni Arabs of Iraq were possessed of a sense of political mastery of their own. After all, this was a community that had ruled Baghdad for a millennium. Why should a community that had known such great power accept sudden marginality?

As for the Kurds, they had conquered a history of defeat and persecution and built a political enterprise of their own—a viable military institution, a thriving economy and a sense of genuine national pride. The Kurds were willing to accept the federalism promised them in the New Iraq. But that promise rested, above all else, on the willingness on the part of Baghdad to honor a revenue-sharing system that had decreed a fair allocation of the country’s oil income. This, Baghdad would not do. The Kurds were made to feel like beggars at the Maliki table.

Sadly, the Obama administration accepted this false federalism and its façade. Instead of aiding the cause of a reasonable Kurdistan, the administration sided with Baghdad at every turn. In the oil game involving Baghdad, Irbil, the Turks and the international oil companies, the Obama White House and State Department could always be found standing with the Maliki government.

With ISIS now reigning triumphant in Fallujah, in the oil-refinery town of Baiji, and, catastrophically, in Mosul, the Obama administration cannot plead innocence. Mosul is particularly explosive. It sits astride the world between Syria and Iraq and is economically and culturally intertwined with the Syrian territories. This has always been Mosul’s reality. There was no chance that a war would rage on either side of Mosul without it spreading next door. The Obama administration’s vanishing « red lines » and utter abdication in Syria were bound to compound Iraq’s troubles.

Grant Mr. Maliki the harvest of his sectarian bigotry. He has ridden that sectarianism to nearly a decade in power. Mr. Obama’s follies are of a different kind. They’re sins born of ignorance. He was eager to give up the gains the U.S. military and the Bush administration had secured in Iraq. Nor did he possess the generosity of spirit to give his predecessors the credit they deserved for what they had done in that treacherous landscape.

As he headed for the exits in December 2011, Mr. Obama described Mr. Maliki as « the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq. » One suspects that Mr. Obama knew better. The Iraqi prime minister had already shown marked authoritarian tendencies, and there were many anxieties about him among the Sunnis and Kurds. Those communities knew their man, while Mr. Obama chose to look the other way.

Today, with his unwillingness to use U.S. military force to save Syrian children or even to pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war, the erstwhile leader of the Free World is choosing, yet again, to look the other way.

Mr. Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is the author, most recently, of « The Syrian Rebellion » (Hoover Press, 2012).

Voir aussi:

Fouad Ajami on America and the Arabs
Excerpts from the Middle Eastern scholar’s work in the Journal over nearly 30 years.
The Wall Street Journal

June 22, 2014

Editor’s note: Fouad Ajami, the Middle Eastern scholar and a contributor to these pages for 27 years, died Sunday at age 68. Excerpts from his writing in the Journal are below, and a related editorial appears nearby:

« A Tangled History, » a review of Bernard Lewis’s book, « Islam and the West, » June 24, 1993:

The book’s most engaging essay is a passionate defense of Orientalism that foreshadows today’s debate about multiculturalism and the study of non-Western history. Mr. Lewis takes on the trendy new cult led by Palestinian-American Edward Said, whose many followers advocate a radical form of Arab nationalism and deride traditional scholarship of the Arab world as a cover for Western hegemony. The history of that world, these critics insist, must be reclaimed and written from within. With Mr. Lewis’s rebuttal the debate is joined, as a great historian defends the meaning of scholarship and takes on those who would bully its practitioners in pursuit of some partisan truths.

 » Barak’s Gamble, » May 25, 2000:

It was bound to end this way: One day Israel was destined to vacate the strip of Lebanon it had occupied when it swept into that country in the summer of 1982. Liberal societies are not good at the kind of work military occupation entails.

« Show Trial: Egypt: The Next Rogue Regime? » May 30, 2001:

If there is a foreign land where U.S. power and influence should be felt, Egypt should be reckoned a reasonable bet. A quarter century of American solicitude and American treasure have been invested in the Egyptian regime. Here was a place in the Arab world—humane and tempered—where Pax Americana had decent expectations: support for Arab-Israeli peace, a modicum of civility at home.

It has not worked out that way: The regime of Hosni Mubarak has been a runaway ally. In the latest display of that ruler’s heavy handedness, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian-American sociologist, has recently been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of defaming the state. It was a summary judgment, and a farce: The State Security Court took a mere 90 minutes to deliberate over the case.

« Arabs Have Nobody to Blame But Themselves, » Oct. 16, 2001:

A darkness, a long winter, has descended on the Arabs. Nothing grows in the middle between an authoritarian political order and populations given to perennial flings with dictators, abandoned to their most malignant hatreds. Something is amiss in an Arab world that besieges American embassies for visas and at the same time celebrates America’s calamities. Something has gone terribly wrong in a world where young men strap themselves with explosives, only to be hailed as « martyrs » and avengers.

« Beirut, Baghdad, » Aug. 25, 2003:

A battle broader than the country itself, then, plays out in Iraq. We needn’t apologize to the other Arabs about our presence there, and our aims for it. The custodians of Arab power, and the vast majority of the Arab political class, never saw or named the terrible cruelties of Saddam. A political culture that averts its gaze from mass graves and works itself into self-righteous hysteria over a foreign presence in an Arab country is a culture that has turned its back on political reason.
Opinion Video

Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot pays tribute to Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami. Photo credit: hoover.org

Yet this summer has tested the resolve of those of us who supported the war, and saw in it a chance to give Iraq and its neighbors a shot at political reform. There was a leap of faith, it must be conceded, in the argument that a land as brutalized as Iraq would manage to find its way out of its cruel past and, in the process, give other Arabs proof that a modicum of liberty could flourish in their midst.

« The Curse of Pan-Arabia, » May 12, 2004:

Consider a tale of three cities: In Fallujah, there are the beginnings of wisdom, a recognition, after the bravado, that the insurgents cannot win in the face of a great military power. In Najaf, the clerical establishment and the shopkeepers have called on the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr to quit their city, and to « pursue another way. » It is in Washington where the lines are breaking, and where the faith in the gains that coalition soldiers have secured in Iraq at such a terrible price appears to have cracked. We have been doing Iraq by improvisation, we are now « dumping stock, » just as our fortunes in that hard land may be taking a turn for the better. We pledged to give Iraqis a chance at a new political life. We now appear to be consigning them yet again to the same Arab malignancies that drove us to Iraq in the first place.

 » Bush of Arabia, » Jan. 8, 2008:

Suffice it for them that George W. Bush was at the helm of the dominant imperial power when the world of Islam and of the Arabs was in the wind, played upon by ruinous temptations, and when the regimes in the saddle were ducking for cover, and the broad middle classes in the Arab world were in the grip of historical denial of what their radical children had wrought. His was the gift of moral and political clarity. . . .

We scoffed, in polite, jaded company when George W. Bush spoke of the « axis of evil » several years back. The people he now journeys amidst didn’t: It is precisely through those categories of good and evil that they describe their world, and their condition. Mr. Bush could not redeem the modern culture of the Arabs, and of Islam, but he held the line when it truly mattered. He gave them a chance to reclaim their world from zealots and enemies of order who would have otherwise run away with it.

 » Obama’s Afghan Struggle, » March 20, 2009:

[President Obama] can’t build on the Iraq victory, because he has never really embraced it. The occasional statement that we can win over the reconcilables and the tribes in Afghanistan the way we did in the Anbar is lame and unconvincing. The Anbar turned only when the Sunni insurgents had grown convinced that the Americans were there to stay, and that the alternative to accommodation with the Americans, and with the Baghdad government, is a sure and widespread Sunni defeat. The Taliban are nowhere near this reckoning. If anything, the uncertain mood in Washington counsels patience on their part, with the promise of waiting out the American presence.

« Pax Americana and the New Iraq, » Oct. 6, 2010:

The question posed in the phase to come will be about the willingness of Pax Americana to craft a workable order in the Persian Gulf, and to make room for this new Iraq. It is a peculiarity of the American presence in the Arab-Islamic world, as contrasted to our work in East Asia, that we have always harbored deep reservations about democracy’s viability there and have cast our lot with the autocracies. For a fleeting moment, George W. Bush broke with that history. But that older history, the resigned acceptance of autocracies, is the order of the day in Washington again.

It isn’t perfect, this Iraqi polity midwifed by American power. But were we to acknowledge and accept that Iraqis and Americans have prevailed in that difficult land, in the face of such forbidding odds, we and the Iraqis shall be better for it. We have not labored in vain.

Voir enfin:

MARCH/APRIL 2013
Enough Said: The False Scholarship of Edward Said

Joshua Muravchik

Columbia University’s English Department may seem a surprising place from which to move the world, but this is what Professor Edward Said accomplished. He not only transformed the West’s perception of the Israel-Arab conflict, he also led the way toward a new, post-socialist life for leftism in which the proletariat was replaced by “people of color” as the redeemers of humankind. During the ten years that have passed since his death there have been no signs that his extraordinary influence is diminishing.

According to a 2005 search on the utility “Syllabus finder,” Said’s books were assigned as reading in eight hundred and sixty-eight courses in American colleges and universities (counting only courses whose syllabi were available online). These ranged across literary criticism, politics, anthropology, Middle East studies, and other disciplines including postcolonial studies, a field widely credited with having grown out of Said’s work. More than forty books have been published about him, including even a few critical ones, but mostly adulatory, such as The Cambridge Introduction to Edward Said, published seven years after his death of leukemia in 2003. Georgetown University, UCLA, and other schools offer courses about him. A 2001 review for the Guardian called him “arguably the most influential intellectual of our time.”

The book that made Edward Said famous was Orientalism, published in 1978 when he was forty-three. Said’s objective was to expose the worm at the core of Western civilization, namely, its inability to define itself except over and against an imagined “other.” That “other” was the Oriental, a figure “to be feared . . . or to be controlled.” Ergo, Said claimed that “every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was . . . a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.” Elsewhere in the text he made clear that what was true for Europeans held equally for Americans.

This echoed a theme of 1960s radicalism that was forged in the movements against Jim Crow and against America’s war in Vietnam, namely that the Caucasian race was the scourge of humanity. Rather than shout this accusation from a soapbox, as others had done, Said delivered it in tones that awed readers with erudition. The names of abstruse contemporary theoreticians and obscure bygone academicians rolled off pages strewn with words that sent readers scurrying to their dictionaries. Never mind that some of these words could not be found in dictionaries (“paradeutic”) or that some were misused (“eschatological” where “scatological” was the intended meaning); never mind that some of the citations were pretentious (“the names of Levi-Strauss, Gramsci, and Michel Foucault drop with a dull thud,” commented historian J. H. Plumb, reviewing the book for the New York Times”)—never mind any of this, the important point that evoked frissons of pleasure and excitement was that here was a “person of color” delivering a withering condemnation of the white man and, so to speak, beating him at his own game of intellectual elegance.

In truth, Said was an unlikely symbol of the wretched of the earth. His father, who called himself William, had emigrated from Jerusalem (a place he hated, according to Edward) to America in 1911, served in World War I, and become a US citizen. Reluctantly yielding to family pressures, he returned to the Middle East in the 1920s and settled in Cairo, where he made his fortune in business and married an Egyptian woman. Edward, their eldest after a first-born had perished in infancy, was told he was named after the Prince of Wales. He and his four sisters were reared in the Protestant church and in relative opulence, with a box at the opera, membership in country clubs, and piano lessons. They were educated at British and American primary and secondary schools in Cairo until Edward was sent to an elite New England prep school at fifteen, then to Princeton. After graduate studies at Harvard, he began to teach literary criticism, rising to the award of an endowed chair at Columbia by the time he was forty and later to the rank of university professor, Columbia’s highest faculty title.

A year after Orientalism sent his personal stock soaring, Said published The Question of Palestine. Fifteen years earlier, the Palestine Liberation Organization had been founded in the effort to consecrate a distinctive Palestinian identity, and the announcement of that identity to the world had mostly taken the form of spectacular acts of terror whose purpose was in large measure to draw attention to Palestinian grievances. Now, Columbia University’s Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature gave the Palestinian cause a dramatically different face.

He brought authenticity to this task because of his origins and authority because of his membership in the Palestinian National Council, the nominal governing body of the PLO. Assuring his readers that the PLO had, since its bombings and hijackings in the early 1970s, “avoided and condemned terror,” presenting PLO leader Yasir Arafat as “a much misunderstood and maligned political personality,” and asserting his own belief in a Palestinian state alongside—rather than in place of—Israel, Said argued in behalf of “a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.” This was so compelling as to sweep up New York Times reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who wrote: “So logically and eloquently does Professor Said make [his] case, that one momentarily forgets the many countervailing arguments posed by the Israelis.”

These two books—Orientalism and The Question of Palestine—each of which was followed by various sequels and elaborations, established the twin pillars of Said’s career as the avenging voice of the Palestinians against Israel, and more broadly of the Arabs, Muslims, and other “Orientals” against the West as a whole.

Said rolled American racism and European colonialism into one mélange of white oppression of darker-skinned peoples. He was not the only thinker to have forged this amalgam, but his unique further contribution was to represent “Orientals” as the epitome of the dark-skinned; Muslims as the modal Orientals; Arabs as the essential Muslims; and, finally, Palestinians as the ultimate Arabs. Abracadabra—Israel was transformed from a redemptive refuge from two thousand years of persecution to the very embodiment of white supremacy.

There was one final step in this progression: Edward Said as the emblematic Palestinian. From the time he came into the public eye, Said presented himself as an “exile” who had been born and raised in Jerusalem until forced from there at age twelve by the Jews. A sympathetic writer in the Guardian put it: “His evocation of his own experience of exile has led many of his readers in the west to see him as the embodiment of the Palestinian tragedy.” Indeed, he wrote and narrated a 1998 BBC documentary, In Search of Palestine, which presented his personal story as a microcosm of this ongoing Nakba (or catastrophe, as Palestinians call the birth of Israel).

But in September 1999, Commentary published an investigative article by Justus Reid Weiner presenting evidence that Said had largely falsified his background. A trove of documents showed that until he moved to the United States to attend prep school in 1951, Said had resided his entire life in Cairo, not Palestine. A few months later, Said published his autobiography, which confirmed this charge without acknowledging or making any attempt to explain the earlier contrary claims that he had made in discussing his background.

In reaction to the exposé, Said and several of his supporters unleashed a ferocious assault on Weiner. Said sneered that “because he is relatively unknown, Weiner tries to make a name for himself by attacking a better known person’s reputation.” And eleven ideological soul mates of Said’s, styling themselves “The Arab-Jewish Peace Group,” co-signed a letter to the editor that likened Weiner’s article to “deny[ing] the Holocaust.”

Much of the debate between Weiner and Said revolved around the house in which Said was born and that viewers of his BBC documentary were given to understand was the home where he had grown up. Weiner showed from tax and land registry documents that the house never belonged to Said’s father but rather to his aunt. In his rebuttal, Said had written somewhat implausibly: “The family house was indeed a family house in the Arab sense,” meaning that in the eyes of the extended family it belonged to them all even if the official records showed it to be the property only of Edward’s aunt and her offspring.

Said’s cynical modus operandi was to stop short, where possible, of telling an outright lie while deliberately leaving a false impression. Even so, he did not always avoid crossing the line or dancing so close to it that whether his words should be labeled a lie or merely a deception amounted to a difference without a distinction. “I have never claimed to have been made a refugee, but rather that my extended family . . . in fact was,” he wrote in response to Weiner. But what was a reader supposed to have inferred from his book, The Pen and the Sword, where he had spoken of his “recollections of . . . the first twelve or thirteen years of my life before I left Palestine?” Or from the article, in the London Review of Books, where he had written: “I was born in Jerusalem and spent most of my formative years there and, after 1948, when my entire family became refugees, in Egypt?”

It may be that Said, as he claimed, “scrupulously” recounted his life in his autobiography where at last the true facts of his education and residence emerge. But, as his critics continued to ask, does finally telling his story truthfully wipe away twenty years of lying about it? In the end, Said downplayed the matter. In a late interview with the New York Times he said: “I don’t think it’s that important, in any case. . . . I never have represented my case as the issue to be treated. I’ve represented the case of my people.”

What was important, however, was the light shed on Said’s disingenuous and misleading methods, becasue they also turn out to be the foundation of his scholarly work. The intellectual deceit was especially obvious in his most important book, Orientalism. Its central idea is that Western imperial conquest of Asia and North Africa was entwined with the study and depiction of the native societies, which inevitably entailed misrepresenting and denigrating them. Said explained: “Knowledge of subject races or Orientals is what makes their management easy and profitable; knowledge gives power, more power requires more knowledge, and so on in an increasingly profitable dialectic of information and control.”

The archetype of those who provided this knowledge was the “Orientalist,” a formal designation for those scholars, most of them Europeans, whose specialties were the languages, culture, history, and sociology of societies of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. However, Said explained that he used the term even more broadly to indicate a “Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.”

Orientalism, he said, embodied “dogmas” that “exist . . . in their purest form today in studies of the Arabs and Islam.” He identified the four “principal” ones as these:

one is the absolute and systematic difference between the West, which is rational, developed, humane, superior, and the Orient, which is aberrant, undeveloped, inferior. Another dogma is that abstractions about the Orient . . . are always preferable to direct evidence drawn from modern Oriental realities. A third dogma is that the Orient is eternal, uniform, and incapable of defining itself . . . A fourth dogma is that the Orient is at bottom something either to be feared . . . or to be controlled.

Initial reviews of the book, often by specialists, were mixed, but it appeared at a time when “multiculturalism” was becoming the new dogma of the intellectual elites and took on a life of its own, eventually being translated into more than three dozen languages and becoming one of the most influential and widely assigned texts of the latter part of the twentieth century.

Critics pointed out a variety of errors in Orientalism, starting with bloopers that suggested Said’s grasp of Middle Eastern history was shaky. Said claimed that “Britain and France dominated the Eastern Mediterranean from about the end of the seventeenth century on,” whereas for another hundred years it was the Ottomans who ruled that area. He had written that the Muslim conquest of Turkey preceded that of North Africa, but in reality it followed by about four hundred years. And he had referred to British “colonial administrators” of Pakistan whereas Pakistan was formed in the wake of decolonization.

More serious still was his lack of scruple in the use of sources. Anthropologist Daniel Martin Varisco, who actually agreed with Said on many ideological issues, observed in his book Reading Orientalism that “one of Said’s rhetorical means for a polemical end is to partially . . . quote a phrase while judiciously neglecting words that would qualify and at times refute what the phrase alone might imply.” He offered as an example of this duplicitous method Said’s use of two quotes from the writings of Sania Hamady, an Arab-American who wrote critically of Arabs. The quotes put her in a bad light, but both times, says Varisco, they were taken from passages where Hamady is merely summarizing someone else’s view, not giving her own. In the same vein, John Rodenbeck, a professor of comparative literature at the American University of Cairo, found that Said’s “persistent misconstruction and misquotation of [the nineteenth century Orientalist Edward] Lane’s words are so clearly willful that they suggest . . . bad faith.”

Said’s misleading use of quotes shows the problem with his work in microcosm. On a broad view, Said fundamentally misrepresented his subject. In challenging Said’s first alleged “dogma” of Orientalism, which ascribes all virtue to the West and its opposite to the Orient, Varisco says that Said is describing “a stereotype that at the time of his writing would have been similarly rejected by the vast majority of those [Said] lumps together as Orientalists.” And the British writer Robert Irwin, whose book Dangerous Knowledge offers a thorough history of Orientalism and also a rebuttal of Said, notes that, historically, “there has been a marked tendency for Orientalists to be anti-imperialists, as their enthusiasm for Arab or Persian or Turkish culture often went hand in hand with a dislike of seeing those people defeated and dominated by the Italians, Russians, British, or French.” (Like Varisco, Irwin makes clear that he is no opponent of Said’s political position, but is offended by his travesty of scholarship.)

This is but a small instance of a large methodological problem that invalidates Said’s work entirely, namely, his selectivity with evidence. Said made clear that his indictment was aimed not at this or that individual but at “Orientalists” per se, which, as we have seen, was a category in which he included all Westerners who said anything about the Orient. Thus, he wrote, “all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact of empire.” And: “No one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism.”

Why did Said choose to paint with such a broad brush? Because he knew that if he had asserted merely that some Westerners wrote pejoratively or condescendingly or misleadingly about the East while others did not, his argument would have lost much of its provocation. It would have demanded clarification about the relative numbers or influence of the two groups, about variations within the groups, about reciprocal attitudes among Easterners toward the West. Above all, it would have drawn the inevitable retort: so what? Was it news that some individuals favored their own societies over others?

The only way Said could make his generalized indictment seem plausible was to select whatever examples fit it and leave out the rest. When challenged on his omissions, Said replied with hauteur that he was under no obligation to include “every Orientalist who ever lived.” But of course the real issue was whether the ones he included made a representative sample (and whether he presented them faithfully).

These methodological failings were mostly lost in the dazzle. What made the book electrifying was that Said had found a new way to condemn the West for its most grievous sins: racism and the subjugation of others. With great originality, Said even extended the indictment through the millennia, a depiction that drew a protest from Sadiq al-Azm, a Syrian philosopher of Marxist bent (and one of that country’s most admired dissidents). Wrote Azm:

Said . . . trac[es] the origins of Orientalism all the way back to Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Dante. In other words, Orientalism is not really a thoroughly modern phenomenon, but is the natural product of an ancient and almost irresistible European bent of mind to misrepresent other . . . cultures . . . in favor of Occidental self-affirmation, domination, and ascendency.

Azm may have thought this wrong, but it was heady stuff. If we are talking about a mentality that is continuous before and after Christ then we are talking less about European culture, which is in large measure defined by Christianity, than about the European race. Thus did Orientalism fit the temper of a time when it was widely asserted that all white people were inherently bigoted, and “encounter groups” met at campuses and workplaces so that whites could discover and confront their inner racist. And nowhere was the evidence of this white evil laid out in greater depth and seeming sophistication than in Said’s pages.

In this atmosphere, wrote the New York Times in its obituary for Said, “Orientalism established Dr. Said as a figure of enormous influence in American and European universities, a hero to many, especially younger faculty and graduate students on the left for whom that book became an intellectual credo and the founding document of what came to be called postcolonial studies.”

It was not only American leftists who seized on the book. The Guardian, in its own obituary, observed that:

Orientalism appeared at an opportune time, enabling upwardly mobile academics from non-western countries (many of whom came from families who had benefited from colonialism) to take advantage of the mood of political correctness it helped to engender by associating themselves with “narratives of oppression,” creating successful careers out of transmitting, interpreting and debating representations of the non-western “other.”

Orientalism, added the Guardian, “is credited with helping to change the direction of several disciplines,” a thought echoed by supporters and detractors alike. Admiringly, Stuart Schaar, a professor emeritus of Middle East history at Brooklyn College, wrote that “the academic community has been transformed and the field of literary criticism has been revolutionized as a result of his legacy.”

Without ever relinquishing his claim to personify a “glamour-garlanded ideal of ‘outsiderdom,’” as one disillusioned reviewer of a series of lectures Said delivered in London put it, Said and his disciples took power in academia, as reflected in the astonishing number of courses that assigned his books and the frequency with which they were cited. Varisco observed that “a generation of students across disciplines has grown up with limited challenges to the polemical charge by Said that scholars who study the Middle East and Islam still do so institutionally through an interpretive sieve that divides a superior West from an inferior East.” The new Saidian orthodoxy became so utterly dominant in the Middle East Studies Association, and so unfriendly to dissenting voices, that in 2007 Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami took the lead in forming an alternative professional organization, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa.

Said was fond of invoking the mantra of “speaking truth to power.” This was an easy boast for someone who opted to live in America, or for that matter to live anywhere, and make a career of denouncing the West and Israel. But while a daring Promethean in the West, Said was more careful closer to native ground. Habib Malik, a historian at the Lebanese American University and a cousin of Said’s, recalls hearing him deliver a talk at the American University of Beirut: “On one occasion he blasted Saddam Hussein and a number of other Arab dictators but stopped short of mentioning [then Syrian dictator] Hafez Assad for obvious reasons: the Syrian mukhabarat [secret police] in Beirut would have picked him up right after the lecture!”

Said’s career, the deviousness and posturing and ineffable vanity of it, would have been mostly an academic matter if he had not been so successful in redefining Arabs and Muslims as the moral equivalent of blacks and in casting Israel as the racist white oppressor. Four years after the UN General Assembly had declared Zionism to be a form of racism, Said gave this same idea a highbrow reiteration. Israel did not give Arabs the same right of immigration as Jews, he said mockingly, because they are “‘less developed.’”

Decades after Orientalism was published, Said explained that Israel had been its covert target all along:

I don’t think I would have written that book had I not been politically associated with a struggle. The struggle of Arab and Palestinian nationalism is very important to that book. Orientalism is not meant to be an abstract account of some historical formation but rather a part of the liberation from such stereotypes and such domination of my own people, whether they are Arabs, Muslims, or Palestinians.

Said had not acknowledged such an agenda in the pages of Orientalism or at the time of its publication, although this ideological subtext could be discerned in his ferocity toward Bernard Lewis, who, observed Irwin, “was not really attacked by Said for being a bad scholar (which he is not), but for being a supporter of Zionism (which he is).” It was also implicit in the identity of those Said exempted from his generalization about Westerners. In the concluding pages of Orientalism, he allowed that a very few “decolonializing” voices could be heard in the West, and in a footnote he offered just two American examples, Noam Chomsky and MERIP, the Middle East Research and Information Project. Chomsky of course is not a Middle East expert or someone who writes often on the Middle East, but he had already carved out a place for himself as the leading Jewish voice of vituperation against Israel. MERIP, a New Left group formed to cheer Palestinian guerrillas and other Arab revolutionaries, was so single-minded in its devotion to this cause that it praised the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics for causing “a boost in morale among Palestinians” and “halt[ing]” moves “for a ‘settlement’ between Israel and the Arab regimes.”

Although Said’s assault on the Jewish state was thus initially camouflaged, it was devastatingly effective, as his stance on Arab/Israel questions came to dominate Middle East studies. The UCLA historian of the Middle East Nikki Keddie, whose sympathetic work on revolutionary Iran had won Said’s praise in his book Covering Islam, commented:

There has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word “Orientalism” as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too “conservative.” It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines.

His reputation made by the success of Orientalism, Said devoted much of the rest of his career to more direct advocacy of the Arab/Muslim/Palestinian cause, starting with the publication of The Question of Palestine in 1979, by which time he was already a member of the PLO’s top official body, the Palestinian National Council. The book was a full-throated polemic. The Jews were the aggressors; and the Palestinians their victims—on all counts and with little nuance. Even on the matter of terrorism, Said asserted, “There is nothing in Palestinian history, absolutely nothing at all to rival the record of Zionist terror.”

Said proclaimed himself “horrified” by the terrorist acts that “Palestinian men and women . . . were driven to do.” But all blame ultimately rested with Israel, which had “literally produced, manufactured . . . the ‘terrorist.’”

He wrote, with what even a New York Times reviewer called “stunning disingenuousness,” that “at least since the early seventies, the PLO had avoided and condemned terror.” These words appeared just one year after the organization’s bloodiest attack on Israeli civilians, the March 1978 “coastal road massacre,” in which thirty-eight civilians, thirteen of them children, were randomly gunned down, with scores of others injured—and not by any “renegade” faction but by the PLO’s mainstream group, Fatah. (Said himself was already a member of the PLO’s governing body when this “action” was carried out.)

Said worked hard to solidify the myth that for years Arafat had tried to make peace and been rebuffed: “On occasion after occasion the PLO stated its willingness to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza,” citing resolutions of the Palestinian National Council in 1974 and 1977. This was true, but these resolutions did not convey, as Said went on disingenuously to claim, “an implicit recognition of Israel.” Rather, they envisioned a strategy in which Palestinians would form a government in the West Bank and Gaza, in the event that international diplomacy afforded them this opportunity, not as a step toward peace but with the declared intent of using this territory as a base to fight on to “liberate” the rest of Palestine, i.e., Israel proper. As the PNC’s 1974 resolution stated: “The PLO will struggle against any plan for the establishment of a Palestinian entity the price of which is recognition [of Israel], conciliation, secure borders, and renunciation of the national rights of our people, its right to return, and self-determination on its national soil.”

In 1988, a decade after Said’s book appeared, the PLO did renounce terror and imply its willingness to acquiesce in Israel’s existence, albeit equivocally. These two pivotal concessions were clearly avowed only in the 1993 Oslo Accords. When Arafat finally took this indispensable step toward peace, one might have expected Said, who had been claiming that this had happened avant la lettre, to praise him. Instead, Said denounced his hero. Arafat, he complained, had “sold his people into enslavement,” and he called Oslo—in which Israel and the PLO recognized each other and pledged to hammer out a two-state settlement—an “instrument of Palestinian surrender.” Back in Arafat’s terrorist days, Said had seen him as “a man of genius” and said that “his people . . . loved him.” (Indeed, “Arafat and the Palestinian will . . . were in a sense interchangeable,” he once gushed.) But signing this agreement with Israel had, at a stroke, transformed Arafat, in Said’s eyes, into “a strutting dictator.” Arafat and his circle had become a bunch of “losers and has-beens” who “should step aside.”

Said himself adopted a new position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. No longer did he envision a two-state solution, as he had professed to do back when the idea was theoretical, since the main Palestinian organization (on whose board he sat) was not prepared to suffer the existence of Israel in any shape or form. Now, however, he sought instead “to devise a means where the two peoples can live together in one nation as equals.”

This was not a proposal to be taken seriously. In Israel, large numbers of Arabs did live freely but not in complete equality, a fact over which Said often protested. In the Arab states, many Jews had once lived but nearly all had been expelled. In other words, Said’s new formula was nothing more than a fancy way of opposing the only genuine possibility of peace.

This bitter ender’s position was, of course, phrased in terms chosen to sound idealistic. In that sense it was characteristic of Said’s oeuvre and of the movement of which he was such a critical part. Leftism is the stance of those who aspire to make the world a better place, according to their own view, through political action. For roughly a century its modal idea was Marxism, which identified the proletariat as the engine of redemption, a choice that resonated with the age-old Christian belief that the meek shall inherit the earth. As the twentieth century wore on, however, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela displaced Joe Hill, Mother Bloor, and Henry Wallace as objects of veneration. People of color and strugglers against colonial oppression stirred the hearts of idealists more than leaders of strikes and fighters for a fair day’s pay. Once, Zionism had tapped into that older leftism, seeing itself as a workers’ movement. But instead in the latter twentieth century—and in considerable part thanks to the impact of Edward Said—it became redefined as a movement of white people competing for land with people of color. This transformation meant that from then on the left would be aligned overwhelmingly and ardently against Israel.

Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a frequent contributor to World Affairs, is completing a book on the anti-Israel lobby, from which this article is adapted.

 

Publicités

Bac 2014: Attention, un crime peut en cacher un autre ! (To those who hear, those who see: Turkish writer takes on honor killings)

21 juin, 2014
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Mal nommer les choses, c’est ajouter au malheur du monde. Camus

Le passé est encore là – simplement, il est inégalement réparti. D’après  William Gibson
Aussi loin qu’il se souvienne, il s’est toujours perçu comme le prince de la maison et sa mère comme celle qui, de façon contestable, le mettait en valeur, était sa protectrice inquiète. J. M. Coetzee (Scènes de la vie d’un jeune garçon)
Quand j’avais sept ans, nous vivions dans une maison de verre. Un de nos voisins, un tailleur de talent, battait souvent sa femme. Le soir, on écoutait les pleurs, les cris, les insultes. Le matin, on vaquait à nos occupations habituelles. Tout le voisinage prétendait n’avoir rien entendu, n’avoir rien vu. Ce roman est dédié à ceux qui entendent et à ceux qui voient. Elif Shafak (Crime d’honneur, exergue)
Ma mère est morte deux fois. Je me suis promis de ne pas permettre qu’on oublie son histoire, mais je n’ai jamais trouvé le temps, la volonté ou le courage de la coucher par écrit. Jusqu’à récemment, je veux dire. (…) Il fallait pourtant que je raconte cette histoire, ne serait-ce qu’à une personne. Il fallait que je l’envoie dans un coin de l’univers où elle pourrait flotter librement, loin de nous. Je la devais à maman, cette liberté. (…) C’est ainsi que, dans le pays où naquirent Destinée-Rose et Assez-Belle, « honneur » était plus qu’un mot. C’était aussi un nom. On pouvait le donner à un enfant, à condition que ce soit un garçon. Les hommes avaient de l’honneur – les vieillards, ceux dans la force de l’âge, même les écoliers, si jeunes que, si on leur appuyait sur le nez, il en sortirait du lait. Les femmes n’avaient pas d’honneur. Elles étaient marquées par la honte. Comme tout le monde le savait, « Honte » était un bien mauvais nom à porter. (…) Son silence le déroutait. Et si elle n’était pas vierge ? Comment pourrait-il vivre avec cette interrogation le reste de sa vie ? Que penserait son frère Tariq quand il apprendrait qu’il s’était trouvé une femme souillée – la réplique exacte de leur mère ? (…) Ce serait une des nombreuses ironies de la vie de Pembe, que ce qu’elle détestait le plus dans la bouche de sa mère, elle allait le répéter à sa fille Esma, mot pour mot, des années plus tard, en Angleterre. Elif Shafak (Crime d’honneur, extrait)
Pourquoi Iskander Tobrak, seize ans, fils aîné et chef d’une famille mi-turque mi-kurde depuis le départ de son père, Adem, a-t-il, en 1978, poignardé à mort sa mère, Pembe ? C’est la question toujours aussi douloureuse que se pose, quatorze ans après les faits et alors qu’elle part chercher Iskander à sa sortie de prison, Esma, sa soeur. Pour tenter d’y répondre, elle doit remonter à leurs propres origines, dans un petit village des bords de l’Euphrate. Pembe et Jamila, son identique jumelle, y sont nées en 1945. Selon leur père, quel que soit le malheur infligé à l’une, elles étaient vouées à souffrir ensemble, et donc deux fois plus… Venu d’Istanbul, le jeune Adem Tobrak s’éprit follement de Jamila, mais celle-ci ayant été, quelques mois plus tôt, enlevée, et sa virginité étant, de ce fait, contestée, il ne put l’épouser et se rabattit sur Pembe. Cette dernière accepta et suivit son mari à Istanbul puis en Grande-Bretagne où, malgré la naissance de trois enfants, la vie du couple ne tarda pas à partir à vau-l’eau… Un roman superbe et bouleversant. L’Actualité littéraire
It’s usually the father, brother or first male cousin who is charged with the actual shooting or stabbing, (but not) the mother who lures the girl home. The religion has failed to address this as a problem and failed to seriously work to abolish it as un-Islamic. Phyllis Chesler
I think that as women we’re strong enough now to not only acknowledge our racism, our class bias and our homophobia but our sexism. The coming generation, and second-wave feminists as well, can acknowledge that women, like men, are aggressive and, like men, are as close to the apes as the angels. Our lived realities have never conformed to the feminist view that women are morally superior to men, are compassionate, nurturing, maternal and also very valiant under siege. This is a myth. (…) Women don’t have to be better than anyone else to deserve human rights. Our failure to look at our own sexism lost us a few inches in our ability to change history in our lifetime. The first thing we do is acknowledge what the truth is, and then we have to not have double standards. We have to try not to use gossip to get rid of a rival, we have to try not to slander the next woman because we’re jealous that she’s pretty or that she got a scholarship. I think we have to learn some of the rules of engagement that men are good at. Women coerce dreadful conformity from each other. I would like us to embrace diversity. Then we could have a more viable, serious feminist movement. (…) Because the stereotypes of women have been so used to justify our subordination and since it was a heady moment in history to suddenly come together with other women in quantum numbers around issues of women’s freedom and human rights, it took a while before each of us in turn started looking at how we treated each other. The unacknowledged aggression and cruelty and sexism among women in general — and that includes feminists — is what drove many an early activist out of what was a real movement. (…) I think it gets worse when it’s women only. Men are happy in a middle-distance ground toward all others. They don’t take anything too personally, and they don’t have to get right into your face, into your business, into your life. Women need to do that. Women, the minute they meet another woman, it’s: she’s going to be my fairy godmother, my best friend, the mother I never had. And when that’s not the case we say,  »well, she’s the evil stepmother. » (…) I do have a chapter that says if you have a situation that is male-dominated with a few token women, women will not like each other, they will be particularly vicious in how they compete and keep other women down and out. We can’t say how women as a group would behave if overnight they had all the positions that men now have. (…) It helps to understand that in these non-Western countries where you have mothers-in-law dousing daughters-in-law with kerosene for their dowries and we say  »how shocking, » we have a version here. You have here mothers who think their daughters have to be thin, their daughters have to be pretty and their daughters need to have plastic surgery and their daughters have to focus mainly on the outward appearance and not on inner strength or inner self. It’s not genital mutilation but it’s ultimately a concern with outward appearance for the sake of marriageability.(…) I’m thinking back to the civil rights era and the faces of white mothers who did not want little black children to integrate schools. What should we say about those women who joined the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazi party? You have a lot of women groaning under the yoke of oppression. Nevertheless, there are women who warm the beds and are the partners of men who create orphans. Women are best at collaborating with men who run the world because then we can buy pretty trinkets and have safe homes and nests for ourselves.(…) Women are silenced not because men beat up on us but because we don’t want to be shunned by our little cliques. That applies to all age groups. That’s one of the reasons that women are so conformist and so indirect: we end up sabotaging her rather than risking the loss of her intimate companionship. Women stealing each other’s lovers and spouses and jobs is pandemic. Phyllis Chesler
Les crimes d’honneur sont des actes de violence, le plus souvent des meurtres, commis par les membres masculins d’une famille à l’encontre de ses membres féminins, lorsqu’ils sont perçus comme cause de déshonneur pour la famille tout entière. Une femme peut être la cible d’individus au sein de sa propre famille pour des motifs divers, comprenant : le refus de participer à un mariage arrangé, le refus des faveurs sexuelles, la tentative de divorce — que ce soit dans le cadre de la violence conjugale exercée par son mari ou dans un contexte avéré d’adultère. La simple interprétation selon laquelle son comportement a « déshonoré » sa famille est suffisante pour enclencher une représaille. Human Rights Watch
En général, en Occident, le crime d’honneur varie en fonction de la géographie. Peu coutumier de nos jours dans les régions du Nord, il devient plus intense en descendant vers le Sud (sociétés méditerranéennes et/ou musulmanes, etc..) où les codes d’honneur propres à telle ou telle société traditionnelle ont conservé plus d’importance. C’est ainsi que la vengeance par la justice privée, plus connue sous le nom de vendetta fait partie de la culture de certains groupes ethniques qui se situent dans les Balkans (notamment les régions peuplées d’albanophones), en Turquie (Anatolie, Kurdistan, etc..), le sud de l’Italie et les îles de la Méditerranée (Corse, Sardaigne, Sicile, Crète). Avec l’immigration musulmane (notamment pakistanaise, turque/kurde et arabe), les crimes d’honneur sont réapparus en Europe. En Italie, en 2006, Hina Saleem (it), une jeune pakistanaise de 21 ans, est assassinée à Sarezzo (Lombardie) par ses parents et des membres de sa famille qui n’acceptaient pas sa relation avec un Italien et sa vie jugée « trop occidentale »10. Hina s’était également opposée à un mariage arrangé. Toujours en Italie, en 2009, Sanaa Dafani, une jeune marocaine de 18 ans résidant avec sa famille à Pordenone (N.-E.), est égorgée par son père qui lui reprochait d’être « trop occidentale » et d’avoir une relation avec un Italien11. Il sera condamné définitivement à 30 ans de prison en 201212. En 2010 à Modène (Italie), un pakistanais, aidé de son fils, « punit » à coups de barre d’acier et de pierre son épouse et sa fille qui refusaient un mariage arrangé. La mère succombera à ses blessures13. En Allemagne, en 2005, Hatun Sürücü, une jeune Allemande d’origine turque, est tuée à Berlin par son frère pour « s’être comportée comme une Allemande »14. En Belgique, en 2007, Sadia Sheikh, une pakistanaise de 20 ans, est assassinée à Charleroi (Région wallonne) par des membres de sa famille pour avoir refusé un mariage arrangé15. Aux Pays-Bas, la police estime que treize meurtres ont été commis en 2009 au nom de l’honneur16. En Grande-Bretagne, l’association IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation)) a recensé 2823 agressions (séquestrations, coups, brûlures, homicides) commises en 2010 contre des femmes sous prétexte de « venger l’honneur d’une famille ». Wikipedia
Les crimes d’honneur ne sont pas réservés aux provinces reculées du Pakistan, de la Turquie ou de l’Inde. En Europe occidentale aussi, des jeunes femmes sont torturées et tuées par des membres de leur famille à cause de leurs fréquentations, de leur façon de s’habiller ou de leur refus de se soumettre à un mariage forcé. En clair, parce que leur attitude laisse planer un doute sur leur virginité. C’est le constat de la fondation suisse Surgir, spécialisée dans la lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes. Très prudent dans sa volonté de ne « stigmatiser » aucune communauté, le rapport publié par Surgir établit un lien direct entre ces assassinats et l’immigration, tout en soulignant que, « majoritairement pratiqué au sein des communautés musulmanes, le crime d’honneur l’est aussi par les communautés sikhs, hindoues et chrétiennes ». Entre 15 000 et 20 000 femmes sont tuées chaque année dans le monde, selon les estimations des organisations non gouvernementales, par un cousin, un frère ou un père craignant l’opprobre de la communauté. « Plus qu’un permis de tuer, c’est un devoir de tuer », écrit Surgir, qui note que « le déshonneur [d’une fille] est une menace d’exclusion sociale pour toute la famille élargie ». Dans le cas de communautés immigrées, la crainte de l’assimilation peut renforcer ce besoin de protéger le groupe, alors que le mariage mixte et l’émancipation des jeunes générations sont perçus comme des menaces. Aucune statistique précise n’existe sur le sujet et la loi du silence est de mise dans les familles. Les chiffres avancés par la fondation reposent sur des estimations policières, quand celles-ci distinguent violences domestiques et violences liées à l’honneur, et sur l’étude de coupures de presse. Aux Pays-Bas, la police estime que treize meurtres ont été commis en 2009 au nom de l’honneur ; au Royaume-Uni, une douzaine de cas sont recensés chaque année ; en Allemagne, soixante-douze jeunes filles ont été tuées en dix ans ; en France, depuis 1993, une dizaine de cas ont été évoqués dans les médias, en grande majorité dans les communautés indiennes, pakistanaises, sri-lankaises, kurdes et turques. (…) La fondation Surgir appelle les autres Etats européens à prendre des mesures – le code pénal italien prévoit notamment une réduction de la peine pour les crimes commis sur fond de « traditions culturelles » – tout en soulignant qu’un durcissement des législations entraîne systématiquement une hausse des suicides maquillés et pousse les familles à désigner un meurtrier mineur qui sera moins sévèrement jugé. Le Monde

Attention: un crime peut en cacher un autre !

Alors qu’après la prestigieuse Oxford Union (assimilée à un vulgaire bureau des étudiants) l’an dernier

Et sous couvert de la neutralité du titre anglais et le refus de toute identification nationale de la romancière ou de ses personnages …

Réduisant à de simples sorties-cinéma les rencontres, nécessairement clandestines dans les cinémas les plus excentrés du Londres des années 70 et d’ailleurs payées au prix fort du matricide, d »une héroïne kurde abandonnée par son mari et d’un restaurateur multiculturel d’origine grecque …

C’est la tragique héroïne d’un roman anglo-turc que la cuvée du bac d’anglais 2014 assassine à nouveau …

Pendant qu’avec le retour des djihadistes en Irak suite au départ précipité du Munichois en chef de la Maison Blanche, les belles âmes qui avaient hurlé contre Bush et regretté Saddam nous ressortent leurs arguments les plus éculés contre la démocratisation d’une des régions les plus arriérées de la planète …

Comment ne pas voir cet étrange aveuglement, politiquement correct oblige, d’une Europe et d’un Occident d’ordinaire si prompts à dénoncer les moindres manquements aux droits de ces nouveaux damnés de la terre que sont devenus les immigrés …

Sur ces crimes dits d’honneur qui, avec l’afflux d’immigrants et comme le rappelait il y a quelques années Le Monde, ne sont plus  « réservés aux provinces reculées du Pakistan, de la Turquie ou de l’Inde » …

Et qui, devant le durcissement des législations, se voient même maquillés en suicides ou attribués à des meurtriers mineurs susceptibles d’être jugés moins sévèrement ?

Et comment ne pas saluer, par contraste, la véritable plongée que nous offre  la romancière turque fille d’un philosophe et d’une diplomate Elif Shafak dans ce passé encore « là mais inégalement réparti » …

Ce monde qui nous était devenu inconnu …

Où, via l’éducation qu’elles prodiguent à leurs fils et filles, les victimes elles-mêmes font partie de la reproduction de leur propre victimisation …

Et qui, avec l’immigration et à l’instar de certaines maladies que l’on croyait disparues, fait pourtant son retour en force chez nous ?

Q & A With Elif Shafak

Penguin Q & A with Elif Safak, author of Honour

What is your new book about?

Honour is about a family, mother-son relationship and how we, knowingly or unknowingly, hurt the people we love most. This is the story of a half-Turkish, half-Kurdish family in London in the late 1970s.

What or who inspired it?

Life.

What was the biggest challenge, writing it?

The central character, Iskender, is a young man obsessed with the notion of honour to the extent that he becomes a murderer. It was a challenge for me to put myself in his shoes, to build empathy for this extremely macho character, but it was important. Without understanding boys/men like Iskender we cannot discuss, let alone solve, honour killings.

What did you want to achieve with your book?

I wanted to tell a story, that has always been my primary aim, whatever the subject. I love giving a voice to characters who are kept in the margins, left unheard in life.

What do you hope for your book?

I hope it will connect readers from different backgrounds and lifestyles, I hope it will speak to their hearts and transcend cultural ghettoes.

Are there any parts of it that have special personal significance to you?

My novels are not autobiographical. In other words, my starting point is not myself. I find writing about myself rather boring. What I am more interested in is being other people, discovering other world and universes.

Do you have a favourite character or one you really enjoyed writing?

I don’t have a favourite character, as I feel and love each and every character along the way, even the side characters, even the ones who look troubled. However I must say Yunus, the family’s younger son has a special place in my heart. Imagining him, being him, was an inspiring journey.

What do you see as the major themes in your book?

Love and freedom. There cannot be love without freedom. And there is no honour in murder.

What made you set it in London?

My novel travels to different cities and locations, like all of my novels do. There are scenes in a Kurdish village, Istanbul, but London has been central. I love this city. I love the multicultural blending here, which is different than anywhere else. But I also wanted to say if honour-related attacks are happening even here, and they are, then that means they can happen anywhere.

Did the title come instantly to you or did you labour over it?

The title had a journey of its own. In Turkey the novel is called Iskender, which means Alexander. However I could not name it Alexander in English as people would have thought it was a novel about Alexander the Great. So instead of focusing on a character I focused on the theme and chose Honour. It is being translated into many languages and as it travels from one country to another book jackets change. In Italy they also changed the name because the word Honour in Italian recalls the mafia, and the novel has nothing to do with the mafia. So my Italian publisher Rizzoli and I chose another title: The House of Four Winds, which is the name of the Kurdish village in the novel.

To whom have you dedicated the book and why?

This book is dedicated to people who see, people who hear, people who care. And why I did that? Well the answer is in this little story I wrote at the opening page…

Who do you think will enjoy your book?

I don’t have a specific audience. Very different people read my work and I cherish that. I sincerely hope people who love stories and the art of storytelling will enjoy it, that’s what matters.

Do you have a special spot for writing at home? (If so, describe it)

I don’t have writing rituals or specific places for that. I write at home but I also write in crowded cafes, restaurants, trains stations, airports, always on the move.

Do you like silence or music playing while you’re writing?

I don’t like silence at all. I cannot write in silence. There has to be the sounds of life, music, the sounds coming from the street, rain cars and all of that. Istanbul is a very noisy city. I am used to writing in chaos and noise.

When did you start writing?

At the age of eight, but that’s not because I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t even know there was such a possibility. I fell in love with words and stories. I was a lonely kid and on my own most of the time. Books were my best friends, they were the gates unto other worlds, and they still are.

Did you always want to become an author?

The desire to become an author came to me later, when I was 17 or 18, and it was crystallised in my early twenties. So first there was the love of writing, the love of stories and only much later the desire to become an author. I have a writer inside me and an author inside me. They are different personalities. Most of the time they get along but sometimes they quarrel and disagree.

Tell us a bit about your childhood?

I was raised by a single mother, an independent minded, feminist divorcee. That was a bit unusual in 1970s Turkey. I was also raised by my Grandma for a while and she was a very different woman, she was a healer and an oral storyteller. To this day I love combining the two worlds, the two women.

If you’ve had other jobs outside of writing, what were they?

I contribute regularly to a major newspaper in Turkey, I write twice a week and I also write op-ed pieces for papers around the world. I am a political scientist by training, I teach creative writing too.

Describe yourself in three words?

Storyteller, nomad, freethinker.

What star sign are you and are you typical of it?

I am a Scorpio and like many Scorpio’s I am inward-looking and love to sabotage myself.

What three things do you dislike?

Hate speech, xenophobia, gender discrimination.

What three things do you like?

Connections, creativity, compassion.

Have you a family, partner or are you single?

I am a mother of two and a terrible wife in addition to being a writer.

Voir aussi:

Honour by Elif Shafak – review
A fierce tale of tradition in Muslim culture
Maureen Freely
The Guardian
20 April 2012

Elif Shafak begins her new novel with a dedication containing a dark and portentous anecdote: when she was seven years old, she lived next door to a tailor who was in the habit of beating his wife. « In the evenings, we listened to the shouts, the cries, the swearing. In the morning, we went on with our lives as usual. The entire neighbourhood pretended not to have heard, not to have seen. »

Honour
by Elif Shafak

Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book

Having dedicated her book to « those who hear, those who see », Shafak hands over to Esma Toprak, a London-bred Turkish Kurd, as she prepares to set off for Shrewsbury Prison to collect her brother, who has just served a 14-year term for murder. It is implied, but not confirmed, that his victim was their mother. Esma admits to having thought often about killing her brother in revenge. And yet she plans to welcome him back into the house she now shares with her husband and two daughters.

This is the cloud that hangs over the next 300-odd pages, as Esma offers up fragments of family history, beginning with her mother’s birth in a village near the Euphrates. She describes a world where women as well as men enforce an honour code that results in the social death of men who fail to act like men, and the actual death of several female relatives. When her family migrates to Istanbul, and then to London in the early 1970s, they take that code with them, but as they grow accustomed to life in the west it becomes less a system of social regulation than a compulsion they can neither control nor understand.

Adem, the father, falls in love with an exotic dancer. Disgraced, he drifts away. Iskender, the eldest son, is left unprotected and is brutally bullied before forming his own gang and doing much worse to others. His views on masculinity are further sharpened by the neighbourhood’s fledgling radicals and he has one rule for his English girlfriend and another for Pembe, his mother. Tradition dictates that he is now the head of the household, and even though she does not like him controlling her, she nevertheless defers to him, going out of her way to convey her approval for her « sultan ».

Running in parallel with this all-too-familiar tragedy is another story. Even in that village near the Euphrates, where mothers grieve at the birth of each new daughter, women wield considerable social powers, although they are inclined to express them through dreams, premonitions, and potions. They also impart a gentler Islamic tradition of mercy and compassion, encouraging an imaginative engagement with both tradition and the modern world. Pembe longs to travel, and she has her wish. Her twin sister Jamila stays behind to become the region’s fabled Virgin Midwife, travelling fearlessly through territories controlled by bandits, trusting her fate to God’s hands. When a dream signals that her twin is in danger, Jamila has no trouble finding the people who can get her to London without proper documentation. The two younger Toprak children show a similar independence of thought as they struggle to resolve the contradictions that have brought their family down.

Shafak is an extremely popular novelist in Turkey, particularly loved by young, educated and newly independent women who appreciate her fusion of feminism and Sufism, her disarmingly quirky characters and the artful twists and turns of her epic romances. Born in Strasbourg to a diplomat mother, educated in Europe, the United States and Turkey, she writes some books in her native Turkish and others (like this one) in English. In everything she writes, she sets out to dissolve what she regards as false narratives. In this one, it’s the story of the « honour killing » as we know it from those shock headlines. The book calls to mind The Color Purple in the fierceness of its engagement with male violence and its determination to see its characters to a better place. But Shafak is closer to Isabel Allende in spirit, confidence and charm. Her portrayal of Muslim cultures, both traditional and globalising, is as hopeful as it is politically sophisticated. This alone should gain her the world audience she has long deserved.

• Maureen Freely’s Enlightenment is published by Marion Boyars.

Voir également:

Les crimes d’honneur, une réalité européenne
Benoît Vitkine
Le Monde
15.11.2011

Les crimes d’honneur ne sont pas réservés aux provinces reculées du Pakistan, de la Turquie ou de l’Inde. En Europe occidentale aussi, des jeunes femmes sont torturées et tuées par des membres de leur famille à cause de leurs fréquentations, de leur façon de s’habiller ou de leur refus de se soumettre à un mariage forcé. En clair, parce que leur attitude laisse planer un doute sur leur virginité.

C’est le constat de la fondation suisse Surgir, spécialisée dans la lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes. Très prudent dans sa volonté de ne « stigmatiser » aucune communauté, le rapport publié par Surgir établit un lien direct entre ces assassinats et l’immigration, tout en soulignant que, « majoritairement pratiqué au sein des communautés musulmanes, le crime d’honneur l’est aussi par les communautés sikhs, hindoues et chrétiennes ».

Entre 15 000 et 20 000 femmes sont tuées chaque année dans le monde, selon les estimations des organisations non gouvernementales, par un cousin, un frère ou un père craignant l’opprobre de la communauté. « Plus qu’un permis de tuer, c’est un devoir de tuer », écrit Surgir, qui note que « le déshonneur [d’une fille] est une menace d’exclusion sociale pour toute la famille élargie ». Dans le cas de communautés immigrées, la crainte de l’assimilation peut renforcer ce besoin de protéger le groupe, alors que le mariage mixte et l’émancipation des jeunes générations sont perçus comme des menaces.

Aucune statistique précise n’existe sur le sujet et la loi du silence est de mise dans les familles. Les chiffres avancés par la fondation reposent sur des estimations policières, quand celles-ci distinguent violences domestiques et violences liées à l’honneur, et sur l’étude de coupures de presse. Aux Pays-Bas, la police estime que treize meurtres ont été commis en 2009 au nom de l’honneur ; au Royaume-Uni, une douzaine de cas sont recensés chaque année ; en Allemagne, soixante-douze jeunes filles ont été tuées en dix ans ; en France, depuis 1993, une dizaine de cas ont été évoqués dans les médias, en grande majorité dans les communautés indiennes, pakistanaises, sri-lankaises, kurdes et turques.

« PRÉTENDU » HONNEUR

Le rapport évoque plusieurs cas enregistrés chaque année en Suède, en Suisse ou en Italie. En octobre 2010, par exemple, à Modène, une Pakistanaise de 20 ans et sa mère de 46 ans se sont opposées au mariage arrangé prévu pour la jeune femme : le père et le fils ont tué la mère à coups de barre de fer et blessé grièvement la jeune fille.

Le Parlement européen et le Conseil de l’Europe ont avancé pour la première fois en 2003 des recommandations d’ordre général. Mais seuls les Pays-Bas et le Royaume-Uni ont adopté un dispositif complet, alliant prévention auprès des associations d’immigrés, protection des témoins, formation des policiers et création d’unités spéciales. Dans les textes britanniques, le mot « honneur » est, à la demande explicite du gouvernement, précédé de la mention « so called » (« prétendu »).

La fondation Surgir appelle les autres Etats européens à prendre des mesures – le code pénal italien prévoit notamment une réduction de la peine pour les crimes commis sur fond de « traditions culturelles » – tout en soulignant qu’un durcissement des législations entraîne systématiquement une hausse des suicides maquillés et pousse les familles à désigner un meurtrier mineur qui sera moins sévèrement jugé.

Voir encore:

Les «crimes d’honneur» augmentent au Royaume-Uni
Chloé Woitier
Le Figaro
03/12/2011

Banaz Mahmod, 20 ans, a été violée, torturée, étranglée puis brûlée sur ordre de son père et de son oncle en 2006 car elle fréquentait un garçon. Son meurtre avait choqué le Royaume-Uni.

Une association a recensé près de 3000 victimes de «crimes d’honneur» dans le pays en 2010. Les plaintes déposées à la police ont doublé en un an dans certaines zones, dont Londres.

Battues, séquestrées, mutilées, aspergées à l’acide ou tuées pour avoir porté atteinte à l’honneur de leur famille. Cette réalité a été vécue en 2010 par près de 3000 jeunes femmes résidant en Grande-Bretagne, selon une étude parue par l’Organisation pour le droit des femmes iraniennes et kurdes (Ikwro). Dans la seule capitale de Londres, ces «crimes d’honneur» ont doublé en un an, avec près de 500 cas.

Les données, collectées pour la première fois dans le pays, ont été obtenues par l’association grâce au Freedom of Information Act, une loi promulguée en 2000 par le gouvernement de Tony Blair qui permet à tout citoyen d’avoir accès à un très grand nombre de documents administratifs. Ikwro a ainsi envoyé une demande à l’ensemble des forces de police afin de connaître le nombre de violences qui ont été perpétrées l’an passé au nom de «l’honneur».

Le total, estimé à 2823 incidents, peut selon l’association être augmenté d’au moins 500 cas, 13 unités de police sur 52 n’ayant pas répondu à la demande. Dans certaines zones, les cas recensés ont doublé en un an. Ikwro estime également que ces chiffres sont sous-estimés, de nombreuses victimes n’osant pas porter plainte par peur de représailles.
«Un problème sérieux qui touche des milliers de personnes»

Pour l’association, la très grande majorité des femmes victimes de ces violences proviennent de familles originaires du sous-continent indien, d’Europe de l’Est et du Moyen-Orient. «Elles résistent de plus en plus aux atteintes à leur liberté, comme un mariage forcé décidé par leur famille. De fait, elles sont plus exposées aux violences», explique au Guardian Fionnuala Ni Mhurchu, responsable de la campagne d’Ikwro. «Ces chiffres sont importants car ils prouvent qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un phénomène isolé. C’est au contraire un problème sérieux qui touche des milliers de personnes chaque année, dont un certain nombre subit de très importantes violences avant de porter plainte.»

Ces femmes subissent le courroux de leur famille parce qu’elles ont un petit ami, ont refusé un mariage arrangé, ont été violées, ou parlent simplement à des hommes. D’autres sont victimes de violences car elles sont homosexuelles, se maquillent, ou s’habillent à l’occidentale. «Les coupables de ces crimes sont considérés comme des héros dans leur communauté parce qu’ils ont défendu l’honneur de leur famille et la réputation de la communauté»,a expliqué la directrice de l’Ikwro, Dina Nammi, sur la BBC.

L’association, forte de ces données, réclame que les autorités britanniques se donnent les moyens de lutter contre les «crimes d’honneur». Un porte-parole du ministère britannique de l’Intérieur a assuré que le gouvernement était «déterminé à mettre fin» à ces pratiques. Le Royaume-Uni est en effet avec les Pays-Bas le seul pays d’Europe à avoir élaboré une politique complète en la matière selon un rapport de la fondation suisse Surgir. La police britannique s’est ainsi dotée d’unités spéciales, tandis que tous les policiers du pays sont formés depuis 2009 à reconnaître les signes de violence liées à l’honneur. Des sites d’informations destinées aux jeunes filles ont également été mis en ligne pour inciter les victimes à porter plainte contre leur famille. Il n’existe pas de politique similaire en France.

Voir de même:

Meurtre de Banaz Mahmod en Grande-Bretagne : de nouvelles révélations ajoutent à l’horreur de ce « crime d’honneur »
Daily Mail
4 septembre 2007

De nouveaux détails concernant l’affaire Banaz Mahmod viennent d’être révélés sur les dernières heures de la jeune femme kurde assassinée par sa famille pour être tombée amoureuse du mauvais garçon. Ces détails ajoutent encore un peu plus dans le pathétique d’une affaire qui émeut toute l’Angleterre. Banaz Mahmod, 20 ans, a été violée et frappée à coups de pieds pendant deux heures avant d’être étranglée par une cordelette. Mohamad Hama, âgé de 30 ans avait été reconnu coupable du meurtre. Il avait été recruté par le père de Banaz (52 ans), et par Ari, le frère de celui-ci (51 ans), eux aussi reconnus coupables du meurtre. Les détails terrifiants du meurtre sont parvenus au public après que Hama ait été secrètement enregistré en train de parler à un de ses compagnons de cellule. Il a admis avoir « frappé » et « baisé » Banaz, qui a été soumise à des actes sexuels dégradant. Dans cet enregistrement, on peut entendre Hama et son ami rire de bon coeur pendant qu’il décrit comme il l’a tuée chez elle à Mitcham, dans le sud de Londres, avec Ari Mahmod pour « superviseur » des opérations. Les meurtriers, puisque deux autres suspects se sont enfuis en Irak, pensaient que Banaz serait seule chez elle. Hama déclare : « Ari (l’oncle) avait dit qu’il n’y avait personne d’autre. Mais il y avait quelqu’un d’autre : sa soeur (Biza). Le bâtard nous avait menti ». Au sujet du meurtre, il déclare « Je jure sur Allah que ça a pris plus de deux heures. Son âme et sa vie ne voulaient pas partir. Selon le meurtrier, Banaz avait été garottée pendant cinq minutes, mais il a fallu encore une demi-heure avant qu’elle ne meure. « Le cordon était fin et l’âme ne voulait pas partir comme ça. Nous ne pouvions pas l’enlever, ça a pris en tout et pour tout cinq minutes pour l’étrangler. Je l’ai frappé à coups de pieds sur le cou pour faire sortir son âme. Elle était complètement à poil, sans rien sur elle » Le corps de Banaz a été mis dans une valise et enterrée dans un jardin à Birmingham, où on l’a retrouvée trois mois plus tard.

Voir par ailleurs:

‘Honor killings’ in USA raise concerns
Oren Dorell
USA TODAY
11/30/2009

Muslim immigrant men have been accused of six « honor killings » in the United States in the past two years, prompting concerns that the Muslim community and police need to do more to stop such crimes.

« There is broad support and acceptance of this idea in Islam, and we’re going to see it more and more in the United States, » says Robert Spencer, who has trained FBI and military authorities on Islam and founded Jihad Watch, which monitors radical Islam.

Honor killings are generally defined as murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family. Thousands of such killings have occurred in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestinian territories, according to the World Health Organization.

Some clerics and even lawmakers in these countries have said families have the right to commit honor killings as a way of maintaining values, according to an analysis by Yotam Feldner in the journal Middle East Quarterly.

In the USA, police allege the latest « honor killing » was that of Noor Almaleki, 20, who died Nov. 2 after she and her boyfriend’s mother were run over in a Peoria, Ariz., parking lot. Prosecutors charged Almaleki’s father, Faleh Almaleki, with murder, saying the Iraqi immigrant was upset that his daughter rejected a husband she married in Iraq and moved in with an American.

« By his own admission, this was an intentional act, and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family, » says Maricopa County prosecutor Stephanie Low, according to The Arizona Republic.

Many Muslim leaders in the USA say that Islam does not promote honor killings and that the practice stems from sexism and tribal behavior that predates the religion.

« You’re always going to get problems with chauvinism and suppressing vulnerable populations and gender discrimination, » says Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Not all agree. Zuhdi Jasser says some Muslim communities have failed to spell out how Islam deals with issues that can lead to violence.

« How should young adult women be treated who want to assimilate more than their parents want them to assimilate? » asks Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocates a separation of mosque and state. « How does an imam treat a woman who comes in and says she wants a divorce … or how to deal with your daughter that got pregnant, and she’s in high school? »

Phyllis Chesler, who wrote about honor killings in her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, says police need to focus on the crimes’ co-conspirators if they wish to reverse the trend. Before 2008, there were six honor killings in the USA in the previous 18 years, according to her research.

« It’s usually the father, brother or first male cousin who is charged with the actual shooting or stabbing, (but not) the mother who lures the girl home, » Chesler says. « The religion has failed to address this as a problem and failed to seriously work to abolish it as un-Islamic. »

Jasser says his community needs to address how to treat young women who want to assimilate. « Until we have women’s liberation … we’re going to see these things increase. »

Voir encore:

Q&A; Women Are Nurturing? How About Cruel, Especially to One Another
The New York Times
August 24, 2002

Phyllis Chesler is a feminist psychotherapist, author of several books about women and the founder of the Association for Women in Psychology. In her latest book,  »Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman » (Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002) she explores the often cruel relationships between women. Felicia R. Lee spoke with her.

There have been several books in the past year about how women and girls treat one another badly. Why is this topic receiving so much attention now?

I began working on this 20 years ago so I think I anticipated the curve. Had I published it sooner I would not have been able to back it up with the extraordinary research that has only begun to gather steam in the last 10 to 15 years.

The media are now willing, for whatever reason, to pay attention to the subject. I think that as women we’re strong enough now to not only acknowledge our racism, our class bias and our homophobia but our sexism. The coming generation, and second-wave feminists as well, can acknowledge that women, like men, are aggressive and, like men, are as close to the apes as the angels. Our lived realities have never conformed to the feminist view that women are morally superior to men, are compassionate, nurturing, maternal and also very valiant under siege. This is a myth.

You are known as a radical feminist who has written extensively about how the courts and the medical system mistreat women. Are you afraid that this book will be used against women?

Women don’t have to be better than anyone else to deserve human rights. Our failure to look at our own sexism lost us a few inches in our ability to change history in our lifetime. The first thing we do is acknowledge what the truth is, and then we have to not have double standards. We have to try not to use gossip to get rid of a rival, we have to try not to slander the next woman because we’re jealous that she’s pretty or that she got a scholarship. I think we have to learn some of the rules of engagement that men are good at.

Women coerce dreadful conformity from each other. I would like us to embrace diversity. Then we could have a more viable, serious feminist movement.

Why did so many feminists make the mistake of believing in what you call the myth of female superiority?

Because the stereotypes of women have been so used to justify our subordination and since it was a heady moment in history to suddenly come together with other women in quantum numbers around issues of women’s freedom and human rights, it took a while before each of us in turn started looking at how we treated each other. The unacknowledged aggression and cruelty and sexism among women in general — and that includes feminists — is what drove many an early activist out of what was a real movement.

Isn’t there conflict and psychological warfare in any social justice movement or workplace?

I think it gets worse when it’s women only. Men are happy in a middle-distance ground toward all others. They don’t take anything too personally, and they don’t have to get right into your face, into your business, into your life. Women need to do that. Women, the minute they meet another woman, it’s: she’s going to be my fairy godmother, my best friend, the mother I never had. And when that’s not the case we say,  »well, she’s the evil stepmother. »

We don’t serve ourselves so well with our depth-charged levels of capacity for intimacy because then we can only be close to a small group. We can’t command a nation-state.

Isn’t that just an extension of arguments that have created glass-ceilings in workplaces?

No. I think the conclusion is not that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant and at home because they have no executive capacity. The conclusion is that there is something about the workplace that is deadly to all living things and men adapt more.

I do have a chapter that says if you have a situation that is male-dominated with a few token women, women will not like each other, they will be particularly vicious in how they compete and keep other women down and out. We can’t say how women as a group would behave if overnight they had all the positions that men now have.

The cruelty you document ranges from mothers-in-law burning their daughters-in-law because of dowry disagreements to women stealing each other’s boyfriends. Can it all really be lumped together?

It helps to understand that in these non-Western countries where you have mothers-in-law dousing daughters-in-law with kerosene for their dowries and we say  »how shocking, » we have a version here. You have here mothers who think their daughters have to be thin, their daughters have to be pretty and their daughters need to have plastic surgery and their daughters have to focus mainly on the outward appearance and not on inner strength or inner self. It’s not genital mutilation but it’s ultimately a concern with outward appearance for the sake of marriageability.

Although you note that women don’t have as much power as men, you view them as equally culpable for many of society’s ills.

I’m thinking back to the civil rights era and the faces of white mothers who did not want little black children to integrate schools. What should we say about those women who joined the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazi party? You have a lot of women groaning under the yoke of oppression. Nevertheless, there are women who warm the beds and are the partners of men who create orphans. Women are best at collaborating with men who run the world because then we can buy pretty trinkets and have safe homes and nests for ourselves.

You say that women are the ones who police and monitor one another and silence dissent.

Women are silenced not because men beat up on us but because we don’t want to be shunned by our little cliques. That applies to all age groups. That’s one of the reasons that women are so conformist and so indirect: we end up sabotaging her rather than risking the loss of her intimate companionship. Women stealing each other’s lovers and spouses and jobs is pandemic.

Voir aussi:

Banaz: An ‘honour’ killing
November 3, 2012 « Honour » based violence (HBV), Blog 1

Artist and activist Deeyah explains the motivation behind her documentary film Banaz: A love story which features IKWRO. A shortened version of this documentary was shown on ITV on 31st October.

Deeyah writes:

I grew up in a community where honour is a form of social currency which is a source of concern from the moment we are born. ‘Honour’ can be the most sought after, protected and prized asset that defines the status and reputation of a family within their community. This burden weighs most heavily upon women’s behaviour. This collective sense of honour and shame has for centuries confined our movement, freedom of choice and restricted our autonomy. You cannot be who you are, you cannot express your needs, hopes and opinions as an individual if they are in conflict with the greater good and reputation of the family, the community, the collective. If you grow up in a community defined by these patriarchal concepts of honour and social structures these are the parameters you are expected to live by. This is true for my own life and experiences.

Autonomy, is not acceptable and can be punished by a variety of consequences from abuse, threats, intimidation, exclusion by the group, violence of which the most extreme manifestation is taking someone’s life; murdering someone in the name of ‘honour’. This is something that has interested me through much of my life especially because of my own experiences of meeting resistance and opposition for my expression and life choices which at the time strayed from the acceptable moral norms afforded to women of my background and I understand what it is like when people want to silence your voice. I have addressed these honour concepts in various forms through the years but I have always wanted to do more, especially about the most extreme form of guarding this “honour” known as honour killings. The medium I felt would allow me the room to explore this topic most in-depth is the documentary film format.

This is why I set out, almost 4 years ago, to make a documentary film about honour killings. My intent was to shed light on this topic and to learn about through reviewing an extensive list of cases across Europe that could help us to understand the extent of this issue and its existence within the European and American diaspora. The purpose of this project being to create a film that would serve primarily to educate and inform, and to help us understand the issue better and to consider what can be done to prevent or reduce these crimes. As I started researching and delving further into various cases, I came across the story of Banaz Mahmod. I realized that this case would best illustrate the constructs of honour, the lack of understanding around this topic in the Western world, and the severe need to do more across social, political and community lines. As a result, Banaz’ story has become the anchor for the topic in the film and shows the lessons needed to be learned from her tragic death.

Banaz Mahmod’s life was marked by betrayal. As a child she underwent FGM at the hands of her grandmother. At age 17 she was married off to a man she had met only once in order to strengthen family alliances. In her marriage she was abused, beaten, raped and forced to endure isolation. At age 19, she left her husband and returned to her family home hoping for safety and security, only to be betrayed again: first by the British authorities who didn’t take her pleas for help seriously when she suspected she was in danger, then by her family, who took her disobedience as an unforgivable act. At age 20 she disappeared and was never heard from again until she was discovered buried under a patio, wedged in a fetal position inside a muddy suitcase— a victim of so-called ‘Honour’ Killing.

After her death, Banaz found another family in the unlikeliest of places: the Metropolitan Police. It took Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode and her team five years to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this brutal crime, which included her father, uncle and a male cousin. This case spanned two continents and resulted in the only extradition from Iraq by Britain in modern history. In death, Banaz found a family willing to do whatever it took to protect her memory.

Banaz’s life and murder is just one among thousands of stories around the world where families chose to obey their community and peer pressure instead of honouring their duty to love and protect their children. Through Banaz’s story, which covers many of the classic patterns of Honour Crimes and oppression, we explore the broader topic of honour killings that is becoming particularly prevalent within diaspora communities in Europe and the US. 3000 honour crimes were reported in the UK alone in 2010. Despite these staggering figures being considered the “tip of the iceberg”, many young women, like Banaz, are let down by officials in the West because of their lack of understanding and training in identifying the signs of an honour crime as well as for fear of upsetting cultural sensitivities—and at times from a sense of a general apathy surrounding violence against minority community women. Honour Killings are an ongoing genocide where the murders of women and girls are considered ‘justified’ for the protection of a a family’s reputation. Although , for Banaz, justice did eventually prevail, she was still found dead in a suitcase.

Caroline’s extraordinary dedication shows that effective action can be taken, and that a new benchmark for detection can be set.

During the process of making this film, there were two points that stood out as particular needs that I could concretely do something about. The first, was to create a place where people interested in the subject and in need of information about honour violence could go to find out more. The second, was to create a place where the victims, whose families intended to erase them from the world, could be remembered. So I created The Honour-Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA) and the Memini Memorial initiatives in collaboration with volunteers and experts from around the world.

During the process of making the film I found that after exhaustively searching the web for information on the subject, my need for research and data was unfulfilled. I continued interviewing experts in the field, ranging from policy makers to NGOs, activists, police officers and legal professionals and realised that they also shared my frustration at the lack of accessible and comprehensive information about Honour Based Violence. During these interviews, I quickly became aware that Honour Based Violence is little understood in the West–with alarming consequences. We know that Honour Based Violence is far more widespread than current figures indicate because it is under-reported, under-researched and under-documented; and therefore, easily misunderstood, overlooked and mis-recognised. I found this absolutely unacceptable. As a result I developed the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA).

In collaboration with international experts, HBVA is an international digital resource centre working to advance understanding and awareness of Honour Killings and Honour Based Violence through research, training and information for professionals; teachers, health workers, social services, police, politicians, and others who may encounter individuals at risk. HBVA builds and promotes a network of experts, activists, and NGOs from around the world, establishing international partnerships to facilitate greater collaboration and education. HBVA draws on the expertise of its international partners, collaborators and experts from Pakistan, Iraq, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, India, Norway, Denmark, Bangladesh, Jordan, Palestine, France. Some of the esteemed HBVA experts are Unni Wikan, Asma Jahangir, Yakin Erturk, Rana Husseini, Serap Cileli, Ayse Onal, Yanar Mohammad, Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, Aruna Papp, Hina Jilani, Dr. Tahira S. Khan, Sara Hossain. WWW.HBV-AWARENESS.COM

Additionally, born as a result of this film project, is WWW.MEMINI.CO. Memini is an online remembrance initiative set up to ensure that the stories of victims of honour killings are told, defying the intent of those who wanted to erase them. Our personal and community silence allows these violent expressions of honour to survive and is what makes these murders possible in the first place. Memini is a small and humble step towards ending that silence.

Although the story of Banaz is filled with so much darkness, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode shows us what can be achieved if we just simply care. Caroline went above and beyond the call of duty, going to the ends of the earth to find justice for Banaz–not just to fulfill her obligation as a police officer, but from feeling duty bound and seeing Banaz with a mother’s eyes and feeling with a mother’s heart.. I am grateful to have found Caroline and Banaz through this journey. For me, Caroline’s dedication and integrity, her compassion and her professionalism, represents the highest expression of truly honourable behaviour. The core lesson I have learned is that there is hope, but more has to be done – and I am committed to doing what I can, however small the action. I believe one thing we can do is to remember the victims. I believe if their own blood relatives discarded, betrayed, exterminated and forgot them, then we should adopt these girls as our own children, our own sisters, our own mothers and as fellow human beings. We will mourn, we will remember, we will honour their memory and we will not forget!

If we worry about offending communities by criticising honour killings, then we are complicit in the perpetuation of violence and abuse, in the restriction of women’s lives. Our silence provides the soil for this oppression and violence to thrive. It is not racist to protest against honour killings. We have a duty to stand up for individual human rights for all people, not for just men and not just for groups. We shall not sacrifice the lives of ethnic minority women for the sake of so-called political correctness.

I’d rather hurt feelings than see women die because of our fear, apathy and silence. We need to stand in solidarity. In order to create change we need to care. We need authorities, decision makers and politicians to provide the same protections and robust actions for women of ethnic minority communities affected by honour based violence and oppression as they would for any other crimes in any other part of society. It is not acceptable to shy away from abuses happening against women in some communities for fears of being labelled racist or insensitive– the very notion of turning a blind eye or walking on egg shells and avoiding to protect basic human rights of some women because they are of a certain ethnic background is not only fatal, but represents true racism.

We cannot continue to allow this slaughter of women in the name of culture, in the name of religion, in the name of tradition and in the name of political correctness. If we allow this to continue, we are betraying not only Banaz but thousands of other women and girls in her situation. Surely we should do all we can to protect all individuals in our societies regardless of skin colour, cultural heritage or gender, without fear?

We must challenge these paradigms in every way we can. Centuries old mindsets, entrenched gender roles and power relations will take time to change, but we can make a real and immediate difference in challenging the lack of awareness, the lack of political will, the lack of sufficient training and understanding when it comes to front line people who can help individuals at risk. This includes police, doctors, nurses, school teachers, social services and so on. At the very least the ignorance of authorities and lack of their understanding and training in European countries should not be a contributing factor in the continuing abuse of thousands of women (and men). We can not allow it to be the reason why these young people continue to suffer in silence because they fear they won’t be understood and won’t get the help they need.

Banaz is among the people who dared to ask for help; the majority of young people at risk of the various forms of honour based violence may not come forward at all.

All of the honour killings I researched are horrifying, heartbreaking and devastating, and no one case felt any less sad and tragic than any other. The reason I ended up choosing the story of Banaz was not because of the horror but because of the love. Banaz’s story was different in my eyes from most other stories because there was love in spite of the hatred she faced in her life, after death there were people who loved her and cared about her, one of whom was the most unexpected person I could have imagined, a police officer, of all people, DCI Caroline Goode. The other was Banaz’s sister Bekhal, who sacrificed her own safety and peace of mind for the sake of her love for her sister and her need to honour her memory through achieving justice. I have the greatest respect for Bekhal, her courage and determination defines true honour for me.

I was most saddened, from the very beginning of this project, to see how absent Banaz was from her own story. Normally a biographical film will feature family members, friends, and other people who knew the person sharing their love, their memories and thoughts about the person who has died, showing home videos and photographs and the other mementoes of loving relationships. In this film that was just not the case at all. The only person in the film speaking about Banaz and who had known Banaz when she was alive was her sister. Everyone else in the film came to know Banaz after she had passed away. We even put out calls in local newspapers and reached out through facebook and other social media to find anyone who would have known her and would be willing to share their memories of her, but no one came forward. This hurt my heart until I came across the footage of Banaz herself, showing us the suffocating reality of her life. Watching this tape for the first time was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I had spent three and a half years working on this documentary, learning everything I could about this young women’s life — and her death, and we were in the final editing process, and then suddenly here she was present on this tape. No one else would come forward to speak about her, but here she was herself in the final momemts of the process of making this film. It was a harrowing experience to finally be able to hear and see her tell her own story.

I found it excruciatingly sad to see her and at the same time I felt so glad and privileged to finally get a chance to see her and hear her. No one listened to her in her life, so the least we can do is listen to her now.

As a society we have let down Banaz, and as her community we have let her down, so the least we can now paying her the respect to listen to her and to learn from her experiences, and to honour Banaz we through addressing this issue with complete honesty and courage.

I deeply regret the fact that it took her death for people to start the process of learning more about this problem, although measures have been taken to improve the understanding around this, in my personal opinion, reflected in the research I have done, there is a very long way to go before we can adequately understand, protect and support women at risk. We don’t need empty slogans or lip service; we need real effective action on this issue. Living in Western societies, we need our lives as “brown” women to matter as much as any white British, Norwegian, French, German, Swedish, American, European or any other woman and fellow human being.

It feels surreal but deeply satisfying to finally stand at the point of completion. It has been a very long, hard and emotionally difficult process. It is my first film ever, and I feel proud to have had the opportunity to work on a project like this, and honoured to get to tell the story of such remarkable women such as Banaz, Bekhal and Caroline.

One of the things that has been very moving about this project is that, every single person who has been involved with the film has done so out of love for Banaz and for this project, and I have a deep feeling of gratitude for everyone who took part..Even though I did not have the budget to make a film like this, the time and commitment of my team made it possible — not only have people worked for significantly reduced rates, but often they have also worked for free. For example, the master musician Dr. Subramaniam contributed a soundtrack for the film because he believed in the project and wanted to contribute even though I was unable to pay him his usual fees. The entire process of this film has been like this and I have nothing but gratitude for the hard work, care and passion of everyone involved.

The tragic story of Banaz Mahmod: she fell in love at 19, so her family killed her
Fiona Barton
Daily Mail
12 June 2007

As one of five daughters in a strictly-traditional Kurdish family, Banaz Mahmod’s future was ordained whether she liked it or not.

She was kept away from Western influences, entered an arranged marriage at the age of 16 with a member of her clan and was expected to fulfil the role of subservient wife and mother.

But Banaz, a bright, pretty 19-year-old, fell in love with another man.

And for that, she was murdered by her father, uncle and a group of family friends. The very people who should have protected her from harm plotted her killing, garrotted her with a bootlace, stuffed her body in a suitcase and buried her under a freezer.

Banaz’s crime was to « dishonour » her father, Mahmod Mahmod, an asylum seeker from Iraqi Kurdistan, by leaving her abusive marriage and choosing her own boyfriend – a man from a different Kurdish clan.

Her punishment was discussed at a family « council of war » attended by her father, uncle Ari and other members of the clan. In the living room of a suburban semi in Mitcham, South London, it was decided that this young woman’s life was to be snuffed out so that her family would not be shamed in the eyes of the community.

Banaz was only ten when she came to Britain with her father, who had served in the Iraqi army, her mother Behya, brother Bahman and sisters Beza, Bekhal, Payman and Giaband.

The family, who came from the mountainous and rural Mirawaldy area, close to the Iranian border, were escaping Saddam Hussein’s regime and were granted asylum.

But Banaz’s move to a western country changed nothing about the life she was made to lead.

She had met her husband-tobe only three times before her wedding day, once on her father’s allotment. He was ill-educated and old-fashioned but her family described him as ‘the David Beckham of husbands’.

The teenage bride, who was taken to live in the West Midlands, was to tell local police in September 2005 that she had been raped at least six times and routinely beaten by her husband.

In one assault, she claimed, one of her teeth was almost knocked out because she called him by his first name in public.

To leave the arranged marriage would have brought dishonour on the Mahmod family and Banaz’s parents apparently preferred their child to suffer abuse rather than be shamed.

But after two years of marriage, she insisted on returning home to seek sanctuary. It was there, at a family party in the late summer of 2005, that she met Rahmat Sulemani.

For the first time in her blighted existence, Banaz fell in love. She was besotted with Rahmat, 28, calling him ‘my prince’ and sending endless loving text messages. Her father and uncle Ari were furious; the young woman was not yet formally divorced by her husband and her boyfriend was neither from their clan nor religious. More importantly, perhaps, he had not been chosen by her family.

Mahmod became enraged when his daughter refused to give up her boyfriend and talked of being in love.

The threat to family honour was immense and made worse by the fact that Banaz’s elder sister, Bekhal, had already brought « shame » on the family by moving out of the house at the age of 15, to escape her father’s violence.

Bekhal’s defiance meant that Mahmod lost status in the community because he was seen to

have failed to control his women and his younger brother Ari, a wealthy entrepreneur who ran a money transfer business, took over as head of the family.

It was he who telephoned Banaz on December 1, 2005 to tell her to end the affair with Rahmat or face the consequences.

The following day, Ari called a council of war to plan her murder and the disposal of her body. She was secretly warned by her mother that the lives of her and her boyfriend were in danger, and she went to Mitcham Police Station to report the death threat. But she was so terrified of her family’s reaction that she asked police to take no action and refused to move to a refuge.

The next day, an officer called at the family home but Banaz would not let him in.

She believed that her mother would protect her from harm but as an insurance against her disappearance, went back to the police station a week later to make a full statement, naming the men she believed would kill her.

One of the men was Mohamad Hama, who has admitted murder and two of the others named fled back to Iraq after the killing. On New Year’s Eve 2005, she was lured to her grandmother’s house in nearby Wimbledon for a meeting with her father and uncle to sort out her divorce.

When her father appeared wearing surgical gloves, ready to kill her, she ran out barefoot, broke a window to get into a neighbour’s house and then ran to a nearby cafe, covered in blood from cuts to her hands and screaming: « They’re trying to kill me ».

The officers who attended the scene and accompanied Banaz to hospital did not believe her story.

However, the distressed and injured victim was able to give her own testimony about the attack to the jury in a short video recorded on Rahmat’s mobile phone at St George’s Hospital, Tooting.

The terrified lovers pretended they had parted but they continued to meet in secret. Tragically, they were spotted together in Brixton on January 21 and the Mahmods were informed.

Mohamad Hama and three other men tried to kidnap Rahmat and, when his friends intervened, told him he would be killed later.

When he phoned to warn Banaz, she went to the police and said she would co- operate in bringing charges against her family and other members of the community.

The policewoman who saw Banaz tried to persuade her to go into a hostel or safe house but she thought she would be safe at home because her mother was there.

On January 24, Banaz was left on her own at the family house and her assassins, Hama and two associates, were alerted.

The full details of what happened to her are still not known but two of the suspects, Omar Hussein and Mohammed Ali, who fled back to Iraq after the killing, are said to have boasted that Banaz was raped before she was strangled, « to show her disrespect ».

There followed a « massively challenging » investigation into her disappearance by detectives, fearing the worst. The family’s appalling crime was finally exposed when, three months after she went missing, Banaz’s remains were found, with the bootlace still around her neck.

The discovery of her body provoked no emotion in her father and uncle. Even at her funeral, the only tears were from Banaz’s brother.

« She had a small life, » a detective on the case said. « There is no headstone on her grave, nothing there to mark her existence. »

Yesterday, her devastated boyfriend, who has been given a new identity by the Home Office under the witness protection programme, said: « Banaz was my first love. She meant the world to me. »

The dead girl’s older sister, Bekhal, urged other women in the same position as her and her sister to seek help before it is too late.

Even today she continues to fear for her life, lives at a secret address and never goes out without wearing a long black veil that covers her entire body and face apart from her eyes.

She strongly rejected the suggestion that Banaz had brought « shame » on her Kurdish family by falling in love with a man they did not approve of, saying her sister simply wanted to live her own life.

« There’s a lot of evil people out there. They might be your own blood, they might be a stranger to you, but they are evil.

« They come over here, thinking they can still carry on the same life and make people carry on how they want them to live life. »

Asked what was in her father’s mind on the day that Banaz died, Bekhal replied: « All I can say is devilishness. How can somebody think that kind of thing and actually do it to your own flesh and blood? It’s disgusting. »

Bekhal says she is scared whenever she sees somebody from the same background as her.

« I watch my back 24/7. »

Voir de plus:

‘They’re following me’: chilling words of girl who was ‘honour killing’ victim
The murder of Banaz Mahmod by her family in 2006 shocked the country. A documentary now tells her story
Tracy McVeigh
The Observer
22 September 2012

On police videotape, a 19-year-old girl named those she believed had intended to kill her. They would try again, she said. « People are following me, still they are following me. At any time, if anything happens to me, it’s them, » she told the officers calmly. « Now I have given my statement, » she asked an officer, « what can you do for me? »

The answer was very little. Banaz Mahmod went back to her family in Mitcham, south London. Three months later she disappeared. It was several months before her raped and strangled body was found and four years before all those responsible for killing her were tracked down and jailed. Her father and uncle planned her death because the teenager had first walked out of a violent and sexually abusive arranged marriage, and later had fallen in love with someone else.

Now a documentary is to be premiered at the Raindance film festival, which opens this week, that includes for the first time some of the recordings made both by Banaz herself in the runup to her murder and the videotapes of some of the five visits she made to police to report the danger she felt herself to be in and name, before the event, her murderers. She told how her husband was « very strict. Like it was 50 years ago. »

« When he raped me it was like I was his shoe that he could wear whenever he wanted to. I didn’t know if this was normal in my culture, or here. I was 17. » Her family were furious when she finally left him.

The so-called honour killing of Banaz, who was murdered on 24 January 2006, shocked not only the country but also the police team, who faced a daunting task in bringing her killers to justice. They faced an investigation within an Iraqi Kurdish community, many of whom believed Banaz had deserved her fate for bringing shame on her father – a former soldier who fled Saddam Hussein and had sought asylum in the UK with his wife and five daughters. Mahmod Mahmod and his brother, Ari, were jailed for life for their part in the murder in 2007, but two other men involved fled to Iraq and were extradited back before being jailed for life in 2010.

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode, who won a Queen’s Award for her dedicated efforts in getting justice for Banaz, said she found the case harrowing. In most cases police get justice after a murder for the family. « In this case the family had no interest whatsoever in the investigation. It was an absolute outrage that this girl was missing and nobody cared. »

The film also shows the continuing effects of the killing, with both Banaz’s boyfriend and her sister, Bekhal, still living in hiding and in fear. Bekhal has put her own life at risk by her decision to give evidence against her family in court. She now « watches her back 24/7 ».

Remembering her sister, she tells the film-makers: « She was a very calm and quiet person. She loved to see people happy and didn’t like arguments, she didn’t like people raising their voices, she hated it. She just wanted a happy life, she just wanted a family. »

The film, Banaz: A Love Story, was made by the former pop star and now music producer and film-maker Deeyah. Norwegian-born, but of Punjabi and Pashtun heritage, Deeyah has herself been subject to honour-related abuse and her singing career was marred by endless death threats that, in part, led to her giving up touring. The story of Banaz, who died because she just wanted to be an ordinary British teenager, she said, struck an immediate chord with her.

« Despite the horror, what emerges is a story of love, » said Deeyah. « What has upset me greatly from the very beginning of this project is how absent Banaz was from her own story. Whenever you see a film about someone who has passed you will always have family, friends, people who knew the person, sharing their love, their memories and thoughts about the person who has died; they have home videos, photos. That was just not the case here at all. The only person speaking for Banaz who had known her alive was her sister. Other than that, everyone else in the film came to know Banaz after she had died. »

A search for other witnesses to her life proved fruitless. « We tried to find anyone who would have known her, no one came forward, » said Deeyah. « Then I came across the videotape with Banaz herself, telling us what her suffocating reality was like. Watching this tape for the first time was among the most difficult things I have ever experienced. I had spent three-and-a-half years working on this film, learning everything I could about this young woman’s life and her death, we were in the final editing process and suddenly here she was, when no one else would come forward to speak about her.

« I found it excruciatingly sad to see her and at the same time I felt so glad to finally get a chance to see her and hear her. No one listened to her in her life. As a society we let down Banaz, as her community we let her down. I am sorry she had to die for people to start learning more about this problem, although measures have been taken to improve the understanding around this.

« There is a very long way to go before we can adequately understand, protect and support women at risk. We don’t need empty slogans or lip service, we need real concise action on this issue. Living in western societies, we need our lives as ‘brown’ women to matter as much as any fellow human being. »

Voir enfin:

Crime d’honneur -Elif Shafak
Patrice
Cultura
le 28/04/2013

Roman sensible et émouvant d’une auteure turque adulée dans son pays, Crime d’honneur tisse les relations complexes d’une famille écartelée entre sa culture traditionnelle et le désir d’émancipation né du passage à l’occident.
Un village près de l’Euphrate, dans un monde patriarcal où l’honneur des hommes est la valeur suprême. Là, une femme qui implore Allah pour la naissance d’un fils après avoir mis au monde six filles voit sa requête ignorée. Ce seront deux filles de plus : Pembe et Jamila, jumelles aux caractères aussi dissemblables que leurs destins. L’une se marie avec le Turc Adem et part vivre avec lui à Londres, dans un pays hostile et providentiel. L’autre se retire dans une cabane isolée et devient la sage-femme vierge. C’est Pembe, la voyageuse, qui réalisera le rêve maternel en accouchant en Angleterre d’un fils : Iskender, aîné de la fratrie, sultan, petit dieu. Mais les amours contrariés pèsent de tout leur poids dans les malheurs à venir. Car amoureux de Jamila, Adem a dû se résoudre à épouser Pembe qu’il n’aimera jamais et quittera. Le champ est libre pour mettre l’honneur à l’épreuve, car chacun sait chez les kurdes que les femmes ne peuvent apporter que la honte. Et qu’en l’absence du mari, c’est sur le fils, aussi jeune soit-il, que pèse la responsabilité de défendre, par tous les moyens, l’honneur du clan.

EXTRAIT

ESMA Londres, septembre 1992

Ma mère est morte deux fois. Je me suis promis de ne pas permettre qu’on oublie son histoire, mais je n’ai jamais trouvé le temps, la volonté ou le courage de la coucher par écrit. Jusqu’à récemment, je veux dire. Je ne crois pas être en mesure de devenir un véritable écrivain, et ça n’a plus d’importance. J’ai atteint un âge qui me met davantage en paix avec mes limites et mes échecs. Il fallait pourtant que je raconte cette histoire, ne serait-ce qu’à une personne. Il fallait que je l’envoie dans un coin de l’univers où elle pourrait flotter librement, loin de nous. Je la devais à maman, cette liberté. Et il fallait que je termine cette année. Avant qu’il soit libéré de prison.
Dans quelques heures, je retirerai du feu le halva au sésame, je le mettrai à refroidir près de l’évier et j’embrasserai mon époux, feignant de ne pas remarquer l’inquiétude dans ses yeux. Je quitterai alors la maison avec mes jumelles – sept ans, nées à quatre minutes d’intervalle – pour les conduire à une fête d’anniversaire. Elles se disputeront en chemin et, pour une fois, je ne les gronderai pas. Elles se demanderont s’il y aura un clown, à la fête, ou mieux : un magicien.
– Comme Harry Houdini, suggérerai-je.
– Harry Wou-quoi ?
– Woudini, elle a dit, idiote !
– C’est qui, maman ?
Ça me fera mal. Une douleur de piqûre d’abeille. Pas grand-chose en surface, mais une brûlure tenace à l’intérieur. Je me rendrai compte, comme à tant d’occasions, qu’elles ne connaissent rien de l’histoire de la famille, parce que je leur en ai raconté si peu. Un jour, quand elles seront prêtes. Quand je serai prête.
Après avoir déposé les petites, je bavarderai un moment avec les autres mères. Je rappellerai à l’hôtesse qu’une de mes filles est allergique aux noix et que, comme il est difficile de distinguer les jumelles, il vaut mieux les garder à l’œil toutes les deux, et s’assurer que ni l’une ni l’autre n’ingère d’aliments contenant des noix, y compris le gâteau d’anniversaire. C’est un peu injuste pour mon autre fille, mais entre jumelles ça arrive parfois – l’injustice, je veux dire.
Je retournerai alors à ma voiture, une Austin Montego que mon mari et moi conduisons à tour de rôle. La route de Londres à Shrewsbury prend trois heures et demie. Il est possible que je doive faire le plein d’essence juste avant Birmingham. J’écouterai la radio. Ça m’aidera à chasser les fantômes, la musique.
Bien des fois, j’ai envisagé de le tuer. J’ai élaboré des plans complexes mettant en action un pistolet, du poison, voire un couteau à cran d’arrêt – une justice poétique, en quelque sorte. J’ai même pensé lui pardonner, tout à fait, en toute sincérité. En fin de compte, je n’ai rien accompli.
*
En arrivant à Shrewsbury, je laisserai la voiture devant la gare et je parcourrai à pied en cinq minutes la distance me séparant du sinistre bâtiment de la prison. Je ferai les cent pas sur le trottoir ou je m’adosserai au mur, face au portail, pour attendre qu’il sorte. Je ne sais pas combien de temps ça prendra. Je ne sais pas non plus comment il réagira en me voyant. Je ne l’ai pas revu depuis plus d’un an. Au début, je lui rendais visite régulièrement mais, alors qu’approchait le jour de sa libération, j’ai cessé de venir.
À un moment, le lourd battant s’ouvrira et il sortira. Il lèvera le regard vers le ciel couvert, lui qui a perdu l’habitude d’une aussi vaste étendue au-dessus de lui, en quatorze années d’incarcération. Je l’imagine plissant les yeux pour se protéger de la lumière du jour, comme une créature de la nuit. Pendant ce temps, je ne bougerai pas, je compterai jusqu’à dix, ou cent, ou trois mille. On ne s’embrassera pas. On ne se serrera pas la main. Un hochement de tête et un salut murmuré de nos voix fluettes et étranglées. Arrivé à la gare, il sautera dans la voiture. Je serai surprise de constater qu’il est toujours musclé. C’est encore un jeune homme, après tout.
S’il veut une cigarette, je ne m’y opposerai pas, bien que j’en déteste l’odeur et que je ne laisse mon mari fumer ni dans la voiture ni à la maison. Je roulerai à travers la campagne anglaise, entre des prairies paisibles et des champs cultivés. Il m’interrogera sur mes filles. Je lui dirai qu’elles sont en bonne santé, qu’elles grandissent vite. Il sourira comme s’il avait la moindre idée de ce que c’est d’être parent. Je ne lui poserai aucune question en retour.
J’aurai apporté une cassette pour la route. « Les plus grands succès d’ABBA » – toutes les chansons que ma mère aimait fredonner en cousant, en faisant la cuisine ou le ménage : Take a Chance on Me, Mamma Mia !, Dancing Queen, The Name of the Game… Parce qu’elle nous regardera, j’en suis certaine. Les mères ne montent pas au paradis, quand elles meurent. Elles obtiennent la permission de Dieu de rester un peu plus longtemps dans les parages pour veiller sur leurs enfants, quoi qu’il se soit passé entre eux au cours de leurs brèves vies mortelles.
De retour à Londres, on gagnera Barnsbury Square et je chercherai une place de stationnement en grognant. Il se mettra à pleuvoir – des petites gouttes cristallines – et je réussirai à me garer. Je me demande s’il me dira en riant que j’ai la conduite typique des femmes au volant. Il l’aurait fait, jadis.
On se dirigera ensemble vers la maison, dans la rue silencieuse et lumineuse devant et derrière nous. Pendant un court instant, je comparerai ce qui nous entoure à notre maison de Hackney, celle de Lavender Grove, et je n’en reviendrai pas de trouver tout si différent, désormais – combien le temps a progressé, alors même que nous ne progressions pas !
Une fois à l’intérieur, on retirera nos chaussures et on enfilera des pantoufles, une paire de charentaises anthracite pour lui, empruntée à mon mari, et pour moi des mules bordeaux à pompon. Son visage se crispera en les voyant. Pour l’apaiser, je lui dirai qu’elles sont un cadeau de mes filles. Il se détendra en comprenant que ce ne sont pas les siennes à elle, que la ressemblance n’est que pure coïncidence.
Depuis la porte, il me regardera faire du thé, que je lui servirai sans lait mais avec beaucoup de sucre, à condition que la prison n’ait pas changé ses habitudes. Puis je sortirai le halva au sésame. On s’assoira tous les deux près de la fenêtre, nos tasses et nos assiettes à la main, comme des étrangers polis observant la pluie sur les jonquilles du jardin. Il me complimentera sur mes talents de cuisinière et me confiera que le halva au sésame lui a manqué, tout en refusant d’en reprendre. Je lui dirai que je respecte la recette de maman à la lettre, mais que jamais il n’est aussi bon que le sien. Ça le fera taire. On se regardera dans les yeux, dans un silence lourd. Puis il s’excusera, prétextera de la fatigue pour demander à aller se reposer, si c’est possible. Je le conduirai à sa chambre et je refermerai lentement la porte.
Je le laisserai là. Dans une pièce de ma maison. Ni loin ni trop près. Je le confinerai entre ces quatre murs, entre la haine et l’amour, sentiments que je ne peux m’empêcher d’éprouver, piégés dans une boîte au fond de mon cœur.
C’est mon frère.
Lui, un meurtrier.

EXTRAIT BAC :

Together they focused on the film.

Pembe watched The Kid with wide-open eyes, the look of surprise on her countenance deepening with each scene. When Chaplin found an abandoned baby in a rubbish bin, and raised him like his own son, she smiled with appreciation. When the child flung stones at the neighbours’ windows so that the tramp–disguised as a glazier–could fix them and earn some money, she chuckled. When social services took the boy away, her eyes welled up with tears.

And, finally, as father and son were reunited, her face lit up with contentment, and a trace of something that Elias took to be melancholy. So absorbed did she seem in the film that he felt a twinge of resentment. What a funny thing it was to be jealous of Charlie Chaplin. Elias observed her as she unpinned her hair, and then pinned it back. He caught a whiff of jasmine and rose, a heady, charming mixture. Only minutes before the film came to an end, he found the nerve to reach out for her fingers, feeling like a teenager on his first date. To his relief, she didn’t move her hand away. They sat still–two sculptures carved out of the dark, both scared of making a move that would disrupt the tenderness of the moment.

When the lights came back on, it took them a few seconds to grow accustomed to real life. Quickly, he took out a notepad and wrote down the name of another cinema in another part of the town. “Next week, same day, same time, will you come?”
“Yes”, she faltered. Before he’d found a chance to say anything else, Pembe leaped to her feet and headed towards the exit, running away from him and everything that had taken place between them, or would have taken place, had they been different people.

She held in her palm the name of the place they were to meet next time, grasping it tightly, as if it were the key to a magic world, a key she would use right now were it in her power to decide. And so it began. They started to meet every Friday at the same time, and occasionally on other afternoons. They frequented the Phoenix more than any other place, but they also met at several other cinemas, all far-away from their home, all unpopular.
[. . .]
In time he found out more things about her, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that he would complete only long after she had gone.
[..]
Slowly he was beginning to make sense of the situation. This unfathomable, almost enigmatic attraction that he felt for her, a woman so alien to the life he had led, was like a childhood memory coming back.

Elif Shafak, Honour, 2012

Voir par ailleurs:

Bac 2013: shocking confusion à l’épreuve d’anglais
Marie Caroline Missir
L’Express
20/06/2013

Les concepteurs du sujet d’anglais LV1 se seraient risqués à comparer le prestigieux ‘ »Oxford Union » avec une vulgaire association étudiante…

Lorsque le journaliste anglais Peter Gumbel a découvert le sujet d’anglais première langue du bac 2013, son sang n’a fait qu’un tour. Les concepteurs du sujet auraient confondu « Oxford Union », prestigieux cercle de discussion et de débats bien connu Outre-manche, avec l »‘Oxford’s Student Union », l’équivalent du bureau des élèves. Shocking!

Le texte sur lequel devaient en effet plancher les lycéens est tiré d’une oeuvre de Jeffrey Archer, First Among Equal. Le récit en question met en scène un jeune homme très ambitieux, et qui pourrait, selon sa mère, aspirer à présider le prestigieux « Oxford Union ». A partir de la lecture de ce texte, les élèves sont alors invités à disserter en imaginant le discours de campagne de Simon, le héros de Archer, pour devenir président « of the University’s Student Union », soit l’association des étudiants d’Oxford…rien à voir avec l’Oxford Union, évoquée dans le texte du sujet! « Cette confusion, absolument incroyable pour un examen tel que le bac exigerait que l’épreuve soit annulée! », estime-t-il.

Pour l’Inspection générale d’anglais, il n’y a aucune erreur dans ce sujet. « Dans le texte de compréhension, il est en effet fait référence à la prestigieuse société de réflexion et de débats Oxford Union. Il est vraisemblable que relativement peu de candidats la connaissent. L’un des sujets d’expression proposés au choix du candidat envisage une autre situation: le personnage du texte décide d’être candidat à la présidence de the University’s Student Union. Pour éviter toute confusion, Oxford n’est pas mentionné. Les candidats sont invités à tenir compte de ce qu’ils connaissent du personnage pour l’imaginer dans une situation différente du texte », justifie l’inspection. Much Ado about nothing donc, comme dirait Sheakespeare.

Peter Gumbel est l’auteur de « Elite Academy, La France malade de ses grandes écoles », Denoël, 2013.

COMPLEMENT:

Honor’ Killings: A New Kind of American Tragedy
A new kind of American tragedy is taking place in a Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Breitbart
30 Jun 2014

Both the defendant, standing trial for conspiracy to commit murder abroad in Pakistan, and the main witness against him, his daughter Amina, wept when they first saw each other. Amina’s extended family stared at her with hostility. As she testified, Amina paused, hesitated, and sobbed. She and her father had been very close until he decided that she had become too “Americanized.”

This Pakistani-American father of five, a widower, worked seven days a week driving a cab in order to support his children; this included sending his daughter, Amina, to Brooklyn College.

This is a successful American immigrant story—and yet, it is also a unique and unprecedented story as well, one which demands that Western law prevail over murderously misogynistic tribal honor codes.

At some point, Mohammad Ajmal Choudry sent Amina to Pakistan so that she might re-connect with her “roots”—but he had her held hostage there for three years. During that time, Amina, an American citizen, was forced into an arranged marriage, ostensibly to her first cousin, who probably expected this marriage to lead to his American citizenship. Such arranged marriages, and arranged specifically for this purpose, are routine. They are also factors in a number of high profile honor killing cases in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

For example, the Texas born and raised Said sisters, Aminah and Sarah, refused to marry Egyptian men as their Egyptian cab-driver father Yasir wanted them to do and he killed them for it. Canadian-Indian, Jaswinder Kaur, refused to marry the man her mother had chosen for her and instead married someone she loved. Her widowed mother and maternal uncle had her killed in India. They have been fighting extradition from Canada for more than a decade.

Amina, who grew up in New York from the time she was nine years old, did not want to be held hostage to this marriage. Indeed, Amina had found a man whom she loved and wished to marry.

Plucky Americanized Amina fled the arranged marriage within a month. With the help of a relative, the U.S. State Department, and ultimately, the Department of Homeland Security, Amina left Pakistan and went into hiding in the United States.

She had to. Her father had threatened to kill her if she did not return to her husband, give up her boyfriend, or return to her father. Mohammad may have pledged Amina’s hand without her knowledge, long, long ago.

A female relative’s sexual and reproductive activities are assets that belong to her father’s family, her tribe, her religion. They are not seen as individual rights.

Acting as if one is “free” to choose whom to marry and whom not to marry means that a woman has become too Westernized, or, in Amina’s case, too “Americanized.” This is a capital crime.

From Mohammad’s point of view, his beloved daughter had betrayed and dishonored him. She had “un-manned” him before his family. The desire to marry whom you want or to leave a violent marriage are viewed as filthy and selfish desires. Many Muslims in the Arab and Muslim world; Hindus and Muslims in India; and Muslims and, to a lesser extent, Sikhs in the West share this view and accordingly, perpetrate “honor killings.”

I do not like this phrase. An honor killing is dishonorable and it is also murder, plain and simple. It is a form of human sacrifice. It is also femicide–although sometimes boys and men are also murdered. I would like to call them “horror” murders.

American federal statutes have allowed prosecutors to charge and convict American citizens and residents while they are in the United States for having committed crimes abroad. This includes conspiracy to commit murder, incite terrorism, launder money, engage in racketeering, etc.

What did Mohammad Choudry do? According to the Indictment filed in United States District Court/the Eastern District of New York on September 20, 2013, Choudry “knowingly and intentionally conspired” to commit one or more murders. He contacted and wired money to at least four conspirators in Pakistan, including some relatives. Since Amina would not come out of hiding, their job was to murder the father and sister of Amina’s boyfriend. And they did just that. An eyewitness “observed Choudry’s brother standing over the victims, holding a gun and desecrating the bodies.”

The murders were committed in Pakistan “between January 2013 and February 2013.” Mohammad Ajmal Choudry was arrested in New York on February 25, 2013. The trial began last week, in June, 2014. Amina testified that her father vowed to kill her and every member of her new lover’s family if she did not do the right thing.

The price of love or of freedom for Amina—and for other women in her position–is very high. She will have no family of origin. If she ever weakens and tries to seek them out, she risks being killed by one of her siblings, uncles, or cousins. After all, Amina entrapped her father on the phone by allowing him to death threaten her and others.

I have published three studies about honor killing and am at work on a fourth such study. I have also written countless articles about this subject and submitted affidavits in cases where girls and women have fled honor killing families and are seeking political asylum.

I am beginning to think that, like female genital mutilation, honor murder is so entrenched a custom that, in addition to prevention and prosecution,  (at least in the West), what may be required is this: People may need to be taught courage, the art of resisting tribal barbarism. Families need to learn to go against tradition, withstand ostracism and mockery, withstand being cut off by their families and villages—for the sake of their daughters.

One fear that a “dishonored” family has is that they will not be able to marry off their other daughters or sons. Perhaps educating a pool of potential marriage mates into understanding that murder is not “honorable;” that daughters’ lives are valuable, that such horror murders are not religiously sanctioned (if indeed, that is the case), and that enacting tribal honor codes are high crimes in the West.

The Choudry trial continues today in Brooklyn. Stay tuned for breaking news.


Irak: Avec Assad, on voit bien ce qui arrive quand on laisse un dictateur en place (Blair: The problems don’t go away)

15 juin, 2014
https://i1.wp.com/www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/iraq/images/graves-map2.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/www.voiceofthebelievers.com/iraqis_mass_gravesm.jpgL’Irak (…) pourrait être l’un des grands succès de cette administration. Joe Biden (10.02.10)
To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready … would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous. George Bush (2007)
A number of scholars and former government officials take strong issue with the administration’s warning about a new caliphate, and compare it to the fear of communism spread during the Cold War. They say that although Al Qaeda’s statements do indeed describe a caliphate as a goal, the administration is exaggerating the magnitude of the threat as it seeks to gain support for its policies in Iraq. NYT (2005)
More than 600,000 Iraqi children have died due to lack of food and medicine and as a result of the unjustifiable aggression (sanction) imposed on Iraq and its nation. The children of Iraq are our children. You, the USA, together with the Saudi regime are responsible for the shedding of the blood of these innocent children.  (…) The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka’ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies.   (…) there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. Osama Bin Laden (1996)
Le peuple comprend maintenant les discours des oulémas dans les mosquées, selon lesquels notre pays est devenu une colonie de l’empire américain. Il agit avec détermination pour chasser les Américains d’Arabie saoudite. […] La solution à cette crise est le retrait des troupes américaines. Leur présence militaire est une insulte au peuple saoudien. Ben Laden
Tuer les Américains et leurs alliés, qu’ils soient civils ou militaires, est un devoir qui s’impose à tout musulman qui le pourra, dans tout pays où il se trouvera. Ben Laden (février 1998)
27 août 1992 : les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne et la France mettent en place une autre zone d’exclusion aérienne, au sud du 32eme parallèle, avec l’objectif d’observer les violations de droits de l’homme à l’encontre de la population chiite.
3 septembre 1996 : en représailles à un déploiement de troupes irakiennes dans la zone nord, les Etats-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne ripostent militairement dans le sud et étendent la zone d’exclusion aérienne sud, qui passe du 32eme au 33eme parallèle. La France refuse cette extension, mais continue à effectuer des missions de surveillance aérienne au sud du 32ème parallèle..
27 décembre 1996 : Jacques Chirac décide de retirer la France du contrôle de la zone d’exclusion aérienne nord. Il justifie cette décision par le fait que le dispositif a changé de nature avec les bombardements de septembre, et que le volet humanitaire initialement prévu n’y est plus inclus. La France proteste par ailleurs contre la décision unilatérale des Etats-Unis et de la Turquie (avec l’acceptation de la Grande-Bretagne) d’augmenter la zone d’exclusion aérienne sud.
Michel Wéry
Les Etats-Unis n’ont pas envahi l’Irak mais sont intervenus dans un conflit déjà en cours.  Kiron Skinner (conseillère à la sécurité du président Bush)
Since a wounded Saddam could not be left unattended and an oil-rich Saudi Arabia could not be left unprotected, U.S. troops took up long-term residence in the Saudi kingdom, a fateful decision that started the clock ticking toward 9/11. As bin Laden himself explained in his oft-quoted 1996 fatwa, his central aim was “to expel the occupying enemy from the country of the two Holy places.”… Put another way, bin Laden’s casus belli was an unintended and unforeseen byproduct of what Saddam Hussein had done in 1990. The presence of U.S. troops in the land of Mecca and Medina had galvanized al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which triggered America’s global war on terror, which inevitably led back to Iraq, which is where America finds itself today. In a sense, occupation was inevitable after Desert Storm; perhaps the United States ended up occupying the wrong country. … If the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia sparked bin Laden’s global guerrilla war, America’s low threshold for casualties would serve as the fuel to keep it raging. … From bin Laden’s vantage point, America’s retreats from Beirut in the 1980s, Mogadishu in the 1990s and Yemen in 2000 were evidence of weakness. “When tens of your soldiers were killed in minor battles and one American pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu, you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you,” he recalled. “The extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the heart of every Muslim and a remedy to the chests of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.” … Hence, quitting Iraq could have dramatic and disastrous consequences – something like the fall of Saigon, Desert One, and the Beirut and Mogadishu pullouts all rolled into one giant propaganda victory for the enemy. Not only would it leave a nascent democracy unprotected from bin Laden’s henchmen, it would serve to confirm their perception that America is a paper tiger lacking the will to fight or to stand with those who are willing to fight. Who would count on America the next time? For that matter, on whom would America be able to count as the wars of 9/11 continue? … Finally, retreat also would re-energize the enemy and pave the way toward his ultimate goal. Imagine Iraq spawning a Balkan-style ethno-religious war while serving as a Taliban-style springboard for terror. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s top terrorist in Iraq, already has said, “We fight today in Iraq, and tomorrow in the land of the two Holy Places, and after there the West.” Alan W. Dowd
De même que les progressistes européens et américains doutaient des menaces de Hitler et de Staline, les Occidentaux éclairés sont aujourd’hui en danger de manquer l’urgence des idéologies violentes issues du monde musulman. Les socialistes français des années 30 (…) ont voulu éviter un retour de la première guerre mondiale; ils ont refusé de croire que les millions de personnes en Allemagne avaient perdu la tête et avaient soutenu le mouvement nazi. Ils n’ont pas voulu croire qu’un mouvement pathologique de masse avait pris le pouvoir en Allemagne, ils ont voulu rester ouverts à ce que les Allemands disaient et aux revendiquations allemandes de la première guerre mondiale. Et les socialistes français, dans leur effort pour être ouverts et chaleureux afin d’éviter à tout prix le retour d’une guerre comme la première guerre mondiale, ont fait tout leur possible pour essayer de trouver ce qui était raisonnable et plausible dans les arguments d’Hitler. Ils ont vraiment fini par croire que le plus grand danger pour la paix du monde n’était pas posé par Hitler mais par les faucons de leur propre société, en France. Ces gesn-là étaient les socialistes pacifistes de la France, c’était des gens biens. Pourtant, de fil en aiguille, ils se sont opposés à l’armée française contre Hitler, et bon nombre d’entre eux ont fini par soutenir le régime de Vichy et elles ont fini comme fascistes! Ils ont même dérapé vers l’anti-sémitisme pur, et personne ne peut douter qu’une partie de cela s’est reproduit récemment dans le mouvement pacifiste aux Etats-Unis et surtout en Europe. Un des scandales est que nous avons eu des millions de personnes dans la rue protestant contre la guerre en Irak, mais pas pour réclamer la liberté en Irak. Personne n’a marché dans les rues au nom des libertés kurdes. Les intérêts des dissidents libéraux de l’Irak et les démocrates kurdes sont en fait également nos intérêts. Plus ces personnes prospèrent, plus grande sera notre sécurité. C’est un moment où ce qui devrait être nos idéaux — les idéaux de la démocratie libérale et de la solidarité sociale — sont également objectivement notre intérêt. Bush n’a pas réussi à l’expliquer clairement, et une grande partie de la gauche ne l’a même pas perçu. Paul Berman
Ce n’est pas parce qu’une équipe de juniors porte le maillot des Lakers que cela en fait des Kobe Bryant. Je pense qu’il y a une différence entre les moyens et la portée d’un Ben Laden, d’un réseau qui planifie activement des attaques terroristes de grande envergure contre notre territoire, et ceux de jihadistes impliqués dans des luttes de pouvoir locales, souvent de nature ethnique. Barack Obama (janvier 2014)
Who Lost Iraq? You know who. (…) The military recommended nearly 20,000 troops, considerably fewer than our 28,500 in Korea, 40,000 in Japan, and 54,000 in Germany. The president rejected those proposals, choosing instead a level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops. A deployment so risibly small would have to expend all its energies simply protecting itself — the fate of our tragic, missionless 1982 Lebanon deployment — with no real capability to train the Iraqis, build their U.S.-equipped air force, mediate ethnic disputes (as we have successfully done, for example, between local Arabs and Kurds), operate surveillance and special-ops bases, and establish the kind of close military-to-military relations that undergird our strongest alliances. The Obama proposal was an unmistakable signal of unseriousness. It became clear that he simply wanted out, leaving any Iraqi foolish enough to maintain a pro-American orientation exposed to Iranian influence, now unopposed and potentially lethal. (…) The excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem, and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise. Charles Krauthammer
The prospect of Iraq’s disintegration is already being spun by the Administration and its media friends as the fault of George W. Bush and Mr. Maliki. So it’s worth understanding how we got here. Iraq was largely at peace when Mr. Obama came to office in 2009. Reporters who had known Baghdad during the worst days of the insurgency in 2006 marveled at how peaceful the city had become thanks to the U.S. military surge and counterinsurgency. In 2012 Anthony Blinken, then Mr. Biden’s top security adviser, boasted that, « What’s beyond debate » is that « Iraq today is less violent, more democratic, and more prosperous. And the United States is more deeply engaged there than at any time in recent history. » Mr. Obama employed the same breezy confidence in a speech last year at the National Defense University, saying that « the core of al Qaeda » was on a « path to defeat, » and that the « future of terrorism » came from « less capable » terrorist groups that mainly threatened « diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. » Mr. Obama concluded his remarks by calling on Congress to repeal its 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against al Qaeda. If the war on terror was over, ISIS didn’t get the message. The group, known as Tawhid al-Jihad when it was led a decade ago by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was all but defeated by 2009 but revived as U.S. troops withdrew and especially after the uprising in Syria spiraled into chaos. It now controls territory from the outskirts of Aleppo in northwestern Syria to Fallujah in central Iraq. The possibility that a long civil war in Syria would become an incubator for terrorism and destabilize the region was predictable, and we predicted it. « Now the jihadists have descended by the thousands on Syria, » we noted last May. « They are also moving men and weapons to and from Iraq, which is increasingly sinking back into Sunni-Shiite civil war. . . . If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki feels threatened by al Qaeda and a Sunni rebellion, he will increasingly look to Iran to help him stay in power. » We don’t quote ourselves to boast of prescience but to wonder why the Administration did nothing to avert the clearly looming disaster. Contrary to what Mr. Blinken claimed in 2012, the « diplomatic surge » the Administration promised for Iraq never arrived, nor did U.S. weapons. « The Americans have really deeply disappointed us by not supplying the Iraqi army with the weapons and support it needs to fight terrorism, » the Journal quoted one Iraqi general based in Kirkuk. That might strike some readers as rich coming from the commander of a collapsing army, but it’s a reminder of the price Iraqis and Americans are now paying for Mr. Obama’s failure to successfully negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Baghdad that would have maintained a meaningful U.S. military presence. A squadron of Apache attack helicopters, Predator drones and A-10 attack planes based in Iraq might be able to turn back ISIS’s march on Baghdad. WSJ
The president is in fact implementing the policy he promised. It was retrenchment by one word, retreat by another.[Obama’s policy is also what the American public showed in polls that it wants right now] ”It wants it, at least until it gets queasy by looking at the pictures they’ve been seeing tonight. George Will
 Affirmer, au bout de onze ans, que ce à quoi on assiste actuellement est le résultat de ce qui s’est produit à l’époque est aussi simpliste qu’insultant. Dans ce qui s’assimile à une perspective néocolonialiste postmoderne, ceci revient à suggérer que les Irakiens ne sont toujours pas en mesure d’assumer la responsabilité de leur propre pays. Abstraction faite de toutes les autres conséquences, l’invasion de 2003 n’en a pas moins donné aux Irakiens une possibilité d’autodétermination démocratique qu’ils n’auraient jamais eue sous Saddam Hussein. C’est cette démocratie imparfaite qui est menacée ; il faut à présent la conserver et l’améliorer. The Observer
Mosul’s fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn’t a bunch of bug-eyed « Mad Max » guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army. The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons. An astonishing read about this group is on the website of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. It is an analysis of a 400-page report, « al-Naba, » published by ISIS in March. This is literally a terrorist organization’s annual report for 2013. It even includes « metrics, » detailed graphs of its operations in Iraq as well as in Syria. One might ask: Didn’t U.S. intelligence know something like Mosul could happen? They did. The February 2014 « Threat Assessment » by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency virtually predicted it: « AQI/ISIL [aka ISIS] probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria . . . as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah. » AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq), the report says, is exploiting the weak security environment « since the departure of U.S. forces at the end of 2011. » But to have suggested any mitigating steps to this White House would have been pointless. It won’t listen. In March, Gen. James Mattis, then head of the U.S. Central Command, told Congress he recommended the U.S. keep 13,600 support troops in Afghanistan; he was known not to want an announced final withdrawal date. On May 27, President Obama said it would be 9,800 troops—for just one year. Which guarantees that the taking of Mosul will be replayed in Afghanistan. Let us repeat the most quoted passage in former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s memoir, « Duty. » It describes the March 2011 meeting with Mr. Obama about Afghanistan in the situation room. « As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his, » Mr. Gates wrote. « For him, it’s all about getting out. » Daniel Henninger
Avec Assad, on voit justement ce qui arrive quand on laisse un dictateur en place. Les problèmes ne disparaissent pas tout seuls. Tony Blair
L’un des arguments des adversaires de l’intervention de 2003 est de dire que, puisque Saddam Hussein ne possédait aucune arme de destruction massive, l’invasion de l’Irak était injustifiée. D’après les rapports des inspecteurs internationaux, nous savons que, même si Saddam s’était débarrassé de ses armes chimiques, il avait conservé l’expertise et les capacités d’en produire. En 2011, si nous avions laissé Saddam au pouvoir, l’Irak aurait été lui aussi emporté par la vague des révolutions arabes. En tant que sunnite, Saddam aurait tout fait pour préserver son régime face à la révolte de la majorité chiite du pays. Pendant ce temps, de l’autre côté de la frontière, en Syrie, une minorité bénéficiant de l’appui des chiites s’accrocherait au pouvoir et tenterait de résister à la révolte de la majorité sunnite. Le risque aurait donc été grand de voir la région sombrer dans une conflagration confessionnelle généralisée dans laquelle les Etats ne se seraient pas affrontés par procuration, mais directement, avec leurs armées nationales. Tout le Moyen-Orient est en réalité engagé dans une longue et douloureuse transition. Nous devons nous débarrasser de l’idée que  » nous  » avons provoqué cette situation. Ce n’est pas vrai. (…) Nous avons aujourd’hui trois exemples de politique occidentale en matière de changement de régime dans la région. En Irak, nous avons appelé à un changement de régime, renversé la dictature et déployé des troupes pour aider à la reconstruction du pays. Mais l’intervention s’est révélée extrêmement ardue, et aujourd’hui le pays est à nouveau en danger. En Libye, nous avons appelé au changement de régime, chassé Kadhafi grâce à des frappes aériennes mais refusé d’envoyer des troupes au sol. Aujourd’hui, la Libye, ravagée par la violence, a exporté le désordre et de vastes quantités d’armes à travers l’Afrique du Nord et jusqu’en Afrique subsaharienne. En Syrie, nous avons appelé au changement de régime mais n’avons rien fait, et c’est le pays qui se trouve dans la situation la pire. (…) Il n’est pas raisonnable pour l’Occident d’adopter une politique d’indifférence. Car il s’agit, que nous le voulions ou pas, d’un problème qui nous concerne. Les agences de sécurité européennes estiment que la principale menace pour l’avenir proviendra des combattants revenant de Syrie. Le danger est réel de voir le pays devenir pour les terroristes un sanctuaire plus redoutable encore que ne l’était l’Afghanistan dans les années 1990. Mais n’oublions pas non plus les risques que fait peser la guerre civile syrienne sur le Liban et la Jordanie. Il était impossible que cet embrasement reste confiné à l’intérieur des frontières syriennes .Je comprends les raisons pour lesquelles, après l’Afghanistan et l’Irak, l’opinion publique est si hostile à une intervention militaire. Mais une intervention en Syrie n’était pas et n’est pas nécessairement obligée de prendre les formes qu’elle a prises dans ces deux pays. Et, chaque fois que nous renonçons à agir, les mesures que nous serons fatalement amenés à prendre par la suite devront être plus violente. (…) Nous devons prendre conscience que le défi s’étend bien au-delà du Moyen-Orient. L’Afrique, comme le montrent les tragiques événements au Nigeria, y est elle aussi confrontée. L’Extrême-Orient et l’Asie centrale également.L’Irak n’est qu’une facette d’une situation plus générale. Tous les choix qui s’offrent à nous sont inquiétants. Mais, depuis trois ans, nous regardons la Syrie s’enfoncer dans l’abîme et, pendant qu’elle sombre, elle nous enserre lentement et sûrement dans ses rets et nous entraîne avec elle. C’est pourquoi nous devons oublier les différends du passé et agir maintenant pour préserver l’avenir. Tony Blair

Attention: une débâcle peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où, suite au refus du premier ministre Maliki de tenir ses engagements pour l’intégration des Sunnites à la gestion du pays comme à la précipitation du président Obama d’évacuer les troupes américaines,  l’Irak est sur le point de rebasculer dans la plus violente des guerres civiles voire de passer sous la coupe de djihadistes qui, pour plus de 400 millions de dollars, viennent de se faire les banques de la deuxième ville du pays …

Et où, dans la logique de racisme caché qui leur est habituelle (certains peuples, on le sait, n’ont pas droit à la démocratie), nos belles âmes et stratèges en fauteuil ont bien sûr pour l’occasion ressorti leurs arguments contre l’option changement de régime qu’avaient il y a 11 ans choisie le président Bush et ses alliés britanniques ainsi qu’une coalition d’une  quarantaine de pays …

Pendant que de l’Afghanistan à l’Iran et à l’Ukraine, le Munichois en chef de la Maison Blanche multiplie les gestes d’apaisement …

Et que les différents pays occidentaux commencent à recevoir les premières fournées de diplômés du bourbier syrien

Remise des pendules à l’heure avec Tony Blair …

Qui rappelant à juste titre tant l’impéritie irakienne qu’américaine …

Mais ni la situation irakienne d’avant 2003 (les mêmes Alliés contraints d’assurer seuls de leurs bases en Arabie saoudite un embargo que personne, France comprise, ne respectait et fournissant de ce fait le prétexte aux attentats du 11/9) …

Ni hélas, de la Syrie au Nigéria ou ailleurs, les efforts habituels en coulisse de nos amis qataris ou syriens dans le financement des djihadistes …

A le mérite de mettre le doigt sur le noeud du problème …

A savoir, outre l’évident raté libyen, la Syrie qui justement avec Assad montre parfaitement ce qui arrive quand on laisse un dictateur en place …

 

Iraq, Syria and the Middle East
Tony Blair
Office of Tony Blair
Jun 14, 2014

The civil war in Syria with its attendant disintegration is having its predictable and malign effect. Iraq is now in mortal danger. The whole of the Middle East is under threat.

We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government in beating back the insurgency; whilst making it clear that Iraq’s politics will have to change for any resolution of the current crisis to be sustained. Then we need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade. In doing so, we should listen to and work closely with our allies across the region, whose understanding of these issues is crucial and who are prepared to work with us in fighting the root causes of this extremism which goes far beyond the crisis in Iraq or Syria.

It is inevitable that events in Mosul have led to a re-run of the arguments over the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003. The key question obviously is what to do now. But because some of the commentary has gone immediately to claim that but for that decision, Iraq would not be facing this challenge; or even more extraordinary, implying that but for the decision, the Middle East would be at peace right now; it is necessary that certain points are made forcefully before putting forward a solution to what is happening now.

3/4 years ago Al Qaida in Iraq was a beaten force. The country had massive challenges but had a prospect, at least, of overcoming them. It did not pose a threat to its neighbours. Indeed, since the removal of Saddam, and despite the bloodshed, Iraq had contained its own instability mostly within its own borders.

Though the challenge of terrorism was and is very real, the sectarianism of the Maliki Government snuffed out what was a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. This, combined with the failure to use the oil money to re-build the country, and the inadequacy of the Iraqi forces have led to the alienation of the Sunni community and the inability of the Iraqi army to repulse the attack on Mosul and the earlier loss of Fallujah. And there will be debate about whether the withdrawal of US forces happened too soon.

However there is also no doubt that a major proximate cause of the takeover of Mosul by ISIS is the situation in Syria. To argue otherwise is wilful. The operation in Mosul was planned and organised from Raqqa across the Syria border. The fighters were trained and battle-hardened in the Syrian war. It is true that they originate in Iraq and have shifted focus to Iraq over the past months. But, Islamist extremism in all its different manifestations as a group, rebuilt refinanced and re-armed mainly as a result of its ability to grow and gain experience through the war in Syria.

As for how these events reflect on the original decision to remove Saddam, if we want to have this debate, we have to do something that is rarely done: put the counterfactual i.e. suppose in 2003, Saddam had been left running Iraq. Now take each of the arguments against the decision in turn.

The first is there was no WMD risk from Saddam and therefore the casus belli was wrong. What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the West, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them. We also know, from the final weapons inspectors reports, that though it is true that Saddam got rid of the physical weapons, he retained the expertise and capability to manufacture them. Is it likely that, knowing what we now know about Assad, Saddam, who had used chemical weapons against both the Iranians in the 1980s war that resulted in over 1m casualties and against his own people, would have refrained from returning to his old ways? Surely it is at least as likely that he would have gone back to them.

The second argument is that but for the invasion of 2003, Iraq would be a stable country today. Leave aside the treatment Saddam meted out to the majority of his people whether Kurds, Shia or marsh Arabs, whose position of ‘stability’ was that of appalling oppression. Consider the post 2011 Arab uprisings. Put into the equation the counterfactual – that Saddam and his two sons would be running Iraq in 2011 when the uprisings began. Is it seriously being said that the revolution sweeping the Arab world would have hit Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, to say nothing of the smaller upheavals all over the region, but miraculously Iraq, under the most brutal and tyrannical of all the regimes, would have been an oasis of calm?

Easily the most likely scenario is that Iraq would have been engulfed by precisely the same convulsion. Take the hypothesis further. The most likely response of Saddam would have been to fight to stay in power. Here we would have a Sunni leader trying to retain power in the face of a Shia revolt. Imagine the consequences. Next door in Syria a Shia backed minority would be clinging to power trying to stop a Sunni majority insurgency. In Iraq the opposite would be the case. The risk would have been of a full blown sectarian war across the region, with States not fighting by proxy, but with national armies.

So it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis.

And it is here that if we want the right policy for the future, we have to learn properly the lessons not just of Iraq in 2003 but of the Arab uprisings from 2011 onwards.

The reality is that the whole of the Middle East and beyond is going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition. We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven’t. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not; and whether action or inaction is the best policy and there is a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it.

The problems of the Middle East are the product of bad systems of politics mixed with a bad abuse of religion going back over a long time. Poor governance, weak institutions, oppressive rule and a failure within parts of Islam to work out a sensible relationship between religion and Government have combined to create countries which are simply unprepared for the modern world. Put into that mix, young populations with no effective job opportunities and education systems that do not correspond to the requirements of the future economy, and you have a toxic, inherently unstable matrix of factors that was always – repeat always – going to lead to a revolution.

But because of the way these factors interrelate, the revolution was never going to be straightforward. This is the true lesson of Iraq. But it is also the lesson from the whole of the so-called Arab Spring. The fact is that as a result of the way these societies have developed and because Islamism of various descriptions became the focal point of opposition to oppression, the removal of the dictatorship is only the beginning not the end of the challenge. Once the regime changes, then out come pouring all the tensions – tribal, ethnic and of course above all religious; and the rebuilding of the country, with functioning institutions and systems of Government, becomes incredibly hard. The extremism de-stabilises the country, hinders the attempts at development, the sectarian divisions become even more acute and the result is the mess we see all over the region. And beyond it. Look at Pakistan or Afghanistan and the same elements are present.

Understanding this and analysing properly what has happened, is absolutely vital to the severe challenge of working out what we can do about it. So rather than continuing to re-run the debate over Iraq from over 11 years ago, realise that whatever we had done or not done, we would be facing a big challenge today.

Indeed we now have three examples of Western policy towards regime change in the region. In Iraq, we called for the regime to change, removed it and put in troops to try to rebuild the country. But intervention proved very tough and today the country is at risk again. In Libya, we called for the regime to change, we removed it by airpower, but refused to put in troops and now Libya is racked by instability, violence and has exported vast amounts of trouble and weapons across North Africa and down into sub- Saharan Africa. In Syria we called for the regime to change, took no action and it is in the worst state of all.

And when we do act, it is often difficult to discern the governing principles of action. Gaddafi, who in 2003 had given up his WMD and cooperated with us in the fight against terrorism, is removed by us on the basis he threatens to kill his people but Assad, who actually kills his people on a vast scale including with chemical weapons, is left in power.

So what does all this mean? How do we make sense of it? I speak with humility on this issue because I went through the post 9/11 world and know how tough the decisions are in respect of it. But I have also, since leaving office, spent a great deal of time in the region and have studied its dynamics carefully.

The beginning of understanding is to appreciate that resolving this situation is immensely complex. This is a generation long struggle. It is not a ‘war’ which you win or lose in some clear and clean-cut way. There is no easy or painless solution. Intervention is hard. Partial intervention is hard. Non-intervention is hard.

Ok, so if it is that hard, why not stay out of it all, the current default position of the West? The answer is because the outcome of this long transition impacts us profoundly. At its simplest, the jihadist groups are never going to leave us alone. 9/11 happened for a reason. That reason and the ideology behind it have not disappeared.

However more than that, in this struggle will be decided many things: the fate of individual countries, the future of the Middle East, and the direction of the relationship between politics and the religion of Islam. This last point will affect us in a large number of ways. It will affect the radicalism within our own societies which now have significant Muslim populations. And it will affect how Islam develops across the world. If the extremism is defeated in the Middle East it will eventually be defeated the world over, because this region is its spiritual home and from this region has been spread the extremist message.

There is no sensible policy for the West based on indifference. This is, in part, our struggle, whether we like it or not.

Already the security agencies of Europe believe our biggest future threat will come from returning fighters from Syria. There is a real risk that Syria becomes a haven for terrorism worse than Afghanistan in the 1990s. But think also of the effect that Syria is having on the Lebanon and Jordan. There is no way this conflagration was ever going to stay confined to Syria. I understand all the reasons following Afghanistan and Iraq why public opinion was so hostile to involvement. Action in Syria did not and need not be as in those military engagements. But every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will ultimately be greater.

On the immediate challenge President Obama is right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists; and right also to insist on a change in the way the Iraqi Government takes responsibility for the politics of the country.

The moderate and sensible elements of the Syria Opposition should be given the support they need; Assad should know he cannot win an outright victory; and the extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted, in coordination and with the agreement of the Arab countries. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.

But acting in Syria alone or Iraq, will not solve the challenge across the region or the wider world. We need a plan for the Middle East and for dealing with the extremism world-wide that comes out of it.

The starting point is to identify the nature of the battle. It is against Islamist extremism. That is the fight. People shy away from the starkness of that statement. But it is because we are constantly looking for ways of avoiding facing up to this issue, that we can’t make progress in the battle.

Of course in every case, there are reasons of history and tribe and territory which add layers of complexity. Of course, too, as I said at the outset, bad governance has played a baleful role in exacerbating the challenges. But all those problems become infinitely tougher to resolve, when religious extremism overlays everything. Then unity in a nation is impossible. Stability is impossible. Therefore progress is impossible. Government ceases to build for the future and manages each day as it can. Division tears apart cohesion. Hatred replaces hope.

We have to unite with those in the Muslim world, who agree with this analysis to fight the extremism. Parts of the Western media are missing a critical new element in the Middle East today. There are people – many of them – in the region who now understand this is the battle and are prepared to wage it. We have to stand with them.

Repressive systems of Government have played their part in the breeding of the extremism. A return to the past for the Middle East is neither right nor feasible. On the contrary there has to be change and there will be. However, we have to have a more graduated approach, which tries to help change happen without the chaos.

We were naïve about the Arab uprisings which began in 2011. Evolution is preferable to revolution. I said this at the time, precisely because of what we learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sometimes evolution is not possible. But where we can, we should be helping countries make steady progress towards change. We should be actively trying to encourage and help the reform process and using the full weight of the international community to do so.

Where there has been revolution, we have to be clear we will not support systems or Governments based on sectarian religious politics.

Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force. This does not mean Western troops as in Iraq. There are masses of responses we can make short of that. But they need to know that wherever they’re engaged in terror, we will be hitting them.

Longer term, we have to make a concerted effort to reform the education systems, formal and informal which are giving rise to the extremism. It should be part of our dialogue and partnership with all nations that we expect education to be open-minded and respectful of difference whether of faith culture or race. We should make sure our systems reflect these values; they should do the same. This is the very reason why, after I left office I established a Foundation now active in the education systems of over 20 different countries, including in the Middle East, promoting a programme of religious and cultural co-existence.

We should make this a focal point of cooperation between East and West. China, Russia, Europe and the USA all have the same challenge of extremism. For the avoidance of doubt, I am neither minimising our differences especially over issues like Ukraine, nor suggesting a weakening of our position there; simply that on this issue of extremism, we can and should work together.

We should acknowledge that the challenge goes far further afield than the Middle East. Africa faces it as the ghastly events in Nigeria show. The Far East faces it. Central Asia too.

The point is that we won’t win the fight until we accept the nature of it.

Iraq is part of a much bigger picture. By all means argue about the wisdom of earlier decisions. But it is the decisions now that will matter. The choices are all pretty ugly, it is true. But for 3 years we have watched Syria descend into the abyss and as it is going down, it is slowly but surely wrapping its cords around us pulling us down with it. We have to put aside the differences of the past and act now to save the future.

 Voir aussi:

Tony Blair: ‘We didn’t cause Iraq crisis’

The 2003 invasion of Iraq is not to blame for the violent insurgency now gripping the country, former UK prime minister Tony Blair has said.
BBC
15 June 2014

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, he said there would still be a « major problem » in the country even without the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Mr Blair said the current crisis was a « regional » issue that « affects us all ».

And he warned against believing that if we « wash our hands of it and walk away, then the problems will be solved ».

« Even if you’d left Saddam in place in 2003, then when 2011 happened – and you had the Arab revolutions going through Tunisia and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Egypt and Syria – you would have still had a major problem in Iraq, » Mr Blair said.

« Indeed, you can see what happens when you leave the dictator in place, as has happened with Assad now. The problems don’t go away.

« So, one of the things I’m trying to say is – you know, we can rerun the debates about 2003 – and there are perfectly legitimate points on either side – but where we are now in 2014, we have to understand this is a regional problem, but it’s a problem that will affect us. »

Syria is three years into a civil war in which tens of thousands of people have died and millions more have been displaced.

In August last year, a chemical attack near the capital Damascus killed hundreds of people.

In August, UK MPs rejected the idea of air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to deter the use of chemical weapons.

Writing on his website, the former prime minister warned that every time the UK puts off action, « the action we will be forced to take will be ultimately greater ».
‘Hitting them’

He said the current violence in Iraq was the « predictable and malign effect » of inaction in Syria.

« We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this, » he wrote. « We haven’t. »

He said the takeover of Mosul by Sunni insurgents was planned across the Syrian border.

« Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force, » Mr Blair said.

The Sunni insurgents, from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), regard Iraq’s Shia majority as « infidels ».

After taking Mosul late on Monday, and then Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, the Sunni militants have pressed south into the ethnically divided Diyala province.

On Friday, they battled against Shia fighters near Muqdadiya – just 50 miles (80km) from Baghdad’s city limits.

Reinforcements from both the Iraqi army and Shia militias have arrived in the city of Samarra, where fighters loyal to ISIS are trying to enter from the north.

US deploys warship amid Iraq crisis

Mr Blair also told the BBC that the UK and its allies had to « engage » and try to « shape » the situation in Iraq and Syria.

« If you talk to security services in France and Germany and the UK, they will tell you their single biggest worry today are returning Jihadist fighters, our own citizens, by the way, from Syria, » he said.

« So, we have to look at Syria and Iraq and the region in context. We have to understand what’s going on there and we have to engage ».
‘Battle-hardened’

Civil war in Syria was « having its predictable and malign effect » and there was « no doubt that a major proximate cause of the takeover of Mosul by ISIS » was the situation in the country, Mr Blair said.

He said the operation in Mosul was planned and organised from Raqqa across the Syria border.

« The fighters were trained and battle-hardened in the Syrian war, » he said.
Members of Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Diyala province June 13, 2014. Thousands of Shias are reported to have volunteered to help halt the advance of ISIS
Iraqi policemen stand guard at a railway station in the capital Baghdad on June 14, 2014 The capital Baghdad is a tense place following the reverses for Iraqi government forces

The 2003 invasion of Iraq by British and US forces, on the basis that it had « weapons of mass destruction », has come back into focus as a result of the insurgency in the country.

The Iraq War has been the subject of several inquiries, including the Chilcot inquiry – which began in 2009 – into the UK’s participation in military action against Saddam Hussein and its aftermath.

Last month, the inquiry said details of the « gist » of talks between Tony Blair and former US president George Bush before the Iraq war are to be published.

Mr Blair has said he wants the Chilcot report to be published and he « resented » claims he was to blame for its slow progress.

Voir également:

Blair: Don’t blame me for meltdown in Iraq: Astonishing ‘essay’ by ex-PM: he says Obama quit too soon… and the UK should launch attacks
Former PM claims bungling Iraqi government has allowed Al Qaeda return
Blair said the alternative to not intervening in Iraq was a far worse option
Blair said West was wrong to topple Gadaffi instead of Bashar al-Assad
Mail On Sunday Reporter
14 June 2014

Tony Blair last night attacked ‘bizarre’ claims that his decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003 caused the current wave of violence in the country – and blamed everyone but himself for the crisis.

The former Prime Minister insisted he was right to topple Saddam Hussein with the US and said things would have been worse if the dictator had not been ousted from power a decade ago.

Mr Blair ended a week-long silence after mounting claims by diplomats and Labour MPs that his and Mr Bush’s handling of the Iraq War sowed the seeds of the attempt by the Al Qaeda-backed ISIS terror group to conquer Iraq. In a 2,800-word ‘essay’ on the new Middle East conflagration, Mr Blair refused to apologise and argued:

Barack Obama ordered US troops to leave Iraq too soon.
Britain and America must launch renewed military attacks in Iraq and Syria.
Al Qaeda was ‘beaten’ in Iraq thanks to the Blair-Bush war, but the bungling Iraqi government let them back in.

‘But every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will ultimately be greater. Instead of re-running the debate over Iraq from 11 years ago, we have to realise that whatever we had done or not done, we would be facing a big challenge today.

‘It is bizarre to claim that, but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis. We have to re-think our strategy towards Syria and support the Iraqi government in beating back the insurgency.

‘Extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.’

Mr Blair hit back at critics who say false claims that Saddam had deadly chemical weapons fatally undermined the Blair-Bush justification for the Iraq War. Turning the argument on its head, he said it was essential to picture Iraq with Saddam still in power: he had used chemical weapons before and would have done so again.

And, confronted by the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, Saddam would have provoked ‘a full-blown sectarian war across the region with national armies’. ‘We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that “we” have caused this – we haven’t,’ said Mr Blair.

And he pointed the finger of blame at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – and more pointedly at Mr Obama – for leaving Iraq defenceless.

‘Three or four years ago, Al Qaeda in Iraq was a beaten force. The sectarianism of the Maliki government snuffed out a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. And there will be debate about whether the withdrawal of US forces happened too soon.’

Mr Blair poured scorned on the West’s decision to topple Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi who ‘gave up WMDs and co-operated in the fight against terrorism’ while letting Syria’s President Assad, who ‘kills his people on a vast scale including with chemical weapons’, off the hook.

‘There is no easy or painless solution. The Jihadist groups are never going to leave us alone. 9/11 happened for a reason.

‘This is, in part, our struggle, whether we like it or not.’

Obama was ‘right to put all options on the table in Iraq, including military strikes. The choices are all pretty ugly, but Syria is slowly but surely wrapping its cords around us, pulling us down with it. We have to act now to save the future.’

Reg Keys, whose ‘Red Cap’ soldier son Tom was killed in the Iraq War, told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘I wondered when Blair would surface to try to justify himself. Before he and Bush kicked down the door on Iraq, Sunnis and Shias lived side by side. Now there is a power vacuum, which allows terrorists to walk into the country.

‘Saddam may have been an evil dictator, but Iraq needs a strong leader to keep the tensions in check. Blair installed a weak puppet government. When Tom was killed, the Iraqi police meant to be protecting the Red Caps’ position dropped their guns and ran. That is what the Iraqi forces did this week.’

Mr Keys added: ‘It is lamentable that Blair is still banging the WMD drum. He and Bush must take ultimate responsibility.’

Voir encore:

No Mr Blair. Your naive war WAS a trigger for this savage violence, writes CHRISTOPHER MEYER, Ambassador to the US during Iraq War

Christopher Meyer, Former British Ambassador To Washington
14 June 2014

Last year, on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by American and British forces, Tony Blair sought to justify his decision to go to war by arguing that Iraq was a far better place for the removal of Saddam Hussein. ‘Think,’ he said ‘of the consequences of leaving that regime in power.’

In an echo of his former master’s voice, Alastair Campbell added for good measure: ‘Britain… should be really proud of the role we played in changing Iraq from what it was to what it is becoming.’

Today, neither Mr Blair nor Mr Campbell could utter such things without arousing the world’s bemusement and incredulity. Iraq is descending into such violence and disorder that its very existence as a sovereign country is under threat.

A savage, battle-hardened group of Sunni fundamentalists called ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have seized great swathes of territory in northern and central Iraq and are threatening Baghdad itself. By the time you read this, they may be inside the city walls. They have driven through the Iraqi army – trained and equipped by the US at vast expense – like a knife through butter.

At Friday prayers last week, the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq issued a call to arms. The scene is therefore set for outright civil war. Meanwhile, the Kurdish people of the north have exploited the chaos to seize the oil-producing city of Kirkuk and take another step forward in their ambition to become an independent nation.

There are many reasons for this disastrous state of affairs. Perhaps the most significant is the decision taken more than ten years ago by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to unseat Saddam Hussein without thinking through the consequences for Iraq of the dictator’s removal.

Like the entire Islamic world, Iraq is divided between two historic branches of the Muslim faith, the Sunni and the Shia. Though there have been periods of relative harmony, today the two denominations are in brutal competition with each other around the world, especially in the neighbouring Syria, where civil war has been raging for the past three years. The Syrian dictator, Bashar Al Assad, is Shia. The Syrian rebels are Sunni. In Iraq the government is Shia-dominated.

Underwriting the violence in both countries is the intense struggle for advantage between the two Middle Eastern superpowers, Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia).

The situation is not unlike the violent rivalry of the 17th Century between Catholics and Protestants, which led to the ravaging of central Europe in the bloody 30 Years’ War.

ISIS have emerged from the cauldron of civil war in Syria where they control much of the east of the country. Their declared aim is to create from this territory and the neighbouring Sunni areas of northern and central Iraq a single fundamentalist state or ‘caliphate’, lying athwart the frontier between Iraq and Syria.

ISIS have proved so violent that they have been disowned even by Al Qaeda, the Sunni terrorist group from which they have sprung. But it is not through fanaticism and violence alone that they have been able to scatter the Iraqi army with such ease. ISIS have been operating in fertile territory.

For years, the Sunni provinces of Iraq have become increasingly disaffected from the Shia-controlled central government in Baghdad. The authoritarian Prime Minister al-Maliki has trampled on Sunni sensitivities and denied them the spoils of government. This has gone down very badly, given that under Saddam and the old Ottoman empire it was the Sunni who were on top.

Without the world really noticing, ISIS and its Sunni allies had already seized the town of Fallujah (scene of epic battles between the US Marines and insurgents ten years ago).

ISIS have benefited also from something that takes us back to the earliest days of the US/UK occupation – and to one of its greatest blunders. It appears that ISIS are fighting alongside, or even partly comprise, former members of Saddam Hussein’s army.

In the summer of 2003, the American Paul Bremer, who ran Iraq as President Bush’s representative and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, issued two orders: The first sacked 50,000 members of Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party from their jobs as civil servants, teachers and administrators.

This made Iraq well-nigh ungovernable since it had been impossible under Saddam to hold a job of any responsibility without being a member of the Ba’ath party. Bremer’s order went further than de-Nazification in Germany after World War II.

The second order disbanded the Iraqi army, throwing 400,000 angry men on to the streets with their weapons. The order directly fuelled the eight-year insurgency against American and allied troops.

Some of the former Iraqi soldiers were recruited by the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda, have been fighting in Syria and have now returned to Iraq with ISIS.

As the ISIS army marches south towards Baghdad, young men from the city scramble aboard a military truck to enlist in the army to help defend their homes

So, we are reaping what we sowed in 2003. This is not hindsight. We knew in the run-up to war that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would seriously destabilise Iraq after 24 years of his iron rule.

For all his evil, he kept a lid on sectarian violence. Bush and Blair were repeatedly warned by their advisers and diplomats to make dispositions accordingly.

But, as we now know, very little was done until the last minute; and what was done, as in the case of Bremer’s edicts, simply made things far worse.

The White House and Downing Street were suffused with the naïve view that the introduction of parliamentary democracy would solve all Iraq’s problems. But you can’t introduce democracy like a fast-growing shrub. It takes generations to embed. Because political parties in Iraq have tended to form along ethnic and religious lines, democracy has, if anything, deepened the sectarianism.

The situation is full of ironies. The UK went along with the neocon claim after 9/11 that Saddam and Al Qaeda were collaborating, though there was not a shred of proof. Now an offshoot of Al Qaeda controls perhaps a third of the country and may yet enter Baghdad.

The unintended consequence of our invasion was to give Iran, a member of Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’, dominant influence in Baghdad. Yet, on the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, we in the West should welcome any efforts by Iran to halt the advance of ISIS.

None of this is nostalgia for Saddam Hussein (though women and religious minorities like Christians might take a different view). But, if the past 13 years have taught us anything, it is that we mess in other countries’ internal affairs at our peril.

Even with meticulous preparation, deep local knowledge and proper articulation between political goals and military means – all absent in Iraq and Afghanistan – military intervention will usually make things worse and create hatreds which are then played out in our own streets.

In 1999, in a speech in Chicago, Blair proclaimed his doctrine of intervention abroad in the name of liberal values. It became the philosophical underpinning for Britain’s invasion of Iraq.

The time has surely come to consign the Blair doctrine to the dustbin of history.

Voir de plus:

Iraq: Isis can be beaten and democracy restored
The Maliki government must win back the trust of its Sunni population to see off the threat of Islamic militants
The Observer
15 June 2014

The security situation in the northern half of Iraq is grave and worrying, but its wider dangers should not be exaggerated. Last week’s rapid advance of Sunni Muslim fighters of the hardline Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) jihadist militia took Iraq’s army, politicians and western governments by surprise. In this fragile neighbourhood, surprises are always unnerving. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, undoubtedly dealt a body blow to the authority of the Baghdad government. The ensuing humanitarian problems are alarming, as are UN reports of atrocities committed by the Islamists. US weapons supplied to the Iraqi army have been seized by the militants, more cities and towns closer to the capital are under threat, and Kurdish forces are exploiting the turmoil to extend their territorial control around Kirkuk. The spectre of renewed sectarian warfare has been raised as Iraq’s majority Shia Muslim population is urged to take up arms. Beyond Iraq’s borders, national leaders from Tehran to Washington have begun to talk of direct military intervention, spurred by fears that Iraq may disintegrate – and by a sharp rise in the international oil price.

All serious stuff, for sure. Yet this is a moment to pause and think, not rush blindly in. On the ground, the Isis forces have made significant gains. But in total they are said to number no more than 7,000 men. They have no heavy weapons, no fighter aircraft, no attack helicopters. The further south they advance, the stiffer the resistance and the more stretched their lines of supply. They do not enjoy unanimous support among Sunnis, let alone Iraq’s other minorities. The city of Samarra, well to the north of Baghdad and a holy place for Shia Muslims, has become a first rallying point for government forces and volunteers. Iraq’s army, humiliated last week, nevertheless numbers more than 250,000 active service personnel. Once they recover from their Mosul funk, they should be more than a match for Isis. Despite what Isis says, Iraq is not Syria. With determination and the right kind of leadership, its always delicate balance of power may be restored in time.

In terms of the bigger picture, the suggestion that Iraq is about to implode as a unified nation state appears similarly overcooked. After the usual 48-hour delay while America caught up with events, Barack Obama signalled strong, albeit conditional, support for embattled Baghdad. So, too, did Iran, briefly raising the quixotic fantasy of a Tehran-Washington axis. Iran has its own interests to protect, of course, including its close alliance with the Shia-led government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. But like the US, it views the prospect of an unchecked Sunni insurgency raging through Iraq and Syria with alarm. China, often absent from the stage during international crises, also swiftly voiced its backing. As the biggest investor in Iraq’s oil industry, Beijing knows instability is bad for business. Even Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival and foremost supporter of Syria’s armed Sunni opposition, could not abide the chaos that would follow an Iraqi implosion.

All these powers have a stake in holding Iraq together. In all probability, they will succeed. Efforts to keep events in Iraq in perspective have been further handicapped by overheated attempts in newsdesks far removed from the frontlines of Samarra and Tikrit to settle old scores. With barely disguised glee, some who opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq now claim to see in the Isis phenomenon the final, cast-iron proof that George W Bush and Tony Blair were both reckless and wrong. Many who supported the war at the time have since changed their minds about the wisdom of that decision, including this newspaper.

But to claim, 11 years on, that what is happening now can be attributed to what was done then is both facile and insulting. It suggests, in a sort of inverted, postmodern neo-colonialism, that Iraqis remain incapable of assuming responsibility for their own country. The invasion, whatever else it did, gave Iraq the chance of democratic self-governance that it would never have experienced under Saddam Hussein. It is this imperfect democracy that is now under threat – and which must now be improved, even as it is preserved.

Iraq faces three immediate challenges. The first is how to win back the trust of Iraq’s Sunni population, largely alienated by the divisive, sectarian politics of the Maliki government. Isis did not succeed in Mosul and elsewhere by military superiority alone. It succeeded because it had the approval, or at least the temporary acquiescence, of Sunni tribal leaders and communities marginalised by Baghdad. In many cases, these are the same people who switched sides in 2007 to help the US defeat al-Qaida in Anbar province, during General David Petraeus’s « surge ». Now they have switched back. But generally speaking, they do not support the extreme forms of Islamist rule advocated by Isis. To beat the jihadists, Baghdad’s Shia bosses must regain the Sunnis’ confidence.

A second challenge is to prevent Iraq’s Kurds discarding the post-Saddam agreements that facilitated the creation of the semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government in the north. Their bloodless takeover of Kirkuk, a city and oil-rich territory disputed through the ages by various ethnic and religious groups, represents a giant if unpremeditated step towards full independence for Kurdistan. That may or may not be a desirable long-term goal. But the way to achieve it is through negotiation and the ballot box, not via backdoor landgrabs. Third, as Obama made brutally clear, Iraq’s government can no longer rely upon an American or western security umbrella. Help may be forthcoming but, first, Iraq’s political leaders must help themselves.

A traumatic week has thus presented Iraq with an opportunity. It must defuse the time-bomb Isis has placed under the Iraqi state. This wholly attainable task should be undertaken primarily by Iraq’s armed forces. International security assistance should be offered, as well as humanitarian help – but immediate, direct western military intervention would be unwise. Iraq is also entitled to demand support from its regional neighbours, including improved co-operation in tackling the terrorist threat they all face. Most of all, however, Iraqis must seize this opportunity to renew, strengthen and broaden the country’s political leadership in order to end further destructive sectarian schisms. In this process, Maliki, as prime minister, has a key role to play. If he cannot do so, he should stand aside.

Voir par ailleurs:

Who’s to blame for Iraq crisis
Derek Harvey and Michael Pregent
CNN
June 12, 2014

Editor’s note: Derek Harvey is a former senior intelligence official who worked on Iraq from 2003-2009, including numerous assignments in Baghdad. Michael Pregent is a former U.S. Army officer and former senior intelligence analyst who worked on Iraq from 2003-2011, including in Mosul 2005-2006 and Baghdad in 2007-2010. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

(CNN) — Observers around the world are stunned by the speed and scope of this week’s assaults on every major city in the upper Tigris River Valley — including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city — by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But they shouldn’t be. The collapse of the Iraqi government’s troops in Mosul and other northern cities in the face of Sunni militant resistance has been the predictable culmination of a long deterioration, brought on by the government’s politicization of its security forces.

The politicization of the Iraqi military

For more than five years, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his ministers have presided over the packing of the Iraqi military and police with Shiite loyalists — in both the general officer ranks and the rank and file — while sidelining many effective commanders who led Iraqi troops in the battlefield gains of 2007-2010, a period during which al Qaeda in Iraq (the forerunner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was brought to the brink of extinction.

Al-Maliki’s « Shiafication » of the Iraqi security forces has been less about the security of Iraq than the security of Baghdad and his regime. Even before the end of the U.S.-led « surge » in 2008, al-Maliki began a concerted effort to replace effective Sunni and Kurdish commanders and intelligence officers in the key mixed-sect areas of Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin provinces to ensure that Iraqi units focused on fighting Sunni insurgents while leaving loyal Shiite militias alone — and to alleviate al-Maliki’s irrational fears of a military coup against his government.

In 2008, al-Maliki began replacing effective Kurdish commanders and soldiers in Mosul and Tal Afar with Shiite loyalists from Baghdad and the Prime Minister’s Dawa Party, and even Shiite militia members from the south. A number of nonloyalist commanders were forced to resign in the face of trumped up charges or reassigned to desk jobs and replaced with al-Maliki loyalists. The moves were made to marginalize Sunnis and Kurds in the north and entrench al-Maliki’s regime and the Dawa Party ahead of provincial and national elections in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

The dismantling of the ‘Awakening’

It’s no accident that there exists today virtually no Sunni popular resistance to ISIS, but rather the result of a conscious al-Maliki government policy to marginalize the Sunni tribal « Awakening » that deployed more than 90,000 Sunni fighters against al Qaeda in 2007-2008.

These 90,000 « Sons of Iraq » made a significant contribution to the reported 90% drop in sectarian violence in 2007-2008, assisting the Iraqi security forces and the United States in securing territory from Mosul to the Sunni enclaves of Baghdad and the surrounding Baghdad « belts. » As the situation stabilized, the Iraqi government agreed to a plan to integrate vetted Sunni members of the Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi army and police to make those forces more representative of the overall Iraqi population.

But this integration never happened. Al-Maliki was comfortable touting his support for the Sons of Iraq in non-Shiite areas such as Anbar and Nineveh provinces, but he refused to absorb Sunnis into the ranks of the security forces along Shiite-Sunni fault lines in central Iraq.

In areas with (or near) Shiite populations, al-Maliki saw the U.S.-backed Sons of Iraq as a threat, and he systematically set out to dismantle the program over the next four years. As this process played out, we saw its effects firsthand in our interactions with Iraqi government officials and tribal leaders in Baghdad, where it was clear the Sons of Iraq were under increasing pressure from both the government and al Qaeda. By 2013, the Sons of Iraq were virtually nonexistent, with thousands of their sidelined former members either neutral or aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in its war against the Iraqi government.

The disappearance of the Sons of Iraq meant that few Sunnis in western and northern Iraq had a stake in the defense of their own communities. The vast system of security forces and Sunni tribal auxiliaries that had made the Sunni provinces of Iraq hostile territory for al Qaeda was dismantled.

The militant gains in Mosul and other cities of the north and Anbar are the direct result of the removal of the Iraqi security forces commanders and local Sons of Iraq leaders who had turned the tide against al Qaeda in 2007-2008. Those commanders who had a reason to secure and hold territory in the north were replaced with al-Maliki loyalists from Baghdad who, when the bullets began to fly, had no interest in dying for Sunni and Kurdish territory. And when the commanders left the battlefield this week, their troops melted away as well.

What can be done?

The problem will only get worse in the coming months. Now that the Iraqi government’s weakness in Sunni territories has been exposed, other Sunni extremist groups are joining forces with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to exploit the opening. The Baathist-affiliated Naqshbandi Army and the Salafist Ansar al-Sunna Army are reportedly taking part in the offensive as well, and they are drawing support from a Sunni population that believes itself persecuted and disenfranchised by al-Maliki’s government and threatened by Shiite militias that are his political allies.

For six months, Shiite militants have been allowed or encouraged by the government to conduct sectarian cleansing in mixed areas around Baghdad, particularly in Diyala province between Baghdad and the Iranian border. These events contributed to the motivation of Sunnis who have taken up arms or acquiesced in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s offensive.

Even as the ISIS tide rolls southward down the Tigris, there is probably little danger of Baghdad and other Shiite areas falling into Sunni insurgent hands. The Shiite troops unwilling to fight to hold onto Mosul will be far more motivated to fight to protect Shiite territories in central and southern Iraq and to defend the sectarian fault line. This is their home territory, where they have the advantage of local knowledge, and where they have successfully fought the Sunni insurgency for years.

In the north, however, al-Maliki now has two military options. He can reconsolidate his shattered forces along sectarian fault lines to defend Shiite territories in central Iraq, ceding Sunni areas to the insurgency, or he can regroup his security forces at their bases north of Baghdad and mount expeditions to conduct « cordon and search » operations in Sunni areas lost to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

If al-Maliki chooses to regroup and move on Sunni population centers controlled by the ISIS, we are likely to see Shiite troops unfamiliar with Sunni neighborhoods employing heavy-handed tactics, bluntly targeting Sunni military-age males (12-60) not affiliated with the insurgency and further inflaming sectarian tensions as they do so — reminiscent of the situation in many parts of Iraq in 2005-2006.

The problem at its core is not just a matter of security, but politics. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its allies would not have had the opportunity to seize ground in the Sunni Arab-dominated provinces of Salaheddin, Nineveh and Anbar if there had been more inclusive and sincere political outreach to the mainstream Sunni Arab community.

In the end, the solution to the ISIS threat is a fundamental change in Iraq’s political discourse, which has become dominated by one sect and one man, and the inclusion of mainstream Sunni Arabs and Kurds as full partners in the state.

If al-Maliki truly wishes to restore government control to the Sunni provinces, he must reach out to Sunni and Kurdish leaders and ask for their help, and he must re-enlist former Sons of Iraq leaders, purged military commanders and Kurdish Peshmerga to help regain the territory they once helped the Iraqi government defend.

But these are steps a-Maliki has shown himself unwilling and unlikely to take. At this point, al-Maliki does not have what it takes to address Iraq’s problem — because he is the problem.

Voir encore:

While Obama Fiddles
The fall of Mosul is as big as Russia’s seizure of Crimea.
Daniel Henninger
WSJ

June 11, 2014

The fall of Mosul, Iraq, to al Qaeda terrorists this week is as big in its implications as Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But from the Obama presidency, barely a peep.

Barack Obama is fiddling while the world burns. Iraq, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, Syria. These foreign wildfires, with more surely to come, will burn unabated for two years until the United States has a new president. The one we’ve got can barely notice or doesn’t care.

Last month this is what Barack Obama said to the 1,064 graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy: « Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated. »

That let-the-sunshine-in line must have come back to the cadets, when news came Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban, who operate in that border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, had carried out a deadly assault on the main airport in Karachi, population 9.4 million. To clarify, the five Taliban Mr. Obama exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are Afghan Taliban who operate on the other side of the border.

Within 24 hours of the Taliban attack in Pakistan, Boko Haram’s terrorists in Nigeria kidnapped 20 more girls, adding to the 270 still-missing— »our girls, » as they were once known.

Then Mosul fell. The al Qaeda affiliate known as ISIS stormed and occupied the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, population 1.8 million and not far from Turkey, Syria and Iran. It took control of the airport, government buildings, and reportedly looted some $430 million from Mosul’s banks. ISIS owns Mosul.

Iraq’s army in tatters, ISIS rolled south Wednesday and took the city of Tikrit. It is plausible that this Islamic wave will next take Samarra and then move on to Baghdad, about 125 miles south of Tikrit. They will surely stop outside Baghdad, but that would be enough. Iraq will be lost.

Now if you want to vent about  » George Bush’s war, » be my guest. But George Bush isn’t president anymore. Barack Obama is because he wanted the job and the responsibilities that come with the American presidency. Up to now, burying those responsibilities in the sand has never been in the job description.

Mosul’s fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn’t a bunch of bug-eyed « Mad Max » guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army.

The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons.

An astonishing read about this group is on the website of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. It is an analysis of a 400-page report, « al-Naba, » published by ISIS in March. This is literally a terrorist organization’s annual report for 2013. It even includes « metrics, » detailed graphs of its operations in Iraq as well as in Syria.

One might ask: Didn’t U.S. intelligence know something like Mosul could happen? They did. The February 2014 « Threat Assessment » by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency virtually predicted it: « AQI/ISIL [aka ISIS] probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria . . . as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah. » AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq), the report says, is exploiting the weak security environment « since the departure of U.S. forces at the end of 2011. » But to have suggested any mitigating steps to this White House would have been pointless. It won’t listen.

In March, Gen. James Mattis, then head of the U.S. Central Command, told Congress he recommended the U.S. keep 13,600 support troops in Afghanistan; he was known not to want an announced final withdrawal date. On May 27, President Obama said it would be 9,800 troops—for just one year. Which guarantees that the taking of Mosul will be replayed in Afghanistan.

Let us repeat the most quoted passage in former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s memoir, « Duty. » It describes the March 2011 meeting with Mr. Obama about Afghanistan in the situation room. « As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his, » Mr. Gates wrote. « For him, it’s all about getting out. »

The big Obama bet is that Americans’ opinion-polled « fatigue » with the world (if not his leadership) frees him to create a progressive domestic legacy. This Friday Mr. Obama is giving a speech to the Sioux Indians in Cannon Ball, N.D., about « jobs and education. »

Meanwhile, Iraq may be transforming into (a) a second Syria or (b) a restored caliphate. Past some point, the world’s wildfires are going to consume the Obama legacy. And leave his successor a nightmare.

Voir enfin:

Iraq: Fall of Mosul Spells Disaster for U.S. Counterterrorism Policy

James Phillips

The Daily signal

June 11, 2014

James Phillips is the senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He has written extensively on Middle Eastern issues and international terrorism since 1978.

The sudden rout of Iraqi security forces in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is a humiliating defeat for the Iraqi government, a severe blow to U.S. policy in Iraq, and a strategic disaster that will amplify the threat posed by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists to the United States and its allies.

The swift victory of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), formerly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, demonstrates the growing threat posed by Islamist militants in the region and the risks inherent in the Obama Administration’s failure to maintain a residual U.S. military training and counterterrorism presence after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

Iraqi security forces collapsed and retreated from Mosul in the face of ISIS militants recruited from Iraq, Syria, and foreign Sunni extremist movements. The defeat underscored the weakness of Iraq’s armed forces, which was apparent long before the U.S. withdrawal.

The insurgents not only captured significant amounts of arms and equipment abandoned by the demoralized security forces; they also seized about 500 billion Iraqi dinars (approximately $429 million) from Mosul’s central bank. This will make ISIS the richest terrorist group ever and enable it to further expand its power by buying the support of Sunni Iraqis disenchanted with the sectarian policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-dominated government.

Although the resurgence of ISIS has been enabled by Maliki’s heavy-handed rule and the spillover of the increasingly sectarian civil war in Syria, the Obama Administration also played a counterproductive role in downplaying the prospects for an al-Qaeda comeback in Iraq.

The Administration early on made it clear to Iraqis that it was more interested in “ending” rather than winning the war against al-Qaeda in Iraq. As Heritage Foundation analysts repeatedly warned, the abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011 deprived the Iraqi government of important counterterrorism, intelligence, and training capabilities that were needed to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda and allowed it to regain strength in a much more permissive environment.

Now ISIS, whose leader in 2012 threatened to attack the “heart” of America, poses a rising threat to U.S. security. The bottom line is that the Obama Administration’s rush to “end” the war in Iraq has helped create the conditions for losing the war against al-Qaeda.


Publicité: On oublie toujours que le prophète sort du rang des prêtres (Would Manet be today in the advertising business ? Looking back at original Mad man David Ogilvy)

12 juin, 2014
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Dans la presse, seules les publicités disent la vérité. Thomas Jefferson
Si je devais recommencer ma vie à zéro, je crois que je choisirais la publicité plus que presque n’importe quel autre domaine. L’élévation générale des normes de la civilisation moderne dans l’ensemble des groupes de personnes qui constituent notre société au cours du demi-siècle passé aurait été impossible sans la diffusion de la connaissance de normes plus élevées par le biais de la publicité. Franklin D Roosevelt (discours à la Fédération américaine des publicitaires, NY, 1931)
La publicité, c’est la plus grande forme d’art du XXe siècle. Marshall Mc Luhan
Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need. Will Rogers
Advertising lets us know how things ought to be. Michael Schudson
It is worth recognizing that the advertising man in some respects is as much a brain alterer as is the brain surgeon, but his tools and instruments are different. Advertising Age (1957)
Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best trained minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind … to get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, and control. Marshall McLuhan (1951)
La publicité la plus habile ne cherche pas à nous convaincre qu’un produit est excellent mais qu’il est désiré par les Autres. René Girard
Si les révolutions symboliques sont particulièrement difficiles à comprendre, surtout lorsqu’elles sont réussies, c’est parce que le plus difficile est de comprendre ce qui semble aller de soi, dans la mesure où la révolution symbolique produit les structures à travers lesquelles nous la percevons. Autrement dit, à la façon des grandes révolutions religieuses, une révolution symbolique bouleverse des structures cognitives et parfois, dans une certaine mesure, des structures sociales. Elle impose, dès lors que ‘elle réussit, de nouvelles structures cognitives qui, du fait qu’elles se généralisent, qu’elles se diffusent, qu’elles habitent l’ensemble des sujets percevants d’un univers social, deviennent imperceptibles. Pierre Bourdieu
Manet a deux propriétés uniques […] : premièrement, il a rassemblé des choses qui avaient été séparées, et […] c’est une des propriétés universelles des grands fondateurs. […] Et, deuxième propriété, il pousse à la limite les propriétés de chacun de ces éléments constitutifs de l’assemblage qu’il fabrique. Donc, il y a systématicité et passage à la limite. Pierre Bourdieu
Au fond, Manet, Flaubert, Heidegger, pourraient être considérés respectivement, si on voulait faire un palmarès, comme le plus peintre des peintres, le plus écrivain des écrivains et le plus philosophe des philosophes.(…) Dans le cas de Flaubert et de Manet, je pense que ce sont des personnages qui doivent être considérés comme des fondateurs de champs. Je prends l’exemple de Manet qui est le plus net. On avait une peinture académique, des peintres d’Etat, des peintres fonctionnaires qui étaient à la peinture ce que les professeurs de philosophie sont à la philosophie – sans méchanceté -, c’est à dire des gens qui avaient une carrière de peintres, qui étaient recrutés par des concours, qui avaient des classes préparatoires avec les mêmes procédures de bizutage, de nivellement, d’abrutissement et de sélection. Et puis un personnage, Manet, arrive ; il est passé par ces écoles. Ca, c’est extrêmement important ; c’est une chose que Weber dit en passant dans son livre sur le judaïsme antique : on oublie toujours que le prophète sort du rang des prêtres ; le Grand Hérésiarque est un prophète qui va dire dans la rue ce qui se dit normalement dans l’univers des docteurs. Manet est dans ce cas ; il est l’élève de Couture ; c’est un peintre semi-académique ; et il commence déjà à faire des histoires dans l’atelier de Couture ; il critique la manière de faire asseoir les modèles ; il critique les poses antiques, il critique tout ça… Puis, il commence à faire une chose extraordinaire – comme un premier collé du concours de l’Ecole Normale qui se mettrait à contester l’Ecole Normale – : au lieu d’intérioriser la sanction sous la forme de la malédiction – chose que nous connaissons bien dans le milieu universitaire -, il conteste l’univers et il le défie sur son propre terrain. C’est le problème de l’hérésiarque, le chef de sectes qui affronte l’église et lui oppose un nouveau principe de légitimation, un nouveau goût. Le problème est de se demander comment ce goût apparaît : qu’est-ce qu’il y a dans son capital, sa famille, son origine, et surtout son univers social de relations, ses amis, etc. (…) l’univers des amis de Manet, l’univers des amis de la femme de Manet qui étaient pianistes et qui jouaient du Schuman, ce qui était l’avant-garde à l’époque. Je cherche à résoudre une question tout à fait fondamentale ; celui qui saute hors de l’institution universitaire ou les institutions académiques saute dans le vide. J’ai évoqué le drame du premier collé tout à l’heure parce que beaucoup des auditeurs ont au moins une connaissance indirecte de cette expérience. Le problème du premier collé, c’est qu’il ne peut même pas penser à contester l’institution qui l’a collé ; ça ne lui vient même pas à l’esprit ; et s’il y pense, il se trouve jeté dans le néant. Manet en est là : « Si je ne fais pas de la peinture académique, est-ce que je ne cesse pas d’exister ? ». Il faut avoir du culot pour résister à l’excommunication. Pour résoudre ce problème là, Il faut comprendre ce que Manet avait comme ressources qu’on appellerait psychologiques mais qui en fait ont des bases sociales : ses amis, ses relations artistiques, etc. Voilà le travail que je fais. Je vais au plus individuel du plus individuel : la particularité de Manet, à savoir ses rapports avec ses parents, ses amis, le rôle des femmes dans ses relations… et en même temps à l’étude de l’espace dans lequel il se situait pour comprendre le commencement de l’art moderne. (…) Manet institue l’univers dans lequel plus personne ne peut dire qui est peintre, ce qu’est le peintre comme il faut. Pour employer un grand mot, un monde social intégré, c’est à dire celui que régissait l’Académie est un monde dans lequel il y a un nomos, c’est à dire une loi fondamentale et un principe de division. Le mot grec « nomos » vient du verbe « nemo » qui veut dire diviser, partager. Une des choses que nous acquérons à travers la socialisation, ce sont des principes de division qui sont en même temps des principes de vision : masculin/féminin, humide/sec, chaud/froid, etc. Un monde bien intégré, académique dit qui est peintre et qui ne l’est pas ; l’Etat dit que c’est un peintre parce qu’il est certifié peintre. Du jour où Manet fait son coup, plus personne ne peut dire qui est peintre. Autrement dit, on passe du nomos à l’anomie, c’est à dire à un univers dans lequel tout le monde est légitimé à lutter à propos de la légitimité. Plus personne ne peut dire qu’il est peintre sans trouver quelqu’un qui contestera sa légitimité de peintre. Et le champ scientifique est de ce type, c’est un univers dans lequel il est question de la légitimité mais il y a lutte à propos de la légitimité. Un sociologue peut toujours être contesté dans son identité de sociologue. Plus le champ avance, plus son capital spécifique s’accumule, plus, pour contester la légitimité d’un peintre, il faut avoir du capital spécifique de peintre. Apparemment, les mises en forme de contestation radicale, par exemple les peintres conceptuels d’aujourd’hui qui apparemment mettent en question la peinture doivent avoir une formidable connaissance de la peinture pour mettre en question adéquatement, picturalement la peinture et non pas comme l’iconoclaste primaire. L’iconoclasme spécifique accompli par un artiste suppose une maîtrise virtuose du champ artistique. Ce sont des paradoxes mais qui apparaissent à partir du moment où il y a un champ. La naïveté qui consiste à dire « Il peint comme mon fils » est typique de quelqu’un qui ne sait pas ce qu’est un champ. Un autre exemple est celui du douanier Rousseau qui était naïf mais le naïf n’apparaît que quand il y a un champ – de même que le naïf religieux n’apparaît que quand il y a un champ religieux… C’est quelqu’un qui devient peintre pour les autres. C’est Picasso, Apollinaire, etc. qui ont fait du douanier Rousseau un peintre en le pensant à partir du champ de la peinture. Mais lui-même ne savait pas ce qu’il faisait. L’opposé du douanier Rousseau, c’est Duchamp qui est le premier à avoir maîtrisé de manière quasi parfaite – ce qui ne veut pas dire consciente – les lois du champ artistique et le premier à avoir joué de toutes les ressources que donne cette institutionnalisation de l’anomie. Pierre Bourdieu
Il faut qu’il y ait un jeu et une règle du jeu pratique. Un champ ressemble beaucoup à un jeu mais une des différences majeures étant que le champ est un lieu où il y une loi fondamentale, des règles mais il n’y a personne qui dit les règles comme pour un sport, une fédération… Et finalement, il y a des régularités immanentes à un champ, des sanctions, des censures, des récompenses sans que tout ça ait été institué. Le champ artistique, par exemple, a la particularité d’être le moins institutionnalisé de tous les champs. Par exemple, il y a relativement peu d’instances de consécration. Cela dit, il y a champ quand on est obligé de se plier – sans même procéder à une opération consciente – à un ensemble de lois de fonctionnement de l’univers. Prenons dans le champ philosophique l’exemple d’Heidegger avec ses idées nazies ; être antisémite deviendra être antikantien. Ce qui est intéressant, c’est cette espèce d’alchimie que le champ impose : ayant à dire des choses nazies, si je veux les dire de telle manière que je sois reconnu comme philosophe, je dois les transfigurer au point que la question de savoir si Heidegger était nazi ou pas n’a aucun sens. Il est certain qu’il était nazi mais ce qui est intéressant, c’est de voir comment il a dit des choses nazies dans un langage ontologique. Pierre Bourdieu
In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. David Ogilvy
« DÉJEUNER SUR L’HERBE by Édouard Manet (1832-1883). Manet was born in Paris and entered Courbet’s studio at the age of 19. Though his independence infuriated his master and his pictures were constantly rejected by the Salon, he soon gathered a group of painters around him, Whistler and Fantin-Latour among them. In 1863, when Napoleon III ordered the establishment of a Salon des Refusés, Manet’s «Déjeuner sur l’herbe», which afterwards exercised a tremendous influence on Cézanne, was its scandal and success. It is reproduced by permission from the painting in the Louvre.» This picture caused a public scandal when it was first exhibited in 1863. Actually, of course, it was people’s conservatism that was outraged—not their moral or aesthetic sensibilities. With an idealised dryad substituted for the artist’s model and a classically naked Bacchus and Silenus for these rather overdressed picnickers, the group would probably have been hailed as a masterpiece. The real offence of the picture was that it stood for something new: and at that time whatever was new was certain to be opposed. Later in the century scientific innovations, such as the first telephones and motor cars, were attacked with the same conservative fury. Nowadays, fortunately, we are better tuned to progress. Eight years ago, for instance, when the revolutionary Aga Cooker was introduced, people were quick to appreciate its advantages: its cream and chromium cleanliness; guaranteed maximum fuel consumption; readiness for work by day and night and gift of meeting cooks three-quarters of the way. Already this cooker has brought a new reign of comfort and good temper to more than twenty thousand kitchens.» Publicité pour les cuisinières Aga (David Ogilvy)
This is my first advertisement and it embarrasses me to reproduce it. No headline, no promise, no information about the product. Certainly, nobody had ever shown a nude in an advertisement before, but, in this case, it was irrelevant to the product—a cooking stove. David Ogilvy
“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock What makes Rolls-Royce the best car in the world? “There is really no magic about it- it is merely patient attention to detail,” says an eminent Rolls-Royce engineer. 1. “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise comes from the electric clock,” reports the Technical Editor of THE MOTOR. Three mufflers tune out sound frequencies – acoustically. 2. Every Rolls-Royce engine is run for seven hours at full throttle before installation, and each car is test driven for hundreds of miles 3. The Rolls-Royce is designed as an owner-driven car. It is eighteen inches shorter than the largest domestic cars. 4. The car has power steering, power brakes and automatic gear-shift. It is very easy to drive and to park. No chauffeur required. 5. The finished car spends a week in the final test-shop, being fine-tuned. Here it is subjected to 98 separate ordeals. For example, the engineers use a stethoscope to listen for axle-whine. 6. The Rolls-Royce is guaranteed for three years. With a new network of dealers and parts-depots from Coast to coast, service is no problem. 7. The Rolls-Royce radiator has never changed, except that when Sir Henry Royce died in 1933 the monogram RR was changed from red to black. 8. The coachwork is given five coats of primer paint, and hand rubbed between each coat, before nine coats of finishing paint go on. 9. By moving a switch on the steering column, you can adjust the shock-absorbers to suit road conditions. 10. A picnic table, veneered in French walnut, slides out from under the dash. Two more swing out behind the front seats. 11. You can get such optional extras as an Espresso coffee-making machine, a dictating machine, a bed, hot and cold water for washing, an electric razor or a telephone. 12. There are three separate systems of power brakes, two hydraulic and one mechanical. Damage to one will not affect the others. The Rolls-Royce is a very safe car- and also a very lively car. It cruises serenely at eighty-five. Top speed is in excess of 100 m.p.h. 13. The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley. PRICE. The Rolls-Royce illustrated in this advertisement – f.o.b. principal ports of entry – costs $13,995. If you would like the rewarding experience of driving a Rolls-Royce or Bentley, write or telephone to one of the dealers listed on opposite page. Rolls Royce Inc., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 20, N.Y. Circle 5-1144. Rolls Royce ad (The New Yorker, May 31, 1958)
I didn’t write that headline. It’s a quotation from an article which appeared about 20 years before in an English automobile magazine. » David Ogilvy
The man from Schweppes is here Meet Commander Edward Whitehead, Schweppesman Extraordinary from London, England, where the house of Schweppes has been a great institution since 1794. Commander Whitehead has come to these United States to make sure that every drop of Schweppes Quinine Water bottled here has the original flavor which has long made Schweppes the only mixer for and authentic Gin-and-Tonic. He imports the original Schweppes elixir, and the secret of Schweppes unique carbonation is locked in his brief case. “Schweppervescence, ” says the Commander, “lasts the whole drink through. ” It took Schweppes almost a hundred years to bring the flavor of their Quinine Water to its present bittersweet perfection. But it will take you only thirty seconds to mix it with ice and gin in a high ball glass. Then, gentle reader, you will bless the day you read these words. P.S. If your favorite store or bar doesn’t yet have Schweppes, drop a card to us and we’ll make the proper arrangements. Address Schweppes, 30 East 60th Street, New York City Schweppes ad (David Ogilvy, The New Yorker, June 6, 1953)
One-quarter cleansing cream – Dove creams your skin while you wash. Slogan (Doove ad, David Ogilvy, 1955)
« The consumer is not a moron; she is your wife. David Ogilvy
When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. David Ogilvy
The only sound one can hear in the new Pierce-Arrows is the ticking of the electric clock. Pierce-Arrow (Time, February 27, 1933)
“There is a yawning chasm between you generalists and we directs. We directs belong to a different world. Your gods are not our gods.
“You generalists pride yourselves on being creative – whatever that awful word means. You cultivate the mystique of creativity. Some of you are pretentious poseurs. You are the glamour boys and girls of the advertising community. You regard advertising as an art form – and expect your clients to finance expressions of your genius. We directs do not regard advertising as an art form. Our clients don’t give a damn whether we win awards at Cannes. They pay us to sell their products. Nothing else.
“You must be the most seductive salesmen in the world if you can persuade hard headed clients to pay for your kind of advertising. When sales go up, you claim credit for it. When sales go down, you blame the product. We in direct response know exactly to the penny how many products we sell with each of our advertisements. Your favourite music is the applause of your fellow art directors and copywriters. Our favourite music is the ring of the cash register.
You generalists use short copy. We use long copy. Experience has taught us that short copy doesn’t sell. In our headlines, we promise the consumer a benefit. You generalists don’t think it is creative.
You have never had to live with the discipline of knowing the results of your advertising. We pack our advertisements and letters with information about the product. We have found out we have to – if we want to sell anything.”
David Ogilvy, the ad executive who dreamed up the eye-patch wearing  »man in the Hathaway shirt » and many other iconic advertising campaigns (…) In a career that spanned five decades, (…) created one of the biggest ad agencies in the world and helped alter the landscape of American advertising. And while it would be impossible to gauge the impact his campaigns had on sales, his work created many images that are well-known in households worldwide. He is credited, along with William Bernbach, with introducing what was then a novel idea: that consumers could be considered as intelligent as, say, advertising people, and approached with a soft sell through print, radio and television. His ads, for everything from Schweppes to Rolls-Royce, helped start the creative revolution of the 1960’s. The ads were in marked contrast to the droning, repetitious style of those they supplanted. The NYT
Every viral video has a backstory—and most also have their critics too. One video, by U.K. content creation agency Purplefeather, has been a continual hit on social media for its message of compassion and empathy. It’s a well-executed emotional story showing that words used wisely are powerful, and can be used for the power of good. Running at 1:48 it does this remarkably well. The video has also drawn the critics. The story portrays an anecdote usually attributed to advertising legend David Ogilvy, known as the original Mad Man. It’s about a blind man begging with a sign that reads, “I’m blind. Please help.” The man is largely ignored until one day, a man stops, picks up his sign, adds a few words, and carries on. From that point, on the blind man’s cup fills easily with money. What was changed? The deft copywriter had edited the sign to read: “It’s spring and I’m blind. Please help.” In the video version, the copywriter doesn’t edit the text, but she turns over the blind man’s sign to write her own: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” From a copywriter’s perspective, this version offends the sensibilities of anyone who has suffered an editor’s heavy pen and breaks a key rule of advertising. The hapless blind man’s words aren’t edited, they’re replaced; and the important call to action “please help” is deleted. From the blind man’s perspective, a stranger’s show of compassion—call it pro bono consulting—is what made the difference. Cindy Drukier

Manet serait-il devenu un virtuose de la publicité aujourd’hui ?

Quatrième fils chétif d’un universitaire écossais excentrique devenu courtier puis ruiné par la déclaration de la première Guerre mondiale, frère cadet d’un employé de la plus grande agence de publicité de Londres, boursier recalé d’Oxford, chassé d’Angleterre par la Grande Dépression, apprenti dans les cuisines d’un grand hôtel parisien, représentant de commerce et vendeur virtuose de cuisinières de luxe, publicitaire et auteur d’un manuel de vente considéré comme la bible dans son domaine, découverte de l’Amérique et de la publicité scientifique, chercheur dans le fameux institut de sondage Gallup, agent secret, cultivateur de tabac dans le pays Amish, créateur de la plus grande agence de publicité du monde, victime d’un rachat hostile, châtelain en France et mari d’une troisième femme de 20 ans sa cadette,  tableau (dénudé, s’il vous plait !) de Manet et caractéristiques techniques d’une cuisinière), mystérieux baron officier au cache-oeil et liste de vertus des chemises Hathaway, mère de famille à l’épicerie du village avec ses enfants et 19 raisons d’acheter une Rolls égrenées par un ingénieur) …

En ces temps où, pouvoir des mots oblige, la nouvelle patronne d’un parti xénophobe se voit définitivement contrainte de tuer à la fois le père et le langage du père …

Et où sous la pression de ces maitres des mots que sont devenus les publicitaires, les penchants tant craints nos ancêtres sont devenus aujourdh’ui de véritables devoirs civiques (la sacro-sainte préservation des emplois) …

Pendant que pour percer dans le monde de l’art nombre de femmes en sont encore réduites à se dénuder

Et qu’avec l’internet et une vidéo de 90 secondes vue en quelques jours des millions de fois, une agence de publicité peut à la fois toucher et faire réfléchir audit pouvoir des mots …

Tout en faisant ou refaisant sa réputation sur le dos presque littéralement des sans-abris …

Comment ne pas repenser justement à celui qui avait lancé ladite histoire mais aussi l’histoire même de la publicité moderne …

L »apôtre de l’image de marque » et  légendaire publicitaire écossais-américain David Ogilvy ?

Et comment ne pas voir en ce véritable publicitaire des publicitaires (qui s’était justement choisi, pour lancer sa première pub, le révolutionnaire « Déjeuner sur l’herbe » de Manet) ce que Bourdieu appelait les « propriétés universelles des grands fondateurs » …

A savoir de ceux qui poussent la transformation d’un champ jusqu’à en rendre impossible la perception même  …

Et qui, dans son cas précis, en se choisissant certes au départ le créneau du luxe et sur fond d’une indéniable montée du niveau général d’instruction de la population, cet art unique de « rassembler des choses qui avaient été séparées » (mystique et information, marketing direct et créativité) et, entre Manet et cuisinières ou baron à cache-oeil et chemises de luxe, de les « pousser à la limite » ?

Quand Ogilvy transforme les SDF en homme-sandwichs (ou comment faire du neuf avec du vieux)
Les SDF seraient-ils devenus la façon la plus rentable de faire du buzz à bas prix ?
Sophie Gourion
Toutalego
lundi 16 avril 2012
En mars dernier, une agence de communication britannique avait fait grand bruit en équipant des sans-abris de bornes wifi lors d’un festival. Repartis dans la ville pour donner un accès au réseau internet 4G aux participants, ces volontaires étaient identifiables grâce à leur t-shirt (« Je suis Clarence, borne 4G ») et localisables sur Google maps. Chacun pouvait donc avoir accès à une connexion d’excellente qualité pour un prix dérisoire et l’ensemble des profits était reversé aux « SDF-antenne ». Pour Bartle Bogle Hegarty, il s’agissait simplement de moderniser le concept du SDF vendeur de journaux rédigés par les sans-abris:
« Combien de fois voit-on quelqu’un acheter un journal, pour finalement le laisser au sans-abri? (…) Pourtant, le modèle n’est pas cassé en soi. C’est seulement le produit qui est archaïque », pouvait-on lire sur le blog de l’agence. Une opération qui a suscité de nombreuses réactions négatives. John Bird, co-fondateur de The Big issue, publication d’origine britannique rédigée par des journalistes professionnels mais vendue par des sans abris, a ainsi déclaré à la BBC:
« Si tout ce que Bartle Bogle Hegarty fait est de transformer ces personnes en antenne en leur demandant de rester immobile, alors ils sont simplement en train de traiter les sans-abri de la même manière que les Victoriens l’ont fait quand ils leur ont demandé de tenir des affiches. »
Mais après les SDF utilisés comme vulgaire objets de consommation, l’agence Ogilvy va encore plus loin en les utilisant comme panneau publicitaire.
Dans une vidéo trouvée ce jour sur Twitter, l’agence s’achète une bonne conscience à peu de frais sur le dos des SDF : le spot commence par de jolies images de Paris suivies par un portrait d’un SDF déclarant « les rêves, j’en ai plus, les rêves je laisse ça aux autres ». La voix off explique ensuite que certaines agences aident les associations de SDF mais qu’aucune d’entre elles ne les aide directement. Mais ça, c’était avant Ogilvy : « we are proud to announce 18 new clients ». Les 18 « clients en question » sont 18 SDF dont les visages défilent façon mosaïque. Changement de décor et de musique, on quitte les violons pour une ambiance plus rythmée : gros plan sur les créatifs de l’agence qui jouent du stylo et manipulent des bouts de carton pour pondre des affiches originales pour leurs nouveaux amis SDF. Et les résultats ne se font pas attendre : les pièces tombent à gogo et les sans-abris ont retrouvé le sourire. Conclusion « sans dépenser un euro, nous avons permis à Michel de s’acheter une part de pizza, à Bernard de s’offrir un café, à Robert de se doucher » (et à l’agence de s’offrir un bon coup de buzz). Les SDF sont retournés à la rue mais ils auront eu une belle leçon de marketing, qui nourrit l’esprit, à défaut de remplir le ventre.
Les créatifs d’Ogilvy, quant à eux, ont retrouvé leur bureau, l’esprit apaisé et le cœur léger.
Comble du cynisme…
On va me répondre que les agences ne sont pas des philanthropes et que l’initiative est intéressante car elle est créative. Créative vraiment ? L’année dernière, une vidéo développée par l’agence Purple Feather intitulée « power of words » reprenait la même thématique : une jeune femme change la pancarte d’un aveugle qui n’arrive pas à récolter un euro et écrit « C’est le printemps et je ne le verrai jamais ». Succès assuré pour le sans-abri : les pièces pleuvent. La vidéo a été vue plus de 13 800 000 fois ! Sauf que cette vidéo était elle-même la copie d’un court métrage espagnol primé à Cannes en 2008 « The Story of a sign » ! Scénario identique à part le sexe de la personne qui change la pancarte.
Plus récemment, un groupe de créatifs espagnols a développé un projet intitulé « dreaming the same ». Le concept : réecrire les pancartes des SDF afin d’attirer l’attention du public.
En faisant quelques recherches, j’ai trouvé que l’histoire du SDF et de la pancarte était initialement une histoire racontée par David Ogilvy, fondateur de l’agence du même nom…celle-là même qui la récupère aujourd’hui pour faire le buzz en suivant à la lettre les préceptes de son créateur « Si vous avez la chance d’écrire une bonne annonce, répétez-la jusqu’à ce qu’elle cesse de vendre ». Dont acte.
Voir aussi:
Dreaming The Same
Duncan Macleod
The Inspiration romm
January 20, 2012A group of creatives in Spain have developed “Dreaming the Same”, a creative project inspired by David Ogilvy, drawing attention to the sad reality of people whose poverty has led them to begging on the streets. The international project, online at dreamingthesame.org, invites people to use cardboard signs with creative messages to offer a helping hand to people living in extreme poverty, and raise awareness in the general public.Dreaming The SameThe Dreaming The Same project began with The Family Business, a group of students from Complot Escuela de Creativos in Barcelona who were convinced that creativity can offer more than just a tool to sell products and create brands. The project took on global dimensions as the team opened it up to anyone who wanted to develop their creativity by helping others. The participant’s task was simple. Design a cardboard sign with a creative copy that would invite the reader to reflect. They then had to give it to a person of their choice and film the entire process. Over two months two hundred people subscribed to the website and numerous videos were received from cities all over the world.

The Dreaming The Same project was developed at The Family Business by Leticia Rita, Pablo Madrazo, Enrique Santos and Besay Fernández. The team met while at Complot’s Course of Integrated Creative Advertising.

Inspiration for the project comes primarily from a story attributed to advertising genius David Ogilvy. During one of his morning walks to work at Ogilvy & Mather in New York City, David Ogilvy encountered a man begging with a sign around his neck. The sign read: “I am blind,” and, as evidenced by his nearly empty cup, the man was not doing very well. Ogilvy removed the man’s sign from around his neck, pulled out a marker and changed the sign to read, “It is spring and I am blind.” He hung the sign back around the beggar’s neck and went on his way. On his way home he was pleased to notice the beggar had a full cup.

Mexican film director Alonso Alvarez Barreda used the story in “Historia de un Letero” (The Story of a Sign), a short film which the Best Short Film Award at Cannes in 2008.

Purple Feather, an agency in Glasgow, went viral in 2010 (over 12 million views) with their version of Barreda’s film, “The Power of Words”, in which a woman produces new copy for a blind man’s sign.

Voir également:
Blind Man Video Shows Power of Words, And Draws Critics (+Video)
Cindy Drukier
Epoch Times
November 3, 2013Every viral video has a backstory—and most also have their critics too. One video, by U.K. content creation agency Purplefeather, has been a continual hit on social media for its message of compassion and empathy. It’s a well-executed emotional story showing that words used wisely are powerful, and can be used for the power of good. Running at 1:48 it does this remarkably well.The video has also drawn the critics. The story portrays an anecdote usually attributed to advertising legend David Ogilvy, known as the original Mad Man. It’s about a blind man begging with a sign that reads, “I’m blind. Please help.” The man is largely ignored until one day, a man stops, picks up his sign, adds a few words, and carries on. From that point, on the blind man’s cup fills easily with money. What was changed? The deft copywriter had edited the sign to read: “It’s spring and I’m blind. Please help.”In the video version, the copywriter doesn’t edit the text, but she turns over the blind man’s sign to write her own: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” From a copywriter’s perspective, this version offends the sensibilities of anyone who has suffered an editor’s heavy pen and breaks a key rule of advertising. The hapless blind man’s words aren’t edited, they’re replaced; and the important call to action “please help” is deleted.From the blind man’s perspective, a stranger’s show of compassion—call it pro bono consulting—is what made the difference.
Voir de plus:
I’m blind. Please leave my sign alone.BlindThere’s an old story, usually attributed to David Ogilvy, about a copywriter whose daily walk to work takes him past a blind beggar on a street corner. His sign reads, “I’M BLIND. PLEASE HELP.” Every day, the beggar is largely ignored by the passers-by. One sunny morning, the copywriter stops, takes out a marker pen and scribbles three words on the sign, then moves on. From that day, the blind man’s cup is stuffed with notes and overflowing with change. The copywriter has adapted the sign to read: “IT’S SPRING AND I’M BLIND. PLEASE HELP.”It’s a lovely story, which has been making copywriters feel good about themselves ever since (and possibly making blind people feel somewhat patronised). It’s usually quoted in the context of how important the ‘emotive sell’ is when pushing the latest commercial message into the minds of unwitting consumers, which is what copywriters generally do when they’re not being selfless superheroes.Anyway, I mention this because a video version of the story has recently gone viral, attracting 6 million hits on YouTube. It’s a promotional video for online agency Purplefeather, titled ‘The Power of Words’. But, regrettably, the story isn’t quite the same. It’s been what you might charitably call ‘adapted’, or less charitably call ‘unforgivably mutilated’.You can watch the video yourself if you want to add to the viewing figures, but suffice to say the key moment comes at the end, when the copywriter (a woman this time) takes to the sign with a marker pen. This time though, instead of elegantly adapting the existing text, she turns the sign over and writes: “IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND I CAN’T SEE IT.”This is seriously what she writes.The copywriter ignores the existing text written by the hapless blind man, and writes her own line on the reverse, thereby removing any of the wit and charm of the original story.But she goes further by spelling out what was implicit in the original line. “IT’S SPRING AND I’M BLIND’ is a spare statement of fact that leaves the reader to fill in the emotional gap. This is where it gets its power. “IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND I CAN’T SEE IT” is the same line rewritten by the Ronseal copywriting team. In fact, it doesn’t even have that level of disarming directness, because the writer has forgotten to include the call to action. Without the ‘Please help’, it’s all a bit pointless.And there’s another problem. What if it isn’t a beautiful day? What if it’s raining tomorrow, or in a couple of hours? Ogilvy thought of this – ‘spring’ is nicely open-ended (although you have to hope he adapted the sign come summer). Does this new copywriter have a stack of signs covering various weather conditions? “IT’S DRIZZLING SLIGHTLY AND I CAN’T SEE IT.” “IT WAS NICE A MINUTE AGO BUT HAS SINCE CLOUDED OVER A BIT AND I CAN’T SEE IT. » (If you watch the video, you can see it appears to be a grey and damp day, even though the woman copywriter is bizarrely wearing sunglasses. Almost makes you wonder which of them is blind.)It’s testament to the power of the original story that this bastardised version nevertheless retains enough impact to garner 6 million hits. But it’s also disheartening. We copywriters only have a limited supply of industry folklore to keep us going. If you’re going to use this story to make your agency promo, at least get the line right. Redrafting David Ogilvy isn’t something to undertake lightly, especially when your video is all about the power of words.Anyway, if I ever fall on hard times, I’ve already planned my sign, which, if nothing else, should raise a smile from the odd passing copywriter – “IT’S SPRING AND I’M BLIND DRUNK. PLEASE HELP.”I just hope that woman doesn’t come along and change it.
Voir encore:

Ogilvy’s Famous Rolls Royce Ad – Another Look
Jeff Sexton
Grokdotcom
August 3rd, 2009

Did you know that Ogilvy was not the first to use the “electric clock” comparison in a headline?

Pierce Rolls ComparisonI came across this bit o’ trivia while writing my post on Ogilvy’s preferred ad layout. I found it written up by Robert Rosenthal at Freaking Marketing, who had done the detective work to find and scan in this Pierce-Arrow ad that ran about 25 years before Ogilvy’s Rolls Royce campaign.

If you consider yourself a student of advertising, you’ll want to read Robert’s entire post to get all the historical details, but any copywriter should find it worthwhile to compare the two headlines and analyze the improvements Ogilvy made to his version.
First, let’s look at the two headlines

So here are the two headlines for comparison:

The only sound one can hear in the new Pierce-Arrows is the ticking of the electric clock

vs.

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the ticking of its electric clock.”

Why the Ogilvy Headline was far more powerful

1) Specificity: The Ogilvy ad gives an actual speed. Not only are specifics always more believable than generalities, but in this case, the specific speed makes the reader think that an actual test was conducted to determine this fact. By comparison, the Pierce-Arrows ad reads like hype.

2) Quote marks: The quotation marks around the Rolls Royce headline indicate to the casual reader, scanning the page, that this was a remark made by someone, perhaps by a tester or engineer. And indeed, the subdeck and first bullet point confirm that this is the case. Again, the Pierce-Arrow headline has none of this credibility-building substantiation.

3) Believability of the claim itself: Notice the change from “only sound” to “loudest noise.” For the reader, conjuring up a mental image of driving in a car in which the electric clock is actually louder than the engine is relatively easy, whereas the mind rejects the idea of a moving car making absolutely no noise except for that of the clock. Consequently, the Pierce-Arrow ad practically provokes skepticism and dismissal from the reader.

4) Words fat with emotional associations: the difference between sound and noise may seem subtle, but the emotional connotations are miles apart. Sound could be anything, and all else being equal, the word alone usually has positive associations. Noise, on the other hand, is a nuisance. Tell me I won’t hear a sound in a car, and I’ll think you’re exaggerating or speaking figuratively – would anybody even want to drive in the kind of sensory deprivation chamber that that would require? But tell me that the loudest noise in the car comes from a ticking lock, and I’ll want to experience the serenity of such an exquisitely engineered car/cabin that is capable of nullifying the unpleasant noises and nuisances of the road.
Why the Ogilvy Ad was far more modern

In some ways, my comparison is simply not fair since the Pierce-Arrow ad hails from a far less cynical age than the Rolls Royce Ad. One could suppose that back in the days of the Pierce-Arrow ad, “yeah, sure” and “prove it” probably weren’t the automatic responses to any advertising claim that they are today.

But the transition in audience attitudes wasn’t instantaneous. In fact, you can already see the need for proof and substantiation by the time Ogilvy’s ad rolls around. That’s why the Rolls Royce ad:

Includes engineering and expert testimonials or quotes.
Provides no less than 12 bullet points of factual copy – facts proving the extreme quality, engineering, and attention to detail that goes into making a Rolls Royce
Openly states the price of the car without dancing around the subject.

How to apply this to the Web

If you are an online copywriter here’s what you need to ask yourself:

1) Are you doing the research that Ogilvy did in order to come up with powerful headlines? And once you have that angle of approach, are you anywhere near as careful with your wordsmithing?

2) More importantly, do you think the public has grown any less cynical since the time of that Rolls Royce ad?

3) Most importantly, are you providing more substantiated copy, proof, and pricing information than Ogilvy’s Rolls Royce ad does? Or are you providing less?

Voir par ailleurs:

David Ogilvy confessé par les « cahiers » : un entretien à New York
Les Cahiers de la publicité. N°11, pp. 14-18.

Il a un teint boucané et des yeux surprenants, d’un bleu de porcelaine. Le vieux veston en tweed, avachi et confortable, est très britannique; le toupet de cheveux aussi. David Ogilvy paraît trente-huit, quarante ans. Il traverse son long bureau d’un pas juvénile, vient crayonner, sur le marbre de la table à thé, quelques inscriptions subversives à propos de Madison Avenue. Il ne parle pas de la fameuse Rolls, frappée de ses armoiries, mais de la bicyclette sur laquelle il parcourt les routes françaises, en été. Il pose des questions apparemment innocentes sur l’indépendance des revues professionnelles, par exemple, et rit de très bon coeur. Voici le personnage étrange et séduisant qui a introduit dans l’univers publicitaire une petite Comédie humaine, composée de personnages étranges et séduisants, délicieusement snobs, en qui il déclare s’être dépeint avec complaisance. Ayez du Schweppes aussi dans le bar de votre Rolls », nous conseille, de sa part, du fond de sa barbe distinguée, le Commander Whitehead. En lisant les réponses faites ci-dessous par Ogilvy, vous reconnaît sans peine l’exquise insolence du ton.

Le gentilhomme écossais, créateur d’une petite agence toute neuve, met un bandeau sur l’oil d’un gentilhomme autrichien pris comme mannequin et voici lancées, à la fois, les chemises Hathaway et l’agence Ogilvy (Ogilvy, Benson & Mather). Ceci se passait il y a une quinzaine d’années, pas plus. De nombreux personnages ogilviens se sont succédés depuis, porte-paroles de la K.LM., de Shell, du Tou risme américain, de Rolls-Royce, de Porto-Rico, etc.; le concepteur Ogilvy, ex-cuisinier au Majestic, ex-vendeur au porte-à-porte, est devenu un chef d’entreprise prospère, et les techniques que lui et les siens mettent en uvre sont diverses, comme il convient à des vendeurs de produits divers; mais en présence du personnage Ogilvy, on ne peut se défendre de penser qu’il joue (supérieurement) à se regarder dans le miroir des magazines. « Ce que je fais faire au baron Wrangel Vhomme au bandeau sur Vtl c’est, dit-il en substance, ce que j’aime ou aimerais faire moi-même : jouer du hautbois, barrer un yacht, etc. *

Mais il ne faut jamais se hâter de dire à propos de lui ; c Voilà la clef. » David Ogilvy est une maison avec beaucoup de portes. Excentrique et puritain, philanthrope et snob, cynique et sentimental, il invite à toutes les antithèses. Sauf une : il est toujours intelligent.

Cahier de la publicité

Pourquoi avez-vous écrit votre livre?

David Ogilvy

La vraie raison est enfouie dans mon subconscient, mais je peux vous en donner d’autres.
a) J’espérais que ce livre pourrait contribuer à amener de nou veaux clients à mon agence. J’aime l’idée que des prospects paient cinq dollars pour avoir le privilège de lire une < présentation » une de plus.
b) J’espérais que ce livre pourrait faire comprendre à mes clients actuels que j’en sais plus qu’eux sur la publicité et ainsi, les décourager de discuter avec moi. J’ai peu de goût pour la discussion.
c) J’espérais que ce livre pourrait donner à quelques jeunes hommes et jeunes femmes, ayant de l’ambition et de la personnalité, l’idée de venir me demander du travail.
M. C.

d) J’espérais que ce livre pourrait me rendre célèbre. Je suis friand de célébrité.
c) J’espérais que ce livre pourrait apprendre à ma propre équipe présente et future à mieux travailler. Toutes ces espérances se sont en partie réalisées.
C. P. :
Avez-vous écrit votre livre avec plaisir?
D. O.:
Oui! Je l’ai écrit pendant mes vacances, en été, le soir, après avoir passé la journée sur la plage. Assis à mon bureau, la plume à la main, j’éclatais de rire à tout bout de champ; et quand ma femme demand aitàprofiterdecette«sibonnehistoire»,jen’avaisqu’àluilire les dernières lignes… Vous comprenez, le premier jet était horrible mentindiscret, rempli d’anecdotes désopilantes à propos de mes clients. J’en ai censuré un bon nombre avant de donner le manuscrit à l’éditeur.
J’avais passé bien des années à rédiger des textes publicitaires, c’est-à-dire des textes courts. Maintenant, il fallait donner de l’am pleur à mon style. J’ai trouvé cela assez difficile. Dans son état final, le livre est sans doute encore un peu laconique. Au moins, il est court! On le lit en peu de temps.
C. P.:
Espérez-vous que les publicitaires suivront vos conseils?
D. O.:
Oui. J’aimerais bien que tous les publicitaires du monde suivent mes conseils. Cela ferait de moi le Grand-Prêtre de ma profession.
J’ai toujours envié le Pape.
C. P.:
Pensez-vous que les publicitaires en général sont capables d’ap prendre?
D. O.:
Non. La plupart sont trop stupides pour reconnaître la simple VERITE quand ils la rencontrent. Les petits esprits aiment la complication.
16
C. P.:
Si vous aviez à « vendre > votre livre, quelle serait la « promesse de bénéfice »? (1)
D. O.:
Je dirais : « Lisez mon livre et vous ferez de l’argent, vous aussi. »
C. P.:
Comment réformer la publicité? Et qui doit s’en charger?
D. O.:
Des réformes? en voici.
a) Interdire l’affichage. Il rend les villes et les campagnes hideuses.
b) Donner au consommateur des faits; s’abstenir de lui donner de l’air chaud.
c) Ne pas rougir d’avoir bon goût en toute occasion.
d) Interdire l’interruption des programmes sérieux par la publi cité(à la radio et à la télévision).
c) Cesser toute publicité pour les cigarettes, parce qu’elles tuent.
Qui devrait se charger de ces réformes? J’aimerais bien que ce
soit nous, publicitaires. Mais nous ne le faisons pas. Alors, au gouver nement de faire le pas et de nous protéger contre nous-mêmes.
C. P.:
Peut-on enseigner la « créativité » (pardon pour ce terme bar bare), et si oui, comment?
D. O.:
Si un homme est né sans imagination ni talent, personne ne lui en donnera. Mais j’ai pu apprendre à des c créatifs » l’art de rendre leurs inventions utilisables. Et certains animateurs je pense en particulier à Bill Bernbach ont réussi à créer chez eux une atmo sphère qui libère les élans créateurs de chacun. Une entreprise spé cialisée dans la création a besoin de dirigeants inspirés.
C. P.:
Les agences sont-elles nécessaires?
(1) Il s’agit du bénéfice promis au consommateur s’il achète le produit, objet de la publicité. Terme du vocabulaire ogilvien.
17
D. O.:
Oui, elles sont encore nécessaires, Dieu merci. Il n’y a pas beau coup de rédacteurs ou de maquettistes qui aient envie de travailler chez l’annonceur : l’ambiance « usine » les embête. Cela dit, je crois qu’au cours des dix prochaines années, les clients auront tendance à reprendre directement sous leur coupe la plupart des activités de marketing, laissant aux agences les activités de création. Cela évitera ces duplications d’efforts, qui causent aujourd’hui tant de frictions
et qui gaspillent tant d’argent.
C. P.:
Où, quand, comment, combien de temps travaillez-vous lorsque vous concevez une campagne?
D. O.:
Je passe toutes mes heures de bureau en réunions et coups de téléphone. Je ne peux lire ou écrire que chez moi, le soir, et pendant les week-ends.
A l’âge de cinquante-trois ans, je commence à me rendre compte qu’il ne faut pas veiller trop tard. Plus jeune, je restais à mon bureau longtemps après minuit, cinq jours par semaine. Maintenant, je travaille à la maison, tous les jours, une heure ou deux avant le breakfast.
Quelquefois, je n’arrive pas à « sortir » une idée. Mais j’ai mis au point deux remèdes pour venir à bout de cet inconvénient : écouter
des disques (surtout Haendel et Mozart) et boire beaucoup de vin (surtout du Bordeaux rouge).
Il y a dix ans, notre agence était une toute petite agence. Nous avions quinze campagnes en cours, dont quatorze de moi. Aujourd’hui nous menons cinquante campagnes, rien que pour notre bureau de New York et une seule est de moi. Nous avons cinquante rédact eurs, cinquante maquettistes : beaucoup d’entre eux sont plus forts que moi.
Pour vous dire toute la vérité, je suis bien moins fertile qu’autref oisC.’est peut-être l’âge. Ou la paresse. Ou la fonction directoriale, qui m’accapare de plus en plus…
18

Voir aussi:

How to Create Advertising that Sells
by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy & Mather has created over $1,480,000,000 worth of advertising, and spent $4,900,000 tracking the results.

Here, with all the dogmatism of brevity, are 38 of the things we have learned.

1. The most important decision. We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: How should you position your product?

Should you position SCHWEPPES as a soft drink—or as a mixer?

Should you position DOVE as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean?

The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than on how your product is positioned. It follows that positioning should be decided before the advertising is created.

Research can help. Look before you leap.

2. Large promise. The second most important decision is this: what should you promise the customer? A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan. It is a benefit for the consumer.

It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive. And the product must deliver the benefit you promise.

Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace.

« Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement »—said Samuel Johnson.

3. Brand image. Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image. Ninety-five percent of all advertising is created ad hoc. Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.

The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market.

4. Big ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a BIG IDEA it will pass like a ship in the night.

It takes a BIG IDEA to jolt the consumer out of his indifference—to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action.

Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: « This problem, when solved, will be simple. »

BIG SIMPLE IDEAS are not easy to come by. They require genius—and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for twenty years—like our Eye patch for Hathaway shirts.

5. A first-class ticket. It pays to give most products an image of quality—a first-class ticket.

Ogilvy & Mather has been conspicuously successful in doing this—for Pepperidge, Hathaway, Mercedes-Benz, Schweppes, Dove and others.

If your advertising looks ugly, consumers will conclude that your product is shoddy, and they will be less likely to buy it.

6. Don’t be a bore. Nobody was ever bored into buying a product. Yet most advertising is impersonal, detached, cold—and dull.

It pays to involve the customer.

Talk to her like a human being. Charm her. Make her hungry. Get her to participate.

7. Innovate. Start trends—instead of following them. Advertising which follows a fashionable fad, or is imitative, is seldom successful

It pays to innovate, to blaze new trails. But innovation is risky unless you pre-test your innovation with consumers. Look before you leap.

8. Be suspicious of awards. The pursuit of creative awards seduces creative people from the pursuit of sales.

We have been unable to establish any correlation whatever between awards and sales.

At Ogilvy & Mather we now give an annual award for the campaign which contributes the most to sales.

Successful advertising sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It rivets the consumer’s attention on the product

Make the product the hero of your advertising.

9. Psychological segmentation. Any good agency knows how to position products for demographic segments of the market—for men, for young children, for farmers in the South, etc.

But Ogilvy & Mather has learned that it often pays to position products for psychological segments of the market.

Our Mercedes-Benz advertising is positioned to fit nonconformists who scoff at « status symbols » and reject flimflam appeals to snobbery.

10. Don’t bury news. It is easier to interest the consumer in a product when it is new than at any other point in its life. Many copywriters have a fatal instinct for burying news. This is why most advertising for new products fails to exploit the opportunity that genuine news provides.

It pays to launch your new product with a loud BOOM-BOOM.

11. Go the whole hog. Most advertising campaigns are too complicated. They reflect a long list of marketing objectives. They embrace the divergent views of too many executives. By attempting too many things, they achieve nothing.

It pays to boil down your strategy to one simple promise—and go the whole hog in delivering that promise.
What works best in television

12.Testimonials: Avoid irrelevant celebrities. Testimonial commercials arc almost always successful—if you make them credible.

Either celebrities or real people can be effective. But avoid irrelevant celebrities whose fame has no natural connection with your product or your customers. Irrelevant celebrities steal attention from your product.

13.Problem-solution (don’t cheat!) You set up a problem that the consumer recognizes.

Then you show how your product can solve that problem.

And you prove the solution.

This technique has always been above average in sales results, and it still is. But don’t use it unless you can do so without cheating; the consumer isn’t a moron, she is your wife.

14. Visual demonstrations. If they are honest, visual demonstrations are generally effective in the marketplace.

It pays to visualize your promise. It saves time. It drives the promise home. It is memorable.

15. Slice of life. These playlets are corny, and most copywriters detest them. But they have sold a lot of merchandise, and are still selling.

16. Avoid logorrhea. Make your pictures tell the story. What you show is more important than what you say.

Many commercials drown the viewer in a torrent of words. We call that logorrhea (rhymes with diarrhoea).

We have created some great commercials without words.

17. On-camera voice. Commercials using on-camera voice do significantly better than commercials using voice-over.

18. Musical backgrounds. Most commercials use musical backgrounds. However, on the average, musical backgrounds reduce recall of your commercial. Very few creative people accept this.

But we never heard of an agency using musical background under a new business presentation.

19. Stand-ups. The stand-up pitch can be effective, if it is delivered with straightforward honesty.

20. Burr of singularity. The average consumer now sees 20,000 commercials a year; poor dear.

Most of them slide off her memory like water off a duck’s back.

Give your commercials a flourish of singularity, a burr that will stick in the consumer’s mind. One such burr is the MNEMONIC DEVICE, or relevant symbol—like the crowns in our commercials for Imperial Margarine.

21. Animation & cartoons. Less than five percent of television commercials use cartoons or animation. They are less persuasive than live commercials.

The consumer cannot identify herself with the character in the cartoon. And cartoons do not invite belief.

However, Carson/Roberts, our partners in Los Angeles, tell us that animation can be helpful when you are talking to children.

They should know—they have addressed more than six hundred commercials to children.

22. Salvage commercials. Many commercials which test poorly can be salvaged.

The faults revealed by the test can be corrected. We have doubled the effectiveness of a commercial simply by re-editing it

23. Factual vs. emotional. Factual commercials tend to be more effective than emotional commercials.

However, Ogilvy & Mather has made some emotional commercials which have been successful in the marketplace. Among these are our campaigns for Maxwell House Coffee and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.

24. Grabbers. We have found that commercials with an exciting opening hold their audience at a higher level than commercials which begin quietly.
What works best in print

25. Headlines. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body

It follows that, if you don’t sell the product in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your money. That is why most Ogilvy & Mather headlines include the brand name and the promise.

26. Benefit in headlines. Headlines that promise a benefit sell more than those that don’t.

27. News in headlines. Time after time, we have found that it pays to inject genuine news into headlines.

The consumer is always on the lookout for new products, or new improvements in an old product, or new ways to use an old product.

Economists—even Russian economists—approve of this. They call it « informative » advertising. So do consumers.

28. Simple headlines. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say—in simple language. Readers do not stop to decipher the meaning of obscure headlines.

29. How many words in a headline? In headline tests conducted with the cooperation of a big department store, it was found that headlines of ten words or longer sold more goods than short headlines.

In terms of recall headlines between eight and ten words are most effective.

In mail-order advertising, headlines between six and twelve words get the most coupon returns.

On the average, long headlines sell more merchandise than short ones—headlines like our

« At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock. »

30. Localize headlines. In Local advertising it pays to include the name of the city in your headline.

31. Select your prospects. When you advertise a product which is consumed only by a special group, it pays to « flag » that group in your headline -MOTHERS, BED-WETTERS, GOING TO EUROPE?

32. Yes, people read long copy. Readership falls off rapidly up to fifty words, but drops very little between fifty and five hundred words. (This page contains 1909 words, and you are reading it.)

Ogilvy & Mather has used long copy—with notable success—for Mercedes-Benz, Cessna Citation, Merrill Lynch and Shell gasoline.

« The more you tell, the more you sell. »

33. Story appeal in picture. Ogilvy & Mather has gotten notable results with photographs which suggest a story. The reader glances at the photograph and asks himself, « What goes on here? » Then he reads the copy to find out.

Harold Rudolph called this magic element « story appeal. » The more of it you inject into your photograph, the more people look at your advertisement.

It is easier said than done.

34. Before & after. Before and After advertisements are somewhat above average in attention value.

Any form of « visualized contrast » seems to work well.

35. Photographs vs. artwork. Ogilvy & Mather has found that photographs work belter than drawings—almost invariably.

They attract more readers, generate more appetite appeal, are more believable, are better remembered, pull more coupons, and sell more merchandise.

36. Use captions to sell. On the average, twice as many people read the captions under photographs as read the body copy.

It follows that you should never use a photograph without putting a caption under it; and each caption should be a miniature advertisement for the product—complete with brand name and promise.

37. Editorial layouts. Ogilvy & Mather has had more success with editorial layouts than with. « addy » layouts.

Editorial layouts get higher readership than conventional advertisements.

38. Repeat your winners. Scores of great advertisements have been discarded before they have begun to pay off.

Readership can actually increase with repetition—up to five repetitions.

Is this all we know?

These findings apply to most categories of products. But not to all.

Ogilvy & Mather has developed a separate and specialized body of knowledge on what makes for success in advertising food products, tourist destinations, proprietary medicines, children’s products and other classifications.

But this special information is revealed only to the clients of Ogilvy & Mather.

2 East 48th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017

 Voir encore:

The Theory and Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker
by David Ogilvy—June, 1935
Issued by Aga Heat Limited

« The perfect Aga Salesman combines the tenacity of the bulldog with the manners of the spaniel ».
An AGA Cooker Sales Training Manual
FOREWARD

We may divide modern industry into three interdependent parts: design, manufacture, and selling. The Aga, designed by Dr. Dalen and manufactured by master English steel and iron founders, demands a high standard of selling.

Selling includes advertising, sales literature and personal contact. Of these, personal contact with the prospective purchasers is the last link in the chain between Dalen and John Bull. It might be the strongest.

In Great Britain, there are twelve million households. One million of these own motor cars. Only ten thousand own Aga Cookers. No household which can afford a motor car can afford to be without an Aga. They must be hunted out and their interest in Aga roused by personal sales argument. Only by personal contact can you judge whether a household is Aga-worthy. Only a salesman can get the order. Press advertising and sales literature is intended to facilitate your work and not to do it for you. You can use sales literature as one weapon in your armoury. People are impressed by what they hear far more than by what they read. They must be talked to about Aga, by you. Only an insignificant percentage will go to shops and ask you to tell them. In the immortal words of Henry Ford, « solicit by personal visitation. »

Unfortunately householders do not hold « At Homes  » for salesmen. Nor is there any inevitably successful method of getting into their houses. If you have never called on householders as a salesman it will not take you long to find out that there are hundreds of other people doing the same thing. In some towns it is not unusual for as many as twenty salesmen to call at a house in one day. Few, if any, of them get in. Orders have been given to the maid to keep salesmen out at al costs. But there are ways of getting in and only be constant experiment will you be able to develop what is for you the best technique. There are certain universal rules. Dress quietly and shave well. Do not wear a bowler hat. Go to the back door (most salesmen go to the front door, a manoeuvre always resented by maid and mistress alike). Always find out beforehand the name of the householder. Be as polite as you know how. Never lose your temper. Tell the person who opens the door frankly and briefly what you have come for’ it will get her on your side. Never on any account get in on false pretences. Study the best time of day for calling; between 12 and 2PM you will not be welcome, whereas a call at an unorthodox time of day – after supper in the summer for instance – will often succeed. Never « do » a whole street consecutively. If you must carry sales literature, use an expensive looking brief case which cannot be mistaken for a bag of samples. Some salesmen make their first call without any literature at all, a plan which has much to commend it. In general, study the methods of you competitors and do the exact opposite.

Find out all you can about your prospects before you call on them’ their general living conditions, wealth, profession, hobbies, friends and so on. Every hour spent in this kind of research will help you impress your prospect.

Salesmen are only too often unpopular people in Aga-worthy houses.. Show straight away that you are not of the so-called canvasser variety. Never bully, get into an argument, show resentment, or lose your temper. Do not talk about « your husband » – « Mr. Smith » is less impertinent. Never talk down or show superior knowledge. Never appeal to a prospect’s pity because the more prosperous you appear the more she is likely to be impressed with you and to believe in you and your Aga. The worst fault a salesman can commit is to be a bore. Foster any attempt to talk about other things; the longer you stay the better you get to know the prospect, and the more you will be trusted. Pretend to be vastly interested in any subject the prospect shows an interest in. The more she talks the better, and if you can make her laugh you are several points up. If she argues a lot, do not give the impression of knowing all the answers by heart and always being one up on her. She will think you are too smart by half, and mistrust your integrity. Find out as soon as possible in the conversation how much she already knows about Aga; it will give you the correct angle of approach. Perhaps the most important thing of all is to avoid standardisation in your sales talk. If you find yourself on fine day saying the same things to a bishop and a trapezist, you are done for.

When the prospect tries to bring the interview to a close, go gracefully. It can only hurt to be kicked out. Learn to recognise a really valid reason for the prospect being unable to order (there are mighty few such reasons). With these reservations you cannot be too tenacious or too persevering. The good salesman combines the tenacity of a bull dog with the manners of a spaniel. If you have any charm, ooze it.

The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you expose yourself to, the more orders you will get. But never mistake the quantity of calls for quality of salesmanship.

Quality of salesmanship involves energy, time and knowledge of the product. We cannot contribute to the first two. The object of these notes is to help you to the third – abetter knowledge of the Aga. And although many of the sales arguments expended here are already well known to all experience Aga salesmen, this manual must contain at least some hints which will prove interesting and helpful to everybody. Selling does not materially differ from military campaigning, and we may analyse it under two main headings, ATTACK and DEFENCE.

The attack is the positive task of stimulating the prospect to want an Aga more than anything in the world. The defence is the negative task of removing obstacles which seem to the prospect to lie between her and her dearest wish. Never get manoeuvred into a permanent defence; it will become a retreat. Defence must be developed as quickly as possible into counter attack. Positive argument is more persuasive than negative argument.
ATTACK
1. General Statement

most people have heard something about the Aga Cooker. They vaguely believe it to involve some new method of cooking. They may have heard that it works on the principle of « heat storage ». Heat storage is the oldest known form of cooking. Aborigines bake their hedgehogs in the ashes of a dying fire. The baker’s brick oven has been in use for centuries and is known by most women to be traditionally the perfect oven. The hay-box came into its own during the War. But the Aga is not just a glorified hay-box with a fire inside, or a baker’s oven put in a polished case of chromium-plat and vitreous enamel. It is the result of applying contemporary scientific knowledge of combustion, metallurgy, and nutrition to the accumulated kitchen sense of centuries.

The Aga was invited by Dr. Gustaf Dalen of Stockholm. A scientist of little distinction, he has actually won the Nobel Prices (approximate value £ 5,000).

And Dr. Dalen is that rare thing, a front rank scientist who actually applies his knowledge to inventions of material and immediate benefit to mankind. Before inventing the Aga he had perfected a system of lights for lighthouses and buoys, which has been adopted throughout the world, and which at this very moment is saving the lives of sailors on some rocky coast on the other side of the world: just as the Aga is now cooking luncheon for at least one hundred thousand British people. The everyday influence of Dr. Dalen may justly be compared to that of Signor Marconi.

For nine years the Aga has been tested and improved in detail, at huge cost, until to-day it is perhaps the perfect cooker. For five years it has been in use in our British kitchens. For four years it has been made in Britain by a British company.

When the inventor built his wife a house, he looked for, but could not find, a cooker which was capable of every cooking method-baking, boiling, braising, frying, grilling, toasting, stewing, roasting, steaming and simmering. He demanded that his cooker should be able to do all these things to perfection. As a scientist even more as a husband he was appalled by the enormous waste of heat apparent in the ordinary type of cooker. He saw that however efficient a cooker could be made, so long as the human factor in the heat control remained, that cooker could never be economical. If he could cut out the human factor in heat control he would give to the world and to his wife their most economical cooker. So Dr. Dalen produced the Aga. It is the only cooker in the world with a fixed invariable fuel consumption, guaranteed by its inventor, its manufacturers, its salesmen, its users and eve coal merchants to burn less than £4 worth of fuel in a year.

Having got some preliminary remarks of this kind off your chest, find out as quickly as possible which of the particular sales arguments that follow is most likely to appeal to your audience, and give that argument appropriate emphasis. Stock-brokers will appreciate No. 2. Doctors will understand No. 9. Cooks will be won over with No. 5. Only on rare occasions will you have the opportunity of getting through all twelve arguments.
2. Economy

The Aga is the only cooker in the world with a guaranteed maximum fuel consumption. It is guaranteed to burn less than £4 of fuel a year. This figure can be expressed as £1 a quarter, 6/8 a month, 1/6 a week, 11/2 a day or one-fifth of a penny per hour. Different prospects are impressed most by different statements of time and price, but the majority will easily remember £4 a year. (These figures refer to the standard model only).

Very few people believe you the first time they hear this claim. Bring testimonials to your support. The most electrifying proof of the truth of you claim is to offer to make yourself personally responsible for keeping the prospect in fuel in return for a fixed annual payment of £4. If you add confidentially that the transaction will show you a profit, the prospect will prefer to buy her own fuel. Stress the fact that no cook can make her Aga burn more fuel than this, however stupid, extravagant or careless she may be, or however much she may cook. If more fuel is consumed, it is being stolen, and the police should be called immediately.

Avoid like the plague any reference to fuel consumption in terms of tons. Tons are less memorable than £s and discussion of weights and measures in English conversation invariably leads to argument, competitive exaggeration, disbelieve, and bad temper. It is vitally essential to make every prospect believe your fuel consumption claim, even if she disbelieves everything else you say. On the whole, however, you will not find incredulity a serious obstacle in selling the Aga; after all, it is all true, and if you believe it yourself you will find that, like the Apostles, you will be believed by other people.

Next find out how much the prospect in spending in fuel consumption, making it appear that your estimate is charitable on the low side. Some prospects know the fuel consumption for the whole house, but very few indeed know how exactly what proportion is accounted for by the kitchen. The tactic is the assume an air of objective omniscience and to tell her that the kitchen accounts for at least 80 per cent of the fuel in most houses, but that in her house it may only burn 70 per cent of the total.

Having arrived by some means or another at an agreed figure for the fuel consumption of the present cooker, you proceed to finance. You let the wild can out of the bag and tell her the price. If you have painted the Aga in sufficiently glowing colours she will have been led up to believe that the price will be actually higher than it is. Without apologising for the price, rush on to prove that the Aga is a first-class investment which first pays for itself out of the money it saves in fuel, and then continues to pay dividends ad infinitum. If the prospect will invest capital in the Aga she will receive dividends on a scale unheard of on the Stock Exchange.

Suggest that the Aga can be bought by hire-purchase and that it will pay its own instalments. Money which has hitherto gone to coal merchants, the Gas Company, or the Electricity undertaking, can simply be diverted for a year or two until the Aga is paid for. Then one find day the prospect wakes up and finds herself handsomely in pocket. There are houses where a Christmas Party is given every year out of Aga’s fuel saving. It can be thus be shown that the Aga need cost nothing to buy.

The following tables will implement your thesis. Carry them about with you in the form you can show to prospects.

THE NEW STANDARD AGA COOKER costs £47 10S. Add from £5 for Delivery and Erection. Total Cost, £52 10S. Fuel Cost, 4 per annum.

H.P. terms for 4 years: Initial payment, £5 10s, followed by:

48 monthly payments $1 S2 plus 6/8 for fuel
£1 11s. 8d. a month, or 7/6 a week
12 quarterly payments £3 15s. plus £1 for fuel
£4 15s a quarter

MODEL 21 AGA COOKER costs £78. Add from £5 10S for Delivery and Erection. Total Cost, £83 10S. Fuel cost £5 per anum

H.P. Terms for 3 years: Initial payment, £5 10s, followed by:

36 monthly payments of £2 12s, 10d plus 8/4 for fuel
£3 28. 2d a month
12 quarterly payments of £4;0s 1d. plus 25/- for fuel
£9 5s 1d a quarter

NOTE:—For fuel consumptions smaller than those shown the fuel saving is so small as to be hardly worth using as a major argument. You have barked up the wrong tree. Change gracefully to another argument, without giving the impression that any wind has gone out of your sails.
3. Always Ready

You cannot surprise an Aga. It is always on its toes, ready for immediate use at any time of the day or night. It is difficult for a cook or housewife who has not known to Aga to realise exactly what this will mean to her. Tell her she can come down in the middle of the night and roast a goose, or even refill her hot water bottle. On Sunday evenings when all the bread in the house is as stale as Old Harry, she need only pop the stale loaf into the oven for two to three minutes and abracadabra ! – a hot crunch loaf of new bread. Hot breakfast may be given to the wretched visitor who has to start back to London at zero hour on Monday morning. Only after the Aga has been installed will the prospect realise the real significance of the « Always Ready » advantage, and the first time she returns from an all-day picnic to a hot cooker she will have reason to bless you. More than 90 per cent of the Aga users who have written to us and the other Aga organizations throughout the world tell us that the best feature of the Cooker is that it is always ready. (Although it is the actual user who can best express an unbiased opinion of the Aga, the value of testimonials is generally exaggerated. People are not much impressed by them unless they happen to know something about the people who wrote them).

« Always Ready » is a feature of cardinal importance which runs like a silver thread through every description of the Aga.
4. Cleanliness

Cleanliness with which may be coupled beauty, is a virtue sometimes better appreciated by the prospect than by the salesman. The woman who does the work in a house spends more time on cleaning that on anything else. Vacuum cleaners, carpet sweepers, soap, dusters, aprons, brushes and mops are bought to remove dirt. Anything calculated to remove one of the major causes of dirt in a house is immediately appreciated by all women. The Aga is innately clean-as clean as the shining vitreous enamel on its front. It will save £s in kitchen redecoration, and every £ saved annually represents the interest on capital investment of £20

Ladies can cook a dinner on the Aga in evening dress. Doctors will agree that it is so clean that it would not look out of place in the sterilising room of an operating theatre.

Like motor cars, women, hats and houses, cookers sell on their look, and there can be no denying that the Aga is more beautiful, modern-looking and « functional » than any other cooker. If your prospect has not seen an Aga she will never come to hanker for it until she has seen it. Fix it.

Appeal to the prospect’s house-proudness. She must be made to want the most hygienic cooker and to have her kitchen a model kitchen. If you are selling to schools or nursing homes point out tactfully the sales value to them of having a model kitchen. Schools and nursing homes revolve round their kitchens, and most of them know it.

An occasional flowery phrase is called for to allow your enthusiasm full scope in describing the beauty and cleanliness of the Aga. Think some up and produce them extempore.
Cookery

It is hopeless to try and sell a single Aga unless you know something about cookery and appear to know more than you actually do. It is not simply a question of knowing which part of the Aga bakes and which simmers. You must be able to talk to cooks and housewives on their own ground. Most of the women who buy cookers are cooks themselves by necessity, profession, or hobby, and if you can talk food with them you have at your finger-tips a ready made topic of common interest which will open many doors and more hearts. And bear this in mind, that the more you know about cookery the more you will enjoy your own meals.

THE BOILING PLATE–I have heard the Aga is good for slow cooking, but can it cook fast? » You will hear this objection a hundred times a week. Forestall it every time. The Boiling Plate is far and away faster than any gas ring or electric hotplate. It is about as fast as the red part of a coal fire. If you are demonstrating, show how quickly water boils and how violently it goes on boiling. A hearty display of clouds of steam, lid rattling and boiling over should dispel this slowness inhibition once and for all. Nevertheless you will sometimes run across prospects who can quote chapter and verse for the Aga being too slow. With such people it will pay you to admit with a confidence-winning show of frankness that the old type cooker did indeed lose speed when the lids had been up for a prolonged period; how different, you will say, is the new cooker, which recuperates as fast as it loses heat and whose boiling plate is always as hot as blazes.

If you do not yourself believe that the Aga is the fastest cooker, spit on the boiler plate. Such an exhibition of bouncing, dancing and globular antics will convince you.

The heat of the Boiling Plate is even all over. Food does not stick, as it does when a saucepan rests on top of unequally impinging gas flames.

Aga grilling should be featured, particularly to men, who are almost always interested in this if in no other method of cooking; it is the only culinary operation they ever see and understand. Expatiate on the theme that the Aga grills almost as well as an open charcoal or coke grill. The process is described in the utensil catalogue and by Ambrose Heath.

THE SIMMERING PLATE. The point of importance with regard to the Simmering plate is not to admit for one moment the proposition that to cook on it cools the oven. In point of fact the oven will cook if the Simmering Plate is used to excess, but the prospect would be unduly alarmed were you to tell her this in so many words; your conscience can be salved by the safe knowledge that when she becomes an owner the Cooking Oven will make the use of the Simmering Plate largely superfluous.

It is possible, you will tell the prospect, to keep three saucepans simmering for all eternity on the Simmering Plate. They can never boil over. However, too much emphasis must not be laid on the virtues of the Simmering Plate, or it will detract from the culinary sensation you hope to make with the Cooking Oven.

THE ROASTING OVEN. Learn to recognise vegetarians on sight. It is painful indeed to gush over roasting and grilling to a drooping face which has not enjoyed the pleasures of a beefsteak for years.

Before you open the top oven door, either actually or by description, forestall the inevitable observation that it « looks very small. » It is an optical illusion due to the solid shape of the Aga. Measured in cubic inches the top oven compares very favourably with other ovens. It is deep from back to front-roughly the shape of a sucking pig. Demonstrate with exaggerated groping how far back the oven goes. It will take a 20-lb turkey, a 22-lb. roast of beef, or four legs of lamb. The turkey introduces the subject of Christmas dinner and this can be made an opportunity for digression into the realm of good food.

Every cubic inch of space in the oven can be utilised because the heat is even all over. This is very far from being the case with other cookers, where the gas flames dry and scorch food placed too close to them, or the hot flue passes over one side of the oven and leaves the other side as cold as an iceberg. Furthermore the temperature of the oven does not vary with unexpected rapidity as it does in an electric oven, whose walls are not so thick and whose insulation is not so thorough. Cakes and joints for this reason do not require such careful watching in the Aga Oven. Joints never require basting.

The Roasting Oven closely resembles an old-fashioned brick baker’s oven, which all knowledgeable cooks will admit is second only to a spit for roasting. Indeed in one respect the Aga Oven is even better than a baker’s oven: it does not have to be heated up. That reduces time spent in the kitchen and brings you to a most important talking point: the Aga makes you cook. The housewife who uses an ordinary cooker and who is busy in the house all day, tends to save time as much as possible over cooking by choosing those dishes which she can cook in a few minutes, without wasting time in heating up her oven. The result is an excess of expensive cutlets, sausages, eggs, and worst of all, tinned food. With the Aga oven such dishes as gratins, pies, tarts, joints, and patties come into their own. These dishes are better eating and far cheaper. In this way the Aga stimulates its owners to more and better cooking.

Joints roasted in the Aga do not shrink. The reason for this is that the actual walls of the oven hold sufficiently large quantities of heat to insure that the joint quickly reaches a temperature where the correct carapace or crust is formed, and the natural juices are sealed inside. Result: meat which is incomparably juicy, tasty, evenly roasted all through, and beautifully coloured on the outside. Cold Aga joints are a sight more welcome than ordinary cold meat. The budgetary saving brought about by the absence of shrinkage is so great that you can safely count on 10 per cent off the butcher’s bill.

Baking interests most women more than roasting. Without beating around the bush, tell the prospect that pastry baking, bread baking and cake baking are star turns. A tart will come out evenly golden all over. Every little cake on a tray will be the same uniform colour. Home-made bread comes into its own in the baker-poisoned household. Most women are subject to baking fits, and the ability to give this idiosyncrasy full rein may be enlarged upon at some length.

The top shelf of the oven is good for browning gratins, etc.

Forestall the question: « How do you regulate the temperature? » It will be in the prospects mind long before you finish eulogising the oven, and if you can attack the subject before it is thrown in your teeth you will have a tactical advantage. One of the greatest virtues of the Aga is that the temperature control is fully automatic, so that the cook can forget it entirely. In boiling, or in the case of marmalade by soaking the peel and pulp with the water all night. Meringues, the first cousins of custard and mayonnaise, present no difficulty. The cooking oven will do them to perfection at any time of the day or night. National dishes such as Haggis, Irish Stew and Sauerkraut are child’s play.

In a nut-shell the Aga enables a housewife to provide those dishes whose excellence is due to the cooking they receive instead of to the expensiveness of the ingredients they contain. Economy and good food all along the line.

THE HOT WATER TANK. Go into an old-fashioned kitchen at two o’clock in the afternoon and ten to one you will see a kettle boiling away sleepily for tea at half-past four, when the water will be dead and stale. Now imagine an 80-pint kettle which never quite boils, which remains perfectly fresh, and which is ready and fit all round the clock for tea, vegetables, hot-water bottles, washing up, and even to come to the rescue on those fearful occasions when the domestic hot-water system breaks down. Paint a picture of Colonel Blimp wallowing in a hip bath while hoards of apologetic kitchen maids carry cans from the Aga tank to float him to heights of political epigram. In humbler houses the tank makes it possible to do without the independent boiler in hot weather, or when a caretaker is alone in the house.. Needless to say, the tank is most important in those houses where there are invalids.

Some prospects will pretend that their domestic hot water system provides all the kitchen requirements. Point out to them the superior advantage of having the hot water actually on the cooker under the cook’s hand, and invite them to admit that they would be horrified to hear of hot water from the house system being used for cooking or tea.

The tank must be filled daily. A tap from the main placed immediately above the opening only costs a few shillings to fix and saves fetching and carrying. If the cook forgets to fill the tank, it cannot run dry. And even if it could nothing would happen. In 15,000 cases there has never been an accident. To the prospect who is irretrievably nervous about bursting boilers you can only offer to erect the Aga without a tank; go on to say that the construction of the tank, with the business tap half way up, renders it incapable of being emptied. When the cook finds the tap running dry she will fill up, safe in the knowledge that five gallons still remain below tap level.

Every time cold water is poured in it falls to the bottom and the hot water comes up to the top. In this way you never have to wait for hot water and the water is always fresh.

The tank is imbecile-proof.
6. Appeal to Cooks

If there is a cook in the house, she is bound to have the casting vote over a new cooker. Butter her up. Never go above her head. Before the sale and afterwards as a user a cook can be your bitterest enemy or your best friend’ she can poison a whole district or act as your secret representative. The Aga will mean for her an extra hour in bed, and a kitchen as clean as a drawing-room. Every cook who knows the Aga can get a good job at any time; but be careful how you tell her this.. The Aga is cool to work at and will not burn her face. It will be reliable and will never let her down. She will be able to bake rolls and scones before breakfast. She will not have to scrub the kitchen floor so frequently. In a big house do not make the unpardonable error of attributing to the cook the dirty work done by the kitchenmaid. All kitchenmaids love the Aga, at any rate until they are dismissed as superfluous; even then they can get a better job as cook in an Aga house.

Do not lead the cook to suppose that she will have to relearn her job.
7. Appeal to Men

When selling to men who employ a staff or whose wives do their cooking, make a discreet appeal to their humane instincts. The Aga takes the slavery out of the kitchen work. It dos not cook the cook. It civilises live in the kitchen. It can be to women what their motor car is to men. And compare prices. If you can work on this appeal to a man’s better nature and combine it with an appeal to his pocket and his belly, you cannot fail to secure an order. Contentment in a house spreads from the cook outwards, and a discontented cook will turn a house into a bedlam of grumbling. All men pray for peace below stairs and a house which runs on oiled wheels; the Aga goes to the heart of the problem.
8. Appeal to Special Classes.

Children can be given the run of the Aga kitchen for making coffee and so on. There is no danger of burning, electric shocks, gassing or explosion. The blind will like to hear that Dr. Dalen is himself blind. Cooks will like to hear that Ambrose Heat himself uses an Aga. Doctors will admire your perspicacity if you tell them that Sir Farquhar Buzzard and Sir Humphrey Rolleston are doctor-users, and if a case keeps them long after the normal hour for dinner they will get an unspoilt meal on their return to an Aga house. There is no end to the special appeal Aga has for every conceivable class and profession. Think it out.
9. Kitchen and Warming and Air Conditioning

The Aga warms an average-sized kitchen even in the depths of winter, acting like a radiator of approximately 37 square feet surface area at a constant temperature of about 90 degrees F. A little heat goes a long way if it is constant. Ordinary kitchens get cold in the night. The Aga kitchen keeps warm all night. For the cook to come down first thing in the morning to a warm kitchen, and to have one room in the house always warm, are huge advantages, particularly in houses which have not got central heating.

You can reasonable claim that the Aga will warm any kitchen enough for working in, but large basement kitchens and those in country houses with stone floors and leaky windows must be provided with other heating in winter, if the staff are to use them as sitting rooms. This difficulty often solves itself, as in big houses the boiler is in the kitchen, or there is central heating, or a servants’ hall is provided (as it ought to be).

In summer the windows are left open and the Aga kitchen achieves an arctic coldness. And does it not look cool?

Magically enough, the Aga also contrives to « air-condition » the kitchen. This advantage will appeal with some force to factory owners, architects and others who understand that « air-conditioning » is the modern way of talking about keeping a room well aired. Modern cinemas, shops, and even express trains are air-conditioned. All coal-burning fires help to change the air in a room while they are burning. The Aga always burns as it pumps out foul air through the chimney and pulls fresh air into the kitchen. The Aga cook works in a fresh,, dry, warm atmosphere. The Aga kitchen is healthy and inimical to germs. In coal-range, gas, electric or oil kitchens the temperature falls every night; when cooking begins again in the morning steam condenses on the cold walls, and in time a layer of sticky dust and grime accumulates everywhere. Food mildews, cereals lose crispness, salt cakes, and the kitchen needs re-painting; the Aga kitchen is perennially cosy and knows not such abominations.
10. Summary of Miscellaneous Economies

The Aga means fuel savings, staff reduction, reduced expenditure on cleaning materials, reduction of meat shrinkage and food wastage, abolition of chimney-sweeps; painting and redecorating is unheard of; electric irons and their antics are unnecessary; raids on registry offices for new servants become a thing of the past; the house can be let or sold at any time on its kitchen; bilious attacks and doctor’s bills are halved; restaurants are seldom visited, and, as the French say; « The Aga owner eats best at home. »
11. Wise-Cracking

The longer you talk to a prospect, the better, and you will not do this if you’re a bore. Pepper your talk with anecdote and jokes. Accumulate a repertoire of illustration. Above all, laugh till you cry every time the prospect makes the joke about the Aga Khan. A deadly serious demonstration is bound to fail. If you can’t make a lady laugh, you certainly cannot maker buy.
12. How it Works Briefly

The AGA Cooker works as follows: The heart of the Cooker is a mass of metal weighing about cwts.. It consists of two cylindrical barrels, one inside the other. The inner barrel forms a magazine which feeds the fire with fuel. The fire is burning at the bottom of the outer barrel. The space between the two barrels forms the flue from the fire. The magazine is charged with coke once every twelve hours, and the fire, burning continuously, heats up this mass of metal. The heat cannot escape from this unit because of the insulating packing around it. When the temperature of the mass of metal, or the heat storage unit, reaches a pre-determined point, a damper automatically reduces the draught and the fire just remains burning to restore to the unit the heat which escapes to warm the kitchen. If the AGA insulation were 100 per cent. perfect, the cooker would not warm the kitchen and the fire would go out (unless cooking were done on it).

Heat is taken from the heat storage unit by metallic conduction to the various parts of the cooker, in exactly the right quantities. Straight up to the very fast boiling plate, across to the simmering plate and the roasting oven, across and down to the lower oven. The amount of metal in each part of the cooker has been calculated so that the temperature is exactly right. By virtue of the automatic damper, or the thermostat, the temperatures are constant.

The insulating lids on top of the hot plates are for keeping heat inside when the hot plates are not in use. When cooking is in progress, these lids are open, cold things are put in the oven, and heat us used up. But as soon as the lids are shut down, the heat immediately begins to store up for the next lot of cooking. All through the night the heat is storing up for the next day’s cooking, and you know that when you come down to the cooker in the morning the temperatures of every part will be exactly the same as they have been on the previous days.
DEFENSE
1. General Advice

The ideal to aim at is to make your attack so thorough that the enemy is incapable of counter-attack, to pile up points in every round and to hand out a K.O. before the last gong; to anticipate every objection without suggesting bogies. In practice, however, you must always be faced soon or later with questions and objections which may indeed be taken as a sign that the prospect’s brain is in working order, and that she is conscientiously considering the AGA as a practical proposition for herself. Some salesmen expound their subject academically, so that at the end the prospect feels no more inclination to buy the AGA than she would to buy the planet Jupiter after a broadcast from the Astronomer Royal. A talkative prospect is a good thing. The dumb prospect is too often equally deaf.

To show that you are completely stumped on any point is fatal, for it stimulates the prospect to attack, puts you on the defensive, and, worst of all, gives the impression that you do not know your job. Know all the answers backwards without learning them by heart. Reply to objections quietly and firmly; don’t be too smart; return naturally to the attack.

If the prospect comes to trust you sufficiently, she may ask you in confidence to tell her what the crab is. Play up and tell her a crab, but be certain that what you tell her will not have the slightest adverse influence. Say, for instance, that orders are so plentiful delivery has been difficult recently, that her family’s appetite may double, that her pigs and hens will die of starvation, that she may find cooking so attractive she never does anything else, that kettles boil over as soon as her back is turned, that the cook will find time lies heavy on her hands, that the neighbours will be jealous, and that every conceivable blessing in disguise will crowd upon her. You can make a fine art of admitting crabs and scoring with them.

All the objections and answers that follow have continuations which will give you an indication of the technique of returning to the lead. They are not cast-iron rules to be learnt by heart and spouted automatically on every occasion. You will be able to develop and improve on our suggestions.
2. Detailed Objections

« It is too big for my kitchen. »

Bolony always. It only looks big because it does not, like gas stoves, stand on legs. Make the objection a pretext for going into the kitchen to measure, and ton continue the conversation there. Among other advantages of selling in the kitchen is that the cook will be in earshot and you can kill two birds with one stone. Continue : There is no danger of getting burned with an Aga, so that it is possible to go right up to it. You have to give a range a very wide berth. You can sit on the Aga. It is an uncommon kind of kitchen maid in that it does not get in your way.

« I don’t like Coke. »

The old-fashioned coke stove has admittedly brought coke into disrepute. But the Aga differs from the old slow combustion stove as chalk from cheese.

Continue: Coke is the cheapest fuel per heat unit. It is five times cheaper than gas at 9d. a therm, and twelve times cheaper than electric current at 1d. a unit. The heat thus costs so little that it accounts to some extent for the economy of the cooker. If you are asked why the Aga cannot be made to work electrically, that is the answer. (It is worth while knowing the exact rates at which gas and electricity are purveyed in your districts).

« I prefer turning on a tap or a switch. »

Fuelling the Aga is dustproof. Show in the Catalogue how the fuel is injected. It is easier and quicker to inject coke once or twice a day than to turn switches and taps and wait for the heat.

Continue: The top oven is always hot ….

« Too much work to carry coke from coal cellar to kitchen. »

Not in a super container with a good handle. It is easier to carry coke than to turn witches and taps all day long and wait for heat.

Continue: And think of all the heat you get for such infinitesimal trouble …

« Too much work to remove ashes and clinker, and think of the dust. »

Combustion is so complete that the ashes do not contain any soot and are as clean as toilet powder. Ash removal with a special shovel every day or so is as simple a habit as brushing your teeth. Combustion is so steady and controlled that slag and clinker are not produced.

Continue: The combustion is complete and there is no waste. That explains why the cooker gets away with only 7-lbs of coke a day.

« Does the fire often go out ? »

The only possible causes for the fire going out is that the cook has forgotten to fill the barrel. This may happen once or twice at first, but in a few days filling becomes a habit.

Even if the fire goes out it does not much matter , as the cooker stays hot enough to cook on for at least twelve hours afterwards.

Continue: This point illustrates the heat storage principle, always ready, always on duty ….

« Is the Aga difficult to light ? »

Fantastically easy. Light it exactly like any other fire only using charcoal instead of wood for kindling. we give a lavish present of charcoal with the cooker, and this will last for many lightings. Our fitter will show you all the dodges when he comes to erect the cooker.

Continue: There are Agas which have been burning continuously for several years. There is no reason on earth why they should not go on burning for several more ….

« Does it take a terrible time to get hot when lit for cold ? »

No.. The top plates are hot in an hour or two and the ovens in two or three hours.

Continue: If you go away for a weekend you fill up with anthracite. The cooker will then burn for forty-eight hours after stoking, and will remain hot for seventy-two hours. You can prolong your weekend all Monday as well and still return to a warm kitchen …

« Will my chimney give the correct draught? »

If the old range has burnt well there is nothing to fear with the Aga.

Continue: We come along and inspect your chimney to see that everything will be in order. If we find anything wrong it is our policy to tell you so honestly and at once, so that the appropriate remedy can be applied. We find honesty in these matters pays ourselves as well as our customers. we are only too often accused of gross understatement in our advertising; we prefer to leave exaggeration to Aga users, who represent a huge army of salesmen.

« Can the Aga share a flue with an independent boiler? »

Yes. The only stipulation is that a damper must make it possible to shut off the boiler end of the flue when the boiler is out of use. This is invariably the case anyway.

Continue: We come along and inspect your kitchen and leave no stone unturned to make the installation satisfactory beforehand. This policy obviates subsequent domestic upheaval for our customers and saves ourselves money in the long run.

« Can the Aga give off unpleasant fumes? »

The flue construction makes this quite impossible; a striking manifestation of the inventor’s genius. [You will some-times come across people with unfortunate gassing experiences of closed stoves. Try to avoid the subject as it introduces the wrong atmosphere.]

Continue: The extra air inlet is also a brilliant safety device to prevent overheating in the event of the ashpit door being left open. The Aga is both fool-proof and knave-proof.

« Can the Aga make toast? »

Extremely well. If you are in a showroom toast a piece. One Aga demonstrator recently made toast for thirty school masters on one Cooker in twenty minutes, three pieces at a time. To the prospect who has positive information that her neighbour’s Aga makes toast like white tiles, admit that the old Aga was rather weak in this regard; the present Cooker is so fast that it toasts diabolically well.

Continue: Toasting an old-fashioned range was no picnic …

« Two hot plates are not enough to hold all our saucepans before elaborate meals. »

The Cooking Oven holds seven saucepans and each hot plate holds three, making a total capacity of 13 saucepans.. Cooks prefer to put their saucepans away in the Cooking Oven so that they do not have to bother about them, and can concentrate on the job at hand.

Continue: The Cooking Oven cuts out rush and flurry …

« The Roasting Oven is too small. »

This objection should invariably be anticipated. The answer is given under ATTACK.

« How maddening not to be able to regulate the Roasting Oven. »

The answer to this objection is also given under Attack.

« Does the smell of food cooking on the Aga penetrate all over the house? »

Nothing so impolite. The ovens ventilate direct into the flue so that all cooking smells are dispersed up the chimney.

How different from ordinary ovens, which irresponsibly discharge their perfume into the kitchen.

Continue: Kitchen conditions are improved …

« I don’t believe food could cook properly in the Cooking Oven. »

How dare you! Why do you think we call it a cooking oven? But keep your temper, and explain that unlike the haybox the Aga oven is heated.

Continue: Rush cooking breeds indigestion. Can your stomach cope with porridge cooked in the ordinary way? Quite so.

« My cook must have an open fire to sit by. »

Agreed. But not to cook on, any more than you would cook on your drawing-room fire. Is there a servants’ hall, or an independent boiler to sit by?

Continue: The Aga kitchen is always warm, even first thing in the morning, without the bother of laying and lighting a fire..

« Can you heat radiators? »

No. There are limits, you will be surprised to hear. The Aga principle of heat conservation is the precise opposite of radiation.

Continue: The Aga is itself a radiator and you will always have one warm room in the house …

« My cooker must heat the bath water as well. »

Explain that, as somebody with experience of heating engineering, you would strongly advise one heat unit for cooking and another separate unit for hot water; to combine the two units results inevitably in outrageous fuel consumption, and that kind of Victorian inefficiency which means hot bath and cold oven, or hot oven and cold bath.

Continue: The Aga is called a « Cooker. » and, by heaven, that is what it is! Off you go again on the cooking advantages.

« I have heard of somebody who is dissatisfied. »

Probably at second hand. These malicious reports are spread by jealous people who have not got an Aga. Express grave concern and try to find out the name and address so that you can rush away then and there to put matters right. In this way you will give the prospect a foretaste of willing service.

Continue: Do you know so-and-so, who has just put in an Aga? Go on mentioning all the satisfied owners in the district until you find someone whose name is familiar to the prospect.

« How long does it take to install? »

Generally one day for removing the old cooker or range, and one day for erecting the Aga. We do not want to do your builder out of a job; he can attend to the preparatory work.

Continue: Delivery can be obtained immediately, in spite of the flood of orders recently received. We have just installed one for so-and-so. (Mention all the recent installations in the district).

« My cook is a perfect fool. She could never manage the Aga. »

Anyone who tolerates a fool in the kitchen is herself a dumb-bell. The Aga might have been designed for fools-no tricky temperature regulations to worry about, no taps or switches to remember to turn off, no temptation to suicide by self-ovening, no danger of any kind. Any idiot can contract the habits-they become almost reflex actions-of semi-automatic stoking and riddling. In two large hospitals the Aga are entirely managed by certified lunatics.

Continue: The Aga turns a second-class cook into a first-class cook, and we have a special department, run on the lines of a super domestic science school, to help users with their cooking problems and, if necessary, to instruct cooks in the elemental details of Aga management.

« I don’t want to change just at present. »

If it is summer, point out how cool the Aga would make the kitchen. If it is winter, how nice it would be to have a warm kitchen.

Continue: You lose money and miss good food every day you are without an Aga. How can anybody afford not to own one?

« Improvements have been made, you admit. A better model may come out and I mean to wait and see. »

A very good argument for never buy a motor car.

Improvements are in detail only and can normally be incorporated in earlier models. Honestly, you know of no new model in the offing.

Continue: He who hesitates is lost.

(It is equally true that he who is not for you is against you. Polite prospects choose this way of conveying to you that they are not « sold. » Learn to recognise this gambit and begin again).

« I am only renting my present house. »

The Aga is not a fixture. You can take with you when you move. We make a small charge for dismantling and re-erecting it in your new house.

Continue: A great advantage of the Aga is its simplicity so far as installation is concerned ….
3. Competitors

Try and avoid being drawn into discussing competitive makes of cooker, as it introduces a negative and defensive atmosphere. On no account sling mud-it can carry very little weight, coming from you, and it will make the prospect distrust your integrity and dislike you. The best way to tackle the problem is to find out all you possibly can about the merits, faults and sales arguments of competitors, and then keep quiet about them. Profound knowledge of other cookers will help you put your positive case for Aga more convincingly.

To the inveterate tap-fuel enthusiast – the gas and electricity maniac – argue the general superiority of solid fuel appliances in their most modern development; their safety, reliability, air-conditioning, simplicity, economy and so on. Gas and electricity are made from coal; why not cut out the intermediate processes and burn the coal itself? Coal miners love the Aga. It brings solid fuel back to pre-eminence as the cheapest, cleanest, and most labour-saving fuel. One coal mine has actually installed an Aga in its own canteen.

If you are invited to give your opinion of any particular make of cooker, damn it with faint praise.. What you leave unsaid will kill.
4. Price DEFENSE

It pays to approach this subject off your own bat and in your own time, as described here.
Sami.is.free

Voir enfin:

Pierre Bourdieu – L’iconoclasme spécifique accompli par un artiste suppose une maîtrise virtuose du champ artistique
Entretien avec l’historien Roger Chartier diffusé dans « Les chemins de la connaissance » (partie 5, 1988)

Roger Chartier : Il me semble que ton travail s’oriente dans ses derniers développements vers des voies un peu inattendues, en particulier par cette étude proposée sur Flaubert, Manet, un moment particulier de l’histoire du champ esthétique, littéraire et pictural. Est-ce que ça veut dire que c’est une manière d’essayer de se disculper par ce retour à des individualités et à un objet plus noble ? Quelqu’un qui a écrit un livre sur la distinction et qui s’est occupé d’objets aussi peu distingués que les consommations alimentaires ou les goûts les plus ordinaires, peut-être là trouverait la manière de relégitimer tout son travail en se portant vers des objets les plus légitimes. Est-ce que là tu n’es pas en train de te soumettre toi-même à un certain nombre d’analyses que tu as proposées en voulant redistinguer par l’objet et non plus par le travail ?

Pierre Bourdieu : Certains ne manqueront pas de dire que c’est associé au vieillissement et à la consécration sociale… Ce qui est d’ailleurs une loi commune au vieillissement des savants. La consécration, très souvent, s’accompagne d’un changement des objets : plus on est consacré dans un champ, plus on a le droit à des ambitions planétaires. Par exemple, les savants ont souvent une deuxième carrière en tant que philosophes. Moi, j’ai le sentiment que ce n’est pas le cas et que c’est la logique même de mon travail qui m’a amené à cette étude. A la liste que tu as donnée, on pourrait ajouter Heidegger, un autre penseur central. Au fond, Manet, Flaubert, Heidegger, pourraient être considérés respectivement, si on voulait faire un palmarès, comme le plus peintre des peintres, le plus écrivain des écrivains et le plus philosophe des philosophes. C’est la logique normale de mon travail, et en particulier la compréhension du processus de genèse d’un champ, qui m’a conduit à m’intéresser à eux. Dans le cas de Flaubert et de Manet, je pense que ce sont des personnages qui doivent être considérés comme des fondateurs de champs. Je prends l’exemple de Manet qui est le plus net. On avait une peinture académique, des peintres d’Etat, des peintres fonctionnaires qui étaient à la peinture ce que les professeurs de philosophie sont à la philosophie – sans méchanceté -, c’est à dire des gens qui avaient une carrière de peintres, qui étaient recrutés par des concours, qui avaient des classes préparatoires avec les mêmes procédures de bizutage, de nivellement, d’abrutissement et de sélection. Et puis un personnage, Manet, arrive ; il est passé par ces écoles. Ca, c’est extrêmement important ; c’est une chose que Weber dit en passant dans son livre sur le judaïsme antique : on n’oublie toujours que le prophète sort du rang des prêtres ; le Grand Hérésiarque est un prophète qui va dire dans la rue ce qui se dit normalement dans l’univers des docteurs. Manet est dans ce cas ; il est l’élève de Couture ; c’est un peintre semi-académique ; et il commence déjà à faire des histoires dans l’atelier de Couture ; il critique la manière de faire asseoir les modèles ; il critique les poses antiques, il critique tout ça… Puis, il commence à faire une chose extraordinaire – comme un premier collé du concours de l’Ecole Normale qui se mettrait à contester l’Ecole Normale – : au lieu d’intérioriser la sanction sous la forme de la malédiction – chose que nous connaissons bien dans le milieu universitaire -, il conteste l’univers et il le défie sur son propre terrain. C’est le problème de l’hérésiarque, le chef de sectes qui affronte l’église et lui oppose un nouveau principe de légitimation, un nouveau goût. Le problème est de se demander comment ce goût apparaît : qu’est-ce qu’il y a dans son capital, sa famille, son origine, et surtout son univers social de relations, ses amis, etc. Je fais un travail que bizarrement aucun historien n’avait jamais fait. Ou alors de façon plus anecdotique, j’essaie d’étudier l’univers des amis de Manet, l’univers des amis de la femme de Manet qui étaient pianistes et qui jouaient du Schuman, ce qui était l’avant-garde à l’époque. Je cherche à résoudre une question tout à fait fondamentale ; celui qui saute hors de l’institution universitaire ou les institutions académiques saute dans le vide. J’ai évoqué le drame du premier collé tout à l’heure parce que beaucoup des auditeurs ont au moins une connaissance indirecte de cette expérience. Le problème du premier collé, c’est qu’il ne peut même pas penser à contester l’institution qui l’a collé ; ça ne lui vient même pas à l’esprit ; et s’il y pense, il se trouve jeté dans le néant. Manet en est là : « Si je ne fais pas de la peinture académique, est-ce que je ne cesse pas d’exister ? ». Il faut avoir du culot pour résister à l’excommunication. Pour résoudre ce problème là, Il faut comprendre ce que Manet avait comme ressources qu’on appellerait psychologiques mais qui en fait ont des bases sociales : ses amis, ses relations artistiques, etc. Voilà le travail que je fais. Je vais au plus individuel du plus individuel : la particularité de Manet, à savoir ses rapports avec ses parents, ses amis, le rôle des femmes dans ses relations… et en même temps à l’étude de l’espace dans lequel il se situait pour comprendre le commencement de l’art moderne.

Roger Chartier : Oui, mais l’art moderne, ce n’est pas tout à fait la même chose que l’instauration d’un champ de la production picturale. La constitution globale du champ qui implique aussi les positions de ceux qui ne font pas de l’art moderne renvoie nécessairement à d’autres déterminants. Ou est-ce que tu penses que simplement le coup de tonnerre que donne Manet recompose tout un ensemble de positions pour les faire cohabiter comme des positions contradictoires et affrontées à l’intérieur de quelque chose qui est neuf et qui est justement ce champ ?

Pierre Bourdieu : Tu as tout à fait raison de me corriger. Je donnais une vision tout à fait classique du révolutionnaire exclu, isolé, etc. J’étais tout à fait mauvais. La vérité, c’est ce que tu dis. Manet institue l’univers dans lequel plus personne ne peut dire qui est peintre, ce qu’est le peintre comme il faut. Pour employer un grand mot, un monde social intégré, c’est à dire celui que régissait l’Académie est un monde dans lequel il y a un nomos, c’est à dire une loi fondamentale et un principe de division. Le mot grec « nomos » vient du verbe « nemo » qui veut dire diviser, partager. Une des choses que nous acquérons à travers la socialisation, ce sont des principes de division qui sont en même temps des principes de vision : masculin/féminin, humide/sec, chaud/froid, etc. Un monde bien intégré, académique dit qui est peintre et qui ne l’est pas ; l’Etat dit que c’est un peintre parce qu’il est certifié peintre. Du jour où Manet fait son coup, plus personne ne peut dire qui est peintre. Autrement dit, on passe du nomos à l’anomie, c’est à dire à un univers dans lequel tout le monde est légitimé à lutter à propos de la légitimité. Plus personne ne peut dire qu’il est peintre sans trouver quelqu’un qui contestera sa légitimité de peintre. Et le champ scientifique est de ce type, c’est un univers dans lequel il est question de la légitimité mais il y a lutte à propos de la légitimité. Un sociologue peut toujours être contesté dans son identité de sociologue. Plus le champ avance, plus son capital spécifique s’accumule, plus, pour contester la légitimité d’un peintre, il faut avoir du capital spécifique de peintre. Apparemment, les mises en forme de contestation radicale, par exemple les peintres conceptuels d’aujourd’hui qui apparemment mettent en question la peinture doivent avoir une formidable connaissance de la peinture pour mettre en question adéquatement, picturalement la peinture et non pas comme l’iconoclaste primaire. L’iconoclasme spécifique accompli par un artiste suppose une maîtrise virtuose du champ artistique. Ce sont des paradoxes mais qui apparaissent à partir du moment où il y a un champ. La naïveté qui consiste à dire « Il peint comme mon fils » est typique de quelqu’un qui ne sait pas ce qu’est un champ. Un autre exemple est celui du douanier Rousseau qui était naïf mais le naïf n’apparaît que quand il y a un champ – de même que le naïf religieux n’apparaît que quand il y a un champ religieux… C’est quelqu’un qui devient peintre pour les autres. C’est Picasso, Apollinaire, etc. qui ont fait du douanier Rousseau un peintre en le pensant à partir du champ de la peinture. Mais lui-même ne savait pas ce qu’il faisait. L’opposé du douanier Rousseau, c’est Duchamp qui est le premier à avoir maîtrisé de manière quasi parfaite – ce qui ne veut pas dire consciente – les lois du champ artistique et le premier à avoir joué de toutes les ressources que donne cette institutionnalisation de l’anomie.

Roger Chartier : Mais alors si on applique la même perspective sur ce qui constitue les sciences sociales, est-ce que tu dirais que la constitution d’une discipline comme discipline est l’équivalent de la constitution d’un champ tel que tu viens de le décrire pour le champ de production picturale ?

Pierre Bourdieu : Il faut qu’il y ait un jeu et une règle du jeu pratique. Un champ ressemble beaucoup à un jeu mais une des différences majeures étant que le champ est un lieu où il y une loi fondamentale, des règles mais il n’y a personne qui dit les règles comme pour un sport, une fédération… Et finalement, il y a des régularités immanentes à un champ, des sanctions, des censures, des récompenses sans que tout ça ait été institué. Le champ artistique, par exemple, a la particularité d’être le moins institutionnalisé de tous les champs. Par exemple, il y a relativement peu d’instances de consécration. Cela dit, il y a champ quand on est obligé de se plier – sans même procéder à une opération consciente – à un ensemble de lois de fonctionnement de l’univers. Prenons dans le champ philosophique l’exemple d’Heidegger avec ses idées nazies ; être antisémite deviendra être antikantien. Ce qui est intéressant, c’est cette espèce d’alchimie que le champ impose : ayant à dire des choses nazies, si je veux les dire de telle manière que je sois reconnu comme philosophe, je dois les transfigurer au point que la question de savoir si Heidegger était nazi ou pas n’a aucun sens. Il est certain qu’il était nazi mais ce qui est intéressant, c’est de voir comment il a dit des choses nazies dans un langage ontologique.

Roger Chartier : Ce que tu avances là permet de se sortir des grandes naïvetés réductionnistes. Les historiens passant d’une analyse des positions sociales, des structures sociales à une analyse des objets ou des pratiques culturelles ont pratiqué autant que d’autres une sorte de court-circuit en mettant en rapport directement la production et la position, ceci, soit à l’échelle de l’individu en mettant très mécaniquement en rapport ce qui était produit avec l’individu producteur, soit alors à l’échelle de groupes. Par exemple, beaucoup de discussions sur les formes de « culture populaire » se sont enlisées dans cette mise en rapport sans aucune médiation. Alors, je crois que l’idée de traduction, de médiation, de retravail dans une langue et dans un système qui est imposé par l’état du champ est un apport décisif. Même question que pour la perspective sur la notion d’habitus : que fait-on du champ avant le champ ? Comment peut-on essayer de repérer dans ce langage ce qui peut se dire, à un moment donné, constitué, organisé à l’intérieur d’un espace commun – même si les positions qui y sont occupées sont complètement contradictoires et antagonistes – alors même que cet espace commun n’existe pas ? Par exemple, je suis en train de faire un travail sur Molière, plus particulièrement sur George Dandin, une de ses pièces. Je crois qu’on peut dire que le théâtre au dix-septième siècle est une des manières de viser des progrès qui ensuite seront constitués avec d’autres langages, d’autres formes dans le savoir sociologique. Je crois que ce n’est pas revenir à la notion du précurseur – cette idée un peu stupide qui consiste à faire une galerie de portraits à partir de Montesquieu ou même plus haut. Cette idée n’a aucun sens. En revanche, ce qui a du sens, c’est de comprendre à travers quel type de discours, de formes peuvent se viser des objets qui ensuite seront constitués comme les objets propres du champ sociologique

Pierre Bourdieu : Oui, tout à fait. Encore une fois, il y a beaucoup de contribution dans ce que tu viens de dire. Je pourrai apporter un autre exemple à côté de celui de Molière, c’est celui du roman au dix-neuvième siècle. Communément, on dit que Balzac est le précurseur de la sociologie. En fait, pour moi, le plus sociologue des romanciers, c’est Flaubert. Cet exemple surprend souvent puisqu’il est en même temps l’inventeur du roman formel. Il y a eu, à mon avis, à tort un effort, en particulier de la part des romanciers du Nouveau Roman, pour constituer Flaubert comme inventeur du roman pur, du roman formel, sans objet, etc. En réalité, Flaubert est le plus réaliste, sociologiquement, de tous les romanciers, en particulier dans L’éducation sentimentale et en particulier, parce qu’il est formel. On peut dire exactement la même chose de Manet dont les recherches formelles étaient en même temps des recherches de réalisme. Je pense que le travail de recherche formelle dans le cas de Flaubert a été l’occasion d’une anamnèse sociale, de retour du refoulé social. Et Flaubert, à la faveur d’une recherche purement formelle, a fait un travail qui a consisté à expectorer sa propre expérience du monde social et à faire une objectivation de la classe dominante de son temps qui rivalise avec les plus belles analyses historiques. Quand j’avais fait ma première analyse de L’éducation sentimentale, je l’ai envoyée à un certain nombre d’amis, dont un philosophe qui m’a demandé si la vision de l’espace social bourgeois que propose Flaubert était sociologiquement fondée. Je pense que Flaubert n’a pas su lui-même complètement qu’il produisait cette analyse. Ce travail sur la forme était en même temps un travail sur lui-même, un travail de socio-analyse dont il produisait la vérité objective de ce qui lui faisait écrire un roman. On a dit naïvement que Flaubert s’identifie à Frédéric ; en fait, Flaubert produisait le roman d’un personnage qui occupait la même position que Flaubert dans l’espace social et qui, occupant cette position, n’arrivait pas à écrire un roman. Bon, là, on pourrait développer à l’infini ; ça poserait tous les problèmes de la fonction de la sociologie, le rôle d’anamnèse, de socioanalyse, du rapport entre le roman et le discours scientifique. Une question qui, moi, m’a beaucoup fait réfléchir : pourquoi la traduction en langage sociologique du contenu de L’éducation sentimentale révolte les amoureux de Flaubert ? Je comprends tout à fait bien cette expérience ; je pense que j’aurais été révolté, il y 20 ans, par les analyses que je propose aujourd’hui. Cela dit, ça fait réfléchir sur les formes de l’objectivation. Je pense que, selon les états du champ, les formes d’objectivation seront différentes. Je vais employer une analogie au risque de paraître compliqué. Les guerres de religion sont la forme que prennent les guerres civiles dans l’état de différenciation des champs où le champ politique n’est pas encore différencié du champ religieux. Il y a une espèce de lutte pâteuse où les guerres de paysans sont à la fois des guerres religieuses. Se demander si elles sont politiques ou religieuses est idiot : elles sont aussi politiques que possibles dans les limites d’un espace où le politique n’étant pas constitué comme tel, le seul terrain, c’est la religion. De même, je pense que Molière, comme tu l’as montré à propos de George Dandin, peut constituer une forme d’objectivation de sociologie, de rapports bourgeoisie/noblesse, de systèmes de classements, etc. Il dit le plus possible dans l’état des systèmes de censure.

Roger Chartier : Oui, dire le plus possible ou dire autrement. Là, on revient à un problème qu’on a traité, celui de l’écriture. Il semble, à travers tout ce que tu dis, qu’il y a presque comme une fascination nostalgique par rapport à cette écriture littéraire qui pourrait peut-être dire avec un impact, une force beaucoup plus grande que celle de toute écriture sociologique, même la plus achevée, la plus réussie, l’objet que tu vises. Peut-être que c’est là une question qui a trait à l’état du champ, c’est à dire, à un moment donné, lorsque le discours sociologique n’est pas constitué comme tel, la littérature – peut-être d’autres formes – occupe tout le terrain. Elle est à la fois littérature et quelque part sociologie. A partir du moment où on est dans une situation de compétition, de concurrence, de dualisme, effectivement la sociologie peut être accusée comme étant par défaut puisqu’elle ne peut pas rendre dans la langue la plus légitime, qui est celle de la littérature, des objets qui peuvent être communément visés. Et là, on a peut-être un exemple de comment un même type de discours peut changer non pas parce qu’il change lui-même mais parce que le champ dans lequel il est prononcé a lui-même changé… Sur l’identification possible, est-ce que par moments tu ne voudrais pas être Flaubert ?

Pierre Bourdieu : Oui et non. C’est évident que j’ai une certaine nostalgie. Cela dit, je pense que le fait d’être en mesure de comprendre sociologiquement les raisons pour lesquelles Flaubert n’a pu être que Flaubert – ce qui est déjà extraordinaire -, c’est à dire non sociologue alors qu’il voulait l’être, empêche de rêver d’un discours qui est un discours aliéné. Je pense que dans une certaine mesure le romancier flaubertien n’a pas pu complètement faire ce qu’il voulait faire. Il n’a pu dire ce qu’il disait sur le monde social parce qu’il le disait sur un mode tel qu’il ne se le disait pas, qu’il ne se l’avouait pas. Peut-être parce qu’il ne pouvait supporter la vérité du monde social qu’il présentait que sous une forme supportable, c’est à dire mise en forme… Les romanciers sont souvent en avance [1], par exemple, dans la compréhension des structures temporelles, dans la compréhension des structures de récits, dans la compréhension des usages du langage, etc. C’est en grande partie parce qu’étant occupés par le travail de mise en forme, ils mettent la réalité à distance ; ils touchent la réalité avec des pincettes de forme ; du coup, ils peuvent la supporter. Alors que le sociologue est insupportable parce qu’il dit les choses comme ça, sans mise en forme. La différence de forme, c’est à la fois tout et rien. Ca explique que la trans-formation que j’opère de L’éducation sentimentale en schéma, ça ne change rien et ça change tout. Et ça rend insupportable quelque chose qui était charmant parce que c’était le produit d’une dénégation et c’était re-dénié par le récepteur qui comprend tout en comprenant sans comprendre. Ca a le charme du jouet avec le feu social qui est quelque chose que personne ne veut connaître.

Roger Chartier : Oui, je crois que le rapport entre les modes d’écriture et la discipline scientifique est différent dans le cas des deux disciplines. Pour l’histoire, il est plus aisé de se mouler dans des formes de narration qui peuvent être techniquement empruntées beaucoup plus aisément à la construction littéraire, l’enjeu n’étant pas le même. En sociologie, l’enjeu, c’est la distance par rapport à l’objet lui-même.

Pierre Bourdieu : Oui, là, j’ai souvent envie de taquiner mes amis historiens qui ont un souci de l’écriture tout à fait légitime de la belle forme mais qui, je crois, souvent, s’épargnent les rudes grossièretés du concept qui sont extrêmement importantes pour faire avancer la science. Le souci du beau récit peut être très important parce il y a aussi une fonction d’évocation. Une des manières de construire un objet scientifique, c’est aussi de le faire sentir de le faire voir, de l’évoquer au sens presque micheletien – bien que je n’aime pas beaucoup ça. Evoquer une structure, c’est une des fonctions de l’historien à la différence du sociologue qui lui doit dégager l’intuition immédiate. L’historien, s’il veut parler des moines tunisiens, il va évoquer la forêt, etc. Il y a une fonction du beau style mais parfois je crois que les historiens sacrifient trop à la belle forme et dans cette mesure là, ne font pas jusqu’au bout la coupure avec l’expérience première, les adhérences esthétiques, les jouissances du rapport à l’objet.

[1] Bourdieu cite Faulkner comme « formidable romancier du discours populaire ». Cet exemple se coulait mal dans le reste du propos d’où le choix de la mise en note.

  Voir par ailleurs:

Mode d’emploi du détournement
Paru initialement dans LES LÈVRES NUES N.8
(MAI 1956)
Guy-Ernest Debord / Gil J. Wolman
B I B L I O T H E Q U E ~ V I R T U E L L E

Tous les esprits un peu avertis de notre temps s’accordent sur cette évidence qu’il est devenu impossible à l’art de se soutenir comme activité supérieure, ou même comme activité de compensation à laquelle on puisse honorablement s’adonner. La cause de ce dépérissement est visiblement l’apparition de forces productives qui nécessitent d’autres rapports de production et une nouvelle pratique de la vie. Dans la phase de guerre civile où nous nous trouvons engagés, et en liaison étroite avec l’orientation que nous découvrirons pour certaines activités supérieures à venir, nous pouvons considérer que tous les moyens d’expression connus vont confluer dans un mouvement général de propagande qui doit embrasser tous les aspects, en perpétuelle interaction, de la réalité sociale.

Sur les formes et la nature même d’une propagande éducative, plusieurs opinions s’affrontent, généralement inspirées par les diverses politiques réformistes actuellement en vogue. Qu’il nous suffise de déclarer que, pour nous, sur le plan culturel comme sur le plan strictement politique, les prémisses de la révolution ne sont pas seulement mûres, elles ont commencé à pourrir. Non seulement le retour en arrière, mais la poursuite des objectifs culturels « actuels », parce qu’ils dépendent en réalité des formations idéologiques d’une société passée qui a prolongé son agonie jusqu’à ce jour, ne peuvent avoir d’efficacité que réactionnaire. L’innovation extrémiste a seule une justification historique.

Dans son ensemble, l’héritage littéraire et artistique de l’humanité doit être utilisé à des fins de propagande partisane. Il s’agit, bien entendu, de passer au-delà de toute idée de scandale. La négation de la conception bourgeoise du génie et de l’art ayant largement fait son temps, les moustaches de la Joconde ne présentent aucun caractère plus intéressant que la première version de cette peinture. Il faut maintenant suivre ce processus jusqu’à la négation de la négation. Bertold Brecht révélant, dans une interview accordée récemment à l’hebdomadaire « France-Observateur », qu’il opérait des coupures dans les classiques du théâtre pour en rendre la représentation plus heureusement éducative, est bien plus proche que Duchamp de la conséquence révolutionnaire que nous réclamons. Encore faut-il noter que, dans le cas de Brecht, ces utiles interventions sont tenues dans d’étroites limites par un respect malvenu de la culture, telle que la définit la classe dominante : ce même respect enseigné dans les écoles primaires de la bourgeoisie et dans les journaux des partis ouvriers, qui conduit les municipalités les plus rouges de la banlieue parisienne à réclamer toujours « le Cid » aux tournées du T.N.P., de préférence à « Mère Courage ».

A vrai dire, il faut en finir avec toute notion de propriété personnelle en cette matière. Le surgissement d’autres nécessités rend caduques les réalisations « géniales » précédentes. Elles deviennent des obstacles, de redoutables habitudes. La question n’est pas de savoir si nous sommes ou non portés à les aimer. Nous devons passer outre.

Tous les éléments, pris n’importe où, peuvent faire l’objet de rapprochements nouveaux. Les découvertes de la poésie moderne sur la structure analogique de l’image démontrent qu’entre deux éléments, d’origines aussi étrangères qu’il est possible, un rapport s’établit toujours. S’en tenir au cadre d’un arrangement personnel des mots ne relève que de la convention. L’interférence de deux mondes sentimentaux, la mise en présence de deux expressions indépendantes, dépassent leurs éléments primitifs pour donner une organisation synthétique d’une efficacité supérieure. Tout peut servir.

Il va de soi que l’on peut non seulement corriger une oeuvre ou intéger divers fragments d’oeuvres périmées dans une nouvelle, mais encore changer le sens de ces fragments et truquer de toutes les manières que l’on jugera bonnes ce que les imbéciles s’obstinent à nommer des citations.

De tels procédés parodiques ont été souvent employés pour obtenir des effets comiques. Mais le comique met en scène une contradiction à un état donné, posé comme existant. En la circonstance, l’état de choses littéraire nous parraissant presque aussi étranger que l’âge du renne, la contradiction ne nous fait pas rire. Il faut donc concevoir un stade parodique-sérieux où l’accumulation d’éléments détournés, loin de vouloir susciter l’indignation ou le rire en se référant à la notion d’une oeuvre originale, mais marquant au contraire notre indifférence pour un original vidé de sens et oublié, s’emploierait à rendre un certain sublime.

On sait que Lautréamont s’est avancé si loin dans cette voie qu’il se trouve encore partiellement incompris par ses admirateurs les plus affichés. Malgré l’évidence du procédé appliqué dans « Poésies », particulièrement sur la base de la morale de Pascal et Vauvenargues, au langage théorique – dans lequel Lautréamont veut faire aboutir les raisonnements, par concentrations successives, à la seule maxime – on s’est étonné des révélations d’un nommé Viroux, voici trois ou quatre ans, qui empêchaient désormais les plus bornés de ne pas reconnaître dans « les Chants de Maldoror » un vaste détournement, de Buffon et d’ouvrages d’histoire naturelle entre autres. Que les prosateurs du « Figaro », comme ce Viroux lui-même, aient pu y voir une occasion de diminuer Lautréamont, et que d’autres aient cru devoir le défendre en faisant l’éloge de son insolence, voilà qui ne témoigne que de la débilité intellectuelle de vieillards des deux camps, en lutte courtoise. Un mot d’ordre comme « le Plagiat est n’ecessaire, le progrès l’implique » est encore aussi mal compris, et pour les mêmes raisons, que la phrase fameuse sur la poésie qui « doit être faite par tous ».

L’oeuvre de Lautréamont – que son apparition extrêmement prématurée fait encore échapper en grande partie à une critique exacte – mis à part, les tendances au détournement que peut reconnaître une étude de l’expression contemporaine sont pour la plupart inconscientes ou occasionnelles; et, plus que dans la production esthétique finissante, c’est dans l’industrie publicitaire qu’il faudra en chercher les plus beaux exemples.

On peut d’abord définir deux catégories principales pour tous les éléments détournés, eet sans discerner si leur mise en présence s’accompagne ou non de corrections introduites dans les originaux. Ce sont les détournements mineurs, et les détournements abusifs.

Le détournement mineur est le détournement d’un élément qui n’a pas d’importance propre et qui tire donc tout son sens de la mise en présence qu’on lui fait subir. Ainsi des coupures de presse, une phrase neutre, la photographie d’un sujet quelconque.

Le détournement abusif, dit aussi détournement de proposition prémonitoire, est au contraire celui dont un élément significatif en soi fait l’objet; élément qui tirera du nouveau rapprochement une portée différente. Un slogan de Saint-Just, une séquence d’Einsenstein par exemple.

Les oeuvres détournées d’une certaine envergure se trouveront donc le plus souvent constituéees par une ou plusieurs séries de détournements abusifs-mineurs.

Plusieurs lois sur l’emploi du détournement se peuvent dès à présent établir.

C’est l’élément détourné le plus lointain qui concourt le plus vivement à l’impression d’ensemble, et non les éléments qui déterminent directement la nature de cette impression. Ainsi dans une métagraphie relative à la guerre d’Espagne la phrase au sens le plus nettement révolutionnaire est cette réclame incomplète d’une marque de rouge à lèvres : « les jolies lèvres ont du rouge ». Dans une autre métagraphie (« Mort de J.H. ») cent vingt-cinq petites annonces sur la vente de débits de boissons traduisent un scuicide plus visiblement que les articles de journaux qui le relatent.

Les déformations introduites dans les éléments détournés doivent tendre à se simplifier à l’extrême, la principale force d’un détournement étant fonction directe de sa reconnaissance, consciente ou trouble, par la mémoire. C’est bien connu. Notons seulement aui si cette utilisation de la mémoire implique un choix du public préalable à l’usage du détournement, ceci n’est qu’un cas particulier d’une loi générale qui régit aussi bien le détournement que tout autre mode d’action sur le monde. L’idée d’expression dans l’absolu est morte, et il ne survit momentanément qu’une singerie de cette pratique, tant que nosautres ennemis survivent.

Le détournement est d’autant moins opérant qu’il s’approche d’une réplique rationnelle. C’est le cas d’un assez grand nombre de maximes retouchées par Lautréamont. Plus le caractère rationnel de la réplique est apparent, plus elle se confond avec le banal esprit de répartie, pour lequel il s’agit également de faire servir les paroles de l’adversaire contre lui. Ceci n’est naturellement pas limité au langage parlé. C’est dans ceet ordre d’idées que nous eûmes à débattre le projet de quelques-uns de nos camarades visant à détourner une affiche antisoviétique de l’organisation fasciste « Paix et Liberté » – qui proclamait, avec vues de drapeaux occidentaux emmêlés, « l’union fait la force » – en y ajoutant la phrase « et les coalitions font la guerre ».

Le détournement par simple retournement est toujours le plus immédiat et le moins efficace. Ce qui ne signifie pas qu’il ne puisse avoir un aspect progressif. Par exemple cette appellation pour une statue et un homme : « le Tigre dit Clemenceau ». De même la messe noire oppose á la construcion d’une ambiance qui se fonde sur une métaphysique donnée, une construction d’ambiance dans le même cadre, en renversant les valeurs, conservées, de cette métaphysique.

Des quatre lois qui viennent d’être énoncées, la première est essentielle et s’applique universellement. Les trois autres ne valent pratiquement que pour des éléments abusifs détournés.

Les premières conséquences apparentes d’une génération du détournement, outre les pouvoirs intrinsèques de propagande qu’il détient, seront la réappropriation d’une foule de mauvais livres; la participation massive d’écrivains ignorés; la différenciation toujours plus poussée des phrases ou des oeuvres plastiques qui se trouveront être à la mode; et surtout une facilité de la production dépassant de très loin, par la quantité, la variété et la qualité, l’écriture automatique d’ennuyeuse mémoire.

Non seulement le détournement conduit à la découverte de nouveaux aspects du talent, mais encore, se heurtant de front à toutes les conventions mondaines et juridiques, il ne peut manquer d’apparaître un puissant instrument culturel au service d’une lutte de classes bien comprise. Le bon marché de ses produits est la grosse artillerie avec laquelle on bat en brêche toutes les murailles de Chine de l’intelligence. Voici un réel moyen d’enseignement artistique prolétarien, la première ébauche d’un communisme littéraire.

Les propositions et les réalisations sur le terrain du détournement se multiplient à volonté. Limitons nous pour le moment à montrer quelques possibilités concrètes à partir des divers secteurs actuels de la communication, étant bien entendu que ces divisions n’ont de valeur qu’en fonction des techniques d’aujourd’hui, et tendent toutes à disparaître au profit de synthèses supérieures, avec les progrès de ces techniques.

Outre les diverses utilisations immédiates des phrases détournées dans les affiches, le disque ou l’émission radiophonique, les deux principales applications de la prose détournée sont l’écriture métagraphique et, dans une moindre mesure, le cadre romanesque habilement perverti.

Le détournement d’une oeuvre romanesque complète est une entreprise d’un assez mince avenir, mais qui pourrait se révéler opérante dans la phase de transition. Un tel détournement gagne à s’accompagner d’illustrations en rapports non-explicites avec le texte. Malgré les difficultés que nous ne nous dissimulons pas, nous croyons qu’il est possible de parvenir à un instructif détournement psychogéographique du « Consuelo » de George Sand, qui pourrait être relancé, ainsi maquillé, sur le marché littéraire, dissimulé sous un titre anodin comme « Grande Banlieue », ou lui-même détourné comme « La Patrouille Perdue » (il serait bon de réinvestir de la sorte beaucoup de titres de films dont on ne peut plus rien tirer d’autre, faute de s’être emparé des vieilles copies avant leur destruction, ou de celles qui continuent d’abrutir la jeunesse dans les cinémathèques).

L’écriture métagraphique, aussi arriéré que soit par ailleurs le cadre plastique où elle se situe matériellement, présente un plus riche débouché à la prose détournée, comme aux autres objets ou images qui conviennent. On peut en juger par le projet, datant de 1951 et abandonné faute de moyens financiers suffisants, qui envisageait l’arrangement d’un billard électrique de telle sorte que les jeux de ses lumières et le parcours plus ou moins prévisible de ses billes servissent à une interprétation métagraphique-spaciale qui s’intitulerait « des sensations thermiques et des désirs des gens qui passent devant les grilles du musée de Cluny, une heure environ après le coucher du soleil en novembre ». Depuis, bien sûr, nous savons qu’un travail situationniste-analytique ne peut progresser scientifiquement par de telles voies. Les moyens cependant restent bons pour des buts moins ambitieux.

C’est évidemment dans le cadre cinématographique que le détournement peut atteindre à sa plus grande efficacité, et sans doute, pour ceux que la chose préoccupe, à sa plus grande beauté.

Les pouvoirs du cinéma sont si étendus, et l’absence de coordination de ces pouvoirs si flagrante, que presque tous les films qui dépassent la misérable moyenne peuvent alimenter des polémiques infinies entre divers spectateurs ou critiques professionnels. Ajoutons que seul le conformisme de ces gens les empêche de trouver des charmes aussi prenants et des défauts aussi criants dans les films de dernière catégorie. Pour dissiper un peu cette risible confusion des valeurs, disons que « Naissance d’une Nation », de Griffith, est un des films les plus importants de l’histoire du cinéma par la masse des apports nouveaux qu’il représente. D’autre part, c’est un film raciste : il ne mérite donc absolument pas d’être projeté sous sa forme actuelle. Mais son interdiction pure et simple pourrait passer pour regrettable dans le domaine, secondaire mais susceptible d’un meilleur usage, du cinéma. Il vaut bien mieux le détourner dans son ensemble, sans même qu’il soit besoin de toucher au montage, à l’aide d’une bande sonore qui en ferait une puissante dénonciation des horreurs de la guerre impérialiste et des activités du Ku-Klux-Klan qui, comme on sait, se poursuivent à l’heure actuelle aux Etats-Unis.

Un tel détournement, bien modéré, n’est somme toute que l’équivalent moral des restaurations des peintures anciennes dans les musées. Mais la plupart des films ne méritent que d’être démembrés pour composer d’autres oeuvres. Evidemment, cette reconversion de séquences préexistantes n’ira pas sans le concours d’autres éléments : musicaux ou picturaux, aussi bien qu’historiques. Alors que jusqu’à présent tout truquage de l’histoire, au cinéma, s’aligne plus ou moins sur le type de bouffonnerie des reconstitutions de Guitry, on peut faire dire à Robespierre, avant son exécution : « malgré tant d’épreuves, mon expérience et la grandeur de ma tâche me font juger que tout est bien ». Si la tragédie grecque, opportunément rajeunie, nous sert en cette occasion à exalter Robespierre, que l’on imagine en retour une séquence du genre néo-réaliste, devant le zinc, par exemple, d’un bar de routiers – un des camionneurs disant sérieusement à un autre : « la morale était dans les livres des philosophes, nous l’avons mise dans le gouvernement des nations ». On voit ce que cette rencontre ajoute en rayonnement à la pensée de Maximilien, à celle d’une dictature du prolétariat.

La lumière du détournement se propage en ligne droite. Dans la mesure où la nouvelle architecture semble devoir commencer par un stade expérimental baroque, le complexe architectural – que nous concevons comme la construction d’un milieu ambiant dynamique en liaison avec des styles de comportement – utilisera vraisemblablement le détournement des formes architecturales connues, et en tout cas tirera parti, plastiquement et émotionnellement, de toutes sortes d’objets détournés : des grues ou des échafaudages métalliques savamment disposés prenant avantageusement la relève d’une tradition sculpturale défunte. Ceci n’est choquant que pour les pires fanatiques du jardin à la française. On se souvient que, sur ses vieux jours, d’Annunzio, cette pourriture fascisante, possédait dans son parc la proue d’un torpilleur. Ses motifs patriotiques ignorés, ce monnument ne peut qu’apparaître plaisant.

En étendant le détournement jusqu’aux réalisations de l’urbanisme, il ne serait sans doute indifférent à personne que l’on reconstituât minutieusement dans une ville tout un cartier d’une autre. L’existence, qui ne sera jamais trop déroutante, s’en verrait réellement embellie.

Les titres mêmes, comme on l’a déjà vu, sont un élément radical du détournement. Ce fait découle de deux constatations générales qui sont, d’une part, que tous les titres sont interchangeables, et d’autre part qu’ils ont une importance déterminante dans plusieurs disciplines. Tous les romans policiers de la « série noire » se ressemblent intensément, et le seul effort de renouvellement portant sur le titre suffit à leur conserver un public considérable. Dans la musique, un titre exerce toujours une grande influence, et rien ne justifie vraiment son choix. Il ne serait donc pas mauvais d’apporter une ultime correction au titre de la « Symphonie héroïque » en en faisant, par exemple, une « Symphonie Lénine ».

Le titre contribue fortement à détourner l’oeuvre, mais une réaction de l’oeuvre sur le titre est inévitable. De sorte que l’on peut faire un usage étendu de titres précis empruntés à des publications scientifiques (« Biologie littorale des mers tempérées ») ou militaires (« Combats de nuit des petites unités d’infanterie ») ; et même de beaucoup de phrases relevées dans les illustrés enfantins (« De merveilleux paysages s’offrent à la vue des navigateurs »).

Pour finir, il nous faut citer brièvement quelques aspects de ce que nous nommerons l’ultra-détournement, c’est-à-dire les tendances du détournement à s’appliquer dans la vie sociale quotidienne. Les gestes et les mots peuvent être chargés d’autres sens, et l’ont été constamment à travers l’histoire, pour des raisons pratiques. Les sociétés secrètes de l’ancienne Chine disposaient d’un grand raffinement de signes de reconnaissance, englobant la plupart des attitudes mondaines (manière de disposer des tasses ; de boire ; citations de poèmes arrêtées à des moments convenus). Le besoin d’une langue secrète, de mots de passe, est inséparable d’une tendance au jeu. L’idée-limite est que n’importe quel signe, n’importe quel vocable, est susceptible d’être converti en autre chose, voire en son contraire. Les insurgés royalistes de la Vendée, parce qu’affublés de l’immonde effigie du coeur de Jésus, s’appelaient l’Armée Rouge. Dans le domaine pourtant limité de la politique, cette expression a été complètement détournée en un siècle.

Outre le langage, il est possible de détourner par la même méthode le vêtement, avec toute l’importance affective qu’il recèle. Là aussi, nous trouvons la notion de déguisement en liaison étroite avec le jeu. Enfin, quand on en arrive à construire des situations, but final de toute notre activité, il sera loisible à tout un chacun de détourner des situations entières en en changeant délibérément telle ou telle condition déterminante.

Les procédés que nous avons sommairement traités ici ne sont pas présentés comme une intention qui nous serait propre, mais au contraire comme une pratique assez communément répandue que nous nous proposons de systématiser.

La théorie du détournement par elle-même ne nous intéresse guère. Mais nous la trouvons liée à presque tous les aspects constructifs de la période de transition présituationniste. Son enrichissement, par la pratique, apparaît donc comme nécessaire.

Nous remettons à plus tard le développement de ces thèses.


Chavouot/Pentecôte: Même une constitution tracée par Dieu même (Even a constitution framed by the Deity himself: How Benjamin Franklin sold the Constitution)

8 juin, 2014

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Mesha stele
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Mausolée Joseph Sec (Aix-en-Provence,1792)https://i0.wp.com/i-cms.linternaute.com/image_cms/750/1729145-monument-de-joseph-sec.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/judaisme.sdv.fr/perso/rneher-b/tabloi/mallet.jpgTu compteras sept semaines; dès que la faucille sera mise dans les blés, tu commenceras à compter sept semaines. Puis tu célébreras la fête des semaines, et tu feras des offrandes volontaires, selon les bénédictions que l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’aura accordées. Deutéronome 16: 9-10
Que ferai-je à ce peuple? Encore un peu, et ils me lapideront. Moïse (Exode 17: 4)
Le jour de la Pentecôte, ils étaient tous ensemble dans le même lieu. Tout à coup il vint du ciel un bruit comme celui d’un vent impétueux, et il remplit toute la maison où ils étaient assis. Des langues, semblables à des langues de feu, leur apparurent, séparées les unes des autres, et se posèrent sur chacun d’eux. Et ils furent tous remplis du Saint Esprit, et se mirent à parler en d’autres langues, selon que l’Esprit leur donnait de s’exprimer.  Actes 2: 1-4
Dans le calendrier juif, Chavouot se déroule « sept semaines entières » ou cinquante jours jusqu’au lendemain du septième sabbat » après la fête de Pessa’h. De là son nom de Fête des Semaines (Chavouot, en hébreu) et celui de Pentecôte (cinquantième [jour], en grec ancien) dans le judaïsme hellénistique. Fête à considérer comme un sursaut de la tradition prophétique qui tend à s’estomper dans le judaïsme du Second Temple au profit d’une religion sacerdotale, elle puise ses origines dans une fête célébrant les moissons qui devient progressivement la célébration de l’Alliance sinaïtique entre Dieu et Moïse et de l’instauration de la Loi mosaïque1. Vers le début du Ier siècle, elle devient l’un des trois grands pèlerinages annuels, surtout célébré par certains juifs hellénisés et par certaines sectes juives tout en conservant hors de ces groupes minoritaires sa dimension agricole jusqu’au Ier siècle de notre ère. Ce n’est qu’à partir du IIe siècle que le pharisianisme liera la fête de la moisson à la commémoration du don de la Loi au Sinaï. Les Actes des Apôtres situent explicitement lors de cette fête juive le récit où les premiers disciples de Jésus de Nazareth reçoivent l’Esprit Saint et une inspiration divine dans le Cénacle de Jérusalem : des langues de feu se posent sur chacun d’eux, formalisant la venue de l’Esprit dans un épisode de communication inspirée qui permet aux disciples de s’exprimer dans d’autres langues que le galiléen sans qu’on sache s’il s’agit plutôt de polyglottisme ou de glossolalie. L’image du feu — conforme à la tradition juive de l’époque sur l’épisode de la révélation sinaïtique que l’épisode entend renouveler — matérialise la Voix divine. La tradition chrétienne perçoit et présente la Pentecôte comme la réception du don des langues qui permet de porter la promesse du salut universel aux confins de la terre1 ainsi que semble en attester l’origine des témoins de l’évènement, issus de toute la Diaspora juive. Wikipedia
Dans l’ancien Orient, lors d’une alliance entre deux puissances, on disposait, dans le temple des partenaires, un document écrit devant être lu périodiquement12, il n’est donc pas surprenant que les Tables de la Loi soit le témoignage concret de l’Alliance entre Dieu et son peuple. C’est la raison pour laquelle, les images des tables sont souvent présentes sur le fronton des synagogues. (…) Dans les temples protestants, une représentation des Tables de la Loi remplaçait, jusqu’au XVIIe siècle, la croix des églises catholiques. Wikipedia
Tous les préceptes du Décalogue se peuvent déduire de la justice et de la bienveillance universelle que la loi naturelle ordonne. (…) Le Décalogue ne contient donc que les principaux chefs ou les fondements politiques des Juifs ; mais néanmoins ces fondements (mettant à part ce qui regardait en particulier la nation judaïque) renferment des lois qui sont naturellement imposées à tous les hommes et à l’observance desquelles ils sont tenus dans l’indépendance de l’état de la nature comme dans toute société civile. Louis  de Jancourt (article Décalogue, Encyclopédie dirigée par D’Alembert et Diderot, 1 octobre 1754)
L’Assemblée Nationale reconnaît et déclare, en présence et sous les auspices de l’Être suprême, les droits suivants de l’Homme et du Citoyen… Préambule de la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (1789)
Le texte s’inscrit sur deux registres, dont la forme évoque celles des Tables de la Loi rapportées par Moïse du mont Sinaï. Il est accompagné de figures allégoriques personnifiant la France et la Renommée, et de symboles comme le faisceau (unité), le bonnet « phrygien » (liberté), le serpent se mordant la queue (éternité), la guirlande de laurier (gloire), les chaînes brisées (victoire sur le despotisme) ; l’ensemble étant placé sous l’œil du Dieu créateur, rayonnant d’un triangle à la fois biblique et maçonnique. Philippe de Carbonnières
Le Judaïsme a abandonné la lecture quotidienne des proclamations des ‘sectaires’ (Chrétiens) (Berachot 12a). Les partisans de Paul croyaient que seuls les Dix Commandements et non le reste de la loi mosaïque étaient divins, éternels et obligatoires. Dans ce contexte, pour les Juifs, donner la priorité au Décalogue aurait pu signifier un accord avec les sectaires, aussi la lecture quotidienne a été abandonnée de façon à montrer que toutes les autres 613 mitzvot étaient des commandements divins. Raymond Apple
Les Tables ne sont pas un symbole laïc ou païen. A la différence du bonnet phrygien, du serpent qui se mord la queue, des faisceaux de licteurs, etc., leur référent n’est pas l’antiquité païenne, mais la Bible, au message religieux évident. Pourtant, dans la France chrétienne du 18e siècle, le message religieux normalement reçu est lié à une symbolique chrétienne, que justement la Révolution repousse. La mentalité révolutionnaire est donc à la recherche d’une symbolique qui ne soit pas chrétienne (puisque l’Eglise est désormais perçue comme synonyme de fanatisme et d’absolutisme despotique), mais qui soit cependant suffisamment religieuse pour satisfaire le sentiment religieux profond qui réside au coeur de chaque révolutionnaire (…) Mais par-delà la croyance sentimentale difficilement déracinable existe aussi un pragmatisme politique. Il peut être dangereux de déraciner tout symbole religieux dans l’imagerie populaire et donc dans les mentalités qu’on veut forger. Représenter des symboles chrétiens est exclu, puisque contraire aux principes jacobins. Les Tables de la Loi s’offrent donc d’une manière idéale pour répondre à un certain besoin religieux sans pour autant laisser croire à une affiliation cléricale. Les Tables de la Loi fournissent ainsi « les vêtements du sacré » à la religion de la Patrie. Nous les voyons figurer sur des allégories patriotiques, sur le soleil qui doit faire sortir le monde vers l’âge des lumières, sur des médailles en fer de grande diffusion, représentant l’Egalité et la Justice, sur des gravures évoquant des fêtes populaires, et jusque sur les uniformes militaires, au milieu des canons. On les trouve sur les médailles d’identification des membres des diverses assemblées révolutionnaires comme celle du Conseil des Cinq-Cents. (…) La laïcisation des Tables de la Loi peut aller jusqu’au cas limite où un contenu nouveau est donné au Décalogue. C’est ainsi qu’une gravure populaire présente « les Dix Commandements républicains » dans le cadre graphique des Tables de la Loi. Les Tables de la Loi remplissent donc un rôle important dans l’iconographie de la Révolution. Elles permettent à la Révolution de déconnecter ses emblèmes de tout ce qui est chrétien sans se prévaloir uniquement de symboles d’origine antique et païenne. Elles permettent de donner une coloration religieuse mais dans un ton pour ainsi dire « neutre » aux idéaux de justice, d’égalité, de soumission à une loi égale pour tous, que prône la Révolution. La défaite de l’arbitraire royal et l’apparition d’une Constitution garantissant les Droits de l’homme sont très clairement symbolisés par les Tables de la Loi, ce qui explique leur place récurrente dans l’iconographie de la Révolution. Renée Neher-Bernheim
Ce qui n’a point d’existence ne peut être détruit — ce qui ne peut être détruit n’a besoin d’aucune chose pour le préserver de la destruction. Les droits naturels sont un simple non-sens : des droits naturels et imprescriptibles, un non-sens rhétorique — un non-sens sur des échasses. Jeremy Bentham
Ceux qui, par leur exemple ou par leurs leçons, indiquent à chaque législateur les lois qu’il doit faire, deviennent après lui les premiers bienfaiteurs des peuples. Condorcet (De l’influence de la révolution de l’Amérique sur l’Europe)
L’être suprême se plut à élever une seule famille, et son attentive providence la combla de bienfaits jusqu’à ce qu’elle devînt un grand peuple. Après avoir délivré ce peuple de l’esclavage, par une suite de miracles, que fit son serviteur Moyse, il remit lui-même à ce serviteur choisi, en présence de toute la nation, une constitution et un code de loix, et il promit de récompenser ceux qui les observeroient fidèlement, et de punir avec sévérité ceux qui leur désobéiroient. La divinité elle-même étoit à la tête de cette constitution ; c’est pourquoi les écrivains politiques l’ont appelée une théocratie. Mais malgré cela les ministres de Dieu ne purent parvenir à la faire exécuter. Aaron et ses enfans composoient, avec Moyse, le premier ministère du nouveau gouvernement. L’on auroit pensé que le choix d’hommes qui s’étoient distingués pour rendre la nation libre, et avoient hasardé leur vie en s’opposant ouvertement à la volonté d’un puissant monarque, qui vouloit la retenir dans l’esclavage, auroit été approuvé avec reconnoissance ; et qu’une constitution tracée par Dieu même, auroit dû être accueillie avec les transports d’une joie universelle. Mais il y avoit, dans chacune des treize tribus, quelques esprits inquiets, mécontens, qui, par divers motifs, excitoient continuellement les autres à rejeter le nouveau gouvernement. Plusieurs conservoient de l’affection pour l’Égypte, leur terre natale ; et dès qu’ils éprouvoient quelqu’embarras, quelqu’inconvénient, effet naturel et inévitable de leur changement de situation, ils accusoient leurs chefs d’être les auteurs de leur peine ; et non-seulement ils vouloient retourner en Égypte, mais lapider ceux qui les en avoient arrachés (…) —Ceux qui étaient enclins à l’idolâtrie, voyoient, avec regret, la destruction du veau d’or. Plusieurs chefs pensoient que la constitution nouvelle devoit nuire à leur intérêt particulier ; que les places avantageuses seraient toutes occupées par les parens et les amis de Moyse et d’Aaron, et que d’autres qui étoient également bien nés en seraient exclus (…) D’après tout cela, il paroît que les Israélites étoient jaloux de leur nouvelle liberté, et que cette jalousie n’étoit pas, par elle-même, un défaut : mais que quand ils se laissèrent séduire par un homme artificieux, qui prétendoit n’avoir en vue que le bien public, et ne songer en aucune manière à ses intérêts particuliers, et qu’ils s’opposèrent à l’établissement de la nouvelle constitution, ils s’attirèrent beaucoup d’embarras et de malheurs. On voit, en outre, dans cette inappréciable histoire, que lorsqu’au bout de plusieurs siècles, la constitution fut devenue ancienne, qu’on en eut abusé et qu’on proposa d’y faire des changemens, la populace qui avoit accusé Moyse d’ambition et de s’être fait prince, et qui avoit crié :—«Lapidez-le, lapidez-le», fut encore excitée par les grands-prêtres et par les scribes, et reprochant au Messie de vouloir se faire roi des Juifs, cria :—«Crucifiez-le, crucifiez-le.»— Tout cela nous apprend qu’une sédition populaire contre une mesure publique, ne prouve pas que cette mesure soit mauvaise, encore que la sédition soit excitée et dirigée par des hommes de distinction. Je conclus, en déclarant que je ne prétends pas qu’on infère de ce que je viens de dire, que notre convention nationale a été divinement inspirée, quand elle nous a donné une constitution fédérative, parce qu’on s’est déraisonnablement et violemment opposé à cette constitution. Cependant j’avoue que je suis si persuadé que la providence s’occupe du gouvernement général du monde, que je ne puis croire qu’un événement qui importe au bien-être de plusieurs millions d’hommes, qui existent déjà ou qui doivent exister, ait lieu sans qu’il soit préparé, influencé et réglé par cet esprit bienfaisant, tout-puissant et présent partout, duquel émanent tous les autres esprits. Benjamin Franklin

En cette fête des moissons devenue, exil oblige et à quelques jours près, fête du don de la Loi pour les juifs et de l’Esprit pour les chrétiens

Autrement dit rien de moins que la fête de leur fondation et acte de naissance …

Comment ne pas voir, derrière la forme même de la représentation traditionnelle de la Déclaration française des droits de l’homme et du citoyen et sans parler de la référence à l’Etre suprême du préambule, l’origine biblique de nos constitutions modernes ?

Et quel meilleur hommage et confirmation que cet article où, textes bibliques à l’appui, un Benjamin Franklin plus sarcastique que jamais …

Rappelle à ses adversaires anti-fédéralistes qu’ils ne valent pas mieux que ces juifs antiques qui ont lapidé et crucifié, de Moïse à Jésus, les fondateurs et réformateurs d’une « constitution tracée par Dieu même » ?

COMPARAISON DE LA CONDUITE DES ANTI-FÉDÉRALISTES DES ÉTATS-UNIS DE L’AMÉRIQUE, AVEC CELLE DES ANCIENS JUIFS
Benjamin Franklin
1788

Un zélé partisan de la constitution fédérative dit dans une assemblée publique :—«Qu’une grande partie du genre-humain avoit tant de répugnance pour un bon gouvernement, qu’il étoit persuadé que si un ange nous apportoit du ciel une constitution qui y aurait été faite exprès pour nous, elle trouveroit encore de violens contradicteurs».—Cette opinion parut extravagante ; l’orateur fut censuré ; et il ne se défendit point. Probablement il ne lui vint pas tout-à-coup dans l’esprit que l’expérience étoit à l’appui de ce qu’il avoit avancé, et qu’elle se trouvoit consignée dans la plus fidèle de toutes les histoires, la Sainte Bible. S’il y eût songé, il aurait pu, ce me semble, s’étayer d’une autorité aussi irréfragable.

L’être suprême se plut à élever une seule famille, et son attentive providence la combla de bienfaits jusqu’à ce qu’elle devînt un grand peuple. Après avoir délivré ce peuple de l’esclavage, par une suite de miracles, que fit son serviteur Moyse, il remit lui-même à ce serviteur choisi, en présence de toute la nation, une constitution et un code de loix, et il promit de récompenser ceux qui les observeroient fidèlement, et de punir avec sévérité ceux qui leur désobéiroient.

La divinité elle-même étoit à la tête de cette constitution ; c’est pourquoi les écrivains politiques l’ont appelée une théocratie. Mais malgré cela les ministres de Dieu ne purent parvenir à la faire exécuter. Aaron et ses enfans composoient, avec Moyse, le premier ministère du nouveau gouvernement.

L’on auroit pensé que le choix d’hommes qui s’étoient distingués pour rendre la nation libre, et avoient hasardé leur vie en s’opposant ouvertement à la volonté d’un puissant monarque, qui vouloit la retenir dans l’esclavage, auroit été approuvé avec reconnoissance ; et qu’une constitution tracée par Dieu même, auroit dû être accueillie avec les transports d’une joie universelle. Mais il y avoit, dans chacune des treize tribus, quelques esprits inquiets, mécontens, qui, par divers motifs, excitoient continuellement les autres à rejeter le nouveau gouvernement. Plusieurs conservoient de l’affection pour l’Égypte, leur terre natale ; et dès qu’ils éprouvoient quelqu’embarras, quelqu’inconvénient, effet naturel et inévitable de leur changement de situation, ils accusoient leurs chefs d’être les auteurs de leur peine ; et non-seulement ils vouloient retourner en Égypte, mais lapider ceux qui les en avoient arrachés [Nombres, chap. 14.].—Ceux qui étaient enclins à l’idolâtrie, voyoient, avec regret, la destruction du veau d’or. Plusieurs chefs pensoient que la constitution nouvelle devoit nuire à leur intérêt particulier ; que les places avantageuses seraient toutes occupées par les parens et les amis de Moyse et d’Aaron, et que d’autres qui étoient également bien nés en seraient exclus [Nombres, chap. 14, vers. 3.—«Et ils se réunirent tous contre Moyse et Aaron, et leur dirent : Vous prenez trop sur vous. Vous savez que toutes les assemblées sont saintes, ainsi que chaque membre de ces assemblées : pourquoi donc vous élevez-vous au-dessus de l’assemblée ?»].

Nous voyons dans Josephe et dans le Talmud quelques particularités, qui ne sont pas aussi détaillées dans l’Écriture.

Voici ce que nous y apprenons.—«Coré désiroit ardemment d’être grand-prêtre ; et il fut blessé de ce que cet emploi étoit conféré à Aaron, par la seule autorité de Moyse, disoit-il, et sans le consentement du peuple. Il accusa Moyse d’avoir employé divers artifices pour s’emparer du gouvernement, et priver le peuple de sa liberté ; et de conspirer avec Aaron pour perpétuer la tyrannie dans sa famille. Ainsi, quoique le vrai motif de Coré fût de supplanter Aaron, il persuada au peuple qu’il n’avoit en vue que le bien général ; et les Juifs excités par lui, commencèrent à crier :—Maintenons la liberté de nos diverses tribus. Nous nous sommes, nous-mêmes, affranchis de l’esclavage où nous tenoient les Égyptiens ; souffrirons-nous donc que Moyse nous rende encore esclaves ? Si nous devons avoir un maître, il vaut mieux retourner vers le Pharaon, par qui nous étions nourris avec du pain et des oignons, que de servir ce nouveau tyran qui, par sa conduite, nous a exposés à souffrir la famine.—»Alors ils nièrent la vérité de ses entretiens avec Dieu ; et ils prétendirent que le secret de ses rendez-vous, le soin qu’il avoit eu d’empêcher que personne écoutât ses discours, et approchât même du lieu où il étoit, devoit donner beaucoup de doutes à cet égard. Ils accusèrent aussi Moyse de péculat, et d’avoir gardé un grand nombre des cuillers et des plats d’argent que les princes avoient offerts à la dédicace de l’autel [Nombres, chap. 7.], ainsi que les offrandes d’or, qu’avoit faites le peuple [Exode, chap. 35, vers. 22.], et la plus grande partie de la capitation [Nombres, chap. 3, et Exode, chap. 30.]. Ils accusèrent Aaron d’avoir mis de côté la plupart des joyaux qui lui avoient été fournis pour le veau d’or.

“Indépendamment du péculat qu’ils reprochoient à Moyse, ils prétendoient qu’il étoit rempli d’ambition, et que pour satisfaire cette passion, il avoit trompé le peuple en lui promettant une terre où couloit le lait et le miel. Ils disoient qu’au lieu de lui donner une telle terre, il l’en avoit arraché ; et que tout ce mal lui sembloit léger, pourvu qu’il pût se rendre un prince absolu [Nombres, chap. 14, vers. 13.—«Tu regardes comme peu de chose de nous avoir ôtés d’une terre où coule le lait et le miel, et de nous faire périr dans le désert, pourvu que tu deviennes notre prince absolu».].

Ils ajoutoient que pour maintenir avec splendeur, dans sa famille, sa nouvelle dignité, il devoit faire suivre la capitation particulière qui avoit déjà été levée et remise à Aaron [Nombres, chap. 3.], par une taxe générale [Exode, chap. 30.], qui probablement seroit augmentée de temps en temps, si l’on souffroit la promulgation de nouvelles loix, sous prétexte de nouvelles révélations de la volonté divine, et qu’ainsi toute la fortune du peuple seroit dévorée par l’aristocratie de cette famille.»

Moyse nia qu’il se fût rendu coupable de péculat, et ses accusateurs ne purent alléguer aucune preuve contre lui.—«Je n’ai point, dit-il, avec la sainte confiance que lui inspirait la présence de Dieu, je n’ai point pris au peuple la valeur d’un ânon, ni rien fait qui puisse lui nuire».—Mais les propos outrageans de ses ennemis avoient eu du succès parmi le peuple ; car il n’est aucune espèce d’accusation si aisée à faire, ou à être crue par les fripons, que celle de friponnerie.

Enfin, il n’y eut pas moins de deux cents cinquante des principaux hébreux, «fameux dans l’assemblée et hommes de renom» [Nombres, chap. 14.], qui se portèrent à exciter la populace contre Moyse et Aaron, et lui inspirèrent une telle frénésie, qu’elle s’écria :—«Lapidons-les, lapidons-les ; et assurons, par ce moyen, notre liberté. Choisissons ensuite d’autres capitaines, qui nous ramènent en Égypte, en cas que nous ne puissions pas triompher des Cananéens.»

D’après tout cela, il paroît que les Israélites étoient jaloux de leur nouvelle liberté, et que cette jalousie n’étoit pas, par elle-même, un défaut : mais que quand ils se laissèrent séduire par un homme artificieux, qui prétendoit n’avoir en vue que le bien public, et ne songer en aucune manière à ses intérêts particuliers, et qu’ils s’opposèrent à l’établissement de la nouvelle constitution, ils s’attirèrent beaucoup d’embarras et de malheurs.

On voit, en outre, dans cette inappréciable histoire, que lorsqu’au bout de plusieurs siècles, la constitution fut devenue ancienne, qu’on en eut abusé et qu’on proposa d’y faire des changemens, la populace qui avoit accusé Moyse d’ambition et de s’être fait prince, et qui avoit crié :—«Lapidez-le, lapidez-le», fut encore excitée par les grands-prêtres et par les scribes, et reprochant au Messie de vouloir se faire roi des Juifs, cria :—«Crucifiez-le, crucifiez-le.»—

Tout cela nous apprend qu’une sédition populaire contre une mesure publique, ne prouve pas que cette mesure soit mauvaise, encore que la sédition soit excitée et dirigée par des hommes de distinction.

Je conclus, en déclarant que je ne prétends pas qu’on infère de ce que je viens de dire, que notre convention nationale a été divinement inspirée, quand elle nous a donné une constitution fédérative, parce qu’on s’est déraisonnablement et violemment opposé à cette constitution. Cependant j’avoue que je suis si persuadé que la providence s’occupe du gouvernement général du monde, que je ne puis croire qu’un événement qui importe au bien-être de plusieurs millions d’hommes, qui existent déjà ou qui doivent exister, ait lieu sans qu’il soit préparé, influencé et réglé par cet esprit bienfaisant, tout-puissant et présent partout, duquel émanent tous les autres esprits.

Voir aussi:

DISCOURS PRONONCÉ DANS LA DERNIÈRE CONVENTION DES ÉTATS-UNIS.

Monsieur le Président,

J’avoue qu’en ce moment je n’approuve pas entièrement notre constitution : mais je ne sais point si, par la suite, je ne l’approuverai pas ; car, comme j’ai déjà vécu long-temps, j’ai souvent éprouvé que l’expérience ou la réflexion me fesoit changer d’opinion sur des sujets très-importans, et que ce que j’avois d’abord cru juste, me sembloit ensuite tout différent. C’est pour cela que plus je deviens vieux, et plus je suis porté à me défier de mon propre jugement, et à respecter davantage le jugement d’autrui.

La plupart des hommes, ainsi que la plupart des sectes religieuses, se croient en possession de la vérité, et s’imaginent que quand les autres ont des opinions différentes des leurs, c’est par erreur. Steel, qui étoit un protestant, dit dans une épitre dédicatoire an pape, «Que la seule différence qu’il y ait, entre l’église romaine et l’église protestante, c’est que l’une se croit infaillible, et que l’autre pense n’avoir jamais tort».—Mais quoique beaucoup de gens ne doutent pas plus de leur propre infaillibilité que les catholiques de celle de leur église, peu d’entr’eux ne l’avouent pas aussi naturellement qu’une dame française, qui, dans une petite dispute qu’elle avoit avec sa sœur, lui disoit :—«Je ne sais pas, ma sœur, comment cela se fait ; mais il me semble qu’il n’y a que moi, qui ai toujours raison [Franklin ne cite pas très-exactement cette anecdocte, qui se trouve dans les Mémoires de madame de Stalh, née mademoiselle Delaunay. (Note du Traducteur.)].»

J’accepte notre constitution, avec tous ses défauts, si tant est, pourtant, que les défauts que j’y trouve, y soient réellement. Je pense qu’un gouvernement général nous est nécessaire. Quelque forme qu’ait un gouvernement, il n’y en a point qui ne soit avantageux, s’il est bien administré. Je crois qu’il est vraisemblable que le nôtre sera administré sagement pendant plusieurs années ; mais que, comme tous ceux qui l’ont précédé, il finira par devenir despotique, lorsque le peuple sera assez corrompu, pour ne pouvoir plus être gouverné que par le despotisme.

Je déclare en même-temps, que je ne pense pas que les conventions que nous aurons par la suite, puissent faire une meilleure constitution que celle-ci ; car lorsqu’on rassemble un grand nombre d’hommes pour recueillir le fruit de leur sagesse collective, on rassemble inévitablement avec eux, leurs préjugés, leurs erreurs, leurs passions, leurs vues locales et leurs intérêts personnels. Une telle assemblée peut-elle donc produire rien de parfait ? Non sans doute, Mr. le président ; et c’est pour cela que je suis étonné que notre constitution approche autant de la perfection qu’elle le fait. J’imagine même qu’elle doit étonner nos ennemis, qui se flattent d’apprendre que nos conseils seront confondus comme les hommes qui voulurent construire la tour de Babylone, et que nos différens états sont au moment de se diviser dans l’intention de se réunir ensuite pour s’égorger mutuellement.

Oui, Mr. le président, j’accepte notre constitution, parce que je n’en attend pas de meilleure, et parce que je ne suis pas sûr qu’elle n’est pas la meilleure. Je sacrifie au bien public l’opinion que j’ai contr’elle. Tandis que j’ai été dans les pays étrangers, je n’ai jamais dit un seul mot sur les défauts que j’y trouve. C’est dans cette enceinte que sont nées mes observations, et c’est ici qu’elles doivent mourir. Si en retournant vers leurs constituans, les membres de cette assemblée, leur fesoient part de ce qu’ils ont à objecter contre la constitution, ils empêcheroient qu’elle fût généralement adoptée, et préviendroient les salutaires effets que doit avoir parmi les nations étrangères, ainsi que parmi nous, notre réelle ou apparente unanimité. La force et les moyens qu’a un gouvernement pour faire le bonheur du peuple, dépendent beaucoup de l’opinion ; c’est-à-dire, de l’idée générale qu’on se forme de sa bonté, ainsi que de la sagesse et de l’intégrité de ceux qui gouvernent.

J’espère donc que par rapport à nous-mêmes, qui fesons partie du peuple, et par rapport à nos descendans, nous travaillerons cordialement et unanimement à faire aimer notre constitution, partout où nous pourrons avoir quelque crédit, et nous tournerons nos pensées, nous dirigerons nos efforts vers les moyens de la faire bien administrer.

Enfin, Mr. le président, je ne puis m’empêcher de former un vœu, c’est que ceux des membres de cette convention, qui peuvent encore avoir quelque chose à objecter contre la constitution, veuillent, ainsi que moi, douter un peu de leur infaillibilité, et que pour prouver que nous avons agi avec unanimité, ils mettent leur nom au bas de cette charte.
—On fit la motion d’ajouter à la convention des États-Unis, cette formule :—«Fait en convention, d’un consentement unanime, etc.»—La motion passa, et la formule fut ajoutée.

Voir encore:
Les Tables de la Loi, un des symboles de la Révolution française
Renée Neher-Bernheim
Traduction en français d’un article paru en anglais dans JEWISH ART, n°l6 et 17, 1990-1991, Jérusalem

C’est évidemment à la Bible hébraïque que se attache le symbole des Tables de la Loi et l’iconographie juive des l’époque médiévale en fournit de nombreuses représentations (l). Mais en France, à l’époque de la Révolution de 1789, ce symbole a pris une signification très particulière et, à côté d’autres symboles, on trouve les Tables de la Loi largement répandues dans l’iconographie de l’époque, surtout au niveau populaire, mais aussi dans des créations artistiques, des médailles etc.

Peu d’études approfondies ont été faites sur la signification des symboles révolutionnaires et les raisons de leur choix. Malgré la quantité énorme de travaux publiés à l’occasion du bicentenaire, en France et hors de France, les études sur l’iconographie révolutionnaire sont très rares. Il y a pourtant lieu de s’interroger sur les motifs profonds qui ont entraîné l’apparition récurrente de tel ou tel symbole, comme le bonnet phrygien, le soleil, les faisceaux de licteurs, l’oeil etc. etc.

Nous limiterons ici notre étude au symbole des Tables de la Loi. Celles-ci apparaissent sous la forme graphique devenue courante depuis le moyen-âge, c’est-à-dire deux panneaux au sommet en double arrondi (2). Leur présence frappante dans l’iconographie du temps n’a pourtant jusqu’ici attiré l’attention d’aucun chercheur (3).

La grande vogue, à l’époque, des gravures populaires permet de rassembler une documentation importante dont nous donnerons ici quelques exemples. L’imagerie populaire s’est en effet développée au 18ème siècle avec une étonnante rapidité grâce aux progrès spectaculaires obtenus dans la fabrication du papier. Ceci, joint à un perfectionnement des techniques de gravure et d’impression en couleur va permettre de satisfaire l’appétit populaire pour tout ce qui est image.

Avec la Révolution, et le recul de l’iconographie religieuse, les masses populaires et la petite bourgeoisie vont être des amateurs passionnés d’images patriotiques : elles soutiennent leur enthousiasme révolutionnaire, en même temps qu’elles le rendent visible et criant sur les murs ou les meubles de leurs demeures.

Puisque sous la pression des événements et des slogans patriotiques, les symboles religieux n’avaient plus cours, il devenait indispensable de les remplacer par de nouveaux symboles porteurs des grandes espérances patriotiques et révolutionnaires. Et en effet, de nouveaux symboles apparaissent dans l’iconographie, au milieu desquels celui des Tables de la Loi occupe une place de choix. Il est clair que ce symbole a été délibérément choisi pour son contenu sémiologique par les idéologues et les artistes de l’époque. Le fait qu’il soit en lui-même un élément extrêmement décoratif ne gâchait rien.

Le nom même du symbole, tel que le véhicule la langue française, a joué un rôle important dans son choix. On dit en Français « Tables de la Loi » (Tables of the Law). Le mot Loi joue dans cette expression un rôle majeur. Peu importe qu’il soit fondé sur une traduction inadéquate, qui ne correspond pas à l’original hébreu (4). Le fait est que cette expression est devenue absolument courante dans la langue française qui n’en connaît aucun synonyme, à la différence de l’anglais qui emploie très fréquemment le terme « Tables of Covenant ».

Le symbole des Tables de la Loi, de par son nom même, devient ainsi porteur d’un message merveilleusement adapté à l’idéologie révolutionnaire : celui de la force d’une loi égale pour tous, opposée à l’arbitraire royal ou aux abus imputés au clergé. D’où l’identification, dès les débuts de la Révolution, entre les Tables de la Loi et la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen; puis, un peu plus tard, entre les Tables de la Loi et la Constitution, qui doit être la garantie de l’observance des lois, face aux risques d’un retour à l’arbitraire. Les Tables de la Loi sont l’incarnation graphique des fondateurs de l’idéologie révolutionnaire.

D’où la représentation si répandue de la « Déclaration des Droits de l’homme et du citoyen » encastrée dans la forme des Tables de la Loi. La Déclaration du 26 août 1789 apparaît dès la fin de 1789 dans un style assez naïf, sur une gravure largement diffusée (5). La partie centrale y est occupée par les Tables de la Loi, sur lesquelles on peut lire le Préambule de la Déclaration et les 17 articles qui la composent. Les tables sont elles-mêmes placées dans un encadrement. A droite et à gauche, deux colonnes sont esquissées, sur lesquelles s’appuient deux soldats armés de piques, qui semblent ainsi protéger la Déclaration. La partie supérieure de l’encadrement est surmontée par deux représentations féminines : l’une s’appelle la France, elle tient dans ses mains une chaîne brisée ; l’autre s’appelle Force et Vertu, elle est pourvue de larges ailes et montre du doigt les Tables de la Loi. Entre les deux femmes, un frontispice (surmonté d’un oeil et d’un soleil) qui porte l’inscription : Constitution française, Droits de l’homme et du citoyen.

Une autre gravure populaire, mais beaucoup plus artistiquement élaborée, présente les Tables de la Loi comme cadre, cette fois, à la Déclaration de 1793, dont le Préambule et les 35 articles sont reproduits au complet, imprimés en petits caractères mais bien lisibles. Les Tables de la Loi, qui occupent ici aussi l’essentiel de l’espace, sont encadrées à droite et à gauche par deux colonnes lisses, dorées, surmontées de chapiteaux corinthiens. Au pied du socle de base qui supporte les Tables, deux lourdes chaînes, brisées en plusieurs points, sont porteuses d’un message évident. Au sommet de l’image, un frontispice allongé surmonté d’une plaque rectangulaire où l’on peut lire en gros caractères : Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen : décrétée par la Convention Nationale en 1793, acceptée par le peuple français.

Pour rehausser l’ensemble de cet encadrement néo-classique des Tables de la Loi, apparaissent la aussi et en positions diverses, les symboles révolutionnaires traditionnels : bonnet phrygien, faisceaux, rubans tricolores, soleil, oeil, feuillage, etc.

Ces deux exemples précis peuvent servir d’archétype à toute une série de représentations analogues aux multiples variantes de détails On voit là l’origine de l’identification complète qui s’établit entre les Tables de la Loi et la Déclaration des Droits de l’homme et du citoyen.

Mais les Tables de la Loi ne sont pas simplement le symbole de la loi en tant que telle, générale et intemporelle. Elles ne représentent pas uniquement la Loi dans ce qu’elle s’oppose désormais à l’arbitraire royal. Les Tables de la Loi ont une charge symbolique très complexe. Car elles sont intimement reliées, bon gré mal gré, à la Loi de Moïse, aux Dix Commandements de la Bible. Et ceci aussi a son importance.

Car précisément dans la seconde moitié du 18ème siècle, sous l’influence des Lumières, et tout particulièrement en France, la perception du Décalogue subit une mutation importante. Jusque là, les Dix Commandements étaient considérés comme émanant d’une révélation essentiellement religieuse, dont certaines exigences sont en partie périmées pour les Chrétiens, puisque dépassées à leurs yeux par les préceptes de l’Evangile. Mais l’élite pensante de l’âge des Lumières se détache de plus en plus de l’Eglise, et recherche ses lignes de conduite dans une « morale naturelle » qui serait commune à tous les hommes, sans distinction. Les Dix Commandements se présentent à eux sous un jour nouveau.

Des philosophes déistes, ou même athées, y voient l’affirmation de l’égalité entre les hommes, une référence universelle de justice en vue du Bien commun, référence qui transcende les religions établies et organisées qui sont toutes, dans leur optique, des fanatismes. L’article Décalogue dans l’Encyclopédie dirigée par D’Alembert et Diderot (6) est tout à fait révélateur de cette nouvelle sémiologie. Composé par le Chevalier de Jancourt, un des principaux rédacteurs de l’Encyclopédie, il commence en ces termes :
« ‘Tous les préceptes du Décalogue se peuvent déduire de la justice et de la bienveillance universelle que la loi naturelle ordonne. »

Après un assez long développement où est analysé le contenu de chacune des deux Tables et où les notions de justice, de loi naturelle, et de bien commun reviennent constamment, on en arrive à la conclusion qui est extrêmement éclairante :
« … Le Décalogue ne contient donc que les principaux chefs ou les fondements politiques des Juifs ; mais néanmoins ces fondements (mettant à part ce qui regardait en particulier la nation judaïque) renferment des lois qui sont naturellement imposées à tous les hommes et à l’observance desquelles ils sont tenus dans l’indépendance de l’état de la nature comme dans toute société civile. »

Tout en restant parfaitement consciente du lien existant entre Moïse, « la nation judaïque » et le Décalogue, l’Encyclopédie invite donc à déconnecter le Décalogue de son environnement ethnique et chronologique pour le rattacher à cette loi naturelle qui, sans pour autant renier l’existence de Dieu, doit nécessairement s’imposer à toute société humaine et lui donner ses fondements.

L’étrange monument Joseph Sec d’Aix-en-Provence, achevé en 1792 et analysé magistralement par Michel Vovelle, nous offre une optique tout à fait similaire.

Ce monument chargé de symboles et que Vovelle définit comme un vrai « Discours sur la Révolution française », est un hymne à la gloire de la Loi (7), dont la statue casquée domine l’ensemble architectural. En-dessous se lit l’inscription : « Venez habitants de la terre. Nation écoutez la Loi » qui surplombe en même temps une niche ou se dresse une statue de Moïse en pied présentant les Tables de la Loi a deux statues placées à l’étage inférieur et tournées vers lui : L’Europe ou la liberté et l’Afrique ou l’esclavage. Sur les Tables que tient Moïse sont gravés les mots : « Tu aimeras Dieu et ton prochain » inspirés par cette phrase de l’Encyclopédie à l’article Décalogue :
« … deux grands préceptes du Décalogue sont le sommaire de toute la loi : aimer Dieu par-dessus toute chose et notre prochain comme nous-même » (8).
La sémiologie des Tables de la Loi réside donc ici dans leur portée universelle; cependant, elles sont en même temps étroitement rattachées au personnage de Moïse.

Mais il s’agit d’un cas rare. Dans l’iconographie révolutionnaire, le rattachement au personnage de Moïse, et donc à la Bible et au peuple juif, presque toujours a été totalement occulté. Les Tables de la Loi deviennent une sorte de symbole religieux déconnecté de tout contexte historique qui les rattacherait à un passé précis.

A un premier niveau, les Tables apparaissent bisémiques. Leur message est celui d’une tradition d’un côté, d’une révolution de l’autre.

Les Tables ne sont pas un symbole laïc ou païen. A la différence du bonnet phrygien, du serpent qui se mord la queue, des faisceaux de licteurs, etc., leur référent n’est pas l’antiquité païenne, mais la Bible, au message religieux évident. Pourtant, dans la France chrétienne du 18e siècle, le message religieux normalement reçu est lié à une symbolique chrétienne, que justement la Révolution repousse. La mentalité révolutionnaire est donc à la recherche d’une symbolique qui ne soit pas chrétienne (puisque l’Eglise est désormais perçue comme synonyme de fanatisme et d’absolutisme despotique), mais qui soit cependant suffisamment religieuse pour satisfaire le sentiment religieux profond qui réside au coeur de chaque révolutionnaire :
« Une longue hérédité chrétienne, catholique, pèse sur les révolutionnaires de 1789, élevés pieusement dans leur famille, éduqués dans la foi traditionnelle par les Jésuites et les Oratoriens. Mais l’esprit philosophique, c’est-à-dire l’esprit de contrôle et d’analyse, mine peu a peu cette foi, sans la ruiner. Le drame qui se joue dans beaucoup de consciences s’explique ainsi » (9).

Mais par-delà la croyance sentimentale difficilement déracinable existe aussi un pragmatisme politique. Il peut être dangereux de déraciner tout symbole religieux dans l’imagerie populaire et donc dans les mentalités qu’on veut forger. Représenter des symboles chrétiens est exclu, puisque contraire aux principes jacobins. Les Tables de la Loi s’offrent donc d’une manière idéale pour répondre à un certain besoin religieux sans pour autant laisser croire à une affiliation cléricale.

Les Tables de la Loi fournissent ainsi « les vêtements du sacré » à la religion de la Patrie. Nous les voyons figurer sur des allégories patriotiques, sur le soleil qui doit faire sortir le monde vers l’âge des lumières, sur des médailles en fer de grande diffusion, représentant l’Egalité et la Justice, sur des gravures évoquant des fêtes populaires, et jusque sur les uniformes militaires, au milieu des canons. On les trouve sur les médailles d’identification des membres des diverses assemblées révolutionnaires comme celle du Conseil des Cinq-Cents.

C’est devant une allégorie féminine portant les Tables de la Loi qu’est prêté le Serment Fédératif du 14 juillet 1790. Cette médaille, signée du graveur Dupré présente une rangée d’hommes, donnant l’impression d’une foule. De la main gauche, ils tiennent tous une épée et ils lèvent le bras droit pour prêter le serment fédératif dont le texte est gravé sur le revers de la médaille : »Nous jurons de maintenir de tout notre pouvoir la Constitution du Royaume ». On voit même les Tables de la Loi sur les cuivres des uniformes, pour symboliser l’attachement à la Patrie.

Très frappante aussi est l’apparition des Tables de la Loi dans la cérémonie du mariage. La Révolution supprime le mariage religieux chrétien traditionnel pour introduire pour la première fois le mariage civil. Une très belle gravure en aquatinte dûe au peintre Jean Baptiste Mallet (1759-1835) nous montre « un mariage républicain ». Le centre de la composition est occupé par les mariés. Habillée à la mode du temps, la mariée n’a aucun voile ni aucun des attributs d’une mariée d’église. Le maire, revêtu de l’écharpe tricolore, s’appuie contre une sorte d’autel aux emblèmes révolutionnaires, derrière lequel se dresse une statue symbolique porteuse d’une torche et d’une couronne de laurier.

Sur le mur du fond, dans la pénombre, ressort en clair un assez grand panneau en forme des Tables de la Loi; entre les deux Tables surgit sur une pique un bonnet phrygien.

Sur les Tables, on peut lire sur les sommets arrondis : sur celui de gauche : Liberté ; sur celui de droite : Egalité. Plus bas, et sur les deux Tables sans séparation médiane : Etat civil Loi sur les mariages et les divorces (10).

L’ensemble de la composition indique clairement que les Tables de la Loi et la législation laïque nouvelle remplacent, en tant que décor, les peintures ou sculptures qui servaient précédemment de cadre habituel aux mariages d’Eglise.

La laïcisation des Tables de la Loi peut aller jusqu’au cas limite où un contenu nouveau est donné au Décalogue. C’est ainsi qu’une gravure populaire présente « les Dix Commandements républicains » (11) dans le cadre graphique des Tables de la Loi.

Les Tables de la Loi remplissent donc un rôle important dans l’iconographie de la Révolution. Elles permettent à la Révolution de déconnecter ses emblèmes de tout ce qui est chrétien sans se prévaloir uniquement de symboles d’origine antique et païenne. Elles permettent de donner une coloration religieuse mais dans un ton pour ainsi dire « neutre » aux idéaux de justice, d’égalité, de soumission à une loi égale pour tous, que prône la Révolution. La défaite de l’arbitraire royal et l’apparition d’une Constitution garantissant les Droits de l’homme sont très clairement symbolisés par les Tables de la Loi, ce qui explique leur place récurrente dans l’iconographie de la Révolution.

Notes

Cf. notamment Bezalel Narkiss : Hebrew illuminated Manuscripts, Jérusalem, Keter, 1969.
CF. l’article de Ruth Mellinkoff : The Round Topped tablets of the Law : sacred symbol and emblem of evil, in Journal of Jewish Art, vol. I 1974, p. 28 sq.
Ma première étude sur ce thème, dans la Revue des Etudes Juives.
En effet, l’expression n’est ni biblique ni juive. On ne la trouve pas dans la traduction grecque des Septante, ni dans celle latine de la Vulgate. Les termes employés sont Lou’hoth Ha-berith (Tables de l’Alliance), Lou’hoth Ha-‘edouth (Tables du Témoignage), Lou’hoth Ha-even (Tables de pierre). Mais la Septante, n’ayant pas trouvé – et pour cause – dans l’arsenal de la langue grecque d’équivalent exact à l’hébreu Torah, l’a transposé dans le terme Nomos, Loi, que la Vulgate a adopté dans le latin Lex (cf. André Neher, Moïse et la vocation juive).
Le point de départ du processus qui a abouti à l’expression « Tables de la Loi » est le verset de l’Exode 24:l2 : « Je te donnerai les Tables de pierre, et la Torah et les commandements » ». Par un raccourci de ce verset opéré au moyen-âge dans certains ouvrages chrétiens de piété, on aboutit à l’expression « Tables de la Loi » (cf. J. Trénel : L’Ancien Testament et la langue française du moyen-âge, Paris l904, p. 329).
L’expression est d’autant plus rapidement entrée dans la langue française qu’elle correspondait au stéréotype développé par le christianisme pour abaisser le judaïsme, et en faire une religion de la Loi, opposée à une religion de la Foi.
Cette gravure a été publiée par la Maison Letourmi d’Orléans qui a suivi l’évolution que nous venons de signaler. Fondée en 1774 et spécialisée d’abord dans la diffusion d’images religieuses, la Maison prend dès 1789 une nouvelle orientation et n’imprime plus que des images patriotiques destinées à une diffusion très populaire.
Ce travail monumental (175l-1772) en volumes, arrêté plusieurs fois par la censure royale avait pour but de faire connaitre « les progrès de la science et de la pensée… ». Les plus grands esprits du temps (Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.) y apportèrent leur concours. L’Encyclopédie est considérée, à juste titre, comme l’expression la plus représentative de l’esprit des Lumières.
M. Vovelle : L’irrésistible ascension de Joseph Sec bourgeois d’Aix-en-Provence, Edisud 1975.
Dans les Evangiles (Math. 22:34-40) la juxtaposition de Deut.6:5 et de Lev.19:18 n’est pas mise en rapport avec le Décalogue. C’est l’Encyclopédie qui interprète ces préceptes comme étant le contenu même du Décalogue.
Pierre Trahard : La sensibilité révolutionnaire – ed. Slatkine Genève 1967, p.156.
La loi date du 20 septembre 1792.
Numérotés très lisiblement de I à X, ces commandements, répartis cinq par cinq sur les deux Tables, sont les suivants :
I. Français ton pays défendras afin de vivre librement.
II. Tous les tirans (sic) tu poursuivras jusqu’au delà de l’indostan (sic).
III. Les loix (sic), les vertus soutiendras même s’il le faut de ton sang
IV, Les perfides dénonceras sans le moindre ménagement.
V. Jamais foi tu n’ajouteras à la convertion (sic) d’un grand.
VI. Comme un frère soulageras ton compatriote souffrant
VII. Lorsque vainqueur tu te verras sois fier mais compatissant
VIII. Sur les emplois tu veilleras pour en expulser l’intrigant
IX. Le Dix Août sanctifieras pour l’aimer éternellement
X. Le bien des fuyards verseras sur le SANS-CULOTTE indigent.


D-Day 70: Vous avez dit munichois ? (Both Hitler and Chamberlain get invited to WWII after party)

6 juin, 2014
https://i2.wp.com/www.vigile.net/local/cache-vignettes/L400xH300/1-4584-76f82-5345c.jpg

 

‘Avoir la paix’, le grand mot de toutes les lâchetés civiques et intellectuelles. Charles Péguy
Mes bons amis, pour la deuxième fois de notre histoire, un premier ministre britannique revient d’Allemagne apportant la paix dans l’honneur. Je crois que c’est la paix pour notre temps… Rentrez-chez vous et dormez en paix. Chamberlain
Vous aviez le choix entre le déshonneur et la guerre, vous avez choisi le déshonneur, vous aurez la guerre. Churchill
De Stettin sur la Baltique à Trieste sur l’Adriatique, un rideau de fer s’est abattu à travers le continent. Churchill (Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, le 5 mars 1946)
J’estime que ce discours est un acte dangereux, qui vise à semer des germes de discorde entre les Etats alliés et à rendre plus difficile leur collaboration. (…)  En fait, M. Churchill se trouve actuellement dans la position d’un fauteur de guerre. Et il ne s’y trouve pas seul. Il a des amis, non seulement en Angleterre, mais également aux Etats-Unis. Il est à remarquer que, sous ce rapport, M. Churchill et ses amis rappellent d’une façon étonnante Hitler et ses amis. Hitler a commencé la préparation à la guerre par sa proclamation d’une théorie raciale, où il déclarait que seules les personnes de langue allemande représentaient une nation « véritable » au sens complet du mot. M. Churchill, également, commence la préparation à la guerre par une théorie raciale, en affirmant que seules les nations de langue anglaise sont des nations – dans toute l’acception du mot – appelées à diriger les destinées du monde entier. La théorie raciale allemande amena Hitler et ses amis à conclure que les Allemands, en tant qu’unique nation « véritable », devaient commander aux autres nations. La théorie raciale anglaise amène M. Churchill et ses amis à cette conclusion que les nations de langue anglaise, en tant que seules « véritables », doivent régner sur les autres nations du monde. En fait, M. Churchill et ses amis, en Angleterre et aux Etats-Unis, présentent aux nations ne parlant pas anglais quelque chose comme un ultimatum : « Reconnaissez de bon gré notre domination, et tout alors ira bien ; dans le cas contraire, la guerre est inévitable. »Mais, si les nations ont versé leur sang au cours de cinq années d’une terrible guerre, c’est pour la liberté et l’indépendance de leur pays et non pas pour remplacer la domination des Hitler par celle des Churchill.  Staline (1946)
Le communisme, c’est le nazisme, le mensonge en plus.  Jean-François Revel
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
La destruction de l’URSS fut la plus grande catastrophe géopolitique du siècle. Poutine (25.04. 05)
Je veux aussi, une fois élu, organiser un sommet dans le monde musulman, avec tous les chefs d’Etat, pour discuter franchement sur la façon de contenir le fossé qui s’agrandit chaque jour entre les musulmans et l’Occident. Je veux leur demander de rejoindre notre combat contre le terrorisme. Nous devons aussi écouter leurs préoccupations. (…) Je veux dialoguer directement avec l’Iran et la Syrie. Nous ne stabiliserons pas la région si nous ne parlons pas à nos ennemis. Lorsqu’on est en désaccord profond avec quelqu’un, il faut lui parler directement. Barack Obama
Tout dépendra de la fermeté de l’Ouest. La Russie teste. Elle ira aussi loin que le permettra l’Occident. Pavel Felgengauer
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
En invitant le président Poutine aux cérémonies de commémoration du Débarquement, la France a fait un pari risqué. Pour éviter que cette décision ne débouche sur l’un de ces épisodes peu glorieux de notre diplomatie que nous préférons oublier, tel le voyage de Ribbentrop à Paris en décembre 1938, en plein démembrement de la Tchécoslovaquie, il importe de comprendre dans quel esprit le dirigeant du Kremlin se rend en France, et surtout d’appréhender « l’autre réalité » dans laquelle il évolue. Il faut prendre en compte que la seconde guerre mondiale représente pour la Russie d’aujourd’hui un enjeu différent de celui qu’elle représente pour les Occidentaux : au point que la Douma vient d’adopter une loi sanctionnant de lourdes amendes, voire de peines de détention toute version de la Grande Guerre patriotique incompatible avec l’actuelle vulgate poutinienne. Ainsi la Russie d’aujourd’hui se refuse à reconnaître que la « libération » des pays d’Europe centrale et orientale par l’Armée rouge s’est traduite pour eux par un nouvel asservissement. Mais le noeud de la seconde guerre mondiale est encore plus complexe. En 1941-1945, Staline menait deux guerres parallèles, l’une ouverte contre l’Allemagne hitlérienne, l’autre cachée contre ses « alliés » anglo-saxons. La guerre froide commença lorsque les Occidentaux réveillés se mirent à bloquer les ambitions de l’URSS. Dans la vision russe officielle, les Occidentaux ont cru remporter une victoire avec l’effondrement de l’URSS mais, grâce à Poutine, la Russie s’est redressée et a entrepris de reconstituer l’empire perdu. Les révolutions « de couleur » en 2003-2004 en Géorgie et en Ukraine ont été interprétées à Moscou comme la preuve que, la Russie se renforçant peu à peu, les Occidentaux faisaient monter d’un cran leur lutte sournoise contre elle. Aux yeux des dirigeants du Kremlin, les manifestations anti-Poutine de l’automne-hiver 2011 apportent une nouvelle preuve du complot de l’étranger contre la Russie. La crise ukrainienne a été vue à Moscou à travers ce prisme : d’où l’acharnement de la propagande russe à montrer le malheureux gouvernement de Kiev comme une « junte fasciste » et à présenter l’annexion de la Crimée comme un remake de la bataille de Berlin. Poutine et sa secte raisonnent donc depuis le début en termes de guerre froide et de revanche. Mais alors qu’auparavant ils avaient un salutaire respect pour la puissance américaine, aujourd’hui ils considèrent que l’Amérique est presque aussi faible que l’Europe. Poutine est donc animé d’un immense mépris pour les Occidentaux : les Européens sont perçus comme décadents, vénaux, divisés, laminés. Le président Obama semble avoir une capacité infinie à encaisser sans broncher les affronts russes, mais au Kremlin on est conscient que l’Amérique ne sera pas toujours aussi accommodante. Françoise Thom
Si vous avez l’impression d’avoir déjà vu cela, c’est parce que c’est ce qu’a fait Hitler dans les années 1930. Tous les Allemands qui étaient (…) des Allemands ethniques, les personnes d’origine allemande qui se trouvaient en Tchécoslovaquie, en Roumanie et ailleurs, Hitler n’arrêtait pas de dire qu’ils étaient maltraités. Je dois aller protéger mon peuple, et c’est ce qui a rendu tout le monde si nerveux. Hillary Clinton
Vladimir Poutine est en train de faire la même chose que Hitler. Le prince Charles
Nous nous souvenons du sacrifice de ces jeunes hommes débarqués du Nouveau Monde, ainsi que des forces françaises d’Afrique, venus libérer la France du joug national socialiste. En revanche, les commémorations du 6 Juin 2014 soulèvent des questions. Rappelons que le 6 Juin 1944, c’est le débarquement en Normandie des forces armées anglo-américaines, composées de britanniques et ressortissants du Commonwealth, ainsi que d’américains principalement. Quelques français (les 177 du Commando Kieffer ainsi que quelques dizaines de soldats incorporés à l’US Army), quelques Polonais, Belges, Norvégiens, Néerlandais, Tchécoslovaques et Grecs complètent le tableau, certes, mais l’énorme majorité des 156 000 soldats sont des anglo-américains. Du coup, on se demande bien ce que font sur les plages de Normandie Vladimir Poutine, président de la Fédération de Russie et Angela Merkel, chancelière allemande. Que nous voulions rendre hommage à l’Armée Rouge des Soviétiques et à la victoire de Stalingrad peut se comprendre, mais la place de Poutine n’est-elle pas alors plutôt au 8 mai, commémoration de la fin de la guerre ?  Quand à Merkel, sa présence est encore plus surprenante. Que nous soyons aujourd’hui en paix avec l’Allemagne va évidemment de soi. Mais à quel titre Merkel est-elle en Normandie ? Si Hollande voulait faire une célébration rassemblant tous les belligérants de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, pourquoi n’a t-il pas invité les présidents algériens, marocains, sénégalais et camerounais également ? En plus, dans le cas de l’Algérie, cela aurait été bien plus pertinent que de les faire venir au 14 juillet prochain sur les Champs Elysées … Bref, même dans ce qui, dans le cadre des institutions et de la pratique de la Veme République, apparaît comme étant une prérogative du Président de la République, Hollande arrive à embrouiller un message pourtant limpide à la base : les français remercient les anglo-américains d’avoir combattu les nazis en Normandie puis jusqu’à Berlin. Le parisien libéral
“To describe Putin as the skunk at the picnic would be an enormous understatement.” U.S. diplomat
The war “was won on the Eastern front; the West’s D-Day was for all intents and purposes a mopping-up operation on the Western front and a mere support for the Soviet forces.” Voice of Russia (Feb. 2014)
J’ai invité le président Poutine pour les célébrations du débarquement le 6 juin et je maintiens cette invitation. Nous avons en partage les millions de morts qui ont été les victimes de ce conflit, mais aussi les héros. La Russie a été solidaire de la France et a payé un lourd tribut contre le nazisme. Nous devons tout faire pour que ce soit l’esprit de paix qui l’emporte.  François Hollande

Vous avez dit munichois (ou yaltais ?) ?

Entre un Pleurnicheur en chef qui après l’Irak annonce officiellement son abandon de l’Afghanistan et relâche au passage cinq dirigeants talibans via les habituels financiers du terrorisme mondial

Un président russe qui, reprenant la méthode éprouvée des Sudètes comme l’ont rappelé récemment Hillary Clinton et le prince Charles, a non seulement annexé la Crimée mais continue à la géorgienne le démantèlement de la partie orientale de l’Ukraine …

Et un maitre-gribouille français qui, après le démantèlement (jusqu’à la suppression évoquée un temps des termes mêmes de père et mère !) d’une institution aussi fondamentale pour une société que celle du mariage et avant probablement celle de la génération à coup d’adoption homosexuelle, gestation assistée et théorie du genre à l’école de nos enfants, en est à présent en pleine crise ukrainienne à réarmer Hitler …

Alors que nous rendons un probablement dernier hommage aux millions de soldats, résistants et martyrs qui ont donné leur vie pour mettre un terme, avant celle du communisme (dont on attend toujours le Nuremberg), à l’aberration du nazisme …

Comment, 76 ans après un certain sommet de Munich (et 73 ans après Yalta), ne pas avoir derrière cette  invitation conjointe …

Et cette apparente tentative de remplacer, pour reprendre les termes de Staline après le discours du « rideau de fer » de  Churchill, la domination des Hitler par celle des Poutine  …

Une étrange et double sensation de déjà vu ?

New rivalries threaten to overshadow D-Day 70th anniversary

How the conflict between Ukraine and Russia threatens to mar the anniversary

Katie Engelhart

McLeans

June 5, 2014

On June 6, leaders from across Europe and North America will meet near the beaches of Normandy for lunch. The meal will mark 70 years since D-Day, when Canadian, British, U.S. and other Allied troops, as part of Operation Overlord, stormed the coastline of German-occupied France and began the final, decisive assault of the Second World War. Meant to commemorate the battle, and honour those lost that day (including some 340 Canadians on Juno Beach), the 70th-anniversary gathering has itself fallen victim to great power rivalries.

In May, French officials confirmed that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko would attend the event. For the first time since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the hostilities that have followed in eastern Ukraine, leaders from Moscow and Kyiv will meet face to face. Putin’s planned presence has sparked considerable controversy, as indeed has Russia’s traditional downplaying of the Normandy invasion. It’s not the first time that the solemn business of remembering the Second World War has acquired an unceremoniously political tinge.

D-Day commemorations began soon after the war’s end, but it would be decades before it became an event of international fanfare. Germany was not invited until the 60th anniversary in 2004. Historically, Russia’s involvement has also proved politically fraught. In the early years after the war, Russia’s contribution to the Allied effort was overshadowed by tension with Soviet powers. Like Germany, the Russian Federation was not represented at D-Day celebrations until 2004. Even since then, Russia and its state media have sought to minimize the significance of the Normandy landings, emphasizing instead the surge of Soviet troops on the Eastern front. An article this past February in Voice of Russia explained that the war “was won on the Eastern front; the West’s D-Day was for all intents and purposes a mopping-up operation on the Western front and a mere support for the Soviet forces.”

France pushed for Putin’s attendance this year. “We may have differences with Vladimir Putin,” French President François Hollande conceded, “but I have not forgotten and will never forget that the Russian people gave millions of lives” during the war. The move was tacitly supported by the White House, which, according to a spokeswoman, hardly expected France “to disinvite Russia.” The effort has nonetheless proved highly contentious, especially among observers who already accuse Europe of being lackadaisical in its post-Crimea negotiations with Moscow. As one U.S. diplomat told GlobalPost.com last week, “To describe Putin as the skunk at the picnic would be an enormous understatement.” Russia still has tens of thousands of troops along the Ukraine border and has warned that an armed invasion of east Ukraine is a still-plausible outcome.

While the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has complicated the commemoration of the Second World War, the Kremlin is also using the memory of the war to justify its ongoing intrusion in Ukraine. Russian officials have dismissed Kyiv’s opposition forces as “fascists” and Russian rhetoric presents the Ukraine incursion as a continuation of the Soviet Union’s 1940s anti-fascist struggle. As for June 6, some worry about an especially awkward encounter between Putin and Britain’s Prince Charles. Last month, news outlets reported that the Prince, while on a royal tour of Canada, compared the Russian president with Hitler. At a subsequent press conference in St. Petersburg, a bristling Putin called the remarks “unacceptable” and “not what monarchs do.”

Petty politics have long had a habit of marring D-Day remembrances. In the lead-up to the 60th anniversary, for instance, then French president Nicolas Sarkozy was lambasted for failing to invite Queen Elizabeth II, the only current head of state who served during the war. Ten years earlier, in 1994, then Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien was accused of using the memory of the war to make his case against Quebec separatism, after he gave a speech in Normandy arguing that wartime Canadian soldiers “did not live as anglophones or francophones.”

Still, for the most part, those who attend the June 6 event will be there for the right reasons. France will reportedly spend nearly $5 million on the D-Day commemorations. Local officials estimate that several hundred thousand tourists will flock to Normandy over the summer, to roam the many memorials and cemeteries that dot the remarkable region.

Voir aussi:

Face à Poutine, « l’Occident doit se montrer ferme »
Françoise Thom (Historienne)
Le Monde
30.05.2014

En invitant le président Poutine aux cérémonies de commémoration du Débarquement, la France a fait un pari risqué. Pour éviter que cette décision ne débouche sur l’un de ces épisodes peu glorieux de notre diplomatie que nous préférons oublier, tel le voyage de Ribbentrop à Paris en décembre 1938, en plein démembrement de la Tchécoslovaquie, il importe de comprendre dans quel esprit le dirigeant du Kremlin se rend en France, et surtout d’appréhender « l’autre réalité » dans laquelle il évolue.

Il faut prendre en compte que la seconde guerre mondiale représente pour la Russie d’aujourd’hui un enjeu différent de celui qu’elle représente pour les Occidentaux : au point que la Douma vient d’adopter une loi sanctionnant de lourdes amendes, voire de peines de détention toute version de la Grande Guerre patriotique incompatible avec l’actuelle vulgate poutinienne. Ainsi la Russie d’aujourd’hui se refuse à reconnaître que la « libération » des pays d’Europe centrale et orientale par l’Armée rouge s’est traduite pour eux par un nouvel asservissement. Mais le noeud de la seconde guerre mondiale est encore plus complexe. En 1941-1945, Staline menait deux guerres parallèles, l’une ouverte contre l’Allemagne hitlérienne, l’autre cachée contre ses « alliés » anglo-saxons. La guerre froide commença lorsque les Occidentaux réveillés se mirent à bloquer les ambitions de l’URSS.

Dans la vision russe officielle, les Occidentaux ont cru remporter une victoire avec l’effondrement de l’URSS mais, grâce à Poutine, la Russie s’est redressée et a entrepris de reconstituer l’empire perdu. Les révolutions « de couleur » en 2003-2004 en Géorgie et en Ukraine ont été interprétées à Moscou comme la preuve que, la Russie se renforçant peu à peu, les Occidentaux faisaient monter d’un cran leur lutte sournoise contre elle. Aux yeux des dirigeants du Kremlin, les manifestations anti-Poutine de l’automne-hiver 2011 apportent une nouvelle preuve du complot de l’étranger contre la Russie. La crise ukrainienne a été vue à Moscou à travers ce prisme : d’où l’acharnement de la propagande russe à montrer le malheureux gouvernement de Kiev comme une « junte fasciste » et à présenter l’annexion de la Crimée comme un remake de la bataille de Berlin.

UN IMMENSE MÉPRIS POUR LES OCCIDENTAUX

Poutine et sa secte raisonnent donc depuis le début en termes de guerre froide et de revanche. Mais alors qu’auparavant ils avaient un salutaire respect pour la puissance américaine, aujourd’hui ils considèrent que l’Amérique est presque aussi faible que l’Europe. Poutine est donc animé d’un immense mépris pour les Occidentaux : les Européens sont perçus comme décadents, vénaux, divisés, laminés. Le président Obama semble avoir une capacité infinie à encaisser sans broncher les affronts russes, mais au Kremlin on est conscient que l’Amérique ne sera pas toujours aussi accommodante.

Poutine se rend en France bien décidé à recueillir les fruits de sa politique ukrainienne. Son objectif est d’attiser les dissensions entre Américains et Européens ; d’inciter les Européens à faire pression sur les dirigeants ukrainiens afin que ceux-ci se plient aux plans de fédéralisation de l’Ukraine, en acceptant pour interlocuteurs les hommes de sac et de corde installés par les services russes à la tête des régions sécessionnistes. Cela permettra à Moscou de contrôler le gouvernement ukrainien comme par le passé, grâce aux structures mafieuses des régions orientales appuyées par les services russes. Contrairement à ce qu’affirment les propagandistes prorusses, ce n’est pas l’Europe qui a imposé à l’Ukraine de choisir entre l’UE et la Russie. Il y a incompatibilité objective entre les régimes dictatoriaux mafieux sur lesquels repose l’Union eurasienne voulue par Poutine, et les démocraties libérales européennes. Moscou veut avant tout que l’Ukraine continue d’être un Etat raté. C’est ce dessein que les Occidentaux doivent faire échouer.

Une attitude ferme et solidaire des Occidentaux serait pour lui un rude choc, mais aussi une expérience salutaire. Au contraire, si les Occidentaux continuent à étaler leurs divisions et leur incapacité d’agir, nous risquons de nous trouver dans une situation bien plus dangereuse que pendant la guerre froide. Car les premiers secrétaires du PCUS (Parti communiste de l’Union soviétique) devaient rendre des comptes à leurs collègues du Politburo. Ceux-ci n’aimaient pas les risques et les incartades diplomatiques. Le régime russe actuel ne connaît pas ces contrepoids : un seul homme décide, et les élites sont obligées de taire leurs inquiétudes. N’en doutons pas, la politique de Poutine ne fait pas l’unanimité en Russie aujourd’hui. Mais l’exemple du courage doit être montré par l’Occident.

Voir encore:

Staline: Au sujet du discours de M. Churchill à Fulton (mars 1946)

QUESTION. – Comment jugez-vous le dernier discours prononcé par M. Churchill aux Etats-Unis?

RÉPONSE. – J’estime que ce discours est un acte dangereux, qui vise à semer des germes de discorde entre les Etats alliés et à rendre plus difficile leur collaboration.

QUESTION. – Peut-on estimer que le discours de M. Churchill compromet la paix et la sécurité mondiale?

RÉPONSE. – Sans contredit, oui. En fait, M. Churchill se trouve actuellement dans la position d’un fauteur de guerre. Et il ne s’y trouve pas seul. Il a des amis, non seulement en Angleterre, mais également aux Etats-Unis.

Il est à remarquer que, sous ce rapport, M. Churchill et ses amis rappellent d’une façon étonnante Hitler et ses amis. Hitler a commencé la préparation à la guerre par sa proclamation d’une théorie raciale, où il déclarait que seules les personnes de langue allemande représentaient une nation « véritable » au sens complet du mot.

M. Churchill, également, commence la préparation à la guerre par une théorie raciale, en affirmant que seules les nations de langue anglaise sont des nations – dans toute l’acception du mot – appelées à diriger les destinées du monde entier.

La théorie raciale allemande amena Hitler et ses amis à conclure que les Allemands, en tant qu’unique nation « véritable », devaient commander aux autres nations. La théorie raciale anglaise amène M. Churchill et ses amis à cette conclusion que les nations de langue anglaise, en tant que seules « véritables », doivent régner sur les autres nations du monde.

En fait, M. Churchill et ses amis, en Angleterre et aux Etats-Unis, présentent aux nations ne parlant pas anglais quelque chose comme un ultimatum : « Reconnaissez de bon gré notre domination, et tout alors ira bien ; dans le cas contraire, la guerre est inévitable. »

Mais, si les nations ont versé leur sang au cours de cinq années d’une terrible guerre, c’est pour la liberté et l’indépendance de leur pays et non pas pour remplacer la domination des Hitler par celle des Churchill.

Il est donc tout à fait probable que les nations qui ne parlent pas l’anglais, et qui représentent l’énorme majorité de la population du globe, n’accepteront pas de retourner à un nouvel esclavage. La tragédie de M. Churchill consiste dans le fait qu’il ne comprend pas, en « tory » endurci, cette vérité simple et évidente.

Il n’y a aucun doute que la position prise par M. Churchill est une position qui mène à la guerre, un appel à la guerre contre l’URSS. Il est clair aussi que cette position de M. Churchill est incompatible avec le traité d’alliance qui existe actuellement entre l’Angleterre et l’URSS.

Il est vrai que, pour embrouiller ses auditeurs, il déclare en passant que le traité anglo-soviétique d’aide mutuelle et de coopération pourrait être facilement prolongé pour une période de cinquante ans. Mais comment peut-on concilier une telle déclaration de M. Churchill avec sa position qui mène à la guerre contre l’URSS, avec son prêche en faveur de la guerre contre l’URSS ?

Il est clair que ces faits sont absolument inconciliables. Et, si M. Churchill, invitant à la guerre contre l’URSS, estime cependant que le traité anglo-soviétique peut être prolongé et voir sa durée portée jusqu’à cinquante ans, cela montre qu’il considère ce traité comme un papier sans importance, qui ne lui sert qu’à couvrir et masquer sa position antisoviétique.

C’est pourquoi l’on ne peut pas considérer sérieusement les fausses déclarations des amis de M. Churchill en Grande-Bretagne relatives à une prolongation du traité anglo-soviétique jusqu’à cinquante ans et plus. La prolongation du traité ne répond à rien si l’une des parties viole le traité et le transforme en un papier vide de sens.

QUESTION. – Que pensez-vous de la partie du discours dans laquelle M. Churchill attaque le régime démocratique des Etats européens voisins de l’Union soviétique, et où il critique les relations de bon voisinage établies entre ces Etats et l’URSS ?

RÉPONSE. – Cette partie du discours de M. Churchill présente un mélange d’éléments de calomnie avec des éléments de grossièreté et de manque de tact. M. Churchill affirme que « Varsovie, Berlin, Prague, Vienne, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucarest, Sofia, toutes ces villes célèbres, avec la population d’alentour, se trouvent dans la sphère soviétique et subissent toutes, sous une forme ou une autre, non seulement l’influence soviétique, mais encore le contrôle toujours grandissant de Moscou ». M. Churchill qualifie tout cela de « tendances expansionnistes » sans limites de l’URSS.

Il n’est pas nécessaire de faire un gros effort pour démontrer que M. Churchill calomnie grossièrement et sans pudeur aussi bien Moscou que les Etats voisins de l’URSS dont il est question plus haut.

Premièrement, il est tout à fait absurde de parler de contrôle exclusif de l’URSS à Vienne et à Berlin, où se trouvent également des Conseils de contrôle alliés composés de représentants des quatre puissances, et où l’URSS n’a qu’un quart des voix. Il arrive que certaines gens ne puissent pas faire autrement que de calomnier, mais il faut cependant garder la mesure.

Deuxièmement, il ne faut pas oublier les circonstances suivantes : les Allemands ont envahi l’URSS à travers la Finlande, la Pologne, la Roumanie, la Bulgarie, la Hongrie. Ils ont pu exécuter leur agression à travers ces pays parce que, dans ces derniers, existaient alors des gouvernements hostiles à l’Union soviétique.

Par suite de l’invasion allemande, l’Union soviétique a perdu sans retour, dans les combats avec les Allemands, pendant l’occupation et par l’envoi d’hommes soviétiques dans les bagnes allemands, près de dix-sept millions de personnes. Autrement dit, les pertes de I’Union soviétique dépassent de plusieurs fois celles de la Grande- Bretagne et des Etats-Unis pris ensemble.

Il est possible qu’en certains lieux on soit enclin à oublier ces pertes colossales du peuple soviétique, qui ont rendu possible la libération de l’Europe du joug hitlérien. Mais l’Union soviétique ne peut oublier ces pertes.

On se demande ce qu’il peut bien y avoir d’étonnant dans le fait que l’Union soviétique, voulant garantir sa sécurité dans l’avenir, s’efforce d’obtenir que ces pays aient des gouvernements qui observent une attitude loyale envers l’URSS. Comment peut-on, si l’on a tout son bon sens, qualifier ces intentions pacifiques de l’Union soviétique de tendances expansionnistes de notre Etat ?

M. Churchill affirme, plus loin, que « le gouvernement polonais, se trouvant sous la domination des Russes, a été encouragé à formuler, vis-à-vis de l’Allemagne, des exigences énormes et injustifiées ». Chacun de ses mots est une calomnie grossière et insultante.

La Pologne démocratique actuelle est dirigée par des hommes éminents. Ils ont montré par leurs actes qu’ils savent défendre les intérêts et la dignité de leur patrie mieux que n’ont pu le faire leurs prédécesseurs.

Quelles raisons peut invoquer M. Churchill pour affirmer que les dirigeants de la Pologne contemporaine peuvent tolérer dans leur pays la « domination » de représentants de quelque Etat étranger que ce soit? Les calomnies de M. Churchill contre les « Russes » ne sont-elles pas dictées par l’intention de semer des germes de discorde dans les relations entre la Pologne et l’Union soviétique?

M. Churchill n’est pas content que la Pologne ait effectué un tournant dans sa politique en faveur de l’amitié et de l’alliance avec I’URSS. Il fut un temps où, dans les relations entre la Pologne et l’URSS, prédominaient des éléments de discorde et de contradictions.

Cela donnait la possibilité, à des hommes d’Etat du genre de M. Churchill, de jouer de ces contradictions, de chercher à mettre la main sur la Pologne sous prétexte de la protéger des Russes, d’agiter le spectre de la guerre entre l’URSS et la Pologne et de conserver la position d’arbitre.

Mais cette époque est révolue, car l’hostilité entre la Pologne et la Russie a fait place à l’amitié polono-soviétique. La Pologne actuelle, démocratique, ne veut plus être un « ballon de jeu » aux mains d’étrangers. Il me semble que c’est précisément cette circonstance qui irrite M. Churchill et la pousse à des sorties grossières, dépourvues de tact, contre la Pologne. Pensez donc : on ne le laisse pas jouer aux dépens d’autrui…

En ce qui concerne les attaques de M. Churchill contre l’Union soviétique, à propos de l’extension des frontières occidentales de la Pologne, grâce à la reprise de territoires anciennement pris par l’Allemagne à la Pologne, il me semble que M. Churchill pipe ouvertement les dés.

Comme on le sait, la décision relative aux frontières occidentales de la Pologne a été adoptée à la conférence de Berlin des trois puissances sur la base des demandes polonaises. L’Union soviétique a déclaré à plusieurs reprises qu’elle considérait ces demandes comme justes et équitables.

Il est tout à fait probable que M. Churchill n’est pas content de cette décision. Mais pourquoi M. Churchill, sans ménager, ses flèches contre la position des Russes dans cette question, cache-t-il à ses auditeurs le fait que cette décision a été prise à l’unanimité à la conférence de Berlin et qu’elle a été votée non seulement par les Russes, mais également par les Britanniques et les Américains? Pourquoi M. Churchill a-t- il eu besoin d’induire en erreur ses auditeurs ?

M. Churchill affirme plus loin que « les Partis communistes étaient très faibles dans tous ces Etats d’Europe orientale, qu’ils ont acquis une force extraordinaire dépassant de beaucoup leur importance en effectifs et qu’ils s’efforcent d’instaurer partout un contrôle totalitaire », que « des gouvernements policiers dominent dans presque tous ces pays et que, à l’heure actuelle, il n’y existe aucune démocratie véritable, exception faite pour la Tchécoslovaquie ».

Comme on le sait, en Angleterre, un seul parti dirige maintenant l’Etat : le Parti travailliste, alors que les partis d’opposition sont privés du droit de participer au gouvernement anglais. Chez M. Churchill, cela s’appelle le véritable esprit démocratique.

En Pologne, en Roumanie, en Yougoslavie, en Bulgarie, en Hongrie, c’est un bloc de plusieurs partis qui gouverne, un bloc de quatre à six partis, et l’opposition, si elle est à peu près loyale, se voit assurer le droit de participer au gouvernement.

Chez M. Churchill cela s’appelle du totalitarisme, de la tyrannie, de la dictature policière. Pourquoi? Pour quel motif? N’attendez pas de réponse de la part de M. Churchill. M. Churchill ne comprend pas dans quelle position comique il se met avec ses discours criards sur le totalitarisme, la tyrannie et la dictature policière.

M. Churchill voudrait que la Pologne soit gouvernée par Sosnkowski et Anders, la Yougoslavie par Mikhaïlovitch et Pavélitch, la Roumanie par le prince Stirbey et Radescu, la Hongrie et l’Autriche par n’importe quel roi de la maison des Habsbourg, et ainsi de suite.

Il voudrait nous convaincre que ces messieurs de la fourrière fasciste peuvent garantir « un ordre vraiment démocratique ». Tel est l’ « esprit démocratique » de M. Churchill.

M. Churchill n’est pas loin de la vérité quand il parle de l’influence accrue des Partis communistes en Europe orientale. Il convient cependant de noter qu’il n’est pas tout à fait précis.

L’influence des Partis communistes a augmenté non seulement en Europe orientale, mais aussi dans tous les pays où avait auparavant dominé le fascisme (Italie, Allemagne, Hongrie, Bulgarie, Roumanie, Finlande), ou bien où avait eu lieu l’occupation allemande, italienne ou hongroise (France, Belgique, Hollande, Norvège, Danemark, Pologne, Tchécoslovaquie, Yougoslavie, Grèce, Union soviétique, etc.).

L’accroissement de l’influence des communistes ne peut pas être considéré comme un fait du hasard, mais comme un phénomène entièrement légitime.

L’influence des communistes s’est accrue parce que, pendant les dures années de la domination fasciste en Europe, les communistes se sont montrés des combattants sûrs, audacieux, pleins d’abnégation, contre le régime fasciste et pour la liberté des peuples.

M. Churchill rappelle quelquefois, dans ses discours, « les petites gens qui vivent dans des maisons modestes ».

Il leur donne, en grand seigneur, des tapes amicales sur l’épaule et se dit leur ami. Mais ces hommes ne sont pas aussi simples qu’on pourrait le croire à première vue. Ces « petites gens » ont leur point de vue, leur politique, et ils savent se défendre.

Ce sont eux, les millions de ces « petites gens » qui ont battu M. Churchill et son parti en Angleterre, donnant leurs voix aux travaillistes.

Ce sont eux, les millions de ces « petites gens », qui ont isolé en Europe les réactionnaires et les partisans de la collaboration avec le fascisme, et ont donné leur préférence aux partis démocratiques de gauche.

Ce sont eux, les millions de ces « petites gens », qui, après avoir éprouvé les communistes dans le feu de la lutte et de la résistance au fascisme, ont décidé que les communistes méritaient pleinement la confiance du peuple.

C’est ainsi que l’influence des communistes a augmenté en Europe. Telle est la loi du développement historique.

Naturellement, M. Churchill n’est pas satisfait par un tel développement des événements, et il sonne l’alarme, faisant appel à la force.

Mais M. Churchill n’était pas non plus satisfait de l’apparition du régime soviétique en Russie, après la Première Guerre mondiale. A cette époque, il sonnait également l’alarme et organisa la campagne militaire « des quatorze Etats » contre la Russie, se proposant de faire tourner en arrière la roue de I’Histoire.

Mais I’Histoire s’est avérée plus forte que l’intervention churchillienne et le donquichottisme de M. Churchill l’a amené à subir à l’époque une défaite complète.

Je ne sais si M. Churchill et ses amis réussiront à organiser, après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, une nouvelle campagne militaire contre « l’Europe orientale ».

Mais s’ils y réussissent, ce qui est peu probable, car des millions de « petites gens » montent la garde pour défendre la cause de la paix, on peut dire avec assurance qu’ils seront battus, de même qu’ils ont été battus autrefois, il y a de cela vingt-six ans.

J. V. Stalin
Interview to “Pravda” Correspondent Concerning Mr. Winston Churchill’s Speech at Fulton
March, 1946

Source: J. V. Stalin on Post-War International Relations
Publisher: Soviet News, 1947
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid for MIA, 2008
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

TOWARDS the middle of March, 1946, a “Pravda” correspondent requested J. V. Stalin to clarify a number of questions connected with Mr. Churchill’s speech at Fulton, U.S.A. Below are J. V. Stalin’s replies to the correspondent’s questions.

Question: How do you appraise Mr. Churchill’s latest speech in the United States of America?

Answer: I appraise it as a dangerous act, calculated to sow the seeds of dissension among the Allied States and impede their collaboration.

Question: Can it be considered that Mr. Churchill’s speech is prejudicial to the cause of peace and security?

Answer: Yes, unquestionably. As a matter of fact, Mr. Churchill now takes the stand of the warmongers, and in this Mr. Churchill is not alone. He has friends not only in Britain but in the United States of America as well.

A point to be noted is that in this respect Mr. Churchill and his friends bear a striking resemblance to Hitler and his friends. Hitler began his work of unleashing war by proclaiming a race theory, declaring that only German-speaking people constituted a superior nation. Mr. Churchill sets out to unleash war with a race theory, asserting that only English-speaking nations are superior nations, who are called upon to decide the destinies of the entire world. The German race theory led Hitler and his friends to the conclusion that the Germans, as the only superior nation, should rule over other nations. The English race theory leads Mr. Churchill and his friends to the conclusion that the English-speaking nations, as the only superior nations, should rule over the rest of the nations of the world.

Actually, Mr. Churchill, and his friends in Britain and the United States, present to the non-English speaking nations something in the nature of an ultimatum: “Accept our rule voluntarily, and then all will be well; otherwise war is inevitable.”

But the nations shed their blood in the course of five years’ fierce war for the sake of the liberty and independence of their countries, and not in order to exchange the domination of the Hitlers for the domination of the Churchills. It is quite probable, accordingly, that the non-English-speaking nations, which constitute the vast majority of the population of the world, will not agree to submit to a new slavery.

It is Mr. Churchill’s tragedy that, inveterate Tory that he is, he does not understand this simple and obvious truth.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Churchill’s position is a war position, a call for war on the U.S.S.R. It is also clear that this position of Mr. Churchill’s is incompatible with the Treaty of Alliance existing between Britain and the U.S.S.R. True, Mr. Churchill does say, in passing, in order to confuse his readers, that the term of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance and Collaboration might quite well be extended to 50 years. But how is such a statement on Mr. Churchill’s part to be reconciled with his position of war on the U.S.S.R., with his preaching of War against the U.S.S.R.? Obviously, these things cannot be reconciled by any means whatever. And if Mr. Churchill, who calls for war on the Soviet Union, at the same time considers it possible to extend the term of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty to 50 years, that means that he regards this Treaty as a mere scrap of paper, which he only needs in order to disguise and camouflage his anti-Soviet position. For this reason, the false statements of Mr. Churchill’s friends in Britain, regarding the extension of the term of the Anglo-Soviet treaty to 50 years or more, cannot be taken seriously. Extension of the Treaty term has no point if one of the parties violates the Treaty and converts it into a mere scram of paper.

Question: How do you appraise the part of Mr. Churchill’s speech in which he attacks the democratic systems in the European States bordering upon us, and criticises the good-neighbourly relations established between these States and the Soviet Union.

Answer: This part of Mr. Churchill’s speech is compounded of elements of slander and elements of discourtesy and tactlessness. Mr. Churchill asserts that “Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia—all these famous cities and the populations around them lie within the Soviet sphere and are all subject in one form or another not only to Soviet influence, but to a very high and increasing measure of control from Moscow.” Mr. Churchill describes all this as “unlimited expansionist tendencies” on the part of the Soviet Union.

It needs no particular effort to show that in this Mr. Churchill grossly and unceremoniously slanders both Moscow, and the above-named States bordering on the U.S.S.R.

In the first place it is quite absurd to speak of exclusive control by the U.S.S.R. in Vienna and Berlin, where there are Allied Control Councils made up of the representatives of four States and where the U.S.S.R. has only one-quarter of the votes. It does happen that some people cannot help in engaging in slander. But still, there is a limit to everything.

Secondly, the following circumstance should not be forgotten. The Germans made their invasion of the U.S.S.R. through Finland, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The Germans were able to make their invasion through these countries because, at the time, governments hostile to the Soviet Union existed in these countries. As a result of the German invasion the Soviet Union has lost irretrievably in the fighting against the Germans, and also through the German occupation and the deportation of Soviet citizens to German servitude, a total of about seven million people. In other words, the Soviet Union’s loss of life has been several times greater than that of Britain and the United States of America put together. Possibly in some quarters an inclination is felt to forget about these colossal sacrifices of the Soviet people which secured the liberation of Europe from the Hitlerite yoke. But the Soviet Union cannot forget about them. And so what can there be surprising about the fact that the Soviet Union, anxious for its future safety, is trying to see to it that governments loyal in their attitude to the Soviet Union should exist in these countries? How can anyone, who has not taken leave of his wits, describe these peaceful aspirations of the Soviet Union as expansionist tendencies on the part of our State?

Mr. Churchill claims further that the “Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous, wrongful inroads on Germany.”

Every word of this is a gross and insulting calumny. Outstanding men are at the helm in present democratic Poland. They have proved by their deeds that they are capable of upholding the interests and dignity of their country as their predecessors were not. What grounds has Mr. Churchill to assert that the leaders of present-day Poland can countenance in their country the domination of representatives of any foreign State whatever? Is it not because Mr. Churchill means to sow the seeds of dissension in the relations between Poland and the Soviet Union that he slanders “the Russians” here?

Mr. Churchill is displeased that Poland has faced about in her policy in the direction of friendship and alliance with the U.S.S.R. There was a time when elements of conflict and antagonism predominated in the relations between Poland and the U.S.S.R. This circumstance enabled statesmen like Mr. Churchill to play on these antagonisms, to get control over Poland on the pretext of protecting her from the Russians, to try to scare Russia with the spectre of war between her and Poland, and retain the position of arbiter for themselves. But that time is past and gone, for the enmity between Poland and Russia has given place to friendship between them, and Poland—present-day democratic Poland—does not choose to be a play-ball in foreign hands any longer. It seems to me that it is this fact that irritates Mr. Churchill and makes him indulge in discourteous, tactless sallies against Poland. Just imagine—he is not being allowed to play his game at the expense of others!

As to Mr. Churchill’s attack upon the Soviet Union in connection with the extension of Poland’s Western frontier to include Polish territories which the Germans had seized in the past—here it seems to me he is plainly cheating. As is known, the decision on the Western frontier of Poland was adopted at the Berlin Three-Power Conference on the basis of Poland’s demands. The Soviet Union has repeatedly stated that it considers Poland’s demands to be proper and just. It is quite probable that Mr. Churchill is displeased with this decision. But why does Mr. Churchill, while sparing no shots against the Russian position in this matter, conceal from his readers the fact that this decision was passed at the Berlin Conference by unanimous vote—that it was not only the Russians, but the British and Americans as well, that voted for the decision? Why did Mr. Churchill think it necessary to mislead the public?

Further, Mr. Churchill asserts that the Communist Parties, which were previously very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to prominence and power far beyond their numbers and seek everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments prevail in nearly every case, and “thus far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy.”

As is known, the Government of the State in Britain at the present time is in the hands of one party, the Labour Party, and the opposition parties are deprived of the right to participate in the Government of Britain. That Mr. Churchill calls true democracy. Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Hungary are administered by blocs of several parties—from four to six parties—and the opposition, if it is more or less loyal, is secured the right of participation in the Government. That Mr. Churchill describes as totalitarianism, tyranny and police rule. Why? On what grounds? Don’t expect a reply from Mr. Churchill. Mr. Churchill does not understand in what a ridiculous position he puts himself by his outcry about “totalitarianism, tyranny and police rule.”

Mr. Churchill would like Poland to be administered by Sosnkowski and Anders, Yugoslavia by Mikhailovich and Pavelich, Rumania by Prince Stirbey and Radescu, Hungary and Austria by some King of the House of Hapsburg, and so on. Mr. Churchill wants to assure us that these gentlemen from the Fascist backyard can ensure true democracy.

Such is the “democracy” of Mr. Churchill.

Mr. Churchill comes somewhere near the truth when he speaks of the increasing influence of the Communist Parties in Eastern Europe. It must be remarked, however, that he is not quite accurate. The influence of the Communist Parties has grown not only in Eastern Europe, but in nearly all the countries of Europe which were previously under Fascist rule—Italy, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Finland—or which experienced German, Italian or Hungarian occupation—France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Soviet Union and so on.

The increased influence of the Communists cannot be considered fortuitous. It is a perfectly logical thing. The influence of the Communists has grown because, in the years of the rule of Fascism in Europe, the Communists showed themselves trusty, fearless, self-sacrificing fighters against the Fascist regime for the liberty of the peoples. Mr. Churchill in his speeches sometimes recalls the plain people from little homes, slapping them patronisingly on the back and parading as their friend. But these people are not so simple as may at first sight appear. These plain people have views of their own, a policy of their own, and they know how to stand up for themselves. It was they, the millions of these plain people, that defeated Mr. Churchill and his party in Britain by casting their votes for the Labourites. It was they, the millions of these “plain people,” who isolated the reactionaries and advocates of collaboration with Fascism in Europe, and gave their preference to the Left democratic parties. It was they, the millions of these “plain people,” who after testing the Communists in the fires of struggle and resistance to Fascism, came to the conclusion that the Communists were fully deserving of the people’s confidence. That was how the influence of the Communists grew in Europe.

Of course Mr. Churchill does not like this course of development and he sounds the alarm and appeals to force. But neither did he like the birth of the Soviet regime in Russia after the First World War. At that time, too, he sounded the alarm and organised an armed campaign of 14 States against Russia setting himself the goal of turning back the wheel of history. But history proved stronger than the Churchill intervention, and Mr. Churchill’s quixotry led to his unmitigated defeat at that time. I don’t know whether Mr. Churchill and his friends will succeed in organising a new armed campaign against Eastern Europe after the Second World War; but if they do succeed—which is not very probable because millions of plain people stand guard over the cause of peace—it may confidently be said that they will be thrashed, just as they were thrashed once before, 26 years ago.

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